Songwriting with Elle Rae and Her JD-Xi Synth
Elle Rae’s new song “Into The Fire” was released on Hasbro’s Transformers compilation CD today (on iTunes)! We caught up with Elle Rae front woman (and longtime Roland friend Lisa Harriton) to get under the hood of her new song and to find out what inspires her creative process. And Lisa’s JD-Xi makes a cameo in the new “Into The Fire” music video below. You can catch a quick glimpse of her FA-08 Music Workstation and JUNO-Gi rig in the video, too.
Did the JD-Xi, FA-08 or JUNO-Gi offer any specific inspiration for writing “Into The Fire”?
Lisa: Absolutely! The JD-Xi had just come out, and I was so excited to explore all of the new sounds. It’s so powerful and versatile for such a compact keyboard. Since the chorus already had so much low-mid register frequencies, I was needing a sound that would cut through the mix and sort of balance the harmonic spectrum. There were so many awesome sounds to choose from. After some searching and customizing, which was so easy to do on the Xi, we got the perfect bell-like synth to lift the chorus.
What came first, the lyrics or the music?
Lisa: The music actually came first for this one. I was borrowing a baritone guitar from a friend, and I was so inspired by it! I wrote this guitar riff and verse melody but never finished the song. The musical idea was always there in the back of my mind, and I knew it was special for the right situation. When the opportunity came up, to be a part of this special album inspired by one of my favorite childhood toys, I was so excited to put the two together! I brought the idea to my writing partner Joshua Bartholomew, and he was really inspired by it, too. He picked up a bass, and I picked up a guitar, and it all came together pretty quickly.
How do you approach writing songs?
Lisa: Every song is different, but quite often I will hear a melody first and then search for a bass line to compliment/contrast. That usually gets the train moving. I guess that might sound strange coming from a keyboard player. In this case, the main guitar riff is also the bass line. I have a very unconventional way of playing the guitar. I play it more like a bass. It’s actually on my list of things to do, “not suck on guitar” lol. Getting back to the process…once I have the melodic idea and bass line formed, I start to work on specific keyboard parts and textures to build upon the existing structure. This isn’t exactly how it flows for every song. There’s an RnB song I was working on last week for an artist, and I wrote the melody and the lyrics at the same time while playing these rich Gospel chords on the piano. It all depends. Regarding lyrical content, I always keep a list of song concepts, lyrical ideas, and poetry in my notes on my phone. Sometimes they come separate from the melodic ideas and sometimes at the same time. The thing that is constant is this spark…this instinct to channel something that moves me and that will hopefully move other people.