Anyone who has spent time on my blog is very aware of my fondness for April Rose Gabrielli’s compositions, and tenacious undertones cast throughout everything she creates. Which happens to also be applicable to Song Production, April Rose Gabrielli and her partner Jacob Adam Kulick founded The Pear; currently, offering services for musical artists in Production, Songwriting, and Label Services. What is the relevance to this interview, you may be thinking about now, Awakening Autumn’s LP due for release on April 28, was produced by April & Jacob. Now, that you have the backstory, this interview was propelled by my request of deeply wanting to know the story behind Break My Teeth, a song that has such a yin-yang balance depth to it between the synergy of the musicality, and lyrics. After McKade read my review, he reached out. I am so grateful that he did, learning about artist and musical origin stories are my favourite to explore. McKade’s lyrics afford images to the listener to forge the emotive tale of resilience & vulnerability woven in the spaces of notes in Break My Teeth. I found the quality of depth is a theme throughout Awakening Autumn’s work. My recommendation to you, while you are reading this interview, listen to Break My Teeth first, well, simply because that it was started all of this. I will let you decide what order to listen to Tough Luck, and My Insecticide; both equally rock. One of the first things that I will be writing, post exam writing, is a review of the full LP offering by Awakening Autumn.
RMMW: Hi McKade, Thank you for being here today, let’s get started, do you have any artist rituals before starting a new song?
MW: I never really sit down with the intention of writing, actually. Situations will inspire me, and then I try to hammer it out. When I try to dedicate time to writing, it doesn’t really work for me, haha.
RMMW: I like that you never sit still with the intention to write and allow it to come to you organically, it is odd the quality of writing that comes when it is forced, that being said; have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
MW: Time heals all wounds! If I’ve noticed it’s been a long time since the last time I’ve written, I know that it can’t be forever. Like I said earlier, trying to force it has never worked for me.
RMMW: I can certainly relate to that, I’ve only been blocked twice in my 49 years and I found it beyond painful to not be able to express myself. That is when Tabitha, my inner critic comes into play, we all house in a critic within ourselves. How do you contend with yours?
MW: Listen to it. If I’m not 100% happy with my own work, why would I expect someone else to be?
RMMW: I agree with what you said, the inner demon of the inner critic is the catalyst to sometimes the most time-consuming work to ensure pure perfection, with an origin story that one never saw coming, and what a doozey, please share the origin story with our readers.
MW: This is gonna be a crazy one, buckle up. It’s about a girl I met, a girl from the Philippines. When we met, there wasn’t romantic intent whatsoever, because I personally never saw myself as someone with any interest in a long distance relationship. The thing is, though, we clicked very quickly. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I began writing the song 3 days after meeting her. I showed her after 5 days. The fact that I wasn’t immediately blocked goes to show that we’re both crazy.
But, as far as the song itself, it’s all meant to be a metaphor, for falling in love with someone and making yourself vulnerable, and how scary it is. I compare it to being curb-stomped in this song, which is a very strange comparison, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. You put yourself in a vulnerable spot, where someone can choose whether or not they want to completely crush you, and it’s horrific.
All the references to distance on this song are by no means metaphorical, she was almost on the exact other side of the world.
What’s so crazy about this story, though, is where it’s at now. She had a very bad home life (which I won’t go into), and it was very dangerous for her. She was born in New York, making her a U.S. citizen, and so we hatched a plan for her to run away. It took over a month, and it was a very scary, and uncertain time (all the while I’m working on coordinating these releases!!) But, by the time the song actually came out, she was here with me.
There are still people from her old life who harass us, and try to cause problems. I’m willing to bet at least one of them will read this, so if they do, hi!!
RMMW: WOW! Thank you so much for sharing that origin story, it is truly phenomenal how vulnerability, love and trust grow in the fashion of beautiful roots into the Earth. As you just shared your origin story, can you please share your process. When do you think is the best time of day to write music, and why?
MW: It usually comes to me at night, and so the original title for our upcoming record was going to be “Bedtime Stories,” but I scrapped that.
RMMW: Witching hour for me, I must agree there is a silent solitude at night, there is such a tranquility, I like to listen to music and just write. My current top three tracks that have been on repeat:
Run Away To Mars, TALK
And so it Begins, Klergy
Bitch, Meredith Brooks
Now, that I have shared, what are the top three songs that you are currently listening to on your playlist?
MW: Aside from my own? Haha, I have to sayyy:
The Mask by Matt Maeson
I Can Feel Your Pain by Manchester Orchestra
Tyrants by Sleeping With Sirens
RMMW: OMG! The Mask is so beautiful, I added it to one of my playlists. The lyrics, I have no idea why, it does not sound like Desperado but has the vibe of it. I find The Mask demands a level of self honesty, a mirror most people do not want to delve into. The lyrics of a song hit me before the music, I have so many friends who are Singer-Songwriters who will tell you that I almost demand lyrics when I am sent music. When you compose your songs, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
MW: Usually lyrics for me. Lyricism is the most important aspect of a song for me, and certainly what I feel I’m best at.
RMMW: I think, if I was a Songwriter for me, it would be more music than lyrics, what do you think is the most challenging aspect to songwriting?
MW: Caring enough about something to write more than just a few lines, hahaha. I probably have a couple new song ideas every single day, but I either don’t like them enough, or I don’t care enough about the topic to keep going. It’s weird, because as a writer, I want to find a way to cover new things that people aren’t really saying in music, the same way artists like AJR do. But sometimes, after one verse, you’ll find you don’t really have anything left to say, at least not yet. Although, that’s the other thing. There are a few songs on our upcoming record that took me 4–5 years to finish!
RMMW: You know, I am finding more and more origin stories steeped in years to create, imagine for a moment Sulloway took 25 years to write his book on birth order, Darwin 20 years to write his Theory of Evolution, I imagine your album as an oil painting that you kept layering and building upon to create an eloquent opus. I never asked you before, what is Awakening Autumn’s origin story?
MW: That story starts with my parents more than it does me. My mom is an incredible singer, and my dad is an instrumentalist/producer who played in bands for a long time. They actually met when my mom auditioned to be a vocalist for his band, which is incredible. Coming up in that environment, music and entertainment was just something that I always saw the beauty in. As I got older and learned to express myself through it, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I’ll also say that none of it was really possible without their support.
RMMW: Aww, I love that story, hear to hear to the parents who support their children unconditionally; did your parents also have something to do with your earliest musical memory?
MW: I’ll have to say my parents, once again. They’d be in their studio, or “music room,” as we called it, and sometimes I would go and sit in there with them.
RMMW: I love how that level of work ethic, transferred to you, especially with writing; do you have a preferred way to write songs? Pen & parchment, or digital notepad?
MW: Digital. My handwriting is hilariously bad.
RMMW: It is funny that you mention handwriting, I was once accused of perpetually making my bubble letters more bubbly. So we can expect songs written by hand, what else can we expect to see forthcoming from Awakening Autumn?
MW: An album that we’re extremely proud of, and going forward, we just want to be something different. Not just with our music, but in every other way.
RMMW: I totally LOVE that, thank you so much for sharing and trusting me with your story. Now, for my last question; if you had a superpower, what would it be?
MW: Never having to sleep. You lose at least 1/3 of your life sleeping, and that terrifies me. It just has to be something low-key, so the government doesn’t experiment on me 😉