Songwriting | with Jillian Edwards
Jillian Edwards is a singer-songwriter living in Nashville, TN. A Dallas native, her album Daydream charted at No. 6 on Billboard's New Artist Chart and #1 on iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. Jillian is a signed writer for Concord Music Publishing and has had original songs on television series including CMT's Nashville, ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Pretty Little Liars, MTV's Catfish, as well as commercials for Kroger and Payless. In May of 2015, she founded The Deeply Co, a traveling music & art show celebrating makers of all kinds. German DJ Thomas Gold collaborated with Jillian on Magic, an electronic-dance anthem she is credited as featured vocalist and co-writer, yielding over 50 million streams on Spotify. Jillian is married to Will Chapman of rock band Colony House, and is a new mother to blue-eyed beauty, Willow Faye.
Thank you Jillian for sharing so much wisdom and sweetness in this interview. A take away: Tell beautiful stories.
Have you always been drawn to music?
Yes. I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a huge part of my life. My parents sang and played instruments every day at home growing up - it is ingrained into who I am!
How do you approach songwriting?
One of my favorite quotes that my dad told me about songwriting early on was that “writing a song is like trying to remember one you already know.” I have found that to be true. When I am most naturally building melody, lyric, and chords - the pieces that stick most are the instinctive ones - the ones that you feel a mysterious familiarity to.
What other forms of art are you interested in? How do they influence your songwriting?
I am drawn to art that evokes awe. Paintings, florals, food, movies...people tell beautiful stories with all of it. I am constantly inspired by friends and strangers who give of themselves to share their own beauty with the world. It all influences my songwriting. Any feeling I’ve ever had, or can imagine having, is a potential tool for writing a song.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your songs?
Life all around me. I store phrases and moments in my brain all the time in mundane conversations and actions. My relationship with my husband is a big well of songs for me. I pull a lot from him!
I am drawn to art that evokes awe. Paintings, florals, food, movies...people tell beautiful stories with all of it.
What has the music industry taught you?
To both value my art and regard it as less precious all at once! When I first moved to Nashville, I was scared of letting anyone else in on creating my music. It was too precious...but I never would have written some of my favorite songs if I hadn’t let other people in on the process. Of course, there is a special therapeutic thing about creating alone, and that has it’s place - but there is so much opportunity to be inspired by other people and to create beautiful things together. Producers, musicians, other songwriters...I need them! I’d also say the industry has taught me that there is no one way to be an artist. The music industry and it’s mediums change at lightning speed, it was even so different 5 years ago...you just have to roll with it and do you.
What work are you most proud of?
There’s not really one specific work I’m most proud of, it’s more just the general idea that anyone would listen to my music at all! That is seriously incredible.
What are you reading and listening to right now?
I am slowly reading Ann Voskamp’s A Thousand Gifts. I’m mostly listening to kids music while dancing around the kitchen teaching my daughter to eat cheerios. When I’m alone, I’ll usually revert back to old favorites like The Weepies or country songs from my childhood.
I’d also say the industry has taught me that there is no one way to be an artist.
Who are your teachers?
In my songwriting today, every person I write with is my teacher. I have so much to learn from the perspectives and experience of other people. The first person to teach me anything about songwriting was my Dad.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a songwriter?
Write a lot of songs! Bad ones. Good ones. Like anything else, the process becomes more natural the more you practice it.
What does music mean to you?
Music is a friend who gives you permission to feel things. If I write the kind of songs I hope to write, they make you feel less alone. I love this C.S. Lewis quote about what friendship is - in a way, I want my songs to make people feel like this too: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”