A Rainy Week in Paradise, the newest album from Elessar Thiessen is a body of work that is extremely articulate and a very enjoyable listen. He is a songwriter, guitarist and producer but most of all he is an artist. Thiessen’s songs are inspired by events that have happened to him in his life and that personal touch resonates with the listener. Thiessen spoke with us about his new album:
Me: How did you get in to playing music and becoming a producer?
Elessar Thiessen: I’d say it happened organically. I grew up around music, bought a guitar, and got pretty good at it. I would listen to music and hear the potential for an additional harmony, or guitar riff, or percussive shaker. I started recording my own music on a computer microphone, adding layer after layer. People seemed to like what I was doing. My Dad always told me to do what I loved. I had the opportunity to pursue it as a career and there you have it (laughs).
Me: Is it hard to write and also produce a project? Being so close to the art, did you ever find it difficult to blur the lines between artist and producer?
ET: As a producer, I’m continually asking myself if the sounds we’re creating resemble the heart and intent of the artist. Do the sonics support the lyrics of the artist? I need to listen to the production from an outside perspective, as though I had never heard of this artist before. Does the production capture my attention? Will the production capture the attention of the listener? When it comes to producing my own music, everything changes. All of a sudden every note, every melody, every drum tone becomes personal. I no longer need to worry if the “artist” likes it, but I’m constantly trying to listen to the production from an outside perspective to discern whether I’m capturing my hearts intent. It’s a tricky balance. That being said, the creation process tends to come more naturally. Fewer limitations.
Me: “Another Love Song” and “You Girl” are favorites of mine from the new album A Rainy Week in Paradise. Can you tell me the inspiration for those songs and what it was like working with Alex Dirks?
ET: “Another love Song” came out of some frustration I had built up towards society and media for shredding the morals of what a relationship could be. In the past I fed into the media, and came out damaged and empty. “Another Love Song” is my short rant on what I want in a woman, and why I want it. (Laughs).
“You Girl” is a mood put into song. I wouldn’t say it was inspired by anything in particular, more of the potential for someone in particular. Working with Alexa was great. She is an amazingly talented vocalist, filled with joy. I was honored to have her join me on the track. She took the song to a whole new level.
Me: Who would you compare your style of writing and guitar playing to?
ET: Maybe a John Mayer kind of thing going on. I tend to be all over the place.
Me: What is the most important part in your writing process? Every songwriter does things differently, but what is your approach when you sit down to write a new song?
ET: Well obviously the most important is the inspiration. I have never written a song of mine without first experiencing something that inspired me to take the time to sit down and write my thoughts. The approach varies depending on the inspiration. Most of the time, I’ll write the lyrics and music separately. I’m constantly writing new melodic chord progressions on guitar, but the lyrics are what take time. I also find myself sitting down with lyrical thoughts in my head; I’ll grab my guitar and write a chord progression that I find will best support the thoughts in my head. From there, I’ll start writing lyrics.
Me: What is your favorite and most difficult part of being a singer/songwriter and your favorite and most difficult part of being a producer?
ET: Singer/Songwriter: Favorite part: Expressing myself through song. Difficult part: Being vulnerable in front of an audience.
Producer: Favorite part: Helping make people’s dreams come true. Difficult part: Time management.