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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Exclusive Interview: Kip Winger is Dancing Between Symphonic Work and Musical Theater While Laying the Groundwork for the Next 'Winger' Release

Photo: Kip Winger- Official Facebook

ICYMI

There are so many misconceptions that go hand in hand with being a bonafide rockstar. One of the biggest is the notion that once you "make it"  in the music industry and score a platinum record or some other oddly shaped trophy, you're set for life. You know, money just keeps on flowing while difficult doors are magically opened for decades on end. The real truth is that any end of the music industry is a really harsh place to exist, even on the best of days. You can be on the road playing sold-out gigs now and in six months time, you can be back to waiting tables with zero musical options. It's a scenario that Kip Winger knows well, as he went from riding the late 80's hard rock wave with his own band (Winger), to having his career all but buried by MTV- the same network that had made him a household name. The only solid guarantee in music is that you're going to hit bottom far more often than you strike gold and it takes talent, timing and unshakable determination to pull yourself back up again.

That sitting on the bottom feeling is something that Winger has dealt with on multiple occasions and it's likely a big part of what has helped to transform him into a man that is comfortable in his own skin, flaws and all. He carries with him a depth that only comes from a life that has been fully lived and transparency that is quite beautiful. While the rockstar days aren't totally behind him, composing symphonic music and simply striving to be better, is what captures the majority of Winger's attention these days.

I caught up with Kip Winger recently and quickly realized that he is the kind of man that carries with him a great deal of wisdom, the kind that can rub off if you're ready and willing.

Google the lyrics to any of the songs on some of Winger's solo albums like, "Songs from the Ocean Floor" or "This Conversation Seems Like a Dream" and half a verse into it you'll understand that his writing is deeper than most.

Kip Winger on writing rock, progressive and symphonic music:

“I'm a believer that if you want to be a good writer then you have to sit down and write every day. You can't just expect it to hit you on a sunny (or a cloudy) kind of day. I'm the kind of person that believes that you just sit down and make it happen. One day is good, one day is bad and one day you might get to an idea that you'll work on in a month. Organizational skills are key when it comes to inspiration because the inspiration will hit you and it'll leave you just as fast as it hits you. I have to have a recorder or something with you because the inspiration for music for me usually comes from my subconscious being almost in a state of a trance or I can be doing something like grocery shopping. I sit down and write every day when I'm home. I tour a lot and it's harder to do it when I'm on the road, but I do carry tools to write when I'm on the road.  When I'm home I write every day and I try to keep the projects that I'm working on very organized. Now I have these big projects that take much longer than just sitting down to write an album, but even still an album will take me a year.”

Kip on his own personal writing style:

“I do a lot of stream of consciousness writing as well as pursuing specific ideas. I know what I like so I don't just meander around and hope to get struck by a great idea. I do get struck by great ideas and all of the best ideas are purely by accident. You can't just sit down and write a great idea and I challenge any artist in the world to say that their ideas came because they thought of them. It just doesn't happen like that. Those ideas come because you work, work, work and then the universe will show you something that you weren't seeing and it'll show it very clearly so that you think, 'Oh my god, that's amazing'. You spend a little time getting high on that feeling and then you try to develop it and realize you suck (laughing) because the idea alone was its' greatest fruition.

I don't think I'm different than many other artists and I think that my process is probably pretty similar to most people. I may just be more dedicated to it than most people and I'm probably less dedicated to it than some people. I'd say I'm in the more dedicated category and I know what it means to be an artist. Having that understanding is about all that I can hope for.”

Kip on what influences his solo work:

"Well in my solo stuff when you hear world music it's a direct descendant of Peter Gabriel. I never dug down into authentic world music, it all came from the generation of Peter Gabriel and other English artists that were introducing that stuff into their music. If you listen to a song like "Don't Let Go" off of This Conversation Seems Like a Dream you just have to know that I was heavily influenced by Peter Gabriel. There's no way around it and I'm proud of it because he is a towering genius among us, the guy is incredible.

Photo: Kip Winger & Robby Rothschild by Aline Narducci

Kip on the creation of "Sure Was a Wildflower", one of his favorite songs:

“I wrote that song for a movie. I read the script and I don't remember the name, but the movie came out and they didn't like my song (chuckling). I really like that song. I was working with a very well-known television composer named Dominic Frontiere, who did old school stuff like Outer Limits and The Flying Nun, plus he was a jazz guy. He was working on the film when we both lived in Santa Fe and so he asked me if I was up for writing a song for it. So, I wrote the song for the movie and they didn't like it so I put it on my album instead. The lyrics come right from reading the script and that's one of my favorite songs out of everything I've ever written."

Photo: Kip Winger- Official Facebook

Creative people generally aren't too quick to admit their fear of failure. Musicians and artists need to make money and admitting that you're insecure can prevent you from landing gigs, but that doesn't mean that the fear doesn't exist. In fact, it usually is just left unspoken, but festering beneath the surface. Making platinum records and earning Grammy nominations apparently won't chase these fears away either.

Kip on admitting his creative fears in spite of finding success:

“I mean it's terrifying, I'm not going to lie. I'm working on symphony number one for Nashville Symphony and I'm scared to death, it is terrifying. I don't think you ever get over that kind of fear. The only people that I know that have gotten over it are people with giant egos and those same people usually aren't the better artists. I don't think you can get over the fear if you know the difference, I mean, how can you? You've always got Beethoven looming over your head. In my case, there are great composers that I'm actually friends with now that crush me. I can call them up and ask what they did in bar nine million of their fifth symphony so I'm in a really strange situation. All you can do is one note after the next, or if you're a writer you put one word after the one before, after the one before that and pretty soon you've got a novel.”

If life is intended to be a journey then it's only fair that we would need some help along the way. Winger learned years ago that he is wise to watch and learn from the steps, and the missteps of others.

Kip on the importance of mentors:

“I actively seek out mentors. I grew up reading this book that my dad gave me, "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. In it, he talks about shadowing those who are doing what you want to successfully do, and so finding a mentor has always been a big thing for me. Even at the ripe old age of 57, I still have a couple people that I consider my mentors. I'll call them up and ask for advice on all sorts of things like how to get out of problems, or I'll ask them to look at my music, or I'll ask them why I suck (laughing).

I don't think that need for guidance should ever go away. I think that if you believe your own gospel too much and think that you’re all that, then you become a fraud or a parody of yourself. You have to have the humility to look around you to see and understand that people are as good or better than you. The people that I'm looking at are usually better than me and so I just keep trying. There's nothing else you can do but keep trying to get better. You can't not be you, that's the other part of the equation.”

He has spoken often about taking ballet in his teens and how it was the key to unlocking his love of classical music and yes, Winger does still dance.

Kip on the importance of dance class, even still:

“I like to stay in touch with dance because when I compose music, I consider dance even if it's not something that's going to end up being choreographed. My last ballet class was maybe nine months ago. I recently did a tango class and I'm kind of interested in that. That was just last week actually.”

Photo: Winger Promo Shot

Kip on that new Winger project:

Reb (Beach) and I are going to start writing and we'll try to knock something out in August. He's out with Whitesnake now and I'm very busy, so we've got some time set aside in August for us to get together and try to do something. I don't know what we're going to do and I don't like to preplan it. I like to sit down with Reb and see what the mood of the day is. It's impossible for Reb and I not to sound like Winger because the combination of us is the sound of the band, no matter what song we do.”

Kip on why he can’t just coast on Winger’s early success:

“I think human beings, in general, tend to be lazy. A lot of people can find success at one thing and be like, okay I did it, I'm done and I can live off of that credential for the rest of my life. I don't even feel successful in many ways, all of that stuff sort of passed by me and it never sunk in. I'm not the kind of artist that can repeat myself and so I don't just sit around and think of the glory days. The glory days for me are still ahead of me, in terms of art. For me, it all comes from a very artistic point of view. I'm not interested in the commercial aspect of it, to my own detriment by the way, because I'm not a rich guy. I don't have tons of money but what I leave behind, that's the most important thing."

As if the rock and symphonic worlds aren't keeping him busy enough, Winger has teamed with Damien Gray to create a piece of musical theater.

Kip on Get Jack, a Musical Thriller:

“The Get Jack concept album is coming out in the next couple months and then we're hoping to do a lab later this year. We've got a great director, Kelly Divine, and we just signed a producer so it's moving along but it's a very heavy lift. Hamilton took ten years before it was up and successful. This has so many moving parts and the scheduling is difficult but it's moving forward and I'm happy with the progress given what we've been able to put together.”

It only makes sense that a man who values mentors to facilitate his future growth would still have a pretty impressive list of things to do.

Kip on what’s next:

“Honestly, more of what I'm doing but I need to try and make it better. I'm done seeking out new genres. I'm not going to do that anymore and I'm actually going to try and reduce all of the different directions. I'd like to reduce everything down into my solo records because that's a place where I can do it all. I know who I am and I know my limitations very well. I don't have any pretenses about who I am.  I keep moving basically, and I adapt and overcome. I've experienced tons of obstacles. My big thing is time and I don't have enough time to do all of the things that I want to be doing. I'm comfortable with who I am but I'm not comfortable with my ability, especially with my orchestral writing, I'm just not good enough yet. I might do another musical and I'd like to write an opera. Yeah, I'd really like to write an opera.”


Photo: Kip Winger official Site

Check out Kip's official site for updates on everything he's doing, plus info on upcoming gigs. Also, keep an eye on Winger's band site for updates on new music & tour dates.



9 comments:

  1. Hey... some JWStuff Videos! Nice... ; )

    Great interview! Looking forward to all the things Kip works on... imo, he is THE most musical genius of the 80s rock genre...

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    1. YES! Hope you don't mind being featured! I agree with you on Kip!

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    2. I don't mind at all. I was surprised and honored to see some of mine were selected. The way I see it, they belong more to Kip and fans than me anyway... I just was the guy filming.

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    3. I subscribed to your channel so more of your videos may pop up down the road for interviews!

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  2. wonderful article!!!! i love his work and have been keeping up with his latest projects! So inspiring!!

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  3. So talented. Can hardly wait for Jack!

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