Places that inspired music - Pacific Coast Highway

Trips and Places That Inspired Musical Revelations

BY Rob LeDonne | July 13, 2020

Fifty Grande asked a genre-spanning range of artists and songwriters about the trips that helped spur creative epiphanies. Here are the places that inspired music from these nine artists. [This story is featured issue #2, the Underrated issue.]

Delacey: “When I was recording my album in New York City, I was feeling extra lonely one night. Right before going down the stairs to the subway station, I was texting with my boyfriend and being rather irrational. I was lonely and missing him and home and feeling so lost in my life. I knew I was the one who picked a fight with him, but either way I started crying on the subway train in front of a bunch of people. It was super embarrassing. I took my phone out and wrote lyrics to what’s now ‘The Subway Song’ on my debut album, ‘Black Coffee.

Daniel Armbruster, Joywave: ”Florida. Florida is where I named Joywave’s third record, ‘Possession.’ Lying awake in my hotel bed, sharing a room with our drummer, Paul. It just hit me. You always imagine these ideas coming to you on some sort of spiritual retreat or staring into the Grand Canyon. Somewhere you had to travel to in order to gain the level of enlightenment necessary for a BIG IDEA. Nope. La Quinta. You know. The Florida one.”

Alexander 23: “I’ve come up with some of my best lyrics in between takeoff and 10,000 feet (when the Wi-Fi kicks in). Something about the physical confinement and lack of distractions, similar to a shower, breeds creativity and allows for a more pure and interrupted form of thought. Traveling can be such a powerful tool in kick-starting creativity.”

Conor Matthews: “A writing trip I took to New York last year fully inspired my EP ‘Heartbreak in the Hills.’ Even though the lyrics are about my time in Los Angeles, the energy of New York brought those experiences to life. We were partying; drinking bottles of Chartreuse and Hennessy in the studio every night while making the record. Green fairies, sleeping in a studio in the dead center of Times Square, New York bagels every morning. It was fire.”

Jenna Andrews, songwriter: “I wrote the song that got me signed to Island Def Jam in the back of my car when I was so broke that I couldn’t afford gas money to get back home. Something about that experience was super inspiring. It felt like music was the only thing keeping me going. I wrote it as a Christmas present for my parents. Afterward, I put it up on MySpace, and that’s how I was discovered.” 

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Trevor Daniel: “I’ve had a few times where traveling has inspired, and most of my debut EP, ‘Homesick,’ was inspired by that sort of situation. At the time I had never been to California or New York before, [and there were also] a lot of things going on, being away from this girl I was with at the time, all had me missing home. Traveling is cool because your mind almost takes pictures of where you were and what that time in your life was like. Even if I’m traveling back home to somewhere I’m familiar with, it still inspires me a ton.”

Max Frost: “I don’t know if it’s the altitude, the sense of isolation or what, but something about being on a plane in midair always feels like one of the most inspired places. If I could I would build a studio inside a plane and just constantly fly around trying to come up with ideas. For some reason, I’m just in a more emotionally vulnerable place.”

Bryce Vine: “I took a short break from touring to visit family and friends in Miami Beach, and I was in a nightclub with my cousin when the DJ started playing my song ‘La La Land.’ I realized that while it was a great song for driving with your friends to the beach or throwing a house party, it didn’t quite work for the club. This half-drunken contemplation made me realize I’d never written a club song at all, so I needed to make one (which eventually became my new song ‘Baby Girl’).” 

Henry Ruen, The Ruen Brothers: “The time we spent off of the sun-drenched Pacific Coast Highway inspired us to write a lot of material for our upcoming sophomore album. There’s a song inspired by Topanga Canyon and another song inspired by our trip to San Diego. The opening to our debut record, ‘All My Shades Of Blue,’ is a sound bite  from the hills of Malibu of howling coyotes in the dead of the night.”