The Music of Kelly Van Shaar

Frequently Asked Questions

  How long does it take you to write and record a song?
    Sometimes I take a song from initial idea to completion in less than a week. For that to happen, at least one of the following conditions has to be met:
  1. Somebody is paying me for the work
  2. I have a looming deadline
  3. I am completely out of work and have nothing financially productive to spend my time on
  4. I have an amazing idea that I can't stop thinking about and I just say to heck with it all, I'm going to write my song. Sometimes this happens when something very emotional has happened with family relationships, etc. Bad breakup, death in the family, and the like.
Usually however, writing a song is a longer process. I try to always write down the inspiration when it comes to me, but then getting back around to finishing the song can take years. Sometimes I'll go through my files of old partly-written songs and look for something that feels like it's ready. Sometimes I'll be reminded of a old song idea by something that happens. I have songs that I started in 2005 and finished in 2011. Eventually when I get the inspiration and have the time to work on it, then I get a finished composition. Once I get to that point, then I go back and start teaching myself to sing the song. Sometimes I find out that what works in my head doesn't work in performance, so I make modifications until it all fits. After I've learned the song and got myself to where I can sing it, I take my lyric sheets and head for my recording room, which is a bedroom with blankets and mattresses around to soak up the reverberations. I get out my H4N and start singing along. Usually I do 5 or 7 takes, then take the files back into my computer room and cut the best from each take into a finished recording.

Not that any of my songs are 'finished' in some grand sense. Most of them have things about them that I'd like to go back and fix someday. Usually it's my vocals. Sometimes it's the instrumentation or the mixing. Some people are bothered by all the instruments that aren't being played by real people. It doesn't bug me that much... I guess I listen to it differently. But real people are expensive; you can quote me on that.

 

Are these really questions people frequently asked, or questions I frequently hoped they would ask? Maybe both.

I would like to start doing some of my own recordings but I don't have a lot of money to invest. What are your recommendations?

What is your family situation?

If you do so much video work, why aren't there more music videos for your songs?

Who are your greatest musical influences?

What hardware / software do you use?

How long does it take you to write and record a song?

What process do you go through in writing a song?

I notice that a lot of your music has Christian messages and/or scriptural references. What are your religious affiliations?

I want to do something artsy, but I don't think I have a creative or musical bone in my body. How do I get started?