National Singer & Musician Day: Some of the best songs start with a pen & paper

National Singer & Musician Day: Some of the best songs start with a pen & paper

Today is National Singer and Musician Day! To celebrate, we met up with Dan, a creative musician who writes, records, and produces for his band ‘Girls are Robots’. He likes his music loud and his caffeine strong and finds that some of his best ideas come to him when he’s half asleep! In Dan’s words, “Girls are Robots plays a feisty type of electro rock. In other words, we were a dance rock band that traded our guitars in for electronic instruments.”  If you haven’t heard their music, check them out!

We took the time to sit down and pick his brain to see where all his musical talent is stored, and what he does to move his talent from paper and ink to the ears of his fans.

Pentel: How did you guys originally form?

Dan: The band was an offshoot of a prior rock band.  When we first started out we didn’t have a drummer so I started programming simple drumbeats on my computer that we could play our guitars along to.  Over time, I got more and more interested in recording and producing music and eventually brought in more electronic instruments and sounds.  I liked being able to create crazy sounds with just the turn of a knob.  It was much more appealing than plugging my guitar into 10 different fx pedals.  All of this experimentation eventually led to the formation of the band as it is now.

P: What’ s your roll in the band?

D: I write record and produce the majority of our music. For live shows it’s usually me and 2-3 talented musician friends. Depending on the set, everyone tackles different instruments. I sing and typically play bass and keyword.

P: Where do you go for inspiration?

D: I find that listening to many different types of music sparks my creativity. As a musician there is always something you can learn from going outside your comfort zone and listening to unfamiliar genres with an open mind. It can make hitting the shuffle button on your ipod an interesting experience. Who says Spanish flamenco music doesn’t go well after Rage Against the Machine?

P: If an idea comes to you in the middle of the night do you get up to write it down?

D: I usually have a notepad by the side of my bed.  I don’t know what it is, but sometimes the best ideas come when I’m half asleep. Maybe my brain flows more freely when it’s in that state.  It’s not uncommon for me to start recording a new idea as late as 1:00am.  It’s not always the most convenient process but hey that’s what works for me.  

P: What tools do you need to help you create new music and lyrics?

D: I tried writing lyrics and ideas in my iphone and on my computer for a while, but I felt like it hampered my creativity. There’s nothing like doing it the old fashion way with just a pen and notepad. Being able to cross things out and scribble in the margins are all part of the process. I don’t think a folder of word documents on a computer compares to a notebook that you have carried around and filled with your thoughts and ideas.  Thesaurus websites/apps and Wikipedia are great resources that I use often as well.

P: What‘s up next for Girls are Robots?

D: This year we have been pretty quiet.  I’ve been recording a new album and that’s taking up the majority of my time.  Once the album is finished; we will all gather together in our practice space and figure out how to perform it all live.  You wouldn’t believe the mess of cables, keywords, and other gadgets that room is filled with by the time we have our set down.  It’s the opposite of your typical rock band. Since our music is electronic, we record it first and then learn to play it live second.

You can download the Girls are Robots’ EP for free at  http://girlsarerobots.com/ep_download  

Now it’s your turn: Music is a great motivator for all things creative. What musician are you inspired by today?