One of my all-time favorite things in the world is watching an artist create. If I could be a fly on the wall while another artist produces work, I would.
I love getting a look at what goes on in an artist’s mind and heart. I love seeing her vision come to life.
How did inventor Thomas Edison choose the shape of the light bulb?
Why did composer David Foster choose the F5 note for Celine Dion to belt in “All By Myself”?
Or why did designer Joanna Gaines choose a navy hood range for an all-white kitchen?
I know I’m not the only one who wonders how artists think and create. You, yourself, may have wondered how I think and create songs. If so, today’s your lucky day.
Today, I want to share with you how a very special original song of mine from the "Plhis Suab" album came to be.
“Kom Koj Pom Kuv” was unexpected.
It was 2014, in the early morning hours of a weekend. (Yes, some of the best ideas do come while the rest of the world sleeps.) It was a quiet night. No crickets. No one around.
The instrumental track I had discovered was at least four years old and had somehow ended up in my hard drive. I don’t compose music, so I knew it came from one of my music producers. (Mr. Shu Lor, to be exact.)
And it fit the mood perfectly. The track didn’t feel like a powerhouse song. Nor a dance jam. It felt like I was supposed to sit down. So I did.
With headphones on, I sat at my office desk with an audio recording software open on the computer. I had lowered the microphone to reach just the nasal cavity area, so it could comfortably be between me and the edge of the desk.
As I hit ‘record,’ I asked myself to go to a place in my memory while listening to the first few seconds of the music.
How does this song make me feel?
What memories come up as I feel the feeling?
Immediately, a sense of sadness and hope came to me at the same time. It took me back to a period when giving love was not a promise that I would receive love. When love you seek is unrequited.
Though this time in my memory had long past, I could still remember how I felt during that period of my life.
With no lyrics, no melody, no script, this came out. Unexpectedly.
Sentences didn’t make sense.
Truth came forth.
And just like that, the wound reappeared. Like it hadn’t healed after all those years. Like I was that woman from years ago, once again.
I instantly knew this was going to be a special song. So I sent out a take to Pa Kou, my older sister, who introduced me to Sunday Night Love Songs on 94.1 FM as a child. That night, she couldn’t stop playing it.
You see, the songs you’ve loved from my past albums have all been created similarly to this creative session.
In 2006, the melody and verses of “Nyob Ib Sab” rolled off my tongue while sitting down with a guitarist.
Same for “Cia Rau Txoj Hmoo.” In 2008, it came to life when my brother, Tchoua, visited me and played one of his original piano pieces.
And each time, I knew I had something special. I wasn’t trying too hard. Words became music. Music became words. And it felt just right.
I love these moments in creation.
“Kom Koj Pom Kuv” is a special song to me, and to some of you as well. You’ve shared your unique stories around this song with me, and you know very well what I mean, even without explanation.
So thank you for believing in my original music. Thank you for understanding and appreciating an artist’s creative process. Thank you for your support all these years.
Now, I'll leave you with the official version of “Kom Koj Pom Kuv." The full track is available on the “Plhis Suab” album.
Until next time....