As far as the craft of your songwriting, what do you find most challenging? What drives you?
Songwriting is challenging to begin with, for me. I grew up with a father who was a composer and a songwriter [Academy Award winning musician, Alan Menken]. And he’s given me a lot of valuable tools to keep the songwriting going. The foremost thing he’s done for me is be my dad…but he always supported my career and my desire to keep working, keep writing. [That] even when you feel like you don’t have something to write, you want to just put something down. Even if it sucks and it’s terrible and it’s the worst song you’ve ever heard. If it’s out of your system—at least this is my perception—if it’s out of my system, then I feel like the next thing I write will be amazing.
If you get anything that you would consider substandard out, then maybe that pushes the good stuff to come next.
Absolutely. I’m kind of in a period right now where I have about 50-60 other songs written that maybe I think are worthy of being put on a record. That being said, I kind of want my second record to be all new things that I’ve just written that are really about my life right now. And not everything’s about my life, but…
They’re things that you wouldn’t feel comfortable singing at this stage?
Yeah. There are certain songs that didn’t make it onto the record. There’s one song that’s called “Sleep’s Not Easy” and I didn’t put it on the record because I can’t relate to it anymore.
Was this something you’d written a long time ago?
Yeah, it was something I’d written when I was 16. And granted there are other songs that actually made it onto Nomad that I wrote when I was about 16 or 17 years old, but those songs are in a place where I can still relate to them. But “Sleep’s Not Easy” was a song that I couldn’t relate to anymore. And I’d rather have another artist—who can relate to it—sing it.
One song in particular on the EP that struck me was “You Got It For Free.” Is there a story behind that?
Some songs I don’t remember all that vividly where I wrote them because I write them over a period of time; “You Got It For Free” was a song that I remember exactly where I wrote it and I didn’t even have a guitar with me. I wrote the melody and wrote down the lyrics and then got my guitar and was able to write it all out. But I already had the song in my head, which is kind of a rare thing for me… I was in Vermont and I was on a trip with my family. And it was in January; I remember it was freezing cold. It was one of those moments when I kind of woke up and I realized I’m really different from a lot of people (laughing)… I wanted to pursue music and I had gone to a high school where everyone was pretty set—well, everyone’s going go to college and to business school. For me, I always knew I wanted to do music; I always played guitar. I felt very isolated at that point.