Lolita from our Forum asked me this question:

Um, basically, how do you keep your songs sounding original? Even if you listen to diverse range of music, how do you keep your songs sounding like your own?
Like, whenever I try to write a song I’ll come up with a cool bass line(because the bass is my main instrument), then stop and realize, ‘oh damn, that sounds just like that Marilyn Manson song or that Emilie Autumn song.’ And I’ll try re-arranging it, but I’m always afraid that I’ll write something great then realize too late that it sounds just like another song. Or I’ll not realize it at all and publish the song, then later get a bunch of people accusing me of copying a part of someone’s song.

And, how do you come up with lyrics that sound good/original? I write lyrics a lot, but they always sound way too angsty or childish. It might just be me though. I’m also not quite sure exactly what I should write my lyrics about, I have a few ideas, but I want to try to cover new ground or write the songs a little differently, instead of writing about topics that have been done to death….

And one last question: Do you think lyric-writing is something that should be practiced, so you can be better at it, or do you think you should wait for inspiration rather than forcing the lyrics???



Firstly, liberate yourself from the idea that “it’s been done before, so it can’t be done again”.
Replace it with the idea “It’s been done before, but not by me…so I’m going do it!!”.

If you and Marilyn Manson write a similar bass line, they will sound different because your version will be laced with YOU…if you catch my drift. The original idea of the bass line probably won’t be the version that appears on the final recording. All the music components will evolve once you put them all together and the mold to work together. If Marilyn Manson did his version on a bass guitar, maybe you could use a synth. Allow the bass line to grow into it’s own self under your influence. Yes, I realise that I sound like a Crystal Gazing Hippy, but it’s important to understand that music is a reflection of you – it can adapt and change as you can.

It is important to realise the following:

1) If you sound like your favorite artists, start listening to something else. You might even have to go on a “musical fast” (ie: listen to NOTHING) so you can cleanse your palate.

2) Just write whatever comes out. Always keep a notebook of dicta-phone handy.You might have to face the hard brutal facts that just because you like Industrial, you might not end up sounding like it.

If you like bass, listen to Primus or Bootsy Collins.



Of all the song’s components, lyrics take the longest to write. We’ll have pages and pages and pages and pages of ideas, then edit them down to a song. It takes six to ten drafts before we get it right….

Did you see my blipvert on Writing Lyrics?
>> View Video

Main advice: listen to something different: Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins, PJ Harvey, Tex Perkins, NICK CAVE (GOD OF LYRICS!!). These people write awesome lyrics. It’s not just about what they say, it’s also what they don’t say that paints the picture.


And one last question: Do you think lyric-writing is something that should be practiced, so you can be better at it, or do you think you should wait for inspiration rather than forcing the lyrics???

This is a brilliant question!
…but I’ll reply with a cliche – it’s 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration

The “Inspiration” bit:¬†Remember to keep a note book handy. Write down the ideas when they come to mind. Awesome ideas fall out of the sky at any given moment, so you need to be ready to catch them!

The “Perspiration” bit:¬†Compiling, editing and bashing these random ideas into structure is a pain in the arse. We need to work SO HARD to make them work. The first few drafts might sound stupid – just get rid of the stupid bits and keep the cool bits.

On a personal note, the last few weeks for me (creatively) have SUCKED…but the trick is to keep working at it. This is my advice for writers and composers:

if you hate it,
if it makes you doubt your abilities and hate yourself,
if it makes you want to give up,
then you’re on the right track – persist through it and something AMAZING will be born. JUST PERSIST.

I hope this helps.