Songwriting is the foundation of music production. Music is a golden bliss that connects mankind to the world of extra-ordinary pleasures and liberty. It has irresistible magic to caress away pain, purify all the filth, rejuvenate the breath of a soul and light away the dark sentiments of the mind. That’s music for you.
Legendary songwriters including Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Chuck Berry have proved that songwriting is an art that demands passion and zeal beyond the anticipation and expectation of rewards that come from it.
We ought to remember that there are masterminds behind every impeccable rhythm. Writing a song seems daunting and hard for most of us, but for well-established songwriters, it’s a fun and fulfilling walk in the path.
However, it’s not as simple as throwing words on a paper and inventing a complimenting rhythm. It’s deeper than that. And to help us understand how deep this is, we chatted with South African songwriter, Frank van Doorene.
“Music is the sound of Feelings. The songs I write are from the heart, with a careful intertwining of melody with appropriate lyrics.”Songwriter, Frank Van Doorene
- Please tell us who you are and what you do
My name is Frank van Doorene. I am a pensioner who’s hobby and second career is songwriting. I write for other artists who perform vastly better than I can.
- How did you discover your passion for songwriting?
When I was at school, I had a friend who was brilliant musically. After matric, he went to the army, and I greatly missed singing with him. I loved poetry and school, and I found out that songwriting was an extension of this love.
- Which brands have you worked for and how was the experience?
I soon realized that I was not a great musician, nor was I a great vocalist … but I believe God giften me with songwriting ability. I managed to get an Exclusive Writing Agreement with a Publisher in 2013, but this did not yield what I had intended … the exposure to artists of my songs. The South Affrican market is a very difficult market to get into, especially if you’re not a singer performing at various venues. I have been in our churches praise groups for the last 35+ years. So commercially not very successful to date, but in my calling … blessed.
- What do you love most about your career?
I love taking the melody within my heart, recording it with a guitar, working out the words and coming up with a semi-finished product.
- Tell us your greatest achievements in your career
I have had a few promising artists requesting to record my songs.
- As an artist how do you market yourself and brand yourself to make your career a success?
The marketing is the difficult task if you haven’t got the right contacts. I use Facebook and Linkedin on the contact sides. I showcase my material on umberonemusic.com/frankvandoorenesongwriter and soundcloud/frank-van-dooreneSongArise, which is a partnership between myself and old school-friend names Clive Ggibson. He created backing tracks and records vocals so that we can have some decent “rough-drafts” that we can present on my catalogue to the artists.
- Take us through the journey of writing a song. How does it work?
I get the melody in my mind. I then record it. A few days later I assess the melodies and rate them. I only work on what I consider the best melodies. I then work out the guitar chords after which I put lyrics to the theme that the melody initiated. Once I’m happy with the song, I record it with Clive, and he creates a backtrack that is presentable.
- How has your work been received by your audience?
My gospel songs have been very well received by my church family, both my gospel and contemporary have not succeeded. However, I don’t have to rely on them to put bread on the table. I have had great success/reviews in the numberonemusic site, 2.1 million plays for my songs since May 2017, but no bites from the bigger players/artists for my songs.
- How relevant and significant is your genre/s you specialize in?
The genres I specialize in are Gospel/Christian foremost, Country and Contemporary (various styles within this category/genre). They are relevant and significant.
- Do you think songwriting receives the recognition it deserves? Why so?
I think songwriting receives the regnition it deserves; look at the goldies. They have great melody and good lyrics which people can relate to, and usually great presentation.
- What are some of the failures you have gone through and what did you learn from them?
My failures have in the main been my lack of formal musical training. Not everything I want to do in my music is “correct” but my music can still be considered very tame as against the modern techno types of music. However, I manage to work around these issues. My technical abilities on the social/contact side need improvement.
- What are the entrepreneurship opportunities available in the field of songwriting?
There are many opportunities in the field of songwriting (jingles, films, background music etc.) but I want to limit myself to songs.
- What keeps you motivated when the days are dark?
When days are a little dark, I look at what I’ve achieved to date, listen to a few of my better songs, and thank God for what he provided me with in my formal jobs, thereby allowing me to continue on this tough artistic road.
- Are there gatekeepers who exploit songwriters?
There are definitely gatekeepers who exploit songwriters. You can get a publishing agreement fairly easily, but their partnering with you comes at a great cost (e.g harsh terms that a Publisher puts on an Exclusive Songwriting Agreement). You can bypass this but then you will be doing the “admin” at the cost of your “creative” time.
- What do you do when you are not writing songs?
Helping in the house, music or other duties at the church, you name it. I can only effectively write a maximum of 2 songs per month – focusing more on quality.
- Which artists locally and Internationally would you like to collaborate with in the future?
The local artists: Riana Nel, Juanita du Plesis, Charlize Berg, Tarryn lamb, Gavin Edwards, Benjamin Dube etc. foreign artists: Celine Dion, Donna Winner. In essence, any top quality vocalists whose voice is suitable to the song.
- What’s your encouragement to anyone who would love to follow your footsteps?
- Tell us about your family, siblings or children. What do they mean to you?
My family: I’ve been married for 43 years. l have 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren ranging from 3 months to 10 years. I am part of a six children family, myself being number 5. I think family is at the core of all activity and their well-being in their physical/mental/spiritual lives is vital. They mean the world to me.
- Where do you see yourself 5 – 10 years from now?
In 5 – 10 years’ time I see myself as being recognized as one of the greatest South African Songwriters.