Advances The Craft Of Songwriting And Composition
Conveying beauty and multi-faceted emotion with simplicity is a delicate balance for artists. Leaning too minimal feels cold or unrefined, adding too much confuses the purpose and lacks the space inherent to simplicity. Songwriter and composer Derek Schmidt has attained this balance in his art. He weaves sincere, whimsical lyrics with melodies that are simultaneously charming and refined.
Derek has been composing music and lyrics for over 10 years, and continues to develop and explore his craft. He considers himself an artist-in-progress, continuously seeking growth and experimentation. An unguarded, sometimes longing voice is accompanied by thoughtful tunes played by Derek on piano, ukelele or guitar. His other groups [All My Pretty Ones and Adonisaurus] offer the balance of more complex songwriting, and creative collaboration.
Committed to elevating his composition and lyrics, Derek’s pieces offer the immediate connection people want from music, yet subtly challenge their expectations. He incorporates more complex, unfamiliar chord changes into jazz and folk-inspired melodies — covertly exposing people to aesthetic demands that are more often the norm in the visual art world. Lyrics address topics including gender, politics, philosophy and mundane life. His voice is stark and revealing, yet endearing. An intimate approach and his warmth make it accessible — not high-brow.
Raised in Southern California, Derek started playing piano in elementary school, and picked up guitar in high school. For him, music was, and is, ‘life’s narrative’ — he started composing songs as a child, and his brother would then request tunes he liked. He was a bedroom musician for years — exploring songwriting and composition alone. A creative writer, Derek had a natural attraction to writing lyrics. He was informed primarily by 60s songwriters [Joni Mitchell, American Folk music, etc] when lyrics held more importance. Music helped him process life and loss, and coming from an organic, mournful space he started a collection of works after high school. After college, Derek started performing with friends — poppy garage-band style. They’d pick up keyboards at flea markets and had a DIY, ‘what you find is what you play,’analog sound. After doing shows with a group, Derek felt comfortable [enough] to perform his solo work in front of an audience.
Now, Derek has few qualms about performing live, and receives emphatically positive response. He released a solo EP, Selves in July and is playing shows around the Bay Area where he resides. Upcoming projects include another solo album titled Major Arcana, to be released fall 2014. These electro-acoustic pieces will revolve around Derek’s intuition and certain tarot cards. In addition to his other projects, All My Pretty Ones [an innovative folk ensemble] and Adonisaurus [an electronic music duo], Derek hosts Homophonic — a weekly showcase of gay vocalists in San Francisco.
So excited to have contributed an article to this awesome Scottish zine that explores the intersection of music and tarot. Just got it in the
Some exciting news re: Major Arcana and some school news!
I’m proud to announce that I’ve received the San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist grant for my Major Arcana project. As
New Major Arcana work is up! The Aeon XX
I have been busy working on my favorite solo project, Major Arcana and I’m excited to present it! I’m so close to finishing this
Our NPR Tiny Desk Contest entry!
While we didn’t win, we were really proud of this arrangement, and hope you guys love it as much as we do. :)
Derek Schmidt appreciates craftsmanship. He values the years of thoughtful attention artisans continually dedicate to honing their skill, and applies the same method to his own art. Through lyrics and melodies, Derek reintroduces beauty and clarity into this current climate of sensory-overload.