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James Deia of Blasted Diplomats will perform a solo set as part of Homeroom Chicago's Songwriter Showcase. Playing music since high school and a native of Chicago, Deia brings blue-collar rock and roll to life. Head down to Uncommon Ground and check him out this Friday, October 10. In the meantime, here's some Q&A between James Deia and Billie Howard.
1. How did you begin writing songs?
I'd always write riffs on guitar or piano when I was young and would scribble lyrics on napkins or trapper keepers. I had high school bands that never made it out of the basement but shortly before Blasted Diplomats began I was concentrating on completing actual 'songs'. It was nice timing when we started because I had a ton of songs sitting around.
2. How has being in a band (Blasted Diplomats) with other talented songwriters changed your own songs?
We're lucky because we all contribute songs so there's never a shortage of material. If I think something I'm working on is undercooked, someone else can suggest an idea. Then I'll do the opposite of that idea or something. But really, every songwriter should have a sounding board.
3. You've lived in the Chicago area most of your life: do you think the city has influenced your songs?
Chicago is a music town with a ton of songwriters, bands, labels.. That can lead to over saturation but at the same time it's an influence. In high school, seeing a friends band blow my mind at the Fireside Bowl set up a framework for me that I still have, which is to try. No song will write itself, so as long as you're doing and trying and changing, you'll pretty much be ok. I think Chicago is a good place for that.
4. Do you have a process for starting a new song or combating writer's block?
Chords come first for me. And that's usually an emulation of a song I already like. Just rip off your favorite songs and change some chords. No one will ever know. I also watch movies and play along to them. I watched the Tarkovsky Solaris and came up with a song about decaying flesh. So really, who knows where it comes from.
5. What song or songs would you like played at your funeral?
Chuck Berry songs.
Next entry: Songwriter Showcase: Anthony Cozzi of Radar Eyes, Performing this Friday at Uncommon Ground
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