DIME Detroit’s Live and Lyrical Songwriting showcase is this Friday. To celebrate, we sat down with Detroit-based Singer-Songwriter and DIME Songwriting instructor Audra Kubat to talk inspiration, work-life balance, and what she’s most excited for at Friday’s event!
How did you become interested in music?
I grew up listening to a lot of different music in my household because my family didn’t watch a lot of TV. We would listen to soul music, Motown and rock’n’roll albums on the record player. We also owned a piano, so at the very young age of four years old, I would tap out melodies on the piano to different songs. It wasn’t until high school that I began to write my own song lyrics. Initially I thought I was going to be a poet, but eventually, I began to put the melodies to the poems that I have written in order to create songs.
Did anyone inspire you to become a songwriter?
Yes, a couple of people; one, in particular, was my High School acting teacher – Brenda Perryman – a well-known actress in the Detroit area. She told me I had something special, and although I think she said that everybody, I believed her! She told me I was talented and we still talk frequently even to this day. Another singer-songwriter I’ve been really moved by is Joni Mitchell. She has such a natural ability to bring lyric and melody together. Singing along to her songs really helped me in a way form my own lyrics and melodies.
How do you balance being a full-time musician and a DIME Songwriting Instructor?
It’s a balance! I got involved in teaching around ten years ago. I started by teaching guitar and since I was a songwriter people would often want to show me their original songs and would ask for my feedback. This helped me to develop my own program and language around how I was instructing songwriters. To my knowledge, before DIME Detroit, there wasn’t a songwriting degree offered in Detroit, so a lot of my teaching came from my own songwriting experiences.
Teaching songwriting has enabled me to continue to be a full-time musician – one really couldn’t exist without the other for me. Being a working, full-time musician can be tough, as you can often do jobs that have little to nothing to do with your artistry in order to stay financially afloat. So teaching songwriting allowed me to really focus in on my passion and what I really love to do, which is writing songs, playing songs and help others with their original bodies of work. Working with DIME students has really inspired my writing and has inspired me to become a lot clearer on what my songwriting processes are.
There is a science to songwriting, but as artists, we are always negotiating with ourselves on what exactly is good songwriting, particularly in today’s pop world, I often instruct my students to have a timely sensibility of the world and its current events. I also instruct them to have a pop sensibility and to write within that framework. I encourage them to really speak with their authentic voice because that is what is going to help define them as songwriters. It’s not enough to just write great song hooks, you need a message too, and having a message within that format will make a song timeless. Artists like Rage Against The Machine and more recently Kendrick Lamar have really pushed the envelope on messaging in pop music. In a lot of ways, songwriting is exactly what DIME stands for: “simple done well”
What has been your proudest moment as a DIME Instructor?
Well, I would say there’s been a few but one, in particular, would be seeing the first cohort of DIME students graduate. Seeing their progression as students to musicians was very remarkable and was a pretty amazing moment for all of us here at DIME. I think to point out any other particular moments would undercut all the special moments here at DIME. Each day that you are here at DIME, something special happens which makes you say “Wow that is so great”. I really can’t say enough about how many proud moments I have experienced.
What can we expect from the upcoming Live and Lyrical Showcase on Friday, October 19th?
You are going to hear a lot of young and upcoming songwriters sharing their work, some of them maybe for the first time on stage. They are really hard at work polishing up their songs with the help from their instructors here at DIME. There will be a real range of styles and fresh sounding music in the show. The student performances are really going to highlight the key elements of the songwriting program.
We’re also going to have a few performances by our talented instructors, I will be among them so I am really looking forward to that. Also, DIME’s mind-blowing Artist in Residence, Thornetta Davis will be taking us home that night. So if you are at all interested in music or DIME, this night will give such a broad stroke of variety here.
RSVP to our Live and Lyrical Showcase on Facebook!
Find out more about Audra by clicking the links below:
Official website: https://www.audrakubatmusic.com/