We explore the Canadian rock singer’s essential writing toolbox, including coffee, chords, space and the therapy of pen and paper
Throughout her career to date, JJ Wilde has proven that she can balance the dark and the light, the raucous and the sincere. Whether on heart-breaking ballads like Funeral For A Lover or bluesy stomps like Bushweed (both of which made it On The Stereo at Songwriting HQ), the Canadian artist remains entirely convincing. It’s no surprise that she’s already something of a record breaker; debut single The Rush made her the first female artist to simultaneously reach No 1 on all three Canadian rock charts.
Wilde has recently returned with a self-titled EP. Containing Bushweed and a further five tracks, it’s the follow-up to last year’s full-length Ruthless and is a concerted effort to provide her listeners with feel-good songs which can become the soundtrack to better days ahead. With the wonky and rocking fun of tracks like Off The Rails and Best Boy, Wilde has certainly improved our mood and inspired us to find out some more about her essential writing apparatus…
If I’m doing my writing session in the morning or afternoon I love sitting down and starting my write with a hot cup of coffee to make me relax and feel at ease. There’s something about the smell of coffee (not to mention the caffeine) that gets me charged up and ready to go. Then, about four cups later, the relaxation has worn off and I have the jitters. All part of the process.
2. USE THE SPACE
There’s a few spaces in my apartment where I do my best writing…
A. MY BED
B. LIVING ROOM COUCH
C. OUTSIDE ANYWHERE
A. I find windows very conducive to writing. Being able to look outside at the sky while trying to figure out that last lyric, or having the sunshine in when you are starting a song. Even the sound of rain while opening my writing book can spark something to write about. I draw quite a bit of inspiration from the outside elements. Not in a way where I write about what I’m seeing through the window, but more in the sense that it sparks a feeling of inspiration to get ideas flowing. I have my desk workspace right under a window in my bedroom, so that whenever I feel uninspired or stuck, I can look up for a quiet sense
B. That brings me to the living room couch. I find open spaces very effective for me for writing. Not feeling claustrophobic for me lets the ideas flow naturally and without hesitation. Sometimes if I’m stuck when writing, I’ll get up off the couch and start cleaning the kitchen, and without noticing it I’ll start singing mindlessly while doing whatever task, and end up coming up with the idea that was stuck. Being in my living room means easily being able to change the space around me when
C. Being outside always brings me immense joy. It lets me clear my mind, and stay focused all at the same time. When the outside elements are changing around you constantly with different sounds; traffic in the distance, birds chirping, wind, distant laughter. All of it inspires me and helps me create new ideas.
My guitar is how I start and complete most of my songs. I will sit down with it and start playing some chords, just kind of messing around until something sticks. It might start with only two chords and stay that way, or I write a riff I’m loving and fit lyrics in between. All of it usually starts with guitar. Then from there I improvise a few different versions of my song and record it. Once I feel like I’ve gotten all my lyrical vomit out, I begin to listen back and connect the lines that I think go together, and build from there. It really is different every time I write though. Sometimes I’ll just start writing random lines on a piece of paper until something makes sense. Sometimes I’ll start singing and a full song will come out with just lyrics and melody. There really is no rhyme or reason to my writing styles.
4. MY SONG BOOK
I have just started using my laptop to write down my ideas, but my go-to has always been my various song books. Even if I start the write on my laptop, to finish and finesse it, I have to have it written down on paper. There is something very therapeutic for me about taking a pen to paper to madly scribble nonsense into ideas. Whether it’s jotting down single words or phrases, or starting a neat page with a title and writing lyrics like a poem, to me the song isn’t real until it’s in my notebook.
JJ Wilde’s self-titled EP is out now. Find out more about her music and tour dates at jjwilde.com