1. How long have you been playing the Keyboards?
I have been playing keyboards throughout most of my life. I started formal piano lessons at 9 years old, purchased my first synthesizer at 13 years old, and started performing live with my first Band at 17 years old. In the early years, I always enjoyed studying and being influenced by all styles of music. Classic Rock, Contemporary, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Fusion, Classical, and even Ragtime, have remained among the styles of music I have always studied. If you are a serious musician, you never stop studying music theory and improvisational techniques. These days I enjoy YouTube as my main source of studying music, as well as a main source of being continually inspired musically.
2. How many songs have you written and recorded?
I have written over 150 songs throughout my lifetime, but I have only recorded about 70 of them. I am currently working on several new recording projects in my studio, but I have always written songs at a much faster pace than I am able to record them. I am very proud of my “Songs of a Lifetime” Portfolio, which includes some of my best musical compositions. “Songs of a Lifetime” was the combination of many years of writing songs, and a 3-year time period in my life where I was able to record my music full-time without interruption. There are many extremely accomplished musicians from various parts of the country performing on my Songs of a Lifetime portfolio, as you will notice when reading the special guests mentioned on the CD’s. The performances are exceptional and inspiring. Click to view Rick's Original Music.
3. How often do you write new material?
I write music every time I sit down and play the piano, which is every day. However, I don’t always create a new song from every new musical idea I create. Many times, I create musical ideas and musical fragments as a form of practicing. The lifelong journey of continuous improvement as a piano player and keyboard player, has always remained my number one goal as a musician. The greatest part about studying music, is that you can never get to the end. There will always be more scales, chord structures, and music theory to be studied, analyzed, and practiced. I thank God every day for the life-long passion I have enjoyed from studying, writing, recording, and performing music.
4. Where do you get your inspiration to write so much material, and how does your songwriting process usually flow?
Since I have always enjoyed studying music theory and improvisational techniques, writing music becomes a natural transition from whatever I am improvising at that moment. Every day when I am playing the piano for my own enjoyment, I compose new melodies and musical passages that become my next song. So for me, songwriting almost always begins with the music first. From that point, I make the decision of whether the song will be an instrumental composition, or if I will be writing lyrics to fit the music. If I decide to write lyrics, I usually play the chorus repeatedly allowing the emotion of the music to trigger a lyric or a phrase. I believe that for a song to be a great song, you have to have a strong chorus or “hook.” In other words, there has to be a “magic” about the chorus section that keeps people singing even after the song ends. The magical combination of great music and great lyrics, is exactly what makes listeners want to hear a song over and over again. Once I have a strong hook, I create the “concept” of the song, and clearly define the song’s message with an outline. From there I develop the story line, and begin crafting the lyrics for the verses and possibly a bridge section. When it comes to writing lyrics, I believe in telling a story while being very open and honest. I am always looking to provoke emotions with the listener. I enjoy writing about varying topics, and many times my songs will end up as cross-over songs for different genres. Often my lyrical content may seem like a typical love song, but will also have deep religious content as well. If the song is an instrumental, my process is the same except the melody line is telling the story. I am inspired primarily by events that have taken place in my life, however there are other influences that inspire me creatively as well. For example, other musician’s performances, or hearing a new song that pushes the creative envelope in a new direction, inspires me to write. Sometimes hearing a lyrical phrase that says something in a new way, will immediately inspire me to push my own creativity to a new level, and create a new song with improved lyrical content. I have always believed that the greatest Songwriters are the greatest Storytellers, so I am always exploring new ways to enhance the lyrical content in my songs
5. If a Producer or Record Company asked you to write a ten-song CD in one week, could you do that?
Absolutely… I love writing songs, and I work extremely well under pressure. Plus, I always have a number of musical concepts and ideas ready for completion at any given time. One reason I don’t record my songs at the same pace as I write, is because the production of the song would become outdated. Production is a continually evolving art form in itself. However, I am a firm believer that a great song can be timeless, especially a well-written Ballad. I also believe that a song should be able to stand on its own, and be a great song with just a piano and a vocal, or a guitar and a vocal.