“Honey Blue” is a wistful daydream with light touches of accordion. On the track Cortez Garza delivers a yearning vocal about loss and the cycle of addiction. Throughout the waltz the band provides restrained accompaniment that pushes Garza’s husky alto front-and-center. Each chorus ends with a final resignation “I keep falling down on my knees”. Overall it’s a tasteful track with understated touches of tremolo guitar and and Kaitlyn Kessler’s backing vocal.
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SC: Can you tell me about the repetition of “keep falling down on my knees” in the chorus?
CG: Honestly, when I wrote this song, I did not intend to keep that line going in the way it does. It wasn't until I went to demo it that I decided to play with it a bit. I'm really into vocal harmonies and layering on top of my own vocals when in the studio. If you listen to it all the way through you will obviously pick up on the intention which was a slow build to a crescendo of sorts. It was suggested to me more than once to shorten the choruses so that line didn't repeat quite as much and therefore would maybe give it more of a pop sensibility but I was intentionally trying to go the other way and really challenge the listeners. In the past I’ve definitely have been that guy who went the really short, catchy, digestible route, so I guess with a lot of this record I was really challenging myself. There was absolutely a vision I was trying to fulfill.
SC: Tell me about writing “Honey Blue”
CG: I wrote Honey Blue about 7 or 8 years ago when I was in the worst place I've ever been in. Very much in the throws of an addiction to drugs and alcohol and had become way to comfortable dwelling at rock bottom. All my relationships with family and friends were strained to say the least and that was making my dissatisfaction with my situation that much more unbearable. I had just gotten into it with my brother and sort of just said what I had to say to him through the song. I remember it came together pretty quickly and in the end felt pretty accomplished because I had been creatively stagnant up until that point. I actually leaned on it pretty heavily for live material for many years but have since written a lot of other stuff that I prefer to perform. I named the song after a band I had seen just the night before. They sort of awakened that part of me and suddenly I remembered that I felt purpose when I was writing and performing. Some years later I was working in a Cajun-Creole restaurant and heard a lot of music that had similar time signatures and sort of realized that I had inadvertently written a waltz. Thats where I got the idea for the accordion and was lucky enough to get Rex Hussman in the studio. Between that and Dave Kirslis's signature guitar, this song really took a new life from the demo.
SC: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you wait for inspiration? Or write daily?
CG: In short, I usually wait for the mood to strike me. I would love to say that I'm constantly writing songs but that is not how it is these days. I've learned to try and keep the wheels greased by reading as much as possible and taken notes when I get an idea but its difficult to find a balance and be able to be in the studio and tour and write all at the same time, so I usually write when I need a new song or just need to vent. I spent many years writing everyday and hating 98% of the songs, so I’ve sort of gotten to a point where I don't put a whole lot of pressure on myself. I would rather write once every blue moon and love what I'm doing than to constantly be feeling like my output is inadequate, which can happen in that space. That being said, I am all about challenging myself and I'm all always trying new things. I've actually been contemplating going to a songwriting camp this summer, to learn how to be a better songwriter, I guess you can say, that in and of itself just sounds like a lot of work but I absolutely believe it would change me for the better.
SC: How does your songwriting community influence you?
CG: What can I say? There aren't too many places like Athens, Ga. In a very good way. When you think of Athens music there are some pretty particular sounds that come to mind and if your like me you are absolutely influenced by what’s happened here past, present and future. I recently started thinking a little beyond Athens and started sort of taking in songwriting from a different set of ears. These days my songwriting community is much more expansive than it was a few years back. As I travel and play with different groups in different markets I've begun to feel more of a oneness with communities outside of Athens and Atlanta. To be perfectly honest getting outside of Athens has allowed me to grow as a songwriter in ways that I never knew I was even interested in. Even just the difference between Athens and Atlanta audiences are pretty remarkable and I think that ones audience is always going to be a factor for people in our position, particularly ones who are interested in evolving or more to the point, growing. No matter where you are it’s important to realize that there are levels to this thing and its easy to get frustrated when seeking validation from "community". Personally, I have ambitions and a lot of things I hope to accomplish that haven't happened yet but at the end of the day I am happy with what material I am writing and that is the only thing to me that truly matters.
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