Darryl James has been writing and touring with the Strumbellas for the past 9 years and has seen one of his co-written songs “Spirits” become an international hit going “Double Platinum” in Canada, “Gold” in the USA and “Gold” in Germany. “Spirits” also have over 120 million Spotify streams and over 54 million Youtube streams worldwide, so Darryl understands what it takes to write a hit single!
Over the past 2 years, Darryl has made songwriting one of his main priorities with the goal of writing songs with for other artists. In the last 6-12 months, Darryl is now co-writing with grammy nominated artists and producers regularly, signed a recent publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing, and has judged for both SOCAN and CARAS for various industry awards.
What inspires you to create music?
I love creating music that connects with people and what they’re going through in their lives. When fans tell me that my music relates to them in any way, it means the world to me and inspires me to write more!
Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?
Yes. First, I create the melody and chords in a voice memo. From there, I try to write another melody to connect the two or co-write with someone to create something unique. I generally work on lyrics last.
How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?
I’m an original member in the band, The Strumbellas. It was my first band, and first time experiencing the industry.
How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?
In The Strumbellas, we try to work with a new producer every record and push our sound to something new, and exciting. Each of us in the band is always trying to find new music that inspires us and then build from in our own projects.
Do you write for other recording/performing artists?
Yes. I am signed to a publisher called, Kobalt Music Publishing. I pitch songs to other artists and for sync opportunities.
Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?
I enjoy writing for other genres, but feel most comfortable in writing folk/country songs.
Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?
Economically, the first 8 years of being in The Strumbellas was a struggle. I ran my own consulting business on the side, just to make enough money to support being in the band, and supporting my family.
Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?
Our lead writer in The Strumbellas, Simon Ward. He writes “Huge” hooks and is always working to write better songs. It has been inspiring to learn from him throughout the last 10 years, and he’s influenced my work ethic and style for songwriting.
If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?
To be honest, I love collaborating with anyone. I find the experience so memorable and inspiring.
How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?
It was very informal. I played guitar around the camp fire and then transitioned to bass guitar and song writing, but that wasn’t until I was in my 20’s. Therefore, never be worried about when and how you start writing your first songs. It can happen anytime.
Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?
Write as many songs as you can, and don’t be scared to co-write with other creators.
What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?
My fondest memory is when our song, “Spirits” climbed the USA alternative charts and reached #1 for 3 weeks. The excitement and opportunities that song presented over the last few years were life changing and inspired much of my current work.
What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?
I’d say a voice recorder and a note pad. When you feel inspired or even when you don’t feel inspired, write some melodies and lyrics at any time of the day, and go back and listen every month or so.
Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?
I’ve started to write songs to pitch to film and television and in The Strumbellas, we’ve had a lot of sync placements with our last record. Overall, it is an amazing experience to hear a song you’ve co-written in a film, commercial or video game. And, even more rewarding when fans/friends come up to you and tell you about those placements!
How can S.A.C. help you?
I’d love to use the S.A.C to build my songwriter’s professional network by going to songwriting camps and connecting with other writer’s.
If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?
For the industry to be more inclusive of females and minority groups in leadership roles along with equalling out the opportunities for females/minority groups in the recording/production, and live music scenes.
What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself?
With the internet, and the ability to put your songs out into the world within seconds, I feel like the opportunities are endless. 15 years ago that really wasn’t possible, and I’ve seen first hand how a songwriter can be found from a song on a SoundCloud link or Youtube video.