Exclusive Interview with Lance Herring
I recently had a chance to catch up with independent singer/songwriter, Lance Herring, to discuss songwriting and music.
Wisdom: When and how did you first start writing songs?
Lance: I first started writing songs when I was about 17 years old. I had just been asked to lead worship for our high school youth group (you know, that thing they call “student ministry” now), and I thought it would be fun to write some songs to sing together. They were awful, though. The kind of songs inspired in the wee hours of the morning; the kind of songs you think are automatic platinum hits; the kind of songs you wake up the next morning and say to yourself, “What on earth was I thinking?!”
Wisdom: What styles of music do you typically write?
Lance: I seem to write mostly contemporary worship/rock, with a teeny tiny amount of folk thrown in for kicks and grins. I’d love to write some stuff with some more soul! But alas, “soul” still eludes me.
Wisdom: What instruments do you like to write with?
Lance: I primarily write on my acoustic guitar. Everything on Until the Sun Goes Out (my freshmen EP) was written on acoustic. I’d like to branch out a bit, though, to piano, ukulele, jaw harp, etc. I’m trying to find something to get the creative juices flowing differently.
Wisdom: What is your songwriting process like? Where and how do you find inspiration for songs?
Lance: Each song was written differently. Some, out of necessity, I write in a single day. Some have taken over a year, and one in particular took five minutes. It’s my mom’s favorite song off my EP, called “Overtake this Place.”
I was in Africa doing some mission work with a group of college students. Each morning, we’d wake up and spend time together in prayer and devotion. One morning, they asked me to sing some worship songs over them as they read. I began to sing some older songs and felt the Lord whisper, “Sing your own song.” And so I did. From start to finish, inspired by what I had experienced in Africa, the entire song was written all at once. Afterward, one guy said, “Hey, man, I really like that one song you did, “Overtake this Place. Who wrote that?” I said I did, and he asked how long ago I had written it. I replied, “Just now!” It was one of the most amazing songwriting experiences of my life.
Wisdom: How often do you face writer’s block and how do you typically deal with it?
Lance: It’s the worst! I usually give up and go play disk golf or surf. Sometimes I’ll try switching instruments. It seems every instrument has its own song inside of itself. So whether it’s an old instrument I have lying around the house or a weird instrument at an antique shop, I’ll take a minute and explore that instrument to see what it has to say. (Surfing is sometimes beneficial, because it’s peaceful. Usually disc golf sends my writer’s block frustration into a downward spiral…I’m not very good at disc golf.)
Sometimes I’ll try using a key I don’t usually write in, something with a lot of sharps or flats (thank God for the capo!). Or sometimes I’ll read a book, some poetry, or a hymnal I “borrowed” from an old Presbyterian church I used to live by. Other times I look at inspiring photographs or paintings—anything to get my mind out of “ordinary” mode.
Wisdom: What’s something you wish a more seasoned songwriter would’ve told you when you were first starting out, that you could share with beginner writers that might be reading this?
Lance: Not every song you write is meant to be heard. Write some songs for special relationships in your life, especially some songs meant only to be shared between you and God.
It takes 10 bad songs to get to one good song. Write often and don’t get overly attached to your songs.
Wisdom: What is God speaking to you about right now, in general or in your songwriting?
Lance: It’s always something new. Right now, He’s encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone relationally, to be more intentional about the people who are in my life and even the people who aren’t. I think that relates to songwriting a lot, actually. Especially when writing songs for congregational worship and getting outside of our comfort zone.
I have a relationship with the songs I write. Each song is written as a friendship. It starts out new and exciting, and as it progresses, I can either press in deep and really learn and explore all the dark spaces of my new friend and bring them to light and restoration or I can be apathetic toward it, leave it behind, and move on. I’d like to choose to lean into my relationships/songs.
Wisdom: Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us! Readers, you can find Lance’s EP, Until the Sun Goes Out, on iTunes, Spotify, and BandCampComment on Facebook Comment on Twitter
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