2013 in a Nutshell!

Well 2013 was another great year.

Feel the pain in the thighs.

I trained hard with “Da Boyz” and raced a lot. I rode over 10,000 km’s and I also won 2 races. One of those races was by a lot!

That's Me at the Top.  Woot Woot

That’s Me at the Top. Woot Woot

I really love cycling in Japan especially where I live in Numata. The mountain roads around here are clean and hardly used. Some early morning rides it feels like the road was made just for me. I’m looking forward to next year already. I will upgrade my bicycle group set Dura-Ace to the 9000 mechanical and probably buy a new training wheel-set.

Financially things were great, too. My best friend Ward did wonders with his day trading bringing me in over 17% profit over the year. I could “almost” quit my day job but not just yet. Also, Capital Clean Seed stock which I have some big money tied up in has finally started to climb and I’m excited to where it’ll go this year. If things go as predicted my move back to Canada won’t be as scary as I think. I will pray to the money gods on that one! It would really give me a lot of options on how to take care of my family which is the main reason I’ve been working so hard in the first place.

My little girl Victoria is now almost 2 years 6 months and she just gets cuter to me every day. She’s talking and developing her own personality and fortunately she loves playing together with daddy. She starts my days off by saying “Good morning daddy” and she never shy’s away from saying “I love you daddy”. What more could a father ask for? People tell me it will one day change and if they’re right, I best absorb every moment I can right now. Nothing makes me feel like I have a purpose more than my daughter.

Let's rock 2014!In August, I took 2 weeks and headed to Nashville Tennessee to record my latest album. I called up Aussie Greg Arnold again to produce it and we met up in a hotel near downtown Nashville to bash out the songs in pre-production before heading over to Alex the Great studio to have Brad Jones engineer and co-produce. The recording went well and it was an incredible experience. Brad would drive us to a different restaurant ever day around 3 to experience Southern food. The cool thing about the studio was that it was attached to a guest house which was included in the studio fee. I slept in the big studio room every night trying to finish off lyrics.  It was so cool looking around the room at the double bass, the grand piano, the drums all mic-ed up, and the foam carefully placed for sound just before closing my eyes and dreaming.  A kid in a candy store! The album is finally out and in boxes but I don’t plan on releasing it until January 2014. It’s titled, “Every Sunrise”.

Newest album, "Every Sunrise"

Newest album, “Every Sunrise”

Recording

I also hooked up with my brother in Nashville. He flew in for 2 nights to see me. It was really great to spend quality time with him. We had no family distractions and it was the icing on the cake to make it a memory I will not forget.

My Bro and I in Nashville 2013

I had a good year of gigging too. I am very fortunate to have my job at Lockheart castle. Without that second income things would be a lot different for us. But I also landed a few new gigs that could promise to become a regular event.

The worst thing of 2013 was word that my father has cancer in his liver and lungs. He’s on chemo now as I write this but I should point out that he got a phone call 3 days ago saying his last CT scan showed “a significant decrease of cancer in his liver” which has a lot of us family members excited. I will pray that the drugs continue to work and that my father kicks cancer in 2014.

Love my dad

Love my dad

So 2014 is just around the corner and if there are no hick-ups along the way I expect I will continue to do all the things I love, like look after my family, train hard on the road bike, race hard, gig every weekend, save money, write songs, sell the new album, and do my best to stay healthy and happy. Thank you 2013 and hello 2014!

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20 year old song gets new life.

Anyone remember these?

Anyone remember these?

Back in the 90’s when I was busking every day at the seabus and going to University I wrote a song with a woman named Kate MacColl.  I had this chord progression I kept playing but that was it.  She came back the next day with these lyrics and moving melody.  We recorded the song on my guitar and her vocals at a studio just to “have it”.  I really never thought about it much until 20 years later when she contacted me to tell me she entered it in a contest and it got runner up.  I went to her website and had a listen.  It’s still got legs all these years later.  You never know in the music business when your songs will finally mean something to someone.

Use to busk at the terminal. The seabus departed every 15 min. & we would make some serious money.

Use to busk at the terminal. The seabus departed every 15 min. & we would make some serious money.

You can here the song here if you wish.

Kelly

How to write radio friendly songs.

Putting the final touches on an original song.

I wrote an article several years back (that I just added to this blog site) called “7 Steps to writing a song you’re proud of” and I was surprised at the amount of readers who found it.   In that article I talked mostly of “my” process on how to get a song from inside you out into one that you are happy of.

In this blog, I want to explain some common ideals that are present when trying to write songs to be commercially viable.   Please note that these views, while fairly standard, are just my opinion and they are not written in stone.  Many have bent these rules slightly and if you’re not interested in writing “radio friendly” songs, then this isn’t for you.

OK.  Let’s start.

To be clear, I have a love, hate relationship with radio.  Most of the really big stations are monopolized by major corporations and with payola’s and money running the show, it’s almost impossible for independent musicians to get heard.  However, thanks to the internet there are now many more opportunities for your music to get out there.  So, you have many chances to find fans.  But in order to do so, you should understand a few things.

1).  Most people are in a hurry.  And in today’s world, we get things given to us immediately.  So when writing a song, you should get to the Chorus as soon as possible.

2).  Intro’s should never be very long.  Again, people want the meat and not the salad.  I usually have a 4 bar intro and for the most part I recommend not going any longer than that.  Sometimes it’s even cool to start a song immediately with vocals.

3).  As I mentioned, get to the Chorus soon.  Sometimes doing 2 verses before the first Chorus is fine but make sure you don’t leave your fans waiting too long.  Unless the Chorus is to die for then they might be willing to forgive you.

4) Usually after the 2nd Chorus a common theme is to go into a bridge (a third and unique melody that goes slightly in a different direction musically and lyrically). It’s often refreshing for a listener to hear a bridge when it’s done right.  A great bridge often leads back into a final Chorus effortlessly.  Often the last chord in a bridge will be the 5th chord of the root (if the song is in D then the last chord in the bridge might be an A or A7 so when the Chorus hits, the listener is unconsciously relieved with the root chord D returning and therefore more punch when the Chorus comes back).

5).  I could write a lot on chords and chord changes but that’s a whole different blog.  Let me say that for the most part, 3 chord songs have made artists millions of dollars but there is something special about adding more color (chords).  You can often replace a major chord with its relative minor (for example turning G into Em etc).  Only you and your friends who are listening will know what works best for you song.  But don’t be afraid to try alternative chords underneath your melody. It might even make you find a better melody.  Experiment.

6).  The Golden Rule of radio?  Keep your songs short.  3 to 3 1/2 minutes is usually enough to get your song across.  Yes, Stairway to Heaven, American Pie, and Hotel California are classics and they’re long.  But how many others do you know of?   The listener and the radio equally don’t have time for songs like that.  If your song is over 4 minutes I bet it’s too long for both parties.

7). Here is just one example of what a song could look like:

a)  verse 1

b)  Chorus

c)  verse 2

d)  Chorus 2

e)  Bridge

f)  short solo over chorus or verse chord progression

g)  Last Chorus X 2

e)  ending

Sometimes you can have 2 verses before the first Chorus as I mentioned earlier.

8).  Lyrics.  This is tough.  Why are 95% of all the songs out there written about love?  Because that’s the emotion most songs bring.  You can bet, everything you’re going to write about has been written about.  The idea is to find a different way to say what has already been said.  Find a catch saying that captivates people and work a song around that.  Whether you hate country music or not, it is usually full of amazing lyrics.  Have a listen to the way the songs are penned.  Sometimes taking a common phrase and twisting it is popular  (For example, instead of “Better luck next time”, you could say “Better luck next guy”).          ….You get the idea.

So again, let me clarify that I’m just sharing my opinion.  Some of you might not agree with what I have to say here.  That’s fine.  At the end of the day, songwriting is a craft like guitar playing which requires a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of heart.  You might have heard industry professionals say that until you’ve reached over 10,000 hours of practice in your craft, you’re not ready.  Granted some are just born good.  Most of us though, work at it.  Enjoy it though because it’s such a wonderful thing to do.

If you want, click on this link and download 20 of my songs for free(3 of these songs are in consideration for major motion pictures, another won best song of the month on ABC radio, and many have received radio play).  If you don’t mind me saying so – my latest release “THESE DAYS” has received a lot of praise from fans and critics alike.  Yes, I’m still trying to write a song that some 20 year old famous singer will buy but until then I’ll enjoy the process because I love it so.

I hope you write a song that you are really proud of.  Better yet, one that makes it on the radio.

~Kelly

Melbourne Australia. Songwriting.

Album #6 begins pre production.

Hiroshima showtime.

Song-writing, wrong-writing, and prolong-writing are what stages I am in at the moment.  If I don’t have a good song, then I shouldn’t bother making the next album.  Right now I feel I have around 3 songs that are possibilities for the new CD.  That leaves me with half a year to write another 7 or 8 worthy of being on an album.  It’s been really tough to find quality creative downtime this year.  It’s been busy to say the least.  I’m hoping if I can get some co-writing adventures going it could spark a fresh and burning fire of hot tunes.  I always want to make the new CD sound a little different from the last one but no matter how hard one tries; there are always elements of a song that are uniquely you.

I plan on working with Producer Greg Arnold again.  The established and credible songwriter/producer wants to make the next album with me in Nashville Tennessee.  Although, he is an Aussie, he has some solid connections with accomplished people in the industry there.  Another reason I MUST bring my game face with me.  But as I move quickly through life as a musician, the one thing I know that remains true in this crazy poor-mans industry is this:  It all starts with a great song.  It’s the peak of a mountain.  The rest flows naturally into the hands of fans or into a sea of mediocrity.

I yearn for the challenge and fear the failure equally.

…Sounds like a song in there somewhere….    😉    Hopefully an albums worth!

Here are my February Twitter blogs.

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  1. I stoled me old mans car once. Hoped he wouldn’t notice. NOTE TO SELF: If there’s ever a time to do that…it would be NOW ’cause I’m mature.

  2. Cold Play kicked butt at the 2009 Grammy’s.

  3. Just dropped a good chunk of cash on Pro Tools 8 and a new condenser microphone. It had to be done….. Back to work now!

  4. Derek Sivers is technically retired but he’s still providing heaps of wealthy information. Make sure you go to his site http://sivers.org/

  5. My enjoyable afternoon down by the local river might have turned into a cold. Hope not.

  6. Sneaking to the gym earlier than work allows but if I don’t, I won’t get it in today. Have a Shinenkai party (start of year) I must go to.

  7. Friday morning and the sun is shining. I just downloaded some updates of my favourite podcasts to enjoy at the gym.

  8. I could have used a few more hours of sleep last night. I’m dragging my sorry self around this morning.

  9. Hi! If you think I add value to your network, do drop me a recommendation at http://mrtweet.net/kellypet… Much appreciated!

  10. Don’t ever knock the Theme Park industry as a major source of income for musicians. If you can keep your case open also, LIFE will be GOOD.

  11. Gonna upgrade to Pro Tools 8. It’ll be the newest & best Digidesign for about a month. Then it’ll become old. Gotta love going digital

  12. I’m addicted to podcasts. I find myself running to them instead of solid music. Sign of my age?

  13. Al Gore paints another horrifically clear picture of the devastation humans made for life on Earth & I’m totally shamed and bummed by it.

  14. Just joined twitter to my Facebook page. One less things to worry about. http://www.kellypettit.com

  15. I’ve been looking for a famous duet song to sing with a female artist. The last time I did that was Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine”. Ideas?

7 steps to writing a good song

If anyone knows, please comment me!


Just kidding!

song-papers.jpg

There are 7 factors that I require when writing a good song and they are:

1) Emotions: The best place to find these are through a woman or a bottle of whiskey (note* whiskey was created after emotions were lost on a woman)

2) Catchy melody: Usually my songs start with some sort of chord progression on the guitar but not always. Then a vocal melody wrapped around the chords in an

interesting and satisfying way. If you interviewed most famous songwriters, they’d tell you most of their best songs seemed to channel through them

in an almost effortless fashion. If I look back on the songs I’ve written, I’d agree that my stronger songs were the ones that seemed to write themselves.

3) Strong lyrics: If you put strong lyrics with a very catchy melody then you’ve got something to be proud of for sure. For me, lyrics don’t come easy. I seem to lack something

important to say for the most part. Note to self: must find a woman or buy more whiskey.

4) Re-writing: This is where a lot of people fail miserably. They’re always too damn proud of their first take and are afraid to throw away something to make the song better because

they really like one line. Changing Chords and melody can lift a song too. Sometimes for example, you can replace the root chord with a minor 6 and give it some mood.

Or again, pour a stiff drink.

5) Play it live: Play your song to your friends and ask for honest opinions. Don’t let the negative vibes get you down either. A lot of the time, you’re friends won’t know what they’re talking about-

(Those drunken wankers). But a good song is pretty much universally liked and you’ll be able to weed out the good from the bad and generally get a sense of what is strong.

6) Write lots: You’ll get different opinions on this but for me, writing a lot of songs just makes me a better songwriter. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you practice every day, you’re going to

be much better than if you play it once a month.

7) Sleep on it: It’s weird but often I’ll wake up in the morning and play the new song again and it doesn’t have the same impact on me. That’s a sign that perhaps it just wasn’t a good song.

Or your just hung over to the nines!

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