Ken Sharp – Miniatures (Q&A, and more …)

Ken Sharp’s new record is called ‘Miniatures’, with 32 short songs and musical impressions. If you asked David Sylvian or Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) to make a Power Pop record they might come up with a record that sounds like ‘Miniatures’, which feels like purple velvet and smells like turquoise satin. We’re not going to ask them, Ken Sharp has already made the record. I also don’t think they will make it to the standard that Sharp sets here.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Ken Sharp about unique magic, beauty, and a songwriting tear.

32 songs that together last 41 minutes. How did the idea come about to make a record like Miniatures?

During the pandemic, I have been very productive songwriting/recording-wise, thankfully. My writing has been all over the place, not stuck in one style: pure pop, soul, glam rock, ‘60s Beatlesque songs, jazzy things, acoustic flavored material, etc. Sometimes I’d send one of these song “miniatures” as I call them to a friend of mine who design my albums and he has always responded very favorably saying he wishes I would do an album filled with these songs.

About two months back, I sent him another of the ones I’ve written/recorded during this time and he said the same thing, and this time I really took it to heart. So I looked  to see the number of song “miniatures” had written/recorded during the pandemic and it was 20 of these song “miniatures.” That wasn’t enough material for a full-length album so I was lucky enough to fly on some inspiration to go on a songwriting tear and write an additional 12 songs. After I listened to them in one sitting, I felt the album captured a unique magic and beauty that made it worthy to release as an album. 

By the way, I composed and recorded all the songs at home using the GarageBand app on my iPhone, singing, playing acoustic guitars, tambourine, maracas, bell tree,  into the built-in microphone and using an interface, plugging in a cord and adding electric guitars, piano, organ, etc. some tracks are filled completely with up to 32 tracks. Writing these song “miniatures” is pretty similar to writing a full-length song. The key is to ensure that all the parts fit and that the story is told in the song successfully, I felt all these “miniatures” were just long enough to not overstay their welcome.

When I listen to Miniatures it sometimes seems as if I read a diary. Without me explaining it further. Could that be a compliment?

Yes, in a way my new album “Miniatures” could be viewed as a musical diary or sketchbook. I tried to write songs filled with emotion and passion and filled with lots of musical embroidery as well. Most importantly, I wanted them to be short and not overstay their welcome while still telling a complete story.

If you have recorded 32 songs then I can imagine that there is a temptation to record numbers 33 and 34 as well. How did you decide the record was ready to be released?

32 songs equaled a little over 40 minutes of music. I am putting “Miniatures” out on vinyl and 40 minutes is the maximum suggested length for an album so that was good enough for me to stop with 32 songs plus the album felt complete to me with that collective of specific songs.

Your songs, the arrangements, the production, the artwork, everything is done with such care. Is it easy to say you are super proud?

Yes, I am super proud of the record, It’s a bit of a departure for me as an artist but it’s good to take some chances and risks. but I think it’s a cool little magical record filled with some beautiful songs. The favorable response I’ve received from folks thus far has been very rewarding with a few saying they think it’s my best album.

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