Exclusive Interview with Patricia Bahia
Let’s get right into it Patricia! We need to know what you’ve been up to when it comes to your music because your accolades are impressive! Can you tell our readers some of the successes you’ve had and something that didn’t go as planned but you’ve gotten to the other side when it comes to your career? I think it’s important for artists to get the full picture of who you are even with such a powerful resume like yours!
Though I was always a singer from a very young age, I didn’t write my first song until after receiving an ovarian cancer diagnosis. That was the wakeup call that inspired me to finally allow myself to do what I had always wanted to do: write songs.
I spent the earlier part of my life living out someone else’s dream life as a lawyer. I had a “safe” career, and moonlighted as a jazz singer in San Francisco. But songwriting was on my bucket list. It took a cancer diagnosis and the encouragement from music friends who told me “you have a voice and something to say,” to finally allow myself to even try to write a song. That’s what it took for me to realize it’s my one life and I’m not going to get another chance to follow my heart and do what I feel called to do. I decided to trade my briefcases for guitar cases and start living my bucket list life as a songwriter.
Since those first few baby steps toward writing songs 16 years ago, I’ve had songs I’ve written on TV shows, in films and commercials, I’ve won awards, and most importantly to me, I’ve touched people with my music and message.
My biggest regret, if there is one, is not following my heart sooner. But I believe in “right timing” and that things happen in our lives when they’re meant to happen, when we’re ready. And I see that to the extent I’ve had success as a songwriter, it’s precisely because I have a deep well of life experience to draw from. The life I have now is built on the foundation of the life I lived before I began songwriting.
Do you think it’s important to stay regimented in your art or to just create as you go?
For me, being regimented doesn’t work, but neither does just “waiting for inspiration to strike.” My creative sweet spot is somewhere between the two. As paradoxical as it may sound, what works well for me is a deadline or an assignment. For example, when I get a brief or a request for a song for a TV show and I need to have it done by a certain date and time. Or when I have a co-writing session booked, or when I’m part of a songwriting workshop and I need to bring in a new song to share.
The most extreme example of “deadline as inspiration” is the live game show Top Tune, here in Los Angeles. It works like this: six singer-songwriters (who do not know each other) are paired up and given a random title and sent backstage for 17 minutes to write a song and come back and perform it for a live studio audience. I love it! I’ve been a contestant twice and was lucky enough to win both times. Having only 17 minutes to write a song is the ultimate deadline. You have no time to second guess or doubt. It’s pure adrenaline and inspiration.
I also believe in “planning for spontaneity.” That can look like a lot of different things–reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a podcast and writing down title ideas or phrases. Or listening to music by artists that inspire me, or learning the chord progression from a cover song I like. I also find that a lot of times ideas come when I’m taking a break and doing something physical–like walking or hiking or dancing–or driving or even cleaning. I try to make sure to have my phone with me, so I can record voice memos or write notes, so I don’t forget.
How do you think music helps the world? What part do you want to play in that?
Music has the power to open hearts, to soothe, to inspire, to energize, to heal. It’s like a miracle drug. Music has the power to communicate on a soul level and bring people together. Beyond what words alone can do. In the words of the poet Kahlil Gibran, “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”
One of the things I try to do as a songwriter and artist, especially now, is to create songs that help lift people up; to counter negativity with hope and optimism. And help us remember that we’re all one family living on one planet.
The lyrics often start as encouragement or reminders I need to hear myself. I write the words I want and need to hear to help me deal with my own anxieties, doubts, fear and negativity. Or, I picture a friend or family member going through a hard time, and write them words of encouragement.
My hope is that my songs can provide some type of relief in these strange times–some peace or freedom or joy or catharsis–to help get us through.
Where do you see this music industry going with all the change that artists had to make in 2020 now moving forward into this new year?
Because of the pandemic, much of the music industry has gone virtual, as you know. It hasn’t been easy, but most of us have learned how to broadcast and record at home. The software and connectivity tools are still not there for live jam sessions or virtual choirs for most people, because of latency (sound delay). But the tools are getting better and I think they will continue to get better because it’s going to be months, if not longer, before live in-person performances, teaching, and recording will be back to where they were pre-pandemic. Even with a vaccine.
As difficult as it’s been, there have been a few silver linings. I’ve been able to do virtual performances that I never would have been able to do otherwise because with the virtual show there were no travel costs. And I’ve attended on-line events I probably wouldn’t have gone to if I had to travel to get there.
I just hope the live music venues we love so much will still be there when it’s safe to return. There’s nothing like the energy of live music with a real live crowd.
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End of Interview