Name: Byron Stingily
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Nationality: American
Current release: Byron Stingily's "Devoted", a collaboration with producer Martin Ikin, is out now via Ultra.

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If you'd like to keep reading, check out our Ten City interview, in which Marshall Jefferson talks about their legendary duo.  

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

Many people share stories or experiences with me. These stories often get put into songs.

"That's the way Love Is“ was advice to a friend who was having a hard time handling a breakup.

“Devotion” was written for a young lady who had many bad romantic experiences. Sometimes the music comes first and serves as the inspiration for the lyrics.

For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas — or what some have called a ’visualisation’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

I start with the message and then conceptualize the best way to convey the message in shortform.

Sometimes the message is written to mean 5 or 6 different things, and in a way that it can connect with the biggest audience. Judgement is telling about 10 different stories. It's political, criminal, sexual, and religious all in one.

Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do ’research’ or create ’early versions'?

Sometimes the first thing that comes to mind is the best. Othertimes there may be a dozen revisions. Sometimes you create many revisions and wind up using the original idea.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

My rituals are simple. Pray for a great session. Hire the right singers and musicians for the song. Usually singers like EL, Carla Prather or D Lyles. Plenty of mint gym, warm water, and envision who the message is for.

Sometimes I envision the crowd responded to the song. Sometimes I channel the energy of my idols such as Eddie Kendricks, Sylvester, Curtis Mayfield, Phillip Bailey, Michael Jackson or Russell Thompkins

What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?

The first line is the most important (or the hook). I always make sure that line sets the tone. The opening line to "Be Free" is

"We all are alot alike, the pursuit of happiness is a basic right."

That line sets the tone for the rest of the song.

When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?

Sometimes I write the melody and lyrics well before any music. The musical direction is decided from a production standpoint. Will the song now be more Disco, Retro, Soulful, Pop, or New School in terms of musical direction.

What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?

How people respond is what makes it good.

Some of the songs I've written in 5 minutes have been my biggest hits. Songs that I've thought were lyrical masterpieces that I've taken weeks writing did not connect with the people. Good lyrics connect with what needs to be heard at that time.

Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?

I use to be very controlling. Now I allow the musicians and singers to have freedom. The background singers present far superior arrangements sometimes to my original idea. I welcome the best ideas!

There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?

Everything is spiritual for me. Spirit leads and guides all I do and am! Spreading positive energy and spirit is why I do music!

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?

Once a song is mixed, the process is complete. I do not second guess my work. I finish, enjoy the song, ride in the car listening for my own enjoyment, and then it's on to the next song.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?

Once a song is mixed, the process is complete. I do not second guess my work. I finish, enjoy the song, ride in the car listening for my own enjoyment, and then it's on to the next song.

What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?

I'm involved in every aspect. I hire the people I trust as well. That makes the process easier. I work with people who know what I want, sometimes better than me. We telepathically communicate.

After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this —and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?

The emptiness comes when you worry about how it will do.

Creating is like having a child (A creation). I create now for the joy of creating. I let it do whatever it's going to do. I happy to be able to still create.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more ’mundane’ tasks?

Creating music is much different. You may start with nothing.

A cup coffee is influenced by the quality of coffee beans, sugar, cream, milk, water, heat, or other elements provided. Music creation is organic and limitless on influence. I can take Beatles, Prince, country, jazz, rock, Lady Gaga, Rap, Grunge, Techno, and so many elements to infuse into a music idea. There is nothing like being an artist.

Maybe a chef can infuse different flavors, and textures.