Bruce Dennill is a musicians’ musician. He is great supporter of the arts and wears many hats.
One of his many talents is in his songwriting, and he has the voice to help express the meaning and depth of his writing perfectly.
He had just released his new EP, entitled ‘Asked and Answered’, which is a six track body of work.
“I write to deal with emotional stuff, that is why a lot of the songs come across as sad. When I play at gigs people always ask me to play ‘a happy one’ and I’ll look through my file and realize I don’t have one.”
“Although ‘I See You’ is up beat, it deals with sadness but it is expressed in a happy way. Often the songs are complete narratives where you reach an ending, which might not be a happy ending but it certainly won’t be as sad as when it started; it might be a perspective shift, or seeing something in a context that makes more sense.”
“I think it is quite easy to communicate meaning with sad songs, it is easier to do this than with happy songs. If you think of a happy song, it is lovely for its energy but it doesn’t actually hold much depth or meaning. Sadder songs do that for me.”
“In saying that, this EP is not a depressing EP. I tend to write with a phrase in mind and I think phrases pop into your mind when you are thinking on deep matters – those tend to be serious; not necessarily happy or sad, and so the writing comes from there.”
I picked up a bit of a country influence in some of the songs, like I SEE YOU?
“Country music at its heart, is story telling music, like folk music. Because I write and play with an acoustic guitar, it is often that those themes come out. Often people think country has a bad connotation, but I think it is a genre where there are a lot of great song writers.”
“There is a huge focus on the song writing for me. This EP will be the first one I have released with a label since 2003. I have just connected with Neill Solomon’s Passage One Music for publishing and there is an appreciation from Neill who I respect. Just Music and Next Music are also involved, which is great. So with the writing and story telling, it will reach more people – it might not be someone’s genre in lets say China, but people know stories, and have felt sad, so will connect with that, which is important.”
“I SEE YOU, is about being seen. So many of us are lonely. Some people might not know how to access companionship and that hurts for them. Then on the other spectrum being seen might also be equally as painful. Sometimes people might not know how to deal with acknowledgment either. There is a line ‘I see you and sorry that it hurts’ – people are searching for something and might not like what they find. Is that a sad song? No – it’s a complex song, and here is a story that most people understand.”
“‘Centre Stage’ for example is a song where a few years ago I finished up at a job that I had for a long time as an Arts Editor, and at its best, it was the best job I ever had, and it ended and then I lost my vocation for a while. I could get work and support my family, but I had lost my vocation which was difficult. So then coming back to ‘Centre Stage’, to my vocation, was a huge difference for me and it pulled me through. Whether you are in the arts or not, people get the metaphor and people do suffer through these patches. We don’t always have a nice job, or if they do, it doesn’t always last, and this applies to jobs, relationships, a project etc.”
For me half the EP has a ‘personal’ theme and the other half is more biblical story telling.
If you had to play one song to someone from the EP, what would it be and why?
“It would probably be Centre Stage because the response I have had for it, has been huge. This song has hope – we are short on hope a lot of the time, but hope is always there. It works for me like that as well – I love playing the song as it is a good philosophy to remind yourself that whatever you do, there is hope but also if you keep going and never give up, it should be fine. You have to keep putting in the hours. You need the dark to grow.”
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