"Get On Your Feet" writer John DeFaria

by Carl Wiser

Gloria Estefan is a gifted songwriter who composed many of her hits, "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Anything For You" and "Don't Wanna Lose You" among them. But her signature song "Get On Your Feet" - the one that provided the title to the Broadway musical about her life - was written by three of her band members: keyboard player Clay Ostwald, bass player Jorge Casas and guitarist John DeFaria. The song was released in 1989, months before Estafan was badly injured in a tour bus accident. During her recovery, the song took on special significance and became a mark of her resilience.

These days, John DeFaria creates the music you hear in many movies, commercials and TV shows. In this exchange, he explains how the song came about and how he got into this line of work.
Carl Wiser (Songfacts): When did you tour with the Estefan band, and what was your role?

John DeFaria: I worked with Gloria and Emilio from 1987 through 1991. I was the guitarist/singer in the band. We went around the world several times.

Songfacts: How did you end up working on "Get On Your Feet"?

John: I wrote it on the bus in between gigs with Gloria and the band. The verse actually was the chorus in the early version. I knew she wanted an uptempo song.

Songfacts: From a lyrical and structural standpoint, what is it about that song that makes it work so well?

John: That's not for me say really. I wanted something positive and a great tune to play live.

Songfacts: What is a typical workday like for you?

John: Hah! There is no typical day for me. A lot of staring at computer screens and tuning guitars!

Songfacts: What is your approach to scoring movies, TV shows and commercials, and how does that process work?

John: It's all about finding something that the director or producer is aiming for. I try to capture the emotion of a scene and give it more dimension.

Songfacts: What project that you've worked on are you most proud of?

John: I'm very proud of a documentary I scored for Nat Geo called And Man Created Dog. I'm also very proud of all the great tours I've been fortunate enough to be part of.

Songfacts: How attuned are your ears, and when did you realize you had a special talent? Wondering, for example, if you would hear the difference between a lossless audio file and one that's been compressed.

John: Ears are funny because they are part of the human body and not always perfect. My ears get tired fairly quickly. The best part of the day to listen is morning.

I'm very attuned to how compression "sounds," however there are lots of cool plugins these days that are incredibly transparent. I'm a big fan of dynamic EQs because you can compress a frequency only when it gets loud enough to be a bother.

Songfacts: Can you give a little background on yourself - where you're from and how you got into the business?

John: I got into music as a kid playing guitar in bands. I also played double bass in my high school orchestra and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. This was while growing up outside Chicago in Hinsdale. (Suburbs). I got deep into jazz music and was accepted into the University of Miami's studio music and jazz program. I met some amazing musicians down there and joined their band. That band went on to become most of Gloria's band.

November 10, 2015.
John's website is johndefaria.com.

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