Songwriting my way through life!
In 1970 and at 9 years old I wrote my first song, well, it had several verses but today I only remember the chorus and even at 61 I can still sing it! Back then all I could play were 3 chords on my guitar badly and yet the bug was born. The same year I performed at The Round House, the catalyst for a lifetime of touring venues across Europe and with some of the biggest names in music!
My romance with the new and different
My family life began as a normal one up until my parents became involved with a 60s theatre group and our normal culturally Jewish household was turned upside-down, overnight transforming us into a Bohemian alternative family. My parents mutually separated when I reached 11. Both parents still in the theatre upped sticks and we moved with the theatre group to the South of France. To tell you the truth my life has been a revolving door of experiences ever since. In hindsight changes that happened in my environment growing up created passions I still carry with me to this day, with my love for the countryside, nature, adventure, spontaneity, and my romance with the new and different.
My songwriting has been greatly influenced by early Blues artists such as Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Billie Holiday, early big band jazz artists, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and composers Gershwin, Cole Porter, Satie, Debussy, Dowland and Bach. Due to my up bringing it meant I only had records in my toddler and childhood years. I know nearly every Beatles song off by heart and was fortunate enough to meet them. In 1969 the theatre group were invited to a party in Golders Hill by The Beatles. My memory was of a big marquee with food and The Beatles milling about dressed in their Sargent Pepper fashion along with other guests clad in colourfully dressed clothes. I remember eating plantain with rice and the smell of incense wafting around the park.
I also loved the Monkeys and The Jackson 5. Through my teens into adulthood my biggest influences were David Bowie, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Prince and The Specials. Back then it was a tape recorder and 4 track, today we have a state of the art set up recording from home!
Writing songs and singing them is a part of my make-up
By 19, I had written several songs in English, French and Spanish, plucking and playing chords in my own style about teenage daydreams and questioning what my life’s journey could become. I carry with me as I suspect every writer does, my life experiences which resound throughout my songs. Over the course of half a century I have built up 2 books of song lyrics containing over 100 songs and they each tell a story from living the 1960s through to the 21st century, as I share my transition from a girl into a young woman, a mother and finally now an older lady.
It has to be said that writing songs is truly liberating and no structure requires to be the same as the next one either, because every song is different. I have always written songs and expressed myself sometimes unashamedly, naively, or innocently. Politics was never my forte, so the only politics I’m associated with is my brush with the media or press. My interest in writing songs and singing them is part of my make-up, it’s just who I am as a person, a tedious 'Glad Girl Pollyanna'. I am Anne of Green Gables, always seeing and wanting to share the joy of life! Over the years I have learned to be less obvious in my writing, more subtle in the messages that I craft and put out there.
Sometimes I can write a song in minutes, without any edits and it works. It stems from feelings and thoughts that sprout out in a sudden burst of creation. My advice when this happens is to run with it, this is where the magic happens and that’s creativity.
Band life and performing songs
At 20 I returned to London and joined my first band Avocado Five-O, we were a 6-piece playing electric pop music. We performed around West London and recorded 3 songs. The next band I was in Si Si Crémola had a terrific run. We played Hammersmith Palais with Pig Bag and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rock Garden supported by Ruby Turner, The Town and Country Club, Heaven, Dingwall’s, The Hope and Anchor. Though as you do in music 3 years later we went our separate ways and I moved onto pastures new. With Hideous Music we got a foot in the door of record company Polydor, they liked our sound and image even asking us to come back a second time. Unfortunately it never went any further.
I had also learned to play clarinet for a while, though I was never very proficient. I wrote a melody on it which would be my first torch song, ‘StrangeBoy.’ This would lead me to be invited to Tokyo, but I didn’t go in the end. The band I was currently with weren’t getting on and I felt it would be a lie to go and then drop them. I was filmed and photographed by Herbie Yamaguchi at the Blitz and around Covent Garden. The photographer was photographing Boy George before he had Culture Club, the punks and New Romantics, all the ‘Blitz kids’ in London. Moving forward I embarked on a 3-year degree at Laban (now Trinity Laban). I met Ian Dury and his manager who offered me to be a backing singer with Mari Wilson and the Wilsations. Unsure a beehive was my style I missed out on this one and carried on writing songs independently.
On finishing my degree in 1989, I met my future husband and went gigging around Europe, teaching others to sing along the way. In performing together we taught music across France, Spain and Tenerife. On foot we hitch-hiked as modern-day troubadours for 3 months with just a bivvy bag and guitar doing 3 sets; I sang my songs playing the guitar and my now husband played his guitar compositions, also doing well-known standards such as Billie Holiday, Cole Porter, Edith Piaf and Mercedes Sosa. We did this in villages from French Basque country to Galicia, Spain. We ended up going back just before Christmas in 1992 to do a mini tour around Santander. Shortly after I had finished my first album and we ventured back to London gigging in hospitals and various smaller venues.
Performing musically was finally put on hold when we had our children, though we would sing to them and continued to write songs. When the children were older we made an album as a unit and called ourselves Darkwater Family.
Today we reside in Scotland and are finishing off the recording and design of our latest project Ambassador Fresh.
You write the songs and WriteSeen brings the industry
To hold the ability to upload song lyrics in one area securely and for free online, to then be seen in every country around the world, is what makes WriteSeen truly remarkable and unique. You own 100% of the intellectual property and the copyright of your content too!
Throughout my journey as a songwriter to get anywhere you had to travel and stage your skillset. The internet never existed when I started, to be heard you had to record in a studio and send a tape by post or find a way to visit music labels.
The concept of agents, managers, publishers and producers now looking for the writer gives me the encouragement to create even more songs, as being seen couldn’t be easier!
Chloe Douglas is a songwriter, poet & artist.
Check Chloe out through her social media below.