When I meet someone for the first time and they learn that music is my profession, one of the first questions I am asked relates to my musical influences. This is especially the case if someone has heard several of my compositions, as they tend to be quite unique and are sometimes difficult to label according to a genre or style of music. While I do have a number of traditional influences that I like to identify in response to this question, the truth is that I am constantly inundated with the music that exists all around us.
I often find myself moved by the percussive rhythm of water falling onto a tin roof or the sound of birds calling to each other over great distances, and I try to incorporate those sounds into my music somehow. Not in a way that involves hiking up into the mountains with a microphone, but rather as a sort of transcription of the music made by nature. If I am fortunate, the songs I hear will stay with me until I have an opportunity to write them down, but I often find that the memory of just a few notes is enough to inspire an entirely new composition.
Of course, I do have traditional influences that I return to time and again for inspiration. I have a copy of New Morning by Bob Dylan that I could listen to on repeat for hours on end, and I still recall my first music lessons that included listening to some of the great masterpieces of classical music. I tend to gravitate toward musicians who push boundaries, but I am also awed by those who are able to compose beautifully moving and creative pieces while operating within a set of strictly defined musical guidelines.
I believe that an open-mindedness to all musical styles is absolutely vital to a musician’s continued development. During a recent trip abroad, for example, I found myself particularly inspired by a group of street performers who played what they called “gypsy punk.” The arrangements were incredibly unique and their energy alone was enough to stoke my creativity. Had I not paused to listen for a moment I would have missed out on what I consider to be one of the most inspired musical performances I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I can only hope that my original compositions have a similarly inspiring effect on the listener, even if only subconsciously.