5 Questions with OK Friend and indie dad-pop music

Thanks to Taylor at OK Friend for sharing new music and taking the time to answer some questions for us about the music. The lyrics paint a pictures and the tune sets a mood!

Tell us about OK Friend.

OK Friend has been a solo home recording project that started out after writing a handful of songs that fit a similar style and mood. I’ve been writing songs with some level of seriousness since I was in high school and I’ve been in a band, The Symptones, since 2016. Up until last year, a majority of the songs I’ve written started out on a guitar while working out lyric ideas. It’s the instrument I’m most comfortable with.

I was given an electric piano from a friend last year and I had this ‘90s drum machine that I’d plug into it and I’d put on headphones and start getting little ideas down. I started to build up the structure of a few songs around a piano idea and being on a different instrument, I found myself using different chord changes that I found most natural for me on guitar.

I love the imagery in Winter Song 3. What first inspired the song – love, winter or something entirely different?

Hey, thank you! Winter definitely kick-started it. I wrote the song during the week in December when we were absolutely pummeled by snow. I had been toying with some acoustic guitar ideas while sitting with my son. And I just started mumble singing some lyrics until they started taking shape. I liked the idea of contrasting something as literal as counting out the inches of snow we were getting against the extremes of being “flattened” by love.

It seems that you do everything related to the music. How long does that take? What’s the process?

Somewhere between one day and nearly a year to complete a song. Some of the first voice memo recordings of the melodies go back a few months.

I can get lost in writing a guitar part or tracking bass or tweaking drum samples for hours. So that can factor into how long a song takes to finish. I’ve wanted to learn the process of engineering and mixing my own music and it’s gotten me to think so much more intentionally about the instrumentation on each track. For instance, I wanted to keep Winter Song 3 sparse and give it space. Playlists I really wanted a live-band feel.

I put very little pressure on myself to release songs by a certain date.

Do you have people around you that help you mold the music? Folks who hear early versions and give feedback?

Definitely! That has been so important. I’ve shown early versions of the songs to the band I’m in (The Symptones, be on the lookout for a new album this summer!). They’re my closest musical collaborators and even though these songs are a departure from our work together, their feedback is super helpful.

My family ends up hearing early versions of the songs the most. If there’s a piano or a guitar around, I’m likely going to play it at some point. My wife has a good ear for when I’m trying too much with a song. And if my two-and-a-half-year-old asks me to play a recording of a song again while we’re in the car together, I know I’m on the right track!

Tell us about indie dad-pop music and how does being a dad impact your music.

I have been listening to a ton of ’80s and ’90s pop lately. Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”, Bruce Hornsby’s album “Scenes From The Southside”, Annie Lennox and Mariah Carey. It all ended up influencing the songs that I was writing—drum machines, funky synths, thoughtful background vocal arrangements. I sort of rolled my eyes at the music my parents listened to when I was a kid, but that music tends to find its place in my regular rotation.

Being a dad has impacted my music in a few ways. The first is that I have fewer hours in the day to make music, but when I am making music that is all I’m doing. I feel more focused on creating and I’ve never been more productive as a songwriter. And second, I have so much fun creating music that previously didn’t exist and I want my children to be able to share that joy with me. They’re around me when I’m writing, my son was hanging out with me when I was tracking some shaker and tambourine for a song the other day, and I love knowing that about these songs.

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