At the first of the year I usually find myself going through papers and files… cleaning out the old and making room for the new. This year my hope is to get one step closer to digital everything! In going through old papers tonight, I ran across notes from a brief 2013 interview with Ian Eskelin, my friend and former neighbor. Today Ian is known to work quickly. That’s how one guy can accomplish so much great work. And I have to say, the interview was no different – quick and to the point, but filled with good stuff.
I asked Ian one simple question, “What’s the best advice you could give young songwriters?”, and here’s what he said…
“Dare to Suck!”, and then he laughed. As is typical with Ian, he jokes but he’s serious at the same time, and I knew it. So I asked him to expound on that a bit. Ian explained that early in his career he was concerned about what his co-writers might think of his ideas. This, he says, inhibited his writing. In collaborative songwriting, you’ve got to throw your ideas out there no matter how silly they may seem. “Dare to suck”. Looking back, he says it’s funny how some of those ideas he might have been embarrassed of, actually made it into the songs.
Ian also shared some wise advice on finishing a song. He said he used to have about 50 half finished songs just sitting around at any time. He wanted to finish them right, and thus they just never got finished. But over the years Ian has learned how to finish and finish well. In fact, he’s known for that and is often called on as producer/writer to help artists finish out their ideas. Ian’s advice is to “go with your gut in the moment. Finish fast.” It’s best to get it done in the moment while the idea is fresh. If you stop short you may never go back. He says, “You can always change it later” if it needs it.
One more piece of advice from Ian… Ian said he used to be “selfish” and wanted all “100%ers”. He didn’t want to give away any of the song. The he hit that “sophomore slump” as he called it. He opened his mind to collaboration with others and found that the input co-writers had on the songs totally “turned his world around”. As a music publisher, I see this all the time and I’ve commented on the many benefits of collaboration in more than one blog post. You can search the co-writing tag on the right or go to this post to read more on this topic.
Ian Eskelin is a producer, songwriter, solo artist, and founding member and lead singer of the Grammy-nominated Christian Rock band All Star United. He won the Dove Award for “Producer of the Year” in 2011 and 2008, and was nominated for the same award in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Eskelin also has received multiple Dove nominations for his songwriting and production work with artists such as Francesca Battistelli, Sidewalk Prophets, Stellar Kart, and Remedy Drive. As an artist and writer Eskelin has had more than thirty Top 10 singles in the United States, including 12 #1 charting songs. He has additionally had international #1 songs in various countries including Japan, Singapore, and Australia. Ian’s songs have been licensed for use on ABC, Spike TV, Style Network, the movie Soul Surfer, the movie Saved!, the trailer for the film Superbad, NBC promotionals for the show Heroes, and multiple CBS network imaging campaigns to name a few. You can learn more about Ian at www.ianeskelin.com