Canadian Musician - January / February - Page 31

DIGITAL MUSIC One would never assume that a bunker in an Atlantic Canadian forest would house an incredible studio operated by Canadian musical prodigy Nick Fowler. Nick is known primarily for his TV compositions, having written the themes for Daily Planet and The Social. His solo project, FWLR, grows to fan and blog acclaim. With a focus on writing electronic music that lives outside of the box, FWLR is carving his own path through the global musical landscape. Hear music at Soundcloud.com/FWLRmusic and FWLRmusic.bandcamp.com, and hit him up on any social media platform @FWLRmusic. Cross-Platform Collabs A Q&A with FWLR on Collaborating with Non-Electronic Artists Part 2 N ew Brunswick-based producer and electronic artist FWLR recently took part in the Songwriters Association of Can- ada’s SongWorks 2017 Pro Writing Camp, which brought together a number of Canadian artists from different dis- ciplines and locations to work and compose together. Check out part one for more on that experience, and read on about some of his other collaborations with artists from outside of the digital domain. CM: What makes for an ideal musical collaborator/co-writer, in your opinion? FWLR: I think you need to really objectively assess what you are and what you aren’t great at. Not only will this guide you in your self- improvement, but you can also choose to get together with people who complement your strengths and – more importantly – weak- nesses. For example, I am really good at subtractively writing lyrics. If you give me 100 lines of lyrics, I can tell you which ones are amazing and which ones are forgettable. So someone who is great at freely com- ing up with tons of lyrics quickly works really well with me. Something I struggle with is conceptualizing the song at the beginning stages, so I need someone with a brain that’s less calculated and logical than mine. At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding who you are as a songwriter so that you can work with people who complement you. CM: When collaborating with other artists – specifically those without much experience in digital composition – how do you go about establishing common ground? Is it ever a challenge? FWLR: I’ve never really had this challenge. I really love ignoring genre “rules” or stylistic barriers and I think that helps. If I did a purely experi- mental EDM track that was just crazy, I could see a vocalist having a hard time with that, but one of the things I love to do is combine the elements from those more underground styles with the more sensible characteristics of pop music. I always go into a writing session open- minded and with the approach that I am not married to any of the elements in the track. This creates common ground since I make it clear that if anyone has any ideas at all, we can try them all out. CM: What about specific collaborations where you’ve got some- one singing or performing an instrument on a track with you? Are those sessions generally seamless, or is there ever a learning W W W. C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N . CO M curve to getting people on the same page? FWLR: Maybe I’ve been lucky, but when I work with people, they always seem to bring their A-game. Sometimes there are learning curves when tracking vocals over certain songs, but I try to encourage a fully open and honest environment. For example, if they are having a hard time staying on pitch over a super busy and synthy section, I’ll suggest that we dumb the track down or create a guide piano track for the tracking process. If you leave judgment and reservations at the door, you can get over most hurdles easily. CM: In your experience, what makes for a successful collabo- ration between electronic and "non-electronic" artists? Any stories of collaborations with particularly fruitful, or maybe surprisingly unfruitful results? FWLR: In order to have a successful collaboration, I think you need to firstly have fun. This usually means establishing chemistry. One of the reasons why each day at the camp was a serious struggle for us to finish our tracks was because at the start of the sessions, we would always take it easy and get to know each other a bit better. I don’t think I’d change that even if the deadline was tighter. It might take a bit more time rather than diving right into the project, but it gave us a chance to feel each other out and understand what we each brought to the table. All three of my days at the camp were very fruitful and I think it had a lot to do with the chemistry we established at the start. Also, just being a nice person and leaving your ego behind goes a very long way. CM: What would you say were the most valuable takeaways for you, personally, from the SongWorks experience? FWLR: One of the most valuable takeaways for me was the people that I met at the ca