A year ago, Derek Flynn was a writer/musician, sitting in his study working on his second novel. Having played with original bands for years – and coming close but never quite getting the elusive record deal – he had put his music away in his bottom drawer to concentrate on his writing.
“I was advised to get on Facebook and Twitter, and start a blog, which I did. At first, it was intended to be a blog about writing but I soon realised there were any number of other blogs out there about writing. I was wondering how I could put my own slant on it, so I decided to start posting some of my original songs.” Derek called the blog “Rant, with Occasional Music” and started posting a song every Monday on what he called “New Music Monday”.
In November 2011, Derek got involved in the #TwitterXmasSingle organised by Brenda Drumm. This was the first Christmas Charity Single organised and marketed solely through Twitter and other social media. Derek was one of the soloists on the song “Winter Song”. Organised, recorded and released in the space of two weeks, “Winter Song” reached No.1 in the iTunes chart on the day of release and No. 8 in the Irish charts overall. “It was because of this,” Derek says, “and the feedback and encouragement that I received from people who listened to my music online, that I started to think about recording my own album and marketing it solely through Twitter and other social media.”
Derek set up a studio in his house and recorded all of the songs on the album there. “Do You Dream At All?” was entirely self-produced and self-released. The marketing budget was a laptop, a twitter account and a Facebook page. “I wasn’t signed to a record label and I didn’t have a marketing department behind me. As I like to say, in tandem with these recessionary times, this was DIY music-making.”
The album was extremely well-received and as part of Waterford Writer’s Festival Derek was invited to perform live on RTE’s Arena radio show.
Now Derek has decided to do it all again with his new album, “Sane Like You”. “Sane Like You” is a collection of original songs all written and recorded by Derek. The music ranges from a hard-edged guitar sound to acoustic songs that are often intense but always melodic, and are matched by lyrics which marry intensity with honest emotion. “I suppose, I am somewhat drawn to the dark side a little, both musically and lyrically. At the end of the day, the songs deal with relationships. Whether that involves a romantic relationship, a friendship, or some other kind of relationship.”
The process of recording and releasing his own album was not always as easy as it might sound. “After I had recorded the album,” Derek says, “the logistics of getting it out into the world started to sink in. I’ll save you the gory details but it involved – amongst many other things – cover design, cover printing, CD duplication, bar codes, and the seemingly never-ending task of getting the CD onto websites like CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. But, I suppose, it’s like the old cliché … a ‘labour of love’. I’ve actually enjoyed every minute of the process because it means I can get my music directly into the hands of people, which is something I never could have done before.”
A Waterford native, Derek is a veteran of not only the Irish music scene, but also the US, having spent five years living and performing in New York. His influences run the gamut from The Pixies and Nirvana to Jeff Buckley and Bruce Springsteen, and this eclecticism can be heard in the wide range of songs on his new album. Derek is also a regular contributor to Writing.ie with his “Songbook” column where he talks about all matters music and writing related. As regards the similarities between writing lyrics and writing prose, Derek says: “I suppose, at the end of the day, it’s about brevity. In both prose and lyrics, you’re trying to get the heart of the matter in as few words as possible. With lyrics, this is especially true. Because of the small amount of words at your disposal, you’re always looking for that ‘perfect’ word or phrase to convey what it is you want to say.”
A recent surprise for Derek was the popularity of his song, “The Vincent Browne Song”, a light-hearted number that pokes fun at the late night host’s TV show. The video garnered 3,000 views in 24 hours after he posted it on YouTube. It was picked up by a number of online news sites – including Journal.ie – and was featured on the Ray D’Arcy show, TV3’s “Midday” show and in the Irish Daily Star.
Now, Derek has decided to release the song as a single with 50% of all the proceeds going to charity. He approached the production team of “Tonight with Vincent Browne” and asked them if they would like to pick a charity. The charity they chose is the mental health charity “Aware”. The song is also available to download on Derek’s website.
As this success goes to show, modern technology and the internet offer writers huge opportunities, “The landscape for artists has changed dramatically in recent years. Whether you’re a musician, a writer, a filmmaker, or whatever, the tools to both produce and promote your work are so much more accessible than they’ve ever been. And for me, that’s a really good thing. I’d like to think that people might support those artists out there who are trying to do things for themselves, without the weight of the corporations behind them. That right there is a revolution in the making.”
For anyone interested in Derek’s writing, he is an extremely talented crime writer and is going to be a big name in the future. Check out Derek’s Website at http://www.derekflynnmusic.com And his blog: http://derekflynn.wordpress.com/