Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Songwriting Series #1: Skeletons

Skeletons. Framework. Structure. Outline.

These aren’t the most flowery or creative words, but they’re absolutely necessary for writing a good song. You have to have a road map, a plan, a means of communicating your message to your audience.

Have you ever seen a film that ended and you wondered what the director intended you to feel, think, or conclude when it was over? *cough* Dear John *cough* *cough* That’s what will happen to the listener if you write a song that lacks a backbone.

To get you started, here are some common song formats:



A= verse

B= chorus

C= bridge

Songs often begin with an intro, end with an outro, and sometimes there will be a prechorus before each chorus. For an example of a song with an ABABCB format, listen to my song "Have We Become Silent" at www.AshleyGatta.com by clicking on the music player at the top of the page.

Now that you’ve got a skeleton for your song, you’ve just got to put some meat on them bones!

Monday, February 15, 2010


I’ve got a new website! I fall into the category of musicians who have squeaked by with just a MySpace page for far too long. Despite being intimidated by the technology of a website and the fear of having an uber-cheesy page, I’ve decided it was time to get with the times and create a website. Visit www.ashleygatta.com to check it out. There you can find pictures, music, news, booking info, band bios, and you can preorder your copy of Where the Humble Go.

For this blog entry I’ve decided to introduce you to my band by featuring their bios as part of the blog. So, meet The Free People:

Sam Witt- Keys

Name: Samuel Witt

Instrument(s) you play: I'm a dabbler, but mostly Piano.

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Musical Influences: Here are a few artists that have crossed my path and made such an impression on me that I was moved to cultivate my own music. Insyderz, Shane & Shane, Mute Math, Imogen Heap, Daft Punk. Lately, Jazz artists have been making a big impact on me.

Favorite "Ashley Gatta" song to play: It changes, but I like Grace Face’s groove and the way triplets sound on it.

Currently listening to: Lettuce

Interests/hobbies: I have my phases of interest. Some days, I like going to local shows, other days, I wanna just stay home and watch a movie. I like finishing books, but I need to get better at retaining the information inside them.

Any other facts about you you'd like to share...a funny story, embarrassing moment, where you went to school, your favorite food, etc.: The most frequent question I get asked is "what ethnicity are you?" to which I usually reply, "Probably Hispanic". Upon noticing the uncertainty of my own Hispanic-ness, one usually says. "probably??!" to which I proceed in explaining that I was adopted at 3 days old, not really certain who the mom was. But in some cases one might say nothing but "oh." and leave it at that. In rare cases, I am left with no option to relieve them of their curiosities because they have relieved themselves thinking I'm Turkish, African American, or even Indian, and that leads to embarrassment to both parties. Since there are tooo many embarrassing moments to list (not only related to ethnicity), I'll just list a few facts about myself. I'm studying music at UNT, and am almost done. I have a growing love for Life in the strictest sense of that capital L word, and am happy to be playing music. :)

Taylor Kami- Drums

Name: Taylor Kami

Instrument(s) you play: Percussion

Hometown: Mililani, HI

Musical Influences: Led Zeppelin; Dave Matthews Band; U2

Favorite "Ashley Gatta" song to play: Play My Guitar

Currently listening to: Rubber Soul (The Beatles)

Interests/hobbies: Ice cream, potato chips, chocolate, dog training

Any other facts about you you'd like to share...a funny story, embarrassing moment, where you went to school, your favorite food, etc.: I love my students at Roach Middle School!

Jiovanni Smith- Electric Guitar

Name: Jiovanni Smith

Instrument(s) you play: Guitar/keys

Hometown: Duncanville

Musical Influences: PRINCE, Sade, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and Arlington Jones

Favorite "Ashley Gatta" song to play: Ain't Nobody

Currently listening to: Sade's soldier of love

Interests/hobbies: FOOTBALL, Basketball

Any other facts about you you'd like to share...a funny story, embarrassing moment, where you went to school, your favorite food, etc.: Ran track and tried out for 2 professional Arena league football teams.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I either wanted to be a singer, or the head of the Ice Capades.

As a single twenty-something, people often ask what I do, how long I’ve been doing it, what my goals are, etc. Especially when I tell them I live in Denton. “Oh, so you’re a student?” they ask. “Nope. Graduated in 2007 and stuck around,” I respond. More questions follow when I tell them I’m a full-time musician. Most of those questions border on inappropriate and usually revolve around money. Instead of responding “Nunya” which is what I want to say when people ask me how I’m paying the bills, I try and use it as an opportunity to boast in Christ and his provision for me.

After many a sermon from Matt Chandler where he encouraged the congregation to pursue things that “stir your affections for Christ” I realized that music was just that, for me. I tried satisfying the urge to pursue music full force by keeping it part-time while I worked as a Mental Health Worker in ‘07-‘08 or as a 4th grade/Choir teacher in ‘08-‘09, but I knew God wanted me to trust him, leave the safety net of a salary, and just make music.

While I haven’t been receiving mysterious $10,000 deposits in my bank account, God has provided. Turns out you can live without cable and hubcaps and eating out. He has blessed me with an amazing band of talented musicians, friends and fans that support my music, and waves of encouragement along the way.

My attempt at wisdom for you is this: Do the thing that stirs your affections for Christ. If you feel like the Lord is leading you to move to inner-city Detroit, then do it. If you feel like God is telling you to become an engineer so that you can build wells for people in Africa, do it. If you want to get trained in disaster relief to help in times of crisis, do it. Or maybe, like me, you have a love for an art and you want to make a career out of it, and you should do it. If God wants you to do something he isn’t going to punish you for your obedience. He will provide.

Don’t get this mixed up with the prosperity gospel…I’m not saying you’ll end up making any money from this thing, or that life will be peachy keen, but I do know that the safest place to be is in God’s will, and that you can best serve him by doing what you love and what you are gifted in. Matthew 7:11 says “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” This is good news.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

T-Shirt Design Contest

Ashley Gatta’s T-shirt Design Contest: Wear my Opinion on Your Sleeve

When the album comes out, I want to have a couple great t-shirts for people to purchase if they so desire. I am asking my friends and fans to submit your own designs and I’ll choose a couple winners. If your design is picked, you’ll get to see it go into print for the masses, and you’ll receive a free t-shirt for yourself. I’ll also be sure to blast your name and website all over the place to give you credit for your contribution.

For the ladies’ shirt, I’d like it to be based on my song “Play my Guitar” which has the lyric, “I’m a woman of logic and reason and emotion”. I thought the shirt could just say “logic, reason, & emotion” or something like that.

For the unisex shirts I have a couple ideas. One is based on a song called “How Will They Love” and the shirt would say “Trying to love like Him”. Another would say “Where the Humble Go” which is the album title. Another would just say “Free” and it’s based on the band name “Ashley Gatta & The Free People”. Another shirt could say “Ashley Gatta & The Free People” or just “Ashley Gatta”.

All designs should include my name and/or my web address: www.ashleygatta.com.

You can choose the shirt style and fabric that you’re envisioning, but please keep the print with 1-3 colors, as it gets quite expensive when more are added.

Be creative! I will be looking for unique designs that support my “brand”. My genre is Organic Motown and I strive to make my songs soulful, transparent, and kingdom minded. Hope that helps you in your brainstorming!

Please email all submissions to AshleyGatta@gmail.com. Please send your artwork in a pdf or jpeg file format. Be sure to include your name and contact info along with your email. You may submit up to 5 designs. Thanks and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Deadline: Friday, February 26th, 2010

Feel free to email me with any questions at AshleyGatta@gmail.com.

Monday, February 1, 2010

As a full-time musician who doesn’t feel particularly called to teaching or playing covers at the bar, I have had fewer opportunities than most when it comes to making money playing music. Something I do love to do is lead worship. I have been serving in this capacity at my home church, The Village, for several years. Over the last few months, I also began singing background vocals with my friend and fellow musician, Chad Hailey, at the church where he leads worship, Grace Heritage Community Church. I started exploring the opportunity of going on staff at a church as part of their worship team. I was able to connect with Joel Miller of The Summit and after hearing his heart for God and the church I started getting excited about the possibility of hopping on board. I was offered the position and after prayer about leaving The Village to take this job I have decided to accept.

This is a bittersweet decision for me because The Village has been so integral in my spiritual growth up to now. I still remember being a freshman in college and reluctantly tagging along to visit The Village with a couple girls form my dorm. I heard Matt preach a sermon on Hebrews 12:1 and suddenly it was real to me. I had sat through dozens of sermons before and had heard the gospel, knew the gospel, but it wasn’t real to me until then. I desired to throw off my sin and live for God instead of myself. Since then I’ve developed a true family in the church. I’ve seen what true forgiveness looks like, deep fellowship, fasting, prayer, weeping, joy, community, service, honesty, love. I’m not the same person that I was in 2003. Praise God.

Leaving The Village would mean leaving this dear place where I have been built up and shepherded well and encouraged and loved on. It means leaving a place of sound doctrine and teaching and constant refining. It also means an opportunity to take what I’ve learned and share it with a new group of people. And, to see what gospel community looks like outside of the 4 walls I’ve come to know so well. It means I will get to plant seeds of truth for ears that may have never heard about Christ. Or, never believed. Please pray for me as I step outside of my comfort zone to embark on this new journey. I don’t know what God has in store for me or the rest of the crew at The Summit, but I am so excited to get to be a part of it.