JJ McGuigan, award winning songwriter, joins David Delmar to share how adversities and improving his life doing research on consciousness have profoundly impacted his songwriting.
The type of wisdom he shares is truly from an artist who is living his songs as he continues in his own evolution. As an advocate for mental disease awareness his level of vulnerability makes him a person you want to hear more from. So, listen in and get advice for life, songwriting as well as musicality and research on consciousness.
Hello. This is David Delmar, your host of SuperPower Creatives, and you’re listening to our episode “Musicality and Research on Consciousness.” I believe everyone is a creator, and it’s this inherent birth right that’s the source of our superpowers. Stepping in to this personal authority is scary though. This show celebrates creatives that stay true to who they really are, making a living using their creative superpowers. The stories they share will excite and inspire listeners to do the same, making positive change in the world.
It’s my extreme, extreme pleasure and joy to introduce our guest for today’s show. He’s a professional icon I relate with just in terms of similar things he’s experienced in life, and he is, in my opinion, a musician’s musician, and here’s the reason why. Let me tell you a little bit about him.
JJ McGuigan. He was a finalist on VH1 Save the Music songwriting contest. Having also won other awards, a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and this is what I love. He is about just the whole life experience and being transparent. He’s also providing leadership in areas really desperate for leadership like mental health, and he’s an advocate in this area, in this arena, if you will. He’s been drumming since he was 13. A little bit later, he decided to pick up the guitar, and at age 20, he started writing songs, and he writes amazing songs, folks.
He attended Newman University and the renowned recording school, Full Sail University. Songwriting is where JJ’s main focus and passion are aimed and really bringing an emphasis on lyrical creation. He’s also appeared on numerous radio shows and his music has been heard on hundreds of stations around the world. He lived in Austin for a short little while and now finds himself back in his roots in his hometown in Wichita, Kansas, but he’s currently working on a follow-up EP that’s due to be released sometime this year, and his latest single, In All Honesty, is on both the Roots Music Report and New Music Weekly airplay charts, so be sure to check it out.
The lyric video for the song won an LA Music Video Award for best lyric video in 2018. That’s astounding, man. I love that kind of stuff, JJ. He’s nominated for two International Music and Entertainment Association awards added to his accolades. For more information on JJ McGuigan, visit him at www.jjmcguiganmusic.com. JJ, hello. Man, thanks so much for being here today.
Thank you for having me, man. It’s great to be here. Great to be here.
Absolutely! It is a true joy to have you here, and I want to just thank you so much for being here, but also, for everything you’re doing with your talents in music and as a mental health advocate. I mean, that’s truly important work that needs more people like you for sure. That is dang sure, man, so thank you for doing all that you do in the world for people to help them.
Most welcome. It’s I think something that’s continually needed, and anybody that’s been through it like you and I, we can … Whether it’s one person or many, it doesn’t matter. Just being ourselves and being open, we change a life, so it’s important to me to do that, and I’m sure you as well, and just to expand our awareness of the whole mental health issues and everything.
Yeah. Absolutely, man. That’s well said, brother. Well, today, we’re talking about our show Musicality and Research on Consciousness. In particularly, JJ’s pursuit to find answers to life’s questions have brought meaning and purpose to his own life and his music, so JJ, how would you like to open up a show with everyone? It’s the same question. It’s probably the obvious one, but here it is. What is your creative superpower?
I’d say it could be insight. Yeah, because mainly, what I specialize in is what I feel I’m best at musically is the lyrical content and I tend to … I try and write insightful lyrics. Sometimes, we don’t always do that, but sometimes, it’s nice to write a fun song too, but I feel like when I sit down to write and allow enough creative space in my mind, I can gain some insights that can be used lyrically to influence and everything.
I’ll share something with you. It’s not my ears. It’s definitely not my ability to hear sound. I was pretty much … In college, when I first started taking guitar, I was tone deaf. I’ve gotten better since, but it was just mainly play by feel and play by key. I needed to know what key you’re in in order to play, play with you, and I could do that fine, but as far as just playing by ear, that’s something I could not do, so it was always just … The focus was mainly on lyrics, but it’s funny how it works out and that what you lack in one area, someone you work with might have that area down pat, and that’s what it is, especially with who I’m working with now, Brian Elwick, my best friend and everything. We’re working underneath it together and everything, and his ears are phenomenal like if he hears an out-of-note tune by any millimeter, it causes his nervous system to go out of whack almost. It’s … No.
Highly tamed to it.
It’d be intuition for me.
What is that collaboration like? I mean, to have to surrender a part of yourself when you’re tone deaf into where you’re at today where you obviously have improved that skill and with the help of your best friend you just mentioned, what’s that collaboration process been like for you as a creative and as someone who’s intuitively guided?
Well, it’s been almost a relief and also a growing experience because I’ve grown a lot, like you said, working with him as far as my ear ability to go to play by ear and to hear melodies and stuff better than what I have, but it is taking the pressure off just because I realized I can write a song out singer/songwriter style on acoustic and everything, and he can do that himself as well, but I can take what I’ve given to him and … what I give to him, what I’ve created, and he can come up with … He can tweak it and come up with something that just, to me, just sounds more full or more on point and because I try and not to … I try and leave a lot of space with the guitar and everything to where there’s room to work with.
I try not to bog it down with too much, so it’s a lot of just basic to somewhat immediate, elaborate progressions where there’s enough room in there for him to operate and work with, so that’s what our roles initially were defined as was I primarily handle the lyrics and he would handle the melodies on the guitar, and what we’ve found is that we’ve grown so much learning from each other that we meshed a little bit, it felt, in a good way as far as I’m now a little bit better with melodies and all that stuff, and it’s hard work. I think I’m a solid guitarist for a guy who writes songs and…
I think you are too, man.
Yeah, and it has grown. Here’s the thing is that we would just grow off each other, and he’s become a pretty good lyricist too, and so that’s what … and you write it. It is a surrendering process. Some guys want to do it all themselves, and some can. Some legitimately can, but a lot of them; it might fall short to the potential of what their songs could be by just wanting to control every aspect of the sound, and of the music, and everything.
I’m on the mind that if you’re around a group of people, musicians or producer, in my case, a co-writer, Brian, that you trust, really trust them. Really, really take down what they have to say and go with it. That doesn’t mean you don’t question it. If you do question it, it just means you’re open to any ideas that are flowing in that creative process, and so my approach is to be open, but yeah, I have a plan of what I wanted to be as well, and we both have a pretty good plan of what we want this next EP to be. Hopefully, we just continue to grow and support each other in that way.
Well, I love that. I mean, it really is a true testament to just the human spirit and … I mean, how when you bypass the ego and that sort of need to be right kind of almost and you say, “Hey, let’s be more about like what can we creatively do as creators as we together co-create and create something that can really have an impact,” and for us as … for you as artists, but also for the people that they get the joy of hearing that creation, and I love it.
I love the way you shared that because I think for anybody listening, including myself, it’s a really valuable thing to hear how you have detailed really what that process is like when you decide to finally … In your case, it was in a way forced upon you with the sense of just having that tone deaf part of what your situation was. I mean, I certainly had some things forced on me that were of a different niche, but that if they hadn’t happen, my life will be so much different, so it’s funny how life has it’s plan for things too.
Definitely. Definitely. It does find a way of working itself out, doesn’t it?
It certainly does, man. It certainly does. Well, all right, so we’ve been talking with JJ McGuigan today about musicality and research on consciousness. We’re going to take a quick break, and when we return, we’re going to continue our short journey with JJ and how you out there listening can implement some of the things he’s sharing today, so stay with us, and we’ll be right back.
Find out more about JJ McGuigan at jjmcguiganmusic.com