Mario McClean mixes confessional lyrics with honeyed accompaniment. In “Old Friend” Mario’s powerful alto is front-and-center along the gentle wash of his acoustic guitar. “Old Friend” delivers a heartfelt narrative about friendship, loss and growing older. To top it off Mario’s got a keen eye for detail—“it’s the future that still scares us / nothing to prepare us / for crying in our cars on the way home”. Mario joined me for a chat about his writing process, creating melody, and community.
Check out “Old Friend” here.
SC: I love how lyrically this song is a declaration of undying love but your melodies and music are mournful. Can you tell me about how you view this tension in the song?
MM: I think missing an old friend is a bit mournful. There's a bittersweet feeling for a shared period of life that you can't relive. I wanted to try to capture that feeling along with the type of love you never lose for a true friend.
SC: This song aches with a haunting melody. What do you think makes a successful melody? How do you write your melodies and do you have any advice for writing melodies?
SC: Tell me about your normal writing process. Do you keep a songwriting schedule? Or do you wait for inspiration?
MM: I wish I had a "normal" writing process. Usually, I like to run with the first spark of inspiration. If I have time to work in that moment, I can write a song in an hour or two. Depending on which part of the song develops first, the process can be very quick for me. I've never set a schedule because I prefer every song to mean something to me first and then workshop it later. I find that a lot more honesty comes out during those moments of inspiration rather than the moments when a song is constructed like a math equation.
SC: How does your songwriter community influence your work?
MM: My songwriter community is made up of the sweetest friends I will ever make. Their work is always true to who they are, so they will always influence and encourage me to do the same.
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