It’s All About the Song, Part 1
An Interview with Julie de Azevedo
Julie de Azevedo recently spoke with Meridian Magazine about the process of making of her latest CD HELLO SKY, giving us a behind the scenes look into the process of making a record. In this interview we get a glimpse into the songwriting process. If you have any interest in songwriting, recording, singing, or learning more about the music industry, read on!
Julie de Azevedo
Known for her profound lyrical style and strong melodies, pop singer/songwriter Julie de Azevedo has opened her heart to listeners once again through an honest collection of songs about life and faith. The songs in her forthcoming album, HELLO SKY, are born out of her own life lessons and spiritual journey resulting in a joyful sense of wonder and a renewed optimism about life. Featuring her trademark insightful lyrics, and gutsy pop production, the 8 – time PEARL Award winner hopes to bring her music to wider audience.
MERIDIAN: We all admire an individual who can write songs. How do such amazing creations come together?
JULIE: For me, songwriting is a way of looking at life. Songs are everywhere. The hard part for me is focusing, and tuning in and listening to the poetry around me and inside of me. Through songwriting, I hope to articulate my emotions and experiences in an uncommon or unexpected, yet accessible way.
Songs are like children, in a way, they each have a unique “birth”. Generally, for me a strong emotion comes first, which then fuels a lyrical hook idea, which eventually becomes a lyric. Many times the lyric and melody come together, but more often I find that I am attached to a lyric and have to search a little harder for the best marriage of chords and melody for a specific lyric. When I can’t seem to find a good fit, I turn to co-writing.
MERIDIAN: How do you choose who you co-write with?
JULIE: I generally CO-write with people I’m working with in some other way – someone in my band, or my producer, John Hancock, or another artist whose work I admire. Songwriting is a very vulnerable thing, and it sometimes feels risky to share an unfinished idea with someone. I think that’s why I choose to write with people that I already work well with in another setting.
There have been times when I sense that a particular person has something to add to a song, and I seek them out specifically. I’ve become more and more confident with the CO-writing situation, and yet ironically, I find myself CO-writing less.
MERIDIAN: Say more about the vulnerability of songwriting.
JULIE: Well, if you’re writing honest songs, it’s vulnerable, it’s revealing, and that feels scary sometimes. Just like in any relationship – the more you share, the greater the possibility of being hurt by rejection.
Another vulnerable thing is that parts of my soul are illuminated through the songwriting process and I don’t always like what I find. Even if a song sheds light on the “good parts” – that can be scary too, because anytime you put yourself into your art, and you put your art out there, there’s the risk of being rejected or misunderstood. I came to a point a few years ago where I knew that to progress as a songwriter, and as a person, I needed to be very honest about how I feel, what I value, and who I am.
MERIDIAN: As a mother with young children, how do you find the “quiet time” to write songs?
JULIE: I write when I’m in the car, or late at night, or anytime really. Because songwriting is primarily articulating emotions, I can be driving carpool and pondering a song idea at the same time. I tend to get creative ideas in the evening, which is convenient, because the kids are asleep, but creativity can be very inconvenient.
Often I need to block out the rest of the world, and just focus, just be. Songwriting is important to me spiritually and emotionally – that’s how I find clarity in my life. So I’ve learned to honor the process and not feel guilty about needing time to “cocoon” and write. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband who has learned to understand and respect my need for time alone.
MERIDIAN: How are the songs on HELLO SKY different from your previous works?
JULIE: I’d say the songs on HELLO SKY have more joy and energy, more celebration, than DIVE DEEP & PRAY FOR RAIN. Some of my burdens have become lighter, and life in general feels more effortless. I think that comes through in the songwriting.
I’ve really tried to get out of my head as far as what a “good song” is and let the songs come. I’ve felt a real sense of freedom during the process of making this album, and not as self-critical, or worried about how they will be received. Some of the song forms are simpler than previous songs. But hopefully there is beauty in simplicity.
I’ve written a few inspirational songs through the years (“Window to His Love”, “Mercy’s Arms”) that have ended up being the ones that people know because they are sung in church and at missionary farewells, etc. That has been such an amazing thing – to have other people perform a song I’ve written, and to make it their own. But those better known inspirational songs don’t necessarily represent my work as a recording artist. As a songwriter, I write in many genres, but as a recording artist, my heart is in the contemporary/pop arena.
To learn more about Julie and listen to her music, go to www.juliedeazevedo.com.
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