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Interview: Patricia Bahia
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I have always loved music and I did a lot of it growing up (piano lessons, choirs, voice lessons, marching band, musicals, youth orchestra, you name it), but in my family, music was not an “approved career.” I was strongly encouraged to do something “realistic” and “practical” to support myself. “Approved” choices included things like doctor, lawyer, or teacher. I chose lawyer.
But even as I worked soul-crushing hours as an attorney, the pull of music was strong. So alongside my law practice I began moonlighting as a singer - making court appearances and meeting with clients by day, and singing in clubs and restaurants, and also as a soloist with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, during evenings and weekends.
Hidden under all of that was another deeply held and deeply buried desire I had harboured for many years: a calling to write songs. It took an ovarian cancer diagnosis to finally acknowledge my secret “bucket list” desire to be a songwriter, and to trade my briefcases in for guitar cases. If I hadn’t followed that bucket list desire, I would probably still be working as an attorney today.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love getting out on the hiking trail and I love dancing. They both get me out of my head and get the endorphins and creativity flowing. I often have melodies and lyrics come to me when I’m doing something physical. There’s something about physical activity - walking, hiking, dancing, bike riding, even driving - that occupies my left brain enough to distract it and let the right brain creativity flow freely.
How long has music been your career?
Music has been my avocation and passion my whole life, and I would say it became a career around ten years ago.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’ve been in Los Angeles since 2007. Living here has done so much for me creatively and career-wise. The creative energy here is off the charts and there’s always a feeling of possibility in the air. I’ve been able to meet, work with, and get inspired by so many fellow creatives here. And being here opened possibilities for getting my songs licensed to TV, film and commercials.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I love playing at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. I also love outdoor music venues. Dream venues for me here in Los Angeles would have to include the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
It would need to be a multi-day, multi-stage festival to fit everyone on the ticket! To name a few, in no particular order… Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Michael Franti, Andy Grammer, Brandi Carlile, Adele, MILCK, P!nk, Sia, Cheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, India.Arie, Ryan Tedder / One Republic, Kelly Clarkson, Julia Michaels, JP Saxe, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Bon Iver, Labrinth, ColdPlay, Lauren Daigle, Switchfoot, Natasha Benigfield, Taylor Swift...And this is just a partial list of artists who are still alive and have been touring somewhat recently!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Do it for the love of it.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Don’t worry about the “how” so much. Don’t wait to start til you know how, till you know all the steps from A to Z. If there’s something you want to do, start doing it and the “how” will reveal itself.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
This is a little like asking a parent to choose their favorite child (laughs)... It’s pretty much impossible to choose just one song. If I had to pick one I might say ‘Every Day Is A Gift,’ because it is such an authentic expression of my outlook on life since cancer, and one that I wrote by myself.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Great Day to be Alive is one of my favorites to play, and it gets requested a lot as well. The official recording was released by 7th & Hope, my trans-Atlantic duo project with Betty Lawrence. (You can listen on all the streaming apps (Spotify, Apple, etc.) at this link: https://found.ee/7thandHope) I also have an unreleased version of the song on my website which features my lead vocal.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
My creative process is very collaborative. One of my favorite hashtags is #teamworkmakesthedreamwork because I love working in partnership with other artists, songwriters and producers and combining strengths to make something much greater than any of us could make alone.
The creative process is different for every song. Sometimes it starts with a melody and words come later. Sometimes it’s a title, topic or even a full lyric first, and then melody. Sometimes it's a feeling I’m trying to capture and convey. And my role can change from session to session, depending on who I’m writing with and what our relative strengths are. For example, if my co-writer is a stronger instrumentalist than I am, I’ll concentrate more heavily on melody and lyrics. Other times, I’m the one holding down the groove and the chord progression. It all depends on what’s needed in the room at the moment.
As for inspiration, I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Out on walks, watching TV, reading, eavesdropping on conversations, in fortune cookies, horoscopes, ads, billboards, movie trailers, when I’m falling asleep, when I’m just waking up…The key is to capture the idea as fully as I can before it slips away. I find song ideas can be like small timid animals - if I come charging directly at them, I scare them off. I have to sort of casually and quietly turn on my voice memo app, or jot down the idea, before I scare it away and it’s lost.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
One of the things I try to do as a songwriter and artist is to create songs that lift people up, combat negativity with hope and optimism, and help them feel encouraged and less alone. The lyrics often start as messages I need to hear myself. I write the words I want and need to hear to help me deal with my own anxieties, doubts, fear and negativity. Or, I picture a friend or family member going through a hard time, and write them words of encouragement. My hope is that my songs can provide some peace or freedom or joy or catharsis-- some type of comfort in the chaos.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I don’t really have many disagreements when collaborating because my co-writers and I are united in a common purpose, and that is to write the best version of the song we can. Usually we agree on what the song is calling for and go with that. In the rare case where we don’t fully agree, for example, on a lyric choice, we always have the option to record an alternate version.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My next single ‘Hold On’ is releasing September 10, 2021 - World Suicide Prevention Day - with an uplifting message of encouragement for dark times.
I wrote ‘Hold On’ with Emmy-award winning songwriter/producer/guitarist Mike Meiers and produced the record with GRAMMY-nominated producer Bobby Holland (Kesha, ZZ Ward, Maggie Rose) in Nashville.
I saw a friend going through a difficult time - really down and struggling with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts - and I wanted to write a song to lift them up and let them know they’re not alone.
Hold On recognizes the listener’s pain and says, in essence, ‘I see you and what you’re going through. Please know that you’re not alone. Hold on. I’m here for you and I’m not letting go. And I need you too.’ My hope is that anyone hearing ‘Hold On’ will hear its message of comfort and hope and feel encouraged and less alone.
The record is beautiful - definitely a case of “teamworkmakesthedreamwork. I’m really proud and happy with how ‘Hold On’ turned out, and the recognition it is receiving, but even more importantly, if it touches even just one person, and helps them feel comforted, and less alone, that means the most to me.
‘Hold On’ is a 2021 Positive Music Award nominee. Winners will be announced at the virtual awards show on Friday September 24, 2021. Details at https://empowerma.com
Please let everyone know where to keep up with you and your music!
The best way to keep up with me is on my website: http://patriciabahia.com. You can also find me at @patriciabahiamusic on socials, and “Patricia Bahia” on all streaming platforms.