Neil Finn Warns Young Songwriters Of Over-Polishing Music

Written by Greg Moskovitch on 11th September, 2014

Neil Finn Warns Young Songwriters Of Over-Polishing Music

Neil Finn has urged today’s young musicians to embrace “the element of struggle” in their music, lamenting the over-production that marks much of today’s music. The former Split Enz and Crowded House singer was keynote speaker during the opening of music industry conference BIGSOUND.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Finn admitted that he is impressed by modern production techniques. “I am in awe of some of the things they put together,” he said. However he criticised the lack of a human element in producing music in such a way, saying, “It’s so bolted together, everything is just slapped together.”

“It’s like a Transformer, like those movies, where the special effects morph effortlessly into real action and it has a heightened sense of ‘in your face’. There’s not one crack,” he added. The 56-year-old music veteran told the crowd at the Judith Wright Centre, “I love the element of struggle, I love a few warts.”

“I know within myself that I have a tendency to polish too much, and I’ve done that in the past on records and I don’t like that about myself,” explained Finn, who was speaking during a Q&A that reflected on his 40 years in the business. After dissecting production techniques, Finn then gave his take on pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj.

“I’m all for the feminisation of the world, I think it’s long overdue that there is true equality between the sexes,” the singer-songwriter began. “But I’m just not sure that those people are ambassadors for the kind of feminism that’s going to resonate for a 13-year-old girl.”

Also in attendance at BIGSOUND is former Killing Heidi frontwoman Ella Hooper, who said the market’s focus on talent and skill versus looks and marketing tends to fluctuate. “I think there’ll always be oscillating trends between the shine factor and the depth,” she said.

“They often co-exist as well, but I think people who are here at Big Sound tend to be more of the depth variety,” she added. However, Hooper insisted that making music which resonates with a listener has to begin with strong songcraft. “There’s a saying, you know, you can’t polish a turd, and the song really is king,” she said. “If you have a great song, it lets all the musicians shine.”


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