American Songwriter is running an excerpt from Music, Lyrics, and Life. This time, it’s my interview with Nashville super-producer Jay Joyce about how to embrace, and even create, beautiful mistakes. I was proud of this one:
Jay Joyce and the Power of Mistakes
If there’s anything that’s gotten more powerful in the songwriter’s toolbox, it’s the ability to erase blemishes. Writers and singers—especially singers—hide flaws with ever-improving software, thinking the song will benefit from perfection because that’s what the listener wants.
Jay Joyce has been fighting this songwriting tendency and pumping out perfectly imperfect songs for years. His studio, a converted church in East Nashville, was constructed specifically to catch what makes a song’s performance real, and in this way, he’s crafted hits for Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Orville Peck, Brandy Clark, Declan McKenna, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and a host of others. His philosophy—keep the mistakes—sounds retro, maybe even careless; and yet, Jay’s approach bypasses the sterility of modern songwriting, and creates music that is urgent, dangerous, and alive. It’s as if mistakes are the future of authentic art.
Mike Errico: How do you get the best work out of writers and artists?
Jay Joyce: I don’t have a vocal booth. People come in, and they’re like, “Where do I sing?” And I’m like, “Wherever you want.” I don’t have a control room—I never did like that. We don’t have to be, like, “Put your guitar down, come into the control room.” I can go on about the way studios are designed. It’s just stupid….