Have you ever imagined yourself writing a chart-topping hit? Or writing songs for an album?
Lyricists and song-writers over the years have captured our hearts with memorable lyrics and catchy melodies. Whether a song elicits feelings of motivation, reminiscence, love or sadness, if you’re catching “them feels”, the writer has achieved their goal.
Music has long been a preferred method to express emotions, from Beethoven’s “Für Elise” – a piece he wrote while, we assume, attempting to win the affections of a special lady – to CeeLo Green’s “Forget You” – a (self-professed) spiteful tribute to his record label.
So, what process do song-writers go through to channel all their raw emotion into something their fans enjoy listening to?
Lula Prima interviewed a range of upcoming artists to find out more about their creative methods and here’s what they had to say:
Ian Clarkson and Alex Douglas, The Jive Aces
“The best tip for song-writing… Peter (The Jive Aces’ drummer) told me that if you get stuck, just write anything. If you stop and think about it too long and stop writing, then you get [out of the state of] flow. If you don’t like something, carry on, as you can – and will – always come back later and improve it. Sometimes you have to have a deadline or you procrastinate forever. Though, this is true of many types of writing I believe…”
Ian, front-man and debonair extraordinaire, has written many of The Jive Aces’ well-played songs, including La Dolce Vita, Lovin’ Life and Planet Jive. He added:
“The obvious thing is just to write! Don’t think about it. I seem to go in phases, but I usually have some idea, or ‘inspiration’ and then just start writing. Even if you don’t like the initial idea you have, write it down and you can adjust it later. For example, “Planet Jive” – I thought of the first words for the chorus while showering and I just wrote it down before breakfast. It took less than ten minutes and later I smoothed it out.
One song I remember writing in the early days is “What Is Love Without Faith”. I was watching an old movie and it was quite moving; that was a line Marlene Dietrich said. So, I just wrote it down and started from that. It’s just a ditty but people liked it.”
Harry Whitty, Jazz Artist
Harry Whitty, multi-instrumental wonder-child, is becoming an overnight sensation after having produced his own EP at the tender age of sixteen, entitled Trying My Best (in which he played all the instruments, including vocals). Recently, he announced the arrival of his second EP, Feels Like Home, due out later this year.
“As a song-writer I try to stick to my own sound, and take my song-writing and music in the direction that I’m interested in: focusing on the sound that I desire to create and trying not to be swayed by what’s in the charts. I’ve also found that playing with other musicians has been contributed a lot to my song-writing skill-set, as has playing live; I get a lot of ideas from the other musicians I play with, especially in the kind of jazz/funk/blues stuff that I play. It’s really important: improvising in the moment – it makes it all more fun!
Another thing is listening widely. I listen to a lot of music and am influenced as a song-writer and performer by music from many different genres ranging from funk, to folk, to blues, to classical music!”
Victoria Bass (aka Satin Doll Bella), The Satin Dollz & The Duettes
Victoria Bass, vintage siren and sultry singer, recently graduated from The Academy of Contemporary Music and has been catapulted into the spotlight, after joining international pin-up sensations, The Satin Dollz. If that wasn’t enough to put stars in her already-twinkling eyes, she also forms one half of a vocal act called The Duettes, alongside Miss Holiday Swing.
“I find it easiest to write songs when they are based on a story. The first original song I wrote was formed around a fictitious story about love, lust and loss. This short story was about three or four pages long: so, I highlighted the key phrases, alongside my favourite words from the story, and this eventually formed the lyrics of The Pretty Woman.
As a song-writer, I often find it hard to write about my personal life; writing stories allows me to dramatise and exaggerate real experiences, in order to create a song. My top tip is that I love to search for synonyms online. You will find that every day, average words can be transformed into much more extravagant, and lyrically beautiful words and phrases.”
Joey Clarkson, Canadian Country/Pop Singer
Joey is an international starlet with a big heart; when she’s not performing or writing songs, she teaches youngsters the tricks of the trade and remains a moral compass and excellent role model for them.
“I have always found that song-writing works best for me when I allow it to flow naturally, being influenced by the exact moment and time that I am writing in. I generally start with a melody and/or a hook line, and work to build the song around that.
Creativity usually comes when I pick up an instrument, but can also strike at the most inopportune times; in airplanes, road tripping home, and when I’m trying to fall asleep.
Setting challenges and definitive restrictions for my song-writing, can be a fun exercise to help to get creativity flowing, but like the rest of my life: I use those challenges/structures as guidelines, and am not afraid to break them in order to do what is best for myself in the present – or in this case, what is best for the song.
Sometimes that sad song you sat down to write turns into something empowering, and much more impactful than what you would have written if you hadn’t let the song breathe, and lead you to its natural end. To me, song-writing is about listening for what needs to be said, and letting the song speak for itself.”
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