Name: Steve Marion aka Delicate Steve
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist
Current Release: Delicate Steve's After Hours is out via ANTI-.
If you enjoyed this interview with Delicate Steve and would like to keep up to date with the project, visit his official homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
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?
Creating music is a very personal process for me.
I don’t know where the impulse to do it comes from and I’ve never tried to think very hard about it. In the same way I don’t think too much about why I get hungry or thirsty. I’m more interested in thinking about what I want to eat or drink. I am deeply happy I found music though.
For instance, I have no idea where this song came from:
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?
Getting started for me is like having an idea to leave the house: you just need one reason to do it, and from there you can go anywhere.
When creating a song or an album it’s similar. The first ideas are there to get me out the door. From there I leave a lot of the process up to chance and self-discovery.
“Butterfly” is the best example of a song I made where I had no idea what was going to happen next.
My ideas came in a very linear way as you hear them in the song: first I sped up this drum machine, then I came up with this octave guitar riff, then a lead melody, then I put chords to it. Then I thought it needed a bridge next, and then a build after that, and then a heavy outro. I thought the chords should change at the end of the climax of the outro. That’s how that one came about.
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'?
I create songs by recording myself exploring ideas. I only write when I am making an album and I don’t make any demos in advance. The recording studio is the only tool I need to write, since I create songs by layering tracks on top of one another.
In between making albums, which is a lot of the time, I’m always playing guitar, but never trying to capture it, because that process is a lot of work and I have so much fun simply playing my guitar.
For me, I’m only thinking about capturing and creating songs when I’m in the studio making an album and have the tools to do it, since a big part of my creative process comes from being in the moment.
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?
I like to put myself in a new place every time I make a record, with new instruments, so that I can be inspired by them.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
It’s not hard for me to begin. I am not precious because I know it will change.
The first parts are usually some of the best though, innocent and inspired. I make sure to honor those as much as I can.
“Street Breeze” started by coming up with a drum pattern, and landing on some guitar chords that I liked. From there I performed one take of the chords over the drums, and switched to lead guitar. I was feeling inspired and got the final guitar in the first or second take.
From there it took much longer to add the bass and other instruments and mix the song. I consider those elements to be the framing around a very innocent and organic moment that was captured.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Always getting ideas. Abandoning ideas that stop inspiring me and focusing on new ideas.
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?
Yes. The more I can relinquish control of the narrative the better.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Yes. I follow them.
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?
I’m not sure I understand what spirituality is enough to try and say.
While I am working on music, I experience moments where the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of myself all come into an alignment that makes me feel fully present and like nothing else can.
That is usually how I know I am really doing what I should be doing.
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?
I do not feel this way.
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?
Every moment is an opportunity for you to be fully immersed in that moment. In that way, nothing is different, and everything is a way to experience and color time.