The Song Exploder podcast has a different artist on every episode, telling the story of how they constructed one of their songs. The artist starts with the idea of the song, explains their writing process, and explains the choices around the beats and instruments.
Episodes jump all over the music business, from rapping with Busdriver to country with Old Crow Medicine Show to pop with Carly Rae Jepsen. (And yes, you’ll actually like that last one, especially when you hear her story behind the song.)
This week, Grimes explained Kill V Maim. After one of her musician friends told her that she writes “cute” songs, she set out to write something different. In the past, she’d had a tough time writing lyrics because she felt walled in by her own personality. She’d recently found herself freed up by allowing herself to think of lyrics as fanfic. For Kill V Maim, she imagined a movie mashup of The Godfather meets vampires, and wanted to write a song for the soundtrack, and we got this:
I’d never listened to Grimes before, but hearing the backstory, I was hooked. My learning journey about Grimes was:
- Listening to the SongExploder podcast about the song’s construction
- Watching the song’s video
- Reading the song’s lyrics on Genius (verified by Grimes) and fans’ interpretations
The more I learned about that song, the more I loved it. How can you not adore a tiny 28-year old woman singing as Al Pacino – acting the role of a gender-switching space vampire?
You’re a performance artist too.
No, you or I are probably never going to come up with concepts that awesome, but we can engage with our readers, attendees, and coworkers that same way. When you build a blog post, presentation, or project you’re really proud of:
- Write about why you decided to do it
- Share what you learned along the way
- Talk about how you built the material
The story behind your work brings it to life, and yes, we really want to know. You’d be surprised how often I read a blog post or see a session abstract and say to myself, “Wow, I’d like to know more about what that person does every day.”
It takes courage, but tell the stories behind your failures, too. Yesterday, I had a really tough day at the office, and I’ll be blogging about it in more detail eventually. I run a retrospective blog series about how the company goes, but I wait a year before I write those posts because I need to have the right perspective.
Right now, my only perspective is that I failed, and I had a rough day yesterday, but tomorrow will be awesome again.