Interview with Bert Schuyler: 100 Songs

Where are you located/from?
I live and work out of my apartment in Toronto.

Can you give a brief history of your musical past?
I grew up studying piano and spent hours every day playing. As a kid I was writing music for piano but I always wanted more. When I came to Toronto I started playing in bands around the city but it wasn’t until I learned about computers and created a mini studio that I was able to finally create what I really wanted to create.

Can you explain your 100 songs project?
I quit my job a year and a half ago. I wasn’t sure why or what I wanted to do. I agreed to go to a movie with a friend one afternoon that turned out to be a documentary about the Magnetic Fields, a band I wasn’t familiar with. In that documentary you see that Stephin Merritt actually intended to write 100 songs, not 69. The magnitude, freedom and enslavement of a project that sized intrigued me so I started that night.

Have you learned anything from pursuing this?
I’ve learned everything. For better or worse, going into a self critical and introspective project of this size teaches you things. I’ve learned what being an artist means to me. I had no idea before this project.

What do you do when you have no desire to write songs?
I either take a break or a beat myself up for not listening. Writing songs is more listening than writing. I don’t believe in creativity. I believe in hearing. If you can’t hear what’s all around you, you can’t translate it into music. So writing music is just listening and translating. When you can’t listen and translate it’s because something is making too much noise in your life.

What are your songs influenced by?
Musically I’m influenced by two bands that have been important to me, Sun Parlour Players and The Magnetic Fields. Artistically my main influences have been my time up north and the story, The Giving Tree.

What do you have planned after the project is complete?

I think I might try to make some money.
You can hear all of the songs Bert has completed so far here. He is currently on number 82.


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