Arts Editor Jerry-Faye Flatt is a performer and songwriter. So is her partner. So for the The AQ’s Valentine’s Day issue, she decided to invade his personal writing process and interview him about his love songs
While listening to my partner perform on stage at the Tipsy Muse Cafe on Feb. 7, I thought, who is he singing about?
My partner, Dylan Ward, is a Fredericton musician – and so am I. We’ve been playing in bands together since July, but Feb. 7 was our first solo show together. We stripped the songs down to acoustic guitars and harmonies and played songs together and by ourselves.
The song that made me question was one he wrote called “Same Town.”
The lyrics to the first verse are:
I was watching this blues band singer, he asked “Beatles or Stones?” He really gave it to that microphone.
Well you know that man’s got soul, I started feelin’ the night. Then you walked in right through that door.
And I thought, oh, you’re in my same town.
So I thought, oh, who’s in your same town?
After our show on Feb. 7, I interviewed him about his songs to get answers to questions I’ve never asked before.
“‘Same Town’ was the song that really started [my] band, Marian. It came about very quickly and it’s basically just a little story about a guy seeing a girl and being like, ‘Hey damn, look at her.'”
He said it’s not a real story, but it’s based in a real setting, the Wilser’s Room in downtown Fredericton. The blues band singer that’s referenced is Fredericton-based artist Paul Campbell, who plays in the band Maggie’s Farm Revival. My partner said it’s also one of his most romantic songs.
“It’s really about this guy just seeing a girl and being instantly attracted and being like, ‘I want to talk to this person,’ and actually doing it and having this confidence to do it. And that’s kind of the part where it’s kind of about me … I would never go up and be like, ‘Hey’ and just try to talk to this person.”
He said there’s something about the night, the music and the setting that makes the character in his song go for the girl. In the last verse, they get together.
“And then the end is a year later and they’re talking about, ‘Well, what was the song when we met each other, what was playing?’”
I had my answer. A made up love song, with a beautiful story, set in the place where he works.
But I still wanted to know more.
While most of his songs are happy, he does write sad ones. I specifically wanted to know about one called “Your Doubt.”
“[That song’s] about a girl that kind of cheated on me, and that’s not a happy song. That was a very angry song … I also at one point mention drinking cyanide,” he said. “[That’s] pretty dark. Cyanide is poison. It will kill you.”
That is pretty dark, I never noticed those words before. I mean, I also write a lot about my friend who died, so I guess we have the dark writing thing in common.
Ah, young love.
From teens to 20s
I write songs about real experiences I’ve gone through, but tend to write mostly about breakups. My partner uses a mix of personal experiences and made-up stories in his songs.
“Sometimes I’ll be writing about somebody that’s not anybody, but it’s maybe a little bit of myself or maybe a little bit of somebody else, and just kind of embellishing that or writing about something that I want to talk about.”
I was 12 when I started writing songs. My goal was basically to be Taylor Swift. I wrote heartbreak and love songs that would make me cringe now. I asked Ward if he had similar stories, and what his early songwriting was like.
His songs haven’t always told complex stories.
“The first song that I ever wrote I called ‘Hulk Smash,’ and it didn’t have any words, but it was an instrumental composition. I had just learned how to record, and so I wrote this thing. I remember it had a lot of reverb … And I had another one called ‘Burger Town’ … And then I never wrote anything better than that, that was it.”
Even though he and I don’t have a date set for our next solo show, we plan to do more in the future. This is the first time I’ve sang in a duo since I was 16. Ward’s never sang in a duo. He’s always just played solo or in bands.
I love playing music with him. He said he enjoys it as well.
“It’s something that we both love to do. It’s great to share that same passion. It’s great to share so much of that with you as my partner. I’ve never really had that with anybody else,” he said.
“And I’m so involved in it, so it’s cool to be like, ‘Hey’ and talk about stuff, and you actually understand.”