‘Warm’ and ‘tender’ are twin descriptions that walk hand in hand. They’re the key ingredients used in Liv Summer’s song, “Growing Older”. The singer/songwriter writes music that floats well over coffee shops and cafe tables. Pick up a pen and a blank page, and let your mind float with it.
“Growing Older” is an easy-going acoustic track graced with the elegance of her intimate vocals. An image of Liv Summer’s persona lives between the corridors of her lyrics. She touches on personal stories and experiences that have an ‘everyman’ appeal. This song confronts the question of whether or not to “hold on” or “let go”.
Check out what Liv Summer has to say about songwriting.
How did you first get into songwriting?
My first guitar teacher wrote his own songs and encouraged me to write songs as well. That’s how it all started. After finishing high school I went to L.A. for three months and had my first little concert at a local coffee shop playing some covers and also one of my own songs. When I came back to Switzerland, all I wanted to do was sing and write my own music.
What is your most notable musical memory?
I once sang backing vocals in a band in Switzerland and we had the wonderful opportunity of supporting Coldplay in a stadium in Zurich. That was an amazing experience!
Is there any artist in particular that you try to emulate? Someone who keeps you inspired?
I keep on discovering new artists all the time which inspire me. I also like to listen to a lot of different genres. At the moment I’m listening a lot to The Staves. Their harmonies are incredible! Other than that I’m a huge fan of Feist since I heard her first album.
What is your writing process like from start to finish?
Until a new song is born, it sometimes takes months of searching for and rejecting ideas. But once I come up with something good I usually finish it within one or two days. Usually, when I’m jamming on my guitar a phrase or rhythmic pattern suddenly comes up. That usually becomes the hook. Then I try to develop more around it and mold it into a song.
Do you find you have to set aside time to write or is there another way that inspiration comes to you?
I’m trying to do that but there’s no recipe on how inspiration comes, unfortunately. Sometimes I’m even scared of not being able to write another good song after a long period of trying. But then suddenly something in life happens which moves you and makes you write a song within a few days.
What kinds of real-life experiences do you draw inspiration from most frequently?
What are the special challenges or opportunities that come with writing songs in a second language?
You can’t be so specific as if you write in your own language which can make it harder to express yourself. It’s a challenge to say something in a simple way and not sounding too cheesy.
How do you push yourself to keep writing when you face challenges?
A bottle of good red wine usually helps the process 🙂
How do you know when a song or an album is done? Is there something that makes it feel complete?
Yeah. Whenever you add something new, you feel like it’s too much.
What would you say you hope to communicate or accomplish with your music? What is the inspiration behind “Growing Older?”
I find it sometimes hard to express myself in real life, finding the right words in a conversation. Music gives me the chance to express myself in a different way without explaining too much.
I find it hard to grow older sometimes especially because of doing what I do and being a woman. I think my own fear of the unknown future hoping to take the right decisons inspired me to write this song.
What is your favorite aspect of the song? Did you try some new innovation or come up with a specific line that you love?
I first came up with the hook and had this idea of gospel singers in my head singing „older“ „hold her“ as an echo. My producer wasn’t a big fan of backing vocals there and made me change my mind a bit which was probably good cause it could have made the song sounding too sweet in the end.
“Growing Older” is written in 3rd person, as though you are observing the story from the outside. What drew you to that kind of writing?
I’m doing this quiet a lot actually, writing in 3rd person. Even if the song is actually very much related to myself. Maybe because the 3rd person gives me a bit of space and in the end when I get asked a very personal question about it I could still say „oh, this song wasn’t actually about me “…:-) I also like to be an observer of things and people. Writing in 3rd person is more like observing.
What was the biggest challenge when writing or recording “Growing Older?” What does the next phase of your musical career hold in store?
Finding the right arrangement for the song was quite a challenge. In general, I wanted to record a very stripped down EP letting the song and the voice breathe. We recorded everything as one takes, playing guitar and singing at the same time. We didn’t edit anything or used any auto tuning. It was and still is a challenge for me to leave it this „raw“ and imperfect. Especially cause today you can make everything sound so perfect. But my focus was more about capturing the right moment and emotions while performing.
My new EP „Over Land And Sea“ will be released by the end of the month and there will be new concerts coming up. So I’m really excited about that. I also have a lot of new ideas in my mind and been working with new live set-ups to create a more interesting live show.