Collaboration 4 – Dan Bettridge
Here’s our finished song – The Rolling Sea!
I really hope you enjoy the song! A huge thanks to the creative team who helped me bring it to life: Dan Bettridge (vocals, electric guitar), Mattie Foulds (production, drums), Kevin McGuire (bass) & Mikey Owers (electric guitar).
#danbettridge #kimedgar #songwritingcollaboration #consequences #treadlightly #saveourseas
Dan’s voice, and the warmth of his songs, really appealed to me as soon as I heard them – if you’d like, you can check both out in this beautiful Mahogany Session music video.
When I got to know Dan a bit better, I also discovered his commitment to the environment (check out his website here), and so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to consider the environmental consequences of human behaviour in our collaboration – I suggested a couple of themes including this one to Dan, and he was keen to focus on the environment, so before we’d met to collaborate online, we already knew what we’d be writing about (which I find really helpful!).
We put aside a day to work together online, and we were literally starting from scratch; Dan has a home studio, and had set up his electric guitar as well as a vocal mic into his own recording software (he’s much further ahead than I am on the journey of becoming confident with recording technology) and so as we worked, he put down ideas and saved them for us. Occasionally, we took a longer break, so that I could do the same, slowly, and then email them to him 🙂
For some reason, The Beautiful South “A Little Time” had come into my head that day, and gave me the idea of an “almost-break-up” song, from the environment to humanity, really drawing the boundaries and saying what would need to happen to avoid humanity being kicked out of the house forever…I’m pleased Dan was up for the concept.
We really worked quite fluidly across words and music over the course of the day, and our work together reminded me of one of the main challenges of this type of collaboration; words. I feel words are so personal, and we know them so intimately, that it’s really hard to compromise on phrases that jar for anyone involved in the song collaboration. It has to feel right (some might say authentic, or true) to get into the song lyric. So we really had a lot of thinking time over the course of the day, and a lot of tweaking of individual words, and I think that by the end we’d found a way to express something that each of us felt fully behind. It’s also fairly economic with words – perhaps as a result of that challenge – and I think that’s a really good thing.
There’s one piece of learning from my collaboration with Dan that I’ll try to keep at the forefront of my mind. I often think of “the big picture” first; I’m concerned that my message comes across clearly, is fully formed, and covers all the points I want to make. When I chatted about this with Dan, he shared that he preferred the opposite approach – he prefers to start with something small, and see what he finds in that story, and what it might mean. It was a refreshing change for me, and it leads to songs where listeners can also find their own meanings, which is actually something as a listener myself I value. I’m going to try to do that more.
By the end of the month, I’ll update this page with a recording of our song! Hopefully see you then…
One of the unexpected silver linings of the pandemic in 2020 was getting to take part in Global Music Match through Showcase Scotland Expo. Along with many other musicians from Scotland, I was supported to connect with musicians around the world, and a few of my collaborators for the CONSEQUENCES project were part of the team I was lucky enough to join, coached by Stevie Smith, the CEO of Americana Music Association UK.
The project enabled us to connect online with musicians at a time when touring was impossible, and provided us all with a support network, as well as a chance for reflection, skills development and creativity.
I was delighted to discover Dan’s music, which I would probably never have come across otherwise, and you can discover it, too, at his website:
By the end of this month, I’ll expand on my notes here, and share with you some reflections on my collaboration with Dan, as well as the song we write together. I look forward to seeing you then!