“You Are Here” – Phil Solem at IPR

by Aaron Hootman and the IPR CM150-1 Class

photos by Carl Reeverts

video by Antonio Rodriguez

August 21, 2009 —  Adam Levy’s DIY 360 featured singer, songwriter, and guitarist Phil Solem from The Rembrandts.  He spoke about his career in the music business and its twists and turns regarding fame and songwriting.  This DIY was the highlight of my day.  I, along with millions of others, used to be a loyal Friends fan and still know the theme song well enough to sing along. Having Phil perform it was a treat!

In addition, he performed an original song that was written for one of his personal heroes, Glen Campbell.  Another selection demonstrated his “creative process” was entitled “You Are Here” and was inspired while wandering around the Mall of America.

Phil talked at length about the art of songwriting, as this is primarily what he does.  He suggested that he doesn’t really have a method to writing songs and just “goes with the flow” to sees what comes out of it.  This is reassuring because I, and other IPR students, write in the same way.

Another fascinating revelation was that Phil has no training in music theory, yet is still able to play with people who do.  Currently, I know a bit about music theory but not as much as other people.  Like Phil, I’m mainly a “what would fit here” kind of player versus the “I need an A minor run followed by D” type.  Knowing that someone like Phil is able to be a successful part of the music business and not be a music theory whiz is encouraging.

There was also quite a bit of discussion regarding his career after the infamous song came out.  He said it was challenging because everyone wanted a clone of that song only with a twist and pretty much held him to that one moment in his career; he added this happens to many other artists, too.  He, however, was able to keep his career moving despite this “setback” and has gone on to release many more great songs.

Phil surprised IPR students with a spontaneous composing and recording session. Setting up in Studio 3, Phil laid down an acoustic guitar track for a song he’s been working on. Next, he fleshed out the lyrics and recorded the vocals. Then, he worked with students to mix and edit the tracks. Overall, the collaboration yielded another evocative creation and insight into “going with the flow.”

He remains creatively active with Danny Wilde – the other half of The Rembrandts, and is currently collaborating and performing with Thrush, who is comprised of John Fields and Michael Bland.  He can also be seen performing with Catchpenny.

Phil Solem is definitely someone to look up to in the music business and this DIY 360 will remain one to remember. For more information, visit his website philsolem.therembrandts.net.

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