By Brant Buckley
Philadelphia Inquirer (by Dan Deluca)
Fishtown Star (by Brian
(by Dan Buskirk)
Daily News (by Jon Takiff)
Weekly (by Brian McManus)
Kweder: An Unknown Incredible Songwriter
By Brant Buckley
Kenn Kweder is one of the greatest unknown singer-songwriters. Kweder
hails from Philadelphia, and has been writing songs since the early
seventies. Also known as the Mayor of South Street, he plays folk/rock
music. His voice is edgier, and has more energy and power than your
average folk singer. He had offers from major labels, but declined.
He has had a career of complete freedom and has no regrets. At Kennkewder.com,
“Heroin” and “Remember Me” are two songs that
are definitely worth taking a peek at. Also, you can listen to his tunes
Do the lyrics come first or does the melody come first when you write
“In most cases usually the music comes first. I always look at
the music as the skeleton of a person and when I have the melody or
the co-writer has the melody a weird thing happens. I try to clothe
it with the right words and tailor so it fits well. Sometimes I listen
to the melody so much, it almost releases the words. It is almost speaking
to me. With some melodies, different words can fit over it. Onetime,
I paid a bum a dollar and he said I'm not a bum on the bay. That’s
a pretty interesting phrase man! I put bum on the bay on top of this
melody. Bum on the bay sounds like a melodic thing anyway. Generally
the music comes first. It’s the skeleton and then I clothe it.
It's old fashion but that’s how I do it”.
Do you always strive for rhyme when writing lyrics?
“I always aim for the rhyme. I try to manipulate
the end sentences so they have rhyme. When they can’t be manipulated,
I have to come up with new sentences, which can be a bitch. Sometimes,
I believe there is this sacred thing going on where the lyrics are coming
from somewhere else. They’re coming in and landing on the skeleton.
Sometimes they don’t land right and I have to get conscious about
it and write another sentence. But generally I try to rhyme as much
as I can”.
How Many times do you rewrite a song before you know it’s complete?
“When it causes the least amount of pain to sing it. You keep
working with it and you bandage it up. I know its right when I’m
not going to be embarrassed by it”.
What is the best song you’ve written and why?
“It’s not my most popular but “The
Pandemonium and The Scare” is my best song. I talk about that
sacred landing; well this thing came from some other part of the universe;
not the physical universe but the subconscious universe. When I wrote
that song, I felt like I was growing an antenna and it kept getting
longer. It was communicating with something else”.
Do you write songs that you think will be popular?
“I never think about that. I think about good and
bad. If it’s good, then there’s a good chance it will get
popular. That’s the problem with the music business. The people
entering my life years ago, said you have to write this you have to
change that etc.. It’s like fixing a jaguar; you fix it real quick
or you fix it so it works. I just want to make songs that work. If they
get popular that’s great. It’s like a con job. I’m
not going to swindle anybody”.
You had chances to sign with a big label. Why didn’t you sign
and in hindsight do you have any regrets?
“They wanted me to simplify my songs and fire my
band. They were going to put me in with these hot shot New York guys.
I wouldn’t have been able to articulate with them. When I was
younger I just wrote these songs like a cave man. It wasn’t going
to work. They were giving to many orders. I don’t know if I have
any regrets. If I had surrendered all of what I wanted and it didn’t
work out, I’d be dead”.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the music business?
“Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to stick it out
for as long as you can and if you do, you need to have and keep a razor
beam claw and try not to get lazy no matter what the distractions are.
Try to stay married to what you really want to do. Your going to have
arguments with what you do along the way, but try and do your best.
If you keep putting effort in what you do, than generally good things
will come out. Don’t surrender at twenty-seven years old and start
drinking in the afternoon. That’s wrong, unless there’s
a girl involved”.