What inspired the name of the band? What are your influences and are they the same as when you started out?

    1. “Hootin” is a mashed-up contraction of my last name: Houghton. The nickname first made an appearance during my days with The Party on High Street. My favorite animal is an owl, when our  guitarist found this out he started hooting at me while we were on stage. Eventually this morphed into sounding like my last name. From there I couldn’t escape it and decided it was best to just embrace it.

I take inspiration from a lot of different artists. At first the list might seem quite eclectic but it has a theme. What makes a great artist to me is one that I feel is truly expressing an idea, something personal or tangible. There is a lot of music that just picks a catchy phrase and repeats it over and over in hopes of getting it stuck in your head; often there is no greater message to it. Artists that catch my ear are trying to tell me something whether that be with the lyrics, the instrumentation, or both. If I feel like a song is just trying to get my attention I lose interest pretty fast.

Off the top of my head, for amazing lyrics you really can’t beat Laura Marling or Tom Waits.

For pure energy, there is a well known underground funk band from Vancouver called Five Alarm Funk that constantly tours across Canada. Their size varies but usually consists of no less than 6 members, their music is primarily instrumental but is some of the hardest hitting, energetic, danceable music I have ever heard. As a drummer by trade, it’s impossible to not be inspired by them. Unlike most ensembles, Five Alarm Funk sets up their live performance with their drummer front and center. Nobody else does that as far as I know.

There is another Vancouver based artist named Matthew Goode, his raw expression is unbeatable. If you really pay attention to his music, it’s like sitting in on a therapy session. I also find expression in the way you perform extremely important, and for that my first stop is Jordan Rakei. The tone of his voice, the soft diction, it creates so much texture to his music… I find it irresistible.

Here is a little list of others I really enjoy: Tom Misch, Lianne La Havas, Still Woozy, Erik Sumo, FKJ, Half Moon Run, Pinegrove, Mike Snow, Amber Mark, Neil Frances, Rudy Norman.

How do you approach songwriting?

    1. It has taken me quite a while to come to a description of the style of music I create. The best I have come up with so far is “Expressive Alternative”. Being a drummer by trade, rhythm and energy are usually the most important factors in good music for me; lyrics being a close second. I usually begin writing a new song with the drums or percussion to define a feel. From there I take time to think about all of the things that have been going on in my life that tend to otherwise be hard to express verbally; things I’ve been feeling, thinking about but maybe struggling to articulate… I then pick one of these ideas that I think fits the energy of the track I’ve put together so far. I build the rest of the instrumentation to fit the tone and timbre of the idea I’m trying to express. Finally, I then find lyrics that don’t describe the feeling I’m trying to express… but demonstrate it. I want each of my songs to be about something. A concrete idea that I can name but allows the listener to have their own experience with. For example, the first track of my recent album “Exit Conditions” is titled Wisdom. It is about the exchange that we all make: the time we have left on earth, for the experience we gain. It’s a sort of transaction we all make throughout our lives, but affects each of us differently. I want each listener to reflect on their own transactions: how it shaped them. The instrumentation underneath is driving yet jagged, much like the ups and downs of life.

Why do you write the sort of music that you do?

This is a really difficult question to answer. I suppose in part I try to write music that I (as an audience member) would enjoy. But I suppose mostly I write music that I feel has the best chance of connecting with other people. Rhythm, drive, feel and lyrics are some of the strongest ways people connect. There’s little moments that are indicative of people really connecting to what they are hearing… I suppose I would say that I try to write music that brings out those moments as much as possible. Moments where people can’t help but play air guitar when their favorite part of the song comes up, moments where you’re dancing with your friend to a great song and the two of you try to do the same move and fail, but it doesn’t matter. Moments where you can’t help but think about something in your past because the lyrics are a little TOO relatable. To me, that’s what music is for and that’s what I shoot for.

How do you decide what songs to perform live?

I consider myself a recording artist. I am not performing at this time but hope to again in the future. The music I’ve released over the last few years has been written and recorded without the concern of how I’d ever perform them. It’s given a lot of freedom to my writing that I think has created much better recorded music. I would like to one day perform them, I guess I’ll have to get back to you when I figure out how to prepare them for a live setting…. Hahaha

What plans do you have for the future?

For now I intend to continue to release a single about every 3-4 months. I hope to do another full album somewhere in the next few years but for now I’m really enjoying focusing on one track at a time. I also really enjoy recording videos of my solo jam sessions in my studio. I post these regularly to my instagram. All of the links to my social media are available on my website: www.hootinmusic.com