Inspiration is a funny thing; bizarre, erratic even. It is bewildering how this delectation comes to burn inside an song writer.
What fuels them to compose, to conceive? Is this a creative flow of potent supernova juice? A revelation perhaps, transcending from the divine?
This timeless inquisition is nothing new.
Song writers themselves go as far back as inspiration itself, even beyond the years of the troubadours of the Middle Ages and the nine mythical Muses of pre-Hellenistic times.
In this century, song writing is best appraised by someone who knows a thing or two about the art. Someone passionate, experienced, well-rounded, with a rock star edge.
Adam Cohen, son of world renowned poet, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, was born into a bohemian lifestyle, surrounded by rich art and culture.
Tapping into his artistic heritage, Cohen made his well received musical debut eight years ago.
Now, with two solo albums under his belt and a leading role in the successful quartet the Low Millions, this artist naturally took his place in the haute monde of music.
You seem undercover these days. Do you have anything up your sleeve?
I’m working on two very cool projects, one is secret and so exciting that I don’t want to jinx it. The other is your typical slow collection of song ideas for a new record, which I will definitely be making in the next six months. I have high hopes for both, which in this biz is a pretty sure way of getting your ass handed to you.
You’ve composed and recorded music in various places in the world, from Paris to L.A. to Montreal. Do you believe location affects song writing?
The speed at which a song is written, or the thoughts that compose a song are always affected by mood and location very much affects mood. Some prefer to write when in the din of a bar or social setting, some have to be isolated; some need friction and drama, some peace and quiet. But, then again, what do they say: “wherever you go, there you are.”
When you start writing a song, is your focal point generally more on the music or the lyrics first?
The music for a song is almost always more complete than the lyric for me. But at the inception, the music is accompanied with mumbling and utterances that are being formed along with the music.
You are bilingual and that comes through in your music. Why pour your bilingualism into your song writing?
I find that French is a much more romantic language, and I often find those who live in francophone worlds lead more romantic lives, culturally speaking. I certainly find Paris and Montreal sexier, more sensuous and romantic than say, Toronto or L.A.
When you are composing a song and your intention is to record that song in French, do you first write that song in French or is it translated from English along the way?
I write the song in the language in which I wish to record it. Only once have I translated a song of my own. “Hey Jane” was originally in French.
You don’t only write for yourself. I read that you’ve written songs for other artists like Bette Midler.
I’ve written songs for so many artists, most of whom have regrettably chosen to not record them, often at the last minute. I hope that changes. It’s been a great bummer! I intend to keep trying though.
Your album Ex-girlfriends with the Low Millions refers to failed relationships. Does falling out of love with someone inspire you more than falling in love?
I find that when things are just peachy in your life, it’s much harder to sit down, concentrate and write. I’m just too busy having a good time and enjoying the good stuff.
Like seeing the light in the dark? Do you think misery is inspirational and productive?
The friction, the surprises, disappointment and general heart break of relationships do make for great songs, don’t they? It takes one hell of a song, piece of music and vocal to make a celebration song good. Though I can think of a few great ones, most of my favorites are sad songs.
At times, have you lost your muse and experienced writer’s block?
Writer’s block? Not really. Disinterest with my own writing? Often.
What do you do in that circumstance?
The only remedy: patience and not giving up on it.
Your father’s music and poetry have inspired so many artists; the numbers of tributes are endless. Is it fair to assume that he has inspired you as well?
He always has, still does. But it also puts in question: just what exactly do I have to contribute to song writing? And I’m still looking for the exact answer to that question.