For more of Dawes’ 15-second songs, check out @dawestheband on Instagram. For more stories from around the music world, head to @music.
Writing a 15-second song seems simple enough: come up with a riff, play it for four bars, then finish. Still, it delivers its own unique challenge, one that Dawes (@dawestheband) lead singer Taylor Goldsmith was up for when he started sharing his own creations via the hashtag #songsjustforinstagram last year.
“I liked the idea of doing these contained, melodic ideas that wouldn’t be found anywhere else,” says Taylor. “Rather than just setting up a phone, playing piano or guitar and picking my favorite 15 seconds, I thought it was cooler to try to come up with an idea that started and ended in those 15 seconds.”
Taylor’s first #songsjustforinstagram featured him backlit at his piano, playing a catchy down-tempo track. The second was shot in the same location, this time performing a more Western-inspired riff. He would eventually explore different styles, genres and rhythms. One day it would be funk, the other classical. While the ultimate goal was to create something fun and catchy, Taylor also wanted to challenge himself to try new things musically.
“A lot of it was just exercises,” he says. “Just stuff I didn’t know how to do on piano. I thought it was a good way to learn it.”
So where were the other members of Dawes during these #songsjustforinstagram sessions? According to keyboardist Tay Strathairn, they were there in spirit, providing “emotional support.”
“Just texts throughout the day,” says bassist Wylie Gelber. “‘Keep going, honey! We’re super proud of you!’”
The band was finally able to get into the #songsjustforinstagram act last month, almost a year after Taylor posted his first one. The result was a memorable jazzy, jam band melody.
Of course, there is a limitation to recording and posting 15-second songs in one space. So Dawes is going to spread the #songsjustforinstagram love to the world. This June, they will be releasing a special edition seven-inch vinyl with the group’s new album, All Your Favorite Bands, featuring around 20 of Taylor’s creations.
“We basically just put as many as we could fit,” he says.
The idea to release a special edition record came from the band’s management team, which Taylor quickly supported. This way, his 15-second songs would get a run on people’s stereo systems.
“I was really excited about that because the life of these songs was going to kind of begin and end on Instagram,” he says. “So the fact that they are going to have a life of their own –– I am really excited to get ahold of the vinyl and listen to it. It’s really cool. I know there’s the hashtag #songsjustforinstagram, but some of the melodic ideas that I have put in the back of my mind are for future songs for Dawes.”
Taylor Goldsmith, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens, and T-Bone Burnett have teamed up to create music for two-dozen recently discovered lyrics written by Bob Dylan. Learn more HERE.