Singer-songwriter/electric guitarist Sy Arden recently spent an evening knocking on doors in her neighborhood near Plaza Midwood offering to sing an original song. Only one person took her up on it, but she’s moving forward with her “Trobairitz” experiment sending invitations for potential audiences to text her for a mini-concert any Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. between now and Christmas. The point? “To see how Charlotte and my neighborhood interacts with live music.” It’s just one of many ways the musician/visual artist is spreading her electrified feminist folk-rock. Courtney Devores
Q. What is your songwriting process? What I used to do was meander on guitar and get into a meditative state and let my mind wander and spit some lyrics out. I always liked guitar better than singing. I would (try) different tunings and fingerpick and nobody would ever listen to me. Then one day I sang a little bit and I got everybody’s attention.
Q. Has the process changed? Now I have a completely different way I go about it. (She removes three colored folders from her tote bag). This is 50 percent finished, this is 80 percent finished, and now I have a 99 percent folder. The funny thing is I don’t think I have one song that’s more than 99 percent finished. They get tweaked a lot.
Q. Do they continually evolve? I think songs are a lot like claywork. You’re always pushing your methods to the next progression. You’re always reworking things. They’re malleable like sculpture in a way. I just got a loop pedal. There’s so much to learn. For anyone who is a lover of learning, music is a great thing to get into.
Q. Will the pedal change your writing and performance? It already has. I did this show at a black box theater in Salisbury in July. I used the loop pedal to create a soundscape, then took my guitar off and all the lights went down. I had this easel with a black poster board, and I did this black-light painting to the soundscape that I’d just created. Then, I segued back into the song.
Q. Between two part-time jobs and marketing and getting your art out, do you find time to write? I feel like there are two spaces. There’s “do” space and “be” space. The do space is the space I’ve been in since the beginning of this year. Be space is hard to come by. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and wasn’t flooded with things I need to do.
American culture is very “do.” But “be” is where all of the character building and reflection and epiphanies happen. That space is really important and we don’t have enough opportunities or appreciation for that type of state.