Sixty Seconds on Songwriting with George Swan

We’re not sure what’s more intriguing about George Swan the legend that he was ‘born in an unspecified swamp and raised by alligators’ or that his musical pseudonym is Big Dik Blak. Either way, we figured the Canadian songwriter might have some interesting things to say about his brand of ‘swamp rock’. We catch sixty seconds with the songwriter to find out more about the process behind his weird and wonderful songs.

Where does your songwriting process start?

Usually, while fooling around with a keyboard of some kind, I’ll come up with a chord progression that sounds cool to me. I’ll jam on it for a while with the band and see what we come up with. I adjust the progression as I go but try to keep it really simple. Four chords are about right kind of thing.  I then listen to the tape, write down the words and work out the melody, trying to really nail that down.

What usually comes first, lyrics or music?

Sometimes I have some words that I’ve written that I want to get into a song, such as ‘World Peace’ and ‘Free Love’.  Other times, I try all kinds of sounds of my Korg Triton Extreme workstation and usually will find something there I can start with. I also try it out with the distorted Hammond as well.  It’s even better when I can put them both together like I did in both World Peace and The Connector song.

Has a song idea ever come to you at a weird time?

Sometimes a song will come to me while I’m sleeping, like the piano riff in my song ‘No Past’.  I woke up with it running through my mind.  I went to the piano to see what the riff was and then recorded it.  It took a while to come up with the melody and the words.

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