1. New York promptly kicks you in the butt, and then hands you an oxygen mask. It's both welcoming and impossible. And the thing that makes it all possible is theatre. A little performance equates to survival and is expected of everyone. It's not dishonest. Just a matter of staying on your toes, making the most of what you can and bringing it to life.
2. The place where I wrote the most was the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. It's a 19th Century five-storey mansion, fashioned into a music school. I treated writing like a job - showing up each morning with a coffee in-hand, opening the windows and writing until I was sick of myself. Eventually, I realised I could see the Statue of Liberty from one of the windows.
3. I spent more evenings at Le Poisson Rouge than anywhere else. It's where Jon Brion held a residency and I almost died from fanboy disbelief. I now know what ‘Tainted Love’ sounds like on the vibraphone.
4. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I found myself attending a queer variety bash at the High Line Ballroom, where profits went to the families of New York emergency workers. For a sample, search online for a video: "Dirty Martini God Bless The USA".
5. Discovering Rockwood and the Lower East Side. This is where I played my first NY gig. It doesn't look like much, but there's something about the room that makes everything sound spectacular. And it's where I hung out with an old friend, with whom I'd go on to record my second album.
Scott Spark travelled to New York after winning Queensland’s major songwriting prize, the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship (a $25,000 bursary), in 2011. This year’s winner will be announced on August 3 at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts; Scott will perform with Sally McLennan, Kellie Lloyd, Edward Guglielmino, Laneway and Sue Ray.