Why interview yourself?
Why write songs?
Fascinated and bewildered by life, I wrote what I believed in, to help me remember my way. After a while, songs started to come in dreams, including waking dreams. I began to “receive songs”. I haven’t written much lately, because I’m too busy producing what I’ve already written. I’m always improvising music tho.
How long did it take you to make your first album?
Forever! I’ve made lots of recordings that I enjoy, however, it took a while to make something that sounded good enough to put out into the world.
Why was that?
My sense of rhythm was compromised, making it difficult to play with others, to record, and to edit. I couldn’t even hear that my rhythm was off. Only in learning to use Digital Audio Workstations (recording software), such as Logic Pro, was I able to see it. Seeing on a screen helped me to correct my hearing.
You’ve heard of people being “tone deaf”. I was “rhythm deaf”. Trying to play with a click-track in the recording studio was impossible, at first. Reclaiming my rhythm sense has helped me in performing, in teaching, in life. It’s made overdubbing and editing my recordings much easier.
I’ve always had good pitch, and love harmony. I enjoy singing along with records. However, until I developed my rhythm, I wasn’t able to effectively convey what I knew to other people, because I didn’t have a logical structure to share with them. I knew my stuff, but not well enough to communicate or effectively produce it. I was all over the place, and people couldn’t follow my attempts to explain.
I think that lots of people labelled ADHD, ADD, or autistic have similar issues. Brilliant, but we can’t put things in the right place. My deficiency led me to specialize in learning disorders.
How did you improve your rhythm?
I kept playing. I felt driven to record myself. I had a sense of mission, these songs had a life of their own, and I responsible for birthing them.
Here’s a brief history of my experience with recording technology.
The first time that I attempted to record my songs was with a band called “Serpents of Eden”. We played a few gigs, recorded a few demos. It was fun, with massive potential, but didn’t come together.
Later, I met Joanna Hood, a classical violist with refined ear and touch, ability and willingness to improvise. She helped me develop my songwriting and production skills, and thus began another recording project. This got lost in production, except for a demo CD, parts of which have now made their way into some of my current projects.
As of this update, March 2022, (originally written in September 2017), I left Vancouver Island for Taiwan thirteen years ago. Part of my intention moving here was a change of musical scenery. I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to go professional: Perform more, record my songs, establish a musical presence on the internet, and spread it around the world.
Since coming to Taiwan, I’ve recorded songs at home studios of drummer/producers Oliver Hsieh, and Craig Sheffield. My son, Ephrem Manly, has also helped me in an engineering capacity. I have a small recording studio, offering more than what many greats of past decades had at their disposal. I’m learning how to use it. My latest challenge is to do a complete arrangement of one my songs on my iPad, using GarageBand.
What’s it like performing in Taiwan?
Arriving here, I had a musical identity crisis… Was I a Folkie or a Metalhead? New Age Musician or Jazz Wannabe? Children’s Entertainer? I am all of the above! People like labels, and that’s fine. I am all these, and more. Working it into a consumable “schtick”, fun for my audience, requires regular practice. Performing here has given me lots of latitude. There are various music scenes here. Foreigners, and Taiwanese friends, often like to rock out. There’s a jazz scene. Most of my performance experience in recent years has been busking at farmer’s markets. People mostly like what is already familiar to them. So, I play lots of songs from when I was growing up, mixed in with bits of novelty and randomness. It’s given me lots of room to experiment.
Lots of busking, lots of pub gigs. A few weddings, and corporate gigs. I was recently Canadian artist in residence for the Kaohsiung Marriott Hotel’s Canada month.
I enjoy sharing music with students here! I’ve learned lots of new tunes, and written new songs which I love. I’m more comfortable on stage, and interacting with audiences. I’ve had enjoyable interactions with musicians here. Most importantly, I’ve got rhythm!
I’m now releasing a lot of songs at once, having improved my game, and overcome my perfectionism enough to send my imperfect creations out into the world. I’ve been editing and remixing all of it, to come up with something that I love! I enjoy live performance, I thrive in a studio environment. I do this because I like to share, but more than that… I want to hear these songs recorded as I imagine them. Studio recording is my personal symphony, of which I am composer, performer, and conductor.
Coming soon, my new album.
You can hear my music at seamasmanly.bandcamp.com