David Latto on the The Homebird Sessions with Elaine Lennon
'THE HOMEBIRD SESSIONS' is a Facebook Live Series on @ElaineLennonMusic, started by Elaine to provide a place for music lovers to come each Wednesday for a 'musical hug' when the Lockdown started - somewhere they could check in regularly and feel part of a community, listen to some songs and hear the stories behind them.
Elaine says: “Series 1 was all about the stories behind my own original songs - Series 2 is about delving into the stories behind some of my fellow Songwriter buddies with a mix of music from us both for you to enjoy!
The core of these sessions will always be to give you a weekly 'musical hug' and have a little fun! My guests join me after the Session for a LIVE Q&A over on THE HOMEBIRD SESSIONS Facebook GROUP page - if you’d like to watch or participate in these weekly live Q&A sessions then head over to the Facebook Group Page and become a member.”
In Series 2, Episode 2 of ‘The Homebird Sessions’ Elaine was joined by Kirkcaldy singer songwriter David Latto who also joined her afterwards for a LIVE Q&A over on THE HOMEBIRD SESSIONS Facebook GROUP page:
E: If you were to put into a story your journey into becoming the songwriter you are what would that sound like?
D: Like a lot of musicians I started out really young - I was always really interested in music from a young age and really taken by it. I would dig into my dad’s LP collection and listen to his Meatloaf records and his records by The Skids…so I had quite a good education in that respect. I was bought a piano in primary school and had lessons - I didn’t really practice but I took to it quite easily…then I didn’t do much with it again until I was in High School I discovered rock music again and had my mind blown by Nirvana and groups like that…
One thing lead to another..it was the one thing I was always really good at…I was ok at everything else but it was the one thing I really enjoyed.
I played in a band called ‘State of Affairs’ which was my High School band and we did really well considering we were a High School band of four friends playing at T in the Park and places like that, so it was fun! We were living together in Edinburgh and it was a but crazy. We were either writing together or I was writing and taking bits of these songs to the band and at some point I started writing my own songs and thought I could have more creative freedom that way so I suppose one thing just lead to another really and I had a few experiences going abroad that influenced my taste in music and broadened it a little…
E: That’s right - your mum and dad live in France just now don’t they?
D: Yes - my dad was in the Police and retired early so they decided to sell up and buy a house in France.
E: So do you think we may get some songs in French from you?
D: Well I have written some songs with some French lyrics in them and did one in my own live stream last week on Sunday nights…and said I would maybe perform one on their so I need to find one I can do there.
E: What inspired you to take that next step after being in the band and go out there and perform on your own?
D: I got tired of compromising my ideas. I like to collaborate but there is a limit of my enjoyment in it. I do like to pursue and idea to the very end and sometimes when you have to get involved int eh democratic of a band, sometimes that initial idea can get lost. So impetuous for pursuing a solo career was that I got to take charge of all aspects of all parts.
E: In doing that you take the risk…and it’s all your risk…and if it goes well you get to enjoy the full success…and it’s all a learning process…
I loved touring with you recently. The first time we performed together was on the Danny Kyle Stage where one of the judges told us that our voices blended so well together and that we should look at working together. Our tour was cut short due to Lockdown but we are looking to get back out on the road together next year in our Double Headline show.
One of the things looking back at our tour though that makes me laugh out load the most was us having to ‘practice’ looking into each other’s eyes…something which really helps the audience to enjoy the show but for the artists can be really out of our comfort zone!! I remember that was hilarious and pretty funny awkward for us wasn’t it!
D: Absolutely! I would still find that awkward today - it’s just something I naturally avoid! I mean we usually avoid gazing into each other’s eyes…I mean I’m not even sure I do that with my wife!
E: We ended up just making it a laugh didn’t we!
D: Yeah I think you have to - it does help you connect to the other person and gives you that perception of connection to the audience so you know you are both involved in taking it seriously for them!
E: So how has Lockdown impacted your creativity?
D: I’ve written a lot of things. I feel like I’m in a gestation period - I really don’t know what the next thing I’m going to make is going to be like so I’m kind of ramping myself up to go and explore and find out what that’s going to be. I really don’t want to do the same thing again - I want to grow as an artist not re-tread the same path all the time but I’m not sure what that looks like at the moment. It’s been a good time to reflect and I think there’s a lot of work ahead of me to be honest.
E: Be kind to yourself - I think there are so many artists doing differently at this time - some are being super creative and others just can’t find their flow so I think being kind to yourself is key right now. When you are feeling creative go and create and if you’re not feeling creative them know that creativity will come back at another point…
D: It’s hard when you are stuck int he house all the time to find inspiration
E: How do you know when a song is finished and ready to go to that next stage?
D: They say all artwork is abandoned…like at some point you say “I’m not going to do anymore work on this…it’s done’. So a song when I’m happy I have it with vocal and acoustic guitar I’d say that is finished, but then when you go to arrange and record it that’s when you will add in bits here and there and change things, modify how you sing it in line with better ideas that you have when they come along…nothings ever really quite finished in that sense…until it’s abandoned.
After the Show on @ElaineLennonMusic Facebook page, David joined Elaine over on her THE HOMEBIRD SESSIONS Facebook GROUP Page for a live and interactive Q&A:
E: So what comes first for you when you are writing is it melody or lyric, or is there no set rules for you?
D: I don’t have any set rules - if I did that would be great as I could just repeat the process every time! Usually just a lot of agony, angst and wondering if I’ll ever be able to write a song again lol!…and then I’ll write a rubbish song then breakthrough with something that I’m happy with - that’s the process usually!
E: I’m writing a song right now and the melody is there, but the lyrics aren’t coming quite as easily…they come in sounds or syllables rather than fully formed words…other times both melody and lyric come at the same time…it really varies each time.
D: I’ve learned not to impose myself too much on it - if I go in with an idea of what I want to write it sometimes ends up just not working and I come out with something completely different.. so it’s best to go with the flow…
E: As long as you end up with a song and its a good one then that’s what matters!
Member Question (David Prentice): Who was your biggest inspiration that got you into music?
D: There are so many artist who have inspired me. At certain points in your life you are inspired by different artists. I used to listened to early on where Brian Adams, Meatloaf, Bruce Springsteen. As you grow your tastes change and become more refined - The Replacements were one I listened to…You try to draw different things from music you like then try to create your own thing from it - that’s the fun part!
E: For me the early music I was influenced by came from my mum’s very eclectic taste so there was everything from Cavaleria Rusticate and Pavarotti to Nana MousKouri…then there was Jimi Hendrix and Nina Simone, Eva Cassidy …and so rather than being inspired by a particular songwriter or musician my inspiration came from music that made me feel something. It really depends on the song for me. Julie Andrews perhaps had an influence in there too :)
I love the stories. That element of my writing comes from my mum as when we were young we didn’t really read many books, my mum would tell us stories and we would make up our own stories and use our imaginations and so that captivating story telling side of songs has always stuck with me.
Member Question: (Alan Jerram): Any song subject you’d like to write about but haven’t yet?
D: I’ve ben reading the Sir Walter Scott Poem ‘Roseabell’ which is the story of a woman who goes across the Forth in a boat from Kirkcaldy and the boat sinks - it’s a beautiful poem so I’d like to either write a song about that or use the same characters and story and write that one…
E: I’ve been reading a lot of Paulo Coelho books and there’s one book called “The Flowing River’ which is a compilation of lots of short stories and every one of those could inspire a song…so watch this space.. :)
Member Question: (Lesley Murray) - If you could write a song for a film, what type of film would it be?
D: I have one song that I’ve been involved in that will be part of a movie - the movie release has been put on hold due to Corona but when that comes out my song will be in it. Apart from that I’d like to write songs for a a movie about a garage band as it’s something different to what I would normally do.
E: I’d love to writer songs for movies / Sync as I like to write in so many different ways. I like wiring songs that are quite dark and electronic, a bit heavier …for movies that are heavier or darker…or TV shows like ‘Suits’…I’d also love to do something similar to what Amy Wadge did for the Ch4 ‘Keeping Faith’ where she created and released the soundtrack tot he series. I’d love to do something similar to that.
Member Question (Stewart Griffin): David, is it the words or the music that comes first in the songwriting process?
D: It’s almost neither - it can be one or the other. It’s rare I’ll sit down and start wiring and that then becomes a song. Some things have to mill around in your head first…then the way those words are expressed is not always the same. It would be great if I could say the first thing I do is write the chords, then the words and then I write the melody…most of the time its a jumble of all of these then you play with them and they become a song.
E: I remember writing Next Friday Night and it started in the car on the school run, then when I was walking around Tesco…little snippets of the melody came first then the structure came in when I knew what I wanted to say in the story line and then how I wanted to bring them together…so it was written in so many different places over a period of time…so it’s not like I sat down and said ‘OK today I’m going to write this song’.
Member Question (Christiane Kiki Pludra): Have you written or sung a song in a different language?
D: I had this idea to learn a bunch of songs in French and go and play them in French restaurants, but it turns out there aren’t that many French restaurants around here and I’m not that great at French… lol! It was good fun trying to learn them and it improved my French which was great!
E: I spent a lot of time in Spain growing up and have been extremely influenced by Spanish music and artists so I may do something in Spanish one fo these days. I may look at doing a cover of a Spanish song for one of The Homebird Sessions too! :)
Member Question (Lesley Murray): What venue do you aspire to play in?
D: The 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, but closer to home The Barrowlands would be pretty cool. I’d like to go further afield though.
E: I wound’t say no to The Hydro here in Glasgow or the Armadillo. There are some great venues within the UK and in particular here in Scotland and I think that’s part of the reason why more big name artists are starting to play here rather than skip us out like they perhaps had done in the past. They Sydney Opera House would be another dream. Ultimately though it always comes back to the same thing…if there are people there who want to hear me sing it doesn’t matter if there are only 5 people or 50,000 as long as they are actually there to listen to and enjoy the music then its less about the venue I perform in and more about the people I’m performing for.
Member Question (Annie Watson): Whats has been your favourite thing to listen to during lockdown?
D: I’ve been enjoying a lot of Frank Ocean
E: A lot of classical soundtracks including the ‘City of Angels’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’ - I really enjoy those.
Member Question (Annie Watson): What track have you listened to that has helped you through Lockdown?
E: I listen to so many different genres of music and right now my kids are listening to the Sonic Movie Soundtrack right now which has loads of upbeat tracks. The Paddington Bear and Despicable Me Soundtracks are also full of really cool tracks that keep me going!
Member Question (Alan Jerram): If you had a movie made of your life so far, who would you love to play you?
E: Shakira!!! lol! We have the same hair!
D: Someone handsome like Tom Hardy!!
Find out more about Elaine and David on socials and listen to her music on all major digital platforms:
Facebook and Instagram - @ElaineLennonMusic
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