I stumbled upon Layne Greene’s music through myspace. Here I discovered this young man crafting innovative yet uniquely atmospheric tunes carved from the likes of Kings of Convenience and Travis. I asked him to send me an essay about his music, how he got the interest to write and play; plus other interesting info. He is from Nova Scotia. The same place that gave birth to the legendary Sarah McLachlan. People, meet Layne!
For most of my life I have been a musician. Since I was four years old I have been attempting to make sound on various pieces of equipment, sometimes successfully making “good” sounds, while other times… not so much.
I like to think that growing up in rural Nova Scotia has helped me musically, and I’m quite sure that in many ways it has. We have a very strong tradition of Celtic music here, and we have some extremely talented teachers that I know have certainly made me the musician I am. The opportunity to create and to help others create is always there. It really makes me grow as a songwriter to know that there are always people who can play parts for me, and who can write their own parts if need be. It’s liberating to not have to worry about the skill level of the people you’re working with.
I think another big influence on my writing is how involved I have been with Choral singing. I started singing in the local Honour Choir when I was eight. At the time I’m sure I didn’t’ appreciate how beautiful the classical pieces were, I just liked the really fun African pieces we would do. But over time I grew to really love some of the classical pieces. This exposure to so much different music has certainly helped me grow as a songwriter in ways I will probably never understand or appreciate.
The most obvious imprint this early start into classical music has left on me is probably my enthusiasm for the works of composers like Bela Bartok and Charles Ives. I listen to Bartok’s string quartet pieces regularly. Even trying to follow along in the score is extremely difficult. I also really enjoy a lot of music from the Romantic period.
The encouragement of the community is also inspirational. There’s never a shortage of events to play at. And while I may not get to break out the songs that involve turning up my amp all the way and running my signal through too many different effects as often as I’d like, the acoustic shows, or even soft electric shows have an ambience of their own. And if I decide to breakout the weird distorted squeals a few times the audience still claps politely. I can only think of a few shows where I’ve ever experienced an unpleasant audience.
I find myself writing a lot about living in a small community, and the effects of urbanization. The song “Iron Town” is about a small community that thrives on some sort of industry, and the people build this town around this industry and these people form a tight bond. But when the industry runs out all of the young people start to move out leaving the community a bare shell of its former self. It’s a common enough thing, I think most people can probably relate to it in some way. I wrote it with my village in mind.
Another thing that I really spend a lot of time with when I’m working on a new song is ambience. I tend to use rather simple chords, simple melodies and simple words. So I like to use effects to develop my ideas and make it easier to feel how I intend the words. I use a lot of delay and reverb effects to create ambient loops that are essentially a wall of sound. If I’m feeling particularly brave I’ll use my guitar’s vibrato system to cause tension in the loops.
I often find though, that my roots don’t really come through with the songs until it’s time to record them. Usually I will add something at the last minute, or I’ll add a harmony and it will sound folky. It will remind me of watching performances in the local church, or at the community centre.
My first EP “From the Ground Up” will be available soon. There will be tracks up at www.soundcloud.com/laynegreene. Enjoy!