Black Violin Offers Songwriting Advice to Find You Own Voice, Flow

Crossing classical music with hip-hop, the duo Black Violin create a sound that is entirely distinctive. From their 2008 self-titled debut album through their latest release, Give Thanks (a holiday album just released in November 20), they’ve enthralled audiences around the world with their innovative, uplifting work.

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During a recent call from their south Florida homes, Black Violin members Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste offer advice to aspiring writers: “I wish I would have known this 20 years ago,” says Marcus, “but feelings can be tied to music, and the best songwriters really are able to make music that moves people emotionally. It’s almost a science to it. If you play that open E string with a lot of reverb and really softly, it creates an emotion of wonder. Certain things you do to your music and to your sound create emotional responses in people – [so] focus on finding the niches within your songwriting that create emotional response.

“Look for that, I would say, because it’s the most satisfying thing about being a songwriter, when you write something and someone comes up to you and tells you what it made them feel or see or hear or imagine or how it inspired them,” Marcus continues. It is, he says, akin to “Being a scientist and finding out what tools you use to make that happen.”

Baptiste immediately agrees with his bandmate’s advice – “I thought everything that Kev says at some point,” he says – but he has advice of his own to add, as well. “Write about what you can relate to, because I think at the end of the day someone’s going to be able to relate to what it is that you’re writing about,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to write about your experiences. I think it’s one of the most amazing things about being an artist – you’re trying to be vulnerable, which sometimes can be kind of scary. But that’s what people love about art, the strength to be vulnerable. That’s why people connect in this way.”

If a writer approaches creating music in this way, Baptiste says, “Then what’s going to happen is, you’re going to find your own voice, you’re going to find your own flow. When someone hears that sound, [they’ll say,] ‘That’s so and so!’ – that’s your own vibe.”

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