The Young Songwriter 2022 competition gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The standard of finalist songs entered this year was exceptionally high. To select the winners we listened for inventiveness, creativity & bravery with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations, as well as the overall impact of the song. The future of music is bright and diverse.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies

Drumroll please! The winners of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, in its 12th year, have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.

The Young Songwriter competition stands for the craft and art of songwriting in its purest form, enabling young songwriters to aspire to the very best melody, lyric, structure, concept, harmony, mood and impact a song can have. It inspires young people to think about and speak up about things that are important to them personally, in their community and in the wider world and get their voices heard. It’s a supportive community where young people feel brave and can express themselves, celebrate individuality and be themselves. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.

What makes a sensational song is ultimately subjective. The winners’ songs were selected as they stood out for their creativity, invention & courage with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations as well as the overall impact of the song. Congratulations also go to all SAYS22 finalists and our vibrant community of young songwriters around the world.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

As well as The Young Songwriter competition, Song Academy run songwriting clubs in term time, songwriting workshops in the holidays, song feedback reports, recording & production workshops, bespoke songwriting workshops & birthday parties.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

UK/IRELAND, 13-18 YEAR OLDS WINNER: SISI 

UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS WINNER: JOHNNY BEAU

INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS WINNER: JOEY WILBUR

INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS WINNER: EVA STEINERT

SAYS22 Official Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, BMI, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up & Fun Kids Radio

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

We are the leading platform for young songwriters.  Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

The Young Songwriter 2022 competition gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The standard of finalist songs entered this year was exceptionally high. To select the top 3 songs we listened for inventiveness, creativity & bravery with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations, as well as the overall impact of the song. The future of music is bright and diverse.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies

Drumroll please! The top 3 finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, in its 12th year, have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.

The Young Songwriter competition stands for the craft and art of songwriting in its purest form, enabling young songwriters to aspire to the very best melody, lyric, structure, concept, harmony, mood and impact a song can have. It inspires young people to think about and speak up about things that are important to them personally, in their community and in the wider world and get their voices heard. It’s a supportive community where young people feel brave and can express themselves, celebrate individuality and be themselves. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.

What makes a sensational song is ultimately subjective. The top 3 finalists songs were selected as they stood out for their creativity, invention & courage with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations as well as the overall impact of the song. Congratulations also go to all SAYS22 finalists and our vibrant community of young songwriters.

The UK/Ireland winners will be announced on the 25th June at The Young Songwriter 2022 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  HOW TO BOOK TICKETS:  send an email to contact@songacademy.co.uk to request tickets.  The International winners will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 26th June at 2pm BST.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

As well as The Young Songwriter competition, Song Academy run songwriting clubs in term time, songwriting workshops in the holidays, song feedback reports, recording & production workshops, bespoke songwriting workshops & birthday parties.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-18 YEAR OLDS (TOP 3 SONGS)

CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI (NORTH EAST)
DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE (LONDON)
SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE (BEDS, HERTS & BUCKS)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: GATEKEEPER – BEA (LONDON)

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS (TOP 3 SONGS)

FOMO – HOLLY DAIS (DEVON)
FREE – JOHNNY BEAU (LONDON)
LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH (LONDON)

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS (TOP 3 SONGS)

BIGGER – ALEXANDRA CRIBB (TORONTO, CANADA)
BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN (CALIFORNIA, USA)
THINK MYSELF TO DEATH – JOEY WILBUR (CHICAGO, USA)

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS (TOP 3 SONGS)

BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY (MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA)
DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT (MISSOURI, USA)
ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON (QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA)

SAYS22 Official Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, BMI, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up & Fun Kids Radio

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

We are the leading platform for young songwriters.  Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

A must see event to inspire musical & creative young people! The winners & top finalists of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition and special VIP guests will perform their original songs at the iconic Tabernacle in Notting Hill.  Book your tickets!

The inspirational Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 live showcase will be held on Saturday 25th June, 7 – 9:30pm at The Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, Notting Hill, London W11 2AY.  The Young Songwriter 2022 competition winners, finalists and Song Academy alumni making waves in the music industry will be performing their original songs live at The Tabernacle – a fabulous venue in Notting Hill. Plus, VIP Guest and SAYS22 judge, Grace Davies will be performing!

The showcase celebrates the inventiveness & creativity of young people and the power of songwriting to help young people find their voice and find their tribe.  The future is bright and diverse!

We are delighted that the showcase will be compered by two young creative stars & Song Academy ambassadors – Sophie Griffiths & Lex Gibbon.  Sophie is an exceptional singer songwriter with her soul-pop sound and a TikTok influencer with over 360k followers!  Lex is a fabulous singer songwriter and an advocate for mental health awareness, body positivity and anti bullying – using her music to help inspire others and help them believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

HOW TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS

To book your seats at this unique event send an email to contact@songacademy.co.uk. £20 for seats at tables in the stalls (8 person tables and 10 person tables). £15 for seats in the gallery. All seats have an excellent view of the stage. Limited availability so we suggest you book soon. E-tickets will be sent out the week before.

The Song Academy Young Songwriter competition is the leading international songwriting competition for young people aged 8-18.  This year attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries. Song Academy gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The standard of finalist songs entered this year was exceptionally high. To select the top 10 songs we listened for inventiveness, creativity & bravery with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations. Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Crispin Hunt, Maegan Cottone, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Tom Odell (singer songwriter and SAYS22 judge) said “When I was 13 years old I started writing songs, and over the following years I became more and more obsessed with it. But the thing that always kept me awake at night was how to get them out there for people to hear them. This is why I think the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition is a great way to inspire and help through this process, and it’s something I wish had been around when I was starting out.”

THE YOUNG SONGWRITER 2022, UK/IRELAND TOP 10 FINALISTS

13-18 YEAR OLDS 

BELLADONNA – RUBY COOKE (LONDON)
BREATHTAKING TENSION – CHARLIE HEWLETT (DEVON)
CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI (NORTH EAST)
CONTRAST – VINNIE COHEN (LONDON)
DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE (LONDON)
GATEKEEPER – BEA (LONDON)
HONEST – CONOR MARCUS (IRELAND)
NEW YEAR’S EVE – RUBY ANN SPIEGEL (NORFOLK)
SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE (BEDS, HERTS & BUCKS)
SWEET 16 – TWAYN (NORTH EAST)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: DANIEL MCCARTHY, ALL IN – LUKE ELLIOTT, BETTER OFF – ROSIE TRENTHAM, GIRL THAT I OUTGREW – STATYC, MACHINE HEAD BOY – THIS ELEGANT GULL, SOULS ARE RISING – OSCAR MEADES, TOPIARY – STUART VEITCH, USED TO BE

YOUNG RISING STAR: WOODY COLLINS, IRON FIST, 13 YEARS OLD

8-12 YEAR OLDS 

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON (MANCHESTER)
FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES (LONDON)
FOMO – HOLLY DAIS (DEVON)
FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES (BEDS, HERTS & BUCKS)
FREE – JOHNNY BEAU (LONDON)
FRIED – UMA MARTIN (LONDON)
LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH (LONDON)
MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE (LONDON)
OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL (DEVON)
TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS (WEST MIDLANDS)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: MAX KENWORTHY, DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – NELLY ROSE BINGHAM, FIND A PLACE – GEORGIA TAYLOR , MIRACLE – MAYA HELON, OPPOSITE WAY – FINN CRABTREE, PARADISE FALLS – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX, TURN BACK TIME

We hope to see you there!

BACKGROUND ON SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

We are the leading platform for young songwriters.  Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

UPCOMING SONGWRITING PROGRAMMES

Summer holidays Songwriting Workshops

Song Feedback Reports Service

Autumn Term Songwriting Clubs

The Young Songwriter 2022 competition gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The standard of finalist songs entered this year was exceptionally high. To select the top 10 songs we listened for inventiveness, creativity & bravery with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations.  Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way.  The future of music is bright and diverse.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies

Drumroll please! The top 10 finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, in its 12th year, have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.

The Young Songwriter competition stands for the craft and art of songwriting in its purest form, enabling young songwriters to aspire to the very best melody, lyric, structure, concept, harmony, mood and impact a song can have. It inspires young people to think about and speak up about things that are important to them personally, in their community and in the wider world and get their voices heard. It’s a supportive community where young people feel brave and can express themselves, celebrate individuality and be themselves. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.

What makes a sensational song is ultimately subjective. The top 10 finalists songs (Top 5 finalists songs in the international categories) were selected as they stood out for their creativity, invention & courage with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations. Congratulations also go to all SAYS22 finalists.  Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the top finalists’ songs!  Plus the top songs and young songwriters are shown below. Get to know our SAYS22 finalists by reading their interviews on our blog.

The top 3 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 13th June.  The UK/Ireland winners will be announced on the 25th June at The Young Songwriter 2022 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  The International winners will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 26th June at 2pm BST.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

As well as The Young Songwriter competition, Song Academy run songwriting clubs in term time, songwriting workshops in the holidays, song feedback reports, recording & production workshops, bespoke songwriting workshops & birthday parties.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-18 YEAR OLDS (TOP 10 SONGS)

BELLADONNA – RUBY COOKE (LONDON)
BREATHTAKING TENSION – CHARLIE HEWLETT (DEVON)
CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI (NORTH EAST)
CONTRAST – VINNIE COHEN (LONDON)
DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE (LONDON)
GATEKEEPER – BEA (LONDON)
HONEST – CONOR MARCUS (IRELAND)
NEW YEAR’S EVE – RUBY ANN SPIEGEL (NORFOLK)
SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE (BEDS, HERTS & BUCKS)
SWEET 16 – TWAYN (NORTH EAST)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: DANIEL MCCARTHY, ALL IN – LUKE ELLIOTT, BETTER OFF – ROSIE TRENTHAM, GIRL THAT I OUTGREW – STATYC, MACHINE HEAD BOY – THIS ELEGANT GULL, SOULS ARE RISING – OSCAR MEADES, TOPIARY – STUART VEITCH, USED TO BE

YOUNG RISING STAR: WOODY COLLINS, IRON FIST, 13 YEARS OLD

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS (TOP 10 SONGS)

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON (MANCHESTER)
FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES (LONDON)
FOMO – HOLLY DAIS (DEVON)
FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES (BEDS, HERTS & BUCKS)
FREE – JOHNNY BEAU (LONDON)
FRIED – UMA MARTIN (LONDON)
LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH (LONDON)
MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE (LONDON)
OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL (DEVON)
TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS (WEST MIDLANDS)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: MAX KENWORTHY, DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – NELLY ROSE BINGHAM, FIND A PLACE – GEORGIA TAYLOR , MIRACLE – MAYA HELON, OPPOSITE WAY – FINN CRABTREE, PARADISE FALLS – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX, TURN BACK TIME

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS (TOP 5 SONGS)

ATOMIC BOMB – CALISTA HARMS (CALIFORNIA, USA)
BIGGER – ALEXANDRA CRIBB (TORONTO, CANADA)
BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN (CALIFORNIA, USA)
SUNDAYS – LILY WELCH (BOSTON, USA)
THINK MYSELF TO DEATH – JOEY WILBUR (CHICAGO, USA)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: SEDA PARTIZPANYAN, DIMPLES – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT, DONE – ISAAC STAINES, HEROES HAVE SHADOWS TOO – PETER PULST, PHASES – NEAV, TALKING TO THE DEVIL – LINDSAY LIEBRO, WASTED POTENTIAL

YOUNG RISING STAR: THE SEASIDE FEELS, TETHERED, 13 YEARS OLD

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS (TOP 5 SONGS)

ANYWHERE – AUSTIN BRUFORD (INDIANA, USA)
BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY (MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA)
DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT (MISSOURI, USA)
I WISH, I DREAM – TAMARA YASIN (TAMPA, USA)
ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON (QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA)

SAYS22 Official Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, BMI, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up & Fun Kids Radio

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

We are the leading platform for young songwriters.  Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

BELLADONNA – RUBY COOKE, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I had the title “Belladonna” in my notes app for months and then, after getting messed around by this boy, for some reason I thought he deserved the fate of having a song comparing him to a poisonous plant. It’s about falling for someone you place on such a pedestal and feeling as though you don’t deserve them, when really they’re slowly poisoning you but you’re too blind to see it.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been obsessed with music and writing. The first time I remember writing something was when I was about 8 or maybe younger and I was sitting in the car and wrote a song about hearts flying. My first proper song that I wrote down was one called “It Was You” and I wrote it when I was 12 about a friend who had said something mean (which I can’t remember what it was now but was obviously harsh enough that it inspired me to write a song) and then I never stopped writing and have now around 120 completed songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is like breathing for me – I couldn’t live without it. Through everything, I have always had music and I can’t imagine my life without it because it’s such an integral part of who I am. It’s been a friend when I’ve felt alone and it’s been the greatest form of expression I have ever known. It is a way for me to make sense of this overwhelming world and my place in it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? After I finish a song – there is no feeling quite like it. It’s like finishing a puzzle that you didn’t even know was hiding inside you and sometimes songs I’ve written have revealed more about my emotions and thoughts then I originally thought was there. I love every part of writing a song but there is just nothing like being able to pin down the exact thing you’ve been trying to say into a song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? My songs come from everywhere. Sometimes it’s a lyric or a title that I note down. Sometimes it’s a chord progression I find by accident. Sometimes it’s a conversation I’ve had with someone or a feeling I feel towards them. Sometimes it’s a groggy voice memo at 1am of a melody or lyric idea I have. I have never found one single cause of a spark because anything for me could become a spark.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. For Belladonna, I wrote it sitting on my bedroom floor with my guitar and my voice memos. I then put it in logic and recorded harmonies with my headphones.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I have so many dream collaborations. I think FINNEAS is an absolute genius and I would love to work with him. There are some obvious people such as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Gracie Abrams who I would die to work with. Artists such as Gregory Alan Isakov and RY X I am obsessed with so I would love to work with them as I think they’re such geniuses. I would also love to work with Birdy and Tom Odell as they’re just incredible and such masters of their craft that I feel like one minute in their presence I would learn so much.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Do it because you never know what might happen. Keep writing because that’s the only way you can improve!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really love all the entries – there are so many talented songwriters!! I really love the production on “All In” by Daniel McCarthy and I think Daisy Rose’s voice is absolutely stunning!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It provides young songwriters like me with the incredible opportunity to be heard by huge writers in the industry!!

UP TO THE SUN – GEORGE DICKSON, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song, fuelled by lockdown boredom, with the aim of creating the ultimate road trip song. I was coming to the end of my time at school, thinking about all the cool things I was going to do and places I was going to visit once I had left. I had visions of going on long road trips with mates, busking in dive bars and making incredible memories along the way. So this song came out of that excitement and eagerness to start the next stage in my life, forgetting what was going on in the world for a moment and pretending that nothing was wrong. I just wanted to write a fun song that could be blasted at full volume as I travelled the world.

What got you into writing songs? At school, all my friends played music and we’d spend many lunch times sat in a practice room messing about and generally being silly with music. Then my piano/guitar teacher, Nick Dunne, started to make me think about how exciting music was aside from the theory and scales I’d been told I needed to learn. Seeing the number of songs he’d written on GarageBand in his lounge and how easy it was to start recording with nothing more than an ipad really excited me and I started giving it a go myself.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting is like any other Hobby. It’s something I do totally for enjoyment and, wherever it takes me in the future, the moment I stop doing it for fun is the moment I stop writing songs. It’s the best way for me to learn more about the way music works and how to get better at my instruments; we all learn through application.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? It’s got to be that initial spark! The best songs I’ve written are the ones where the bare bones of it come to me quickly in a wave of inspiration as I frantically hit record and try to get down as much as possible. I love the moment when you suddenly realise exactly how you want your song to sound, because no one else can tell you otherwise and whatever you decide, YOU’RE RIGHT! I’d always say, if you’re struggling to work out what to do next when writing a song, just stop! Take a breather, sleep on it… the right answer will come to you soon and you’ll just know!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start songs in different ways all the time. Sometimes I’ve got a particular lyric or idea I want to focus on, sometimes it’s a cool riff I accidentally come up with on guitar or sometimes I try playing a famous tune, get it horribly wrong, and suddenly I’ve created a new idea, bonus! The most common way I start a song is simply by sitting on the end of my bed with my acoustic guitar and fiddling around with random chords until I find something I like and I’ll just start humming a tune. Normally a short idea will pop into my head and I’ll go from there, I try not to think too deeply into it to be honest.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My song ‘Up to the Sun’ was written in Lockdown in my bedroom. I used my MacBook with GarageBand on it and a few IK multimedia ‘Irig’ tools, or even just my laptop’s microphone to start recording my acoustic guitar. The whole song was recorded in my bedroom with an acoustic guitar, electric guitar a microphone and an electric piano. Then I sent the song over to my friend Ben Pringle who has a very similar set up in his room. He is an excellent trumpet and cornet player so he recorded those parts for me through a basic SM58 microphone and sent the file back to me. It’s amazing what you can do now without any expensive equipment or hefty studio rental fees.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to work with the band ‘Ripe’ and particularly their amazing lead singer Robbie Wulfsohn. They are a funk/pop band from Boston in the USA and ever since I heard their music, I haven’t found anyone else who sounds quite like them. Their live stuff looks amazing and they seem like such an amazing group of people to play music with. I feel like I would be able to get on very well with Sam Fender and I love covering some of his stuff at gigs so he would be a great person to meet. Finally, after watching their performance at Leeds Festival last year, who wouldn’t want to work with The Wombats, they seem like they are always enjoying themselves on stage and who wouldn’t want a day in the studio with some incredibly talented scousers!

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? I entered the competition a few years ago after I saw an instagram advert and made it to the top 60 I think! Then when I saw that this was the last year I would be able to enter I knew I had to give it a go. I’ve written loads of songs that very few people ever get to here so I would love to be able to get them out there a bit more and competitions like this can help provide feedback and be a springboard to further opportunities.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? As I said before, songwriting has to be something you do for fun. Don’t enter the competition and then see it as a chore or a deadline because it will only make your songs sound forced and clunky. Also, don’t be afraid to write a simple song. I know lots of people that spend ages finding the most obscure chord patterns or trying to force a change in rhythm or structure in their songs. A good song doesn’t have to be complicated for music boffins, it just has to be enjoyable to listen to so if something sounds good, however simple, get it recorded!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? ‘All in’ by Daniel McCarthy was a favourite as soon as I heard it so I’m glad it made it to the top 30! There were so many amazing entries this year and I listened to so many of them in the last month or so but ‘Sun goes Down’ by Tiggz music stuck in my head for its catchy rhythms and I liked the use of strings in that genre. I’d really like to collaborate with any of the entrants to be honest, always good to meet other musicians! Maybe Song Academy should host a massive Jam session for all entrants!!!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that all the entry songs are posted into a massive playlist on Soundcloud. It’s really nice to see your song in a new place and to be able to listen to all the other entrants. The competition is so inclusive to any level of musician and the team are great at sharing your songs on social media, replying to questions and making you feel part of the group! It’s also cool to think about some of the professional judges that must have heard my music!

HOURGLASS – BELLA HOWELLS, 14 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The never ending, unrequited relationship with time and how it slips through your fingers so quickly.

What got you into writing songs? I liked making random beats on garageband and started exploring different styles and genres, and made music.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a getaway from all of the stress of school and life overall, it’s a way to sink into something really personal, and can be used also as an outlet.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I like to write my songs in different pieces, so putting them all together is very satisfying.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually the lyrics come to me… at the worst times too! I usually have random verses in the back of my school books and on my hands!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just used garageband on my computer and a piano, then I recorded through a microphone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Billie Eilish and Niall Horan.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? It doesn’t matter about your level of skill, just go for it. Take every opportunity!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Ruby Cooke!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s extra competition experience, I get to meet other young songwriters and Tom Odell is judging. (I’m a HUGE fan!!)

MACHINE HEAD BOY – STATYC, 17/18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We have a friend who has a TV stuck on his head and we wanted to write a song about it because we thought it was pretty funny.

What got you into writing songs? We all do A level music together at school, our lead singer has written songs since she was 2 years old and we now have a band that can play those songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? Music is in our veins and we love to be creative, it is our everything.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finishing the song and seeing it all come together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Sometimes we have ideas, sometimes we just jam in the music room at school.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Our guitarist wrote the music in his room, gave it to our lead singer and the rest is history (we recorded it after the lead singer wrote the lyrics.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? We want to collab with Ego Trip, our teachers band (they are sick)

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Go for it! You never know what you might achieve.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Up to the sun by George Dickinson feat. Ben Pringle. George Dickinson and Ben Pringle. We will put in a few metal solos.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think this is epic to encourage young people to put their music out there.

SUCH A GOOD FIGHT – DAISY-ROSE IRESON-HUGHES, 15 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I started writing such a good fight during the second lockdown, music was my escape and I felt like music was the only thing holding me together during such a draining period of my life.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always wanted to be able write my own songs, it’s something I’ve always said to my parents I would start and had this as a goal. I started writing songs when I was younger and I always had this determined feeling whenever I wrote one. I realised at a young age it was my passion to write songs and hopefully in the future being able to sign and produce them as well.

What does songwriting mean to you? Song writing is a way for me to express how I’m feeling, maybe in a way that others may not understand. When I come up with a verse the world seems to disappear around me and I feel as if I can express myself through music and song writing without any worry about what people think.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of song writing is when I’ve got a verse and a chorus and I’m just about to write another verse, at this point I’m really into my song and I keep going trying to put in words how I’m feeling or how I have felt. This process is important to me because this is the moment I know whether this song could be a success or not . I get a huge rush of excitement when I’ve nearly finished a song and I’m thinking of a melody in my head, I start to hum and piece my song together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Sometimes in my notes I write down a couple of words or even a full verse whenever I start to write a song I look through those and see if anything could go together if not I first start to think of the first word that I could use, I then have a process of trying to piece words that could rhyme or sometimes I just dig deep down and the words just naturally flow out of me. Sometimes if I’m feeling down or even very happy I have that motivation and passion to write a song and I just start writing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. It took several stages, I wrote some of the initial words in a verse, then I got a melody in my mind and then pieced it all together one step at a time. One of my music teachers gave me some guidance and especially with the bridge.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jennifer Hudson, I love all of her songs and the musical ‘dream girls’ is my favourite. The ways she sings inspires me to perform and write my own lyrics.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? No matter whether it’s 1 word, or a string of sentences pursue with it and watch your story unfold. You have nothing to lose if entering and it’s an extremely positive experience.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Sisi- Cannot lose myself and Conor Marcus- Honest

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s a great opportunity for me to express myself and I feel as if it’s non-judgemental and everyone has a chance at exploring their potential.

USED TO BE – STUART VEITCH, 14 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? This song is about my feelings surrounding coming out of lockdown. It is a comparison of how the world used to be and how it is now. I enjoy writing songs about things that happen in my life and since lockdown was such a huge event that had a massive impact on my daily life, I felt I wanted to express my emotions through song.

What got you into writing songs? I have always had a passion for music and from an early age I have enjoyed writing about big events in my life. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 7. I soon found playing music and writing songs a comfort to me. It helped me to relax and process how I was feeling.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is part of who I am. I always have ideas for songs popping into my head. Sometimes I waken in the middle of the night with a song idea and I have to quickly record it before I forget it. I love writing songs and get a huge sense of achievement whenever I finish one. I love seeing the joy on people’s faces when I perform a new song to them.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I enjoy the whole process, but I particularly enjoy seeing a good idea come together. I love creating an interesting melody, it gets me really excited and I find it difficult to concentrate on other things until the song is finished.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? There are 2 different ways I tend to write my songs. Sometimes I am going about my everyday life and a melody or words come into my head. I then write lyrics to the melody and find chords that fit well. Or, when I am playing my guitar, I find a good chord pattern or riff which I use to write the melody and lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I write, play and produce all my songs by myself. I have a small home studio set up in the corner of my bedroom with basic equipment such as a microphone, keyboard, guitars, fiddle, an audio interface and other instruments.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Ed Sheeran. I get a lot of my inspiration from his songs and he has a similar style to mine. Lewis Capaldi. He is from Scotland, like me and I really enjoy his music.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Believe in yourself! Music is very subjective – everyone has a different opinion and taste in music. If someone doesn’t like your song, it doesn’t mean that it is not good. Don’t let their opinion put you off.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? ‘All in’ by Daniel McCarthy is one of my favourites and it would be great to collaborate with him but there are also many other amazing entries.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It is a great opportunity for new songs to be heard. It is really exciting to know that many amazing artists have listened to my song!

BETTER OFF – LUKE ELLIOTT, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  My finalist song, Better Off, is based on a couple I know. The couple in question love each other very much but always seem to have problems. Even though they want to be together, they’re simply incompatible and would be ‘better off’ apart.

What got you into writing songs? I wrote my first song at the age of 12 in school. I really started to become addicted to writing when I was 15. The thing that got me into writing songs was the fact that when I got into ‘the zone’, time seemed to just slip away. Hours could pass while I was writing and I’d have no idea.

What does song writing mean to you? Whenever I’m writing it feels like the whole world just melts away, and there’s nothing else except me and the melody.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the song writing process must be the initial moment of inception when a melody first presents itself. From there, there’s a flurry of ideas that I must sift through to find the right one.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually, the first idea for a song appears when I’m at my most relaxed at home on my bed or watching the TV (generally just lounging about). From there, I’ll grab my phone and hum the idea I’ve just had into voice memos. Sometimes I’ll have a riff, sometimes a chorus and occasionally I’ll be able to improvise the melodies in a whole song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I’ve got a home studio: a laptop, Logic Pro, a microphone and a MIDI keyboard.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I’d love to collaborate with Charlie Puth. He’s an incredibly talented musician and writer whose own process seems to be somewhat similar to mine (obviously way better though!!!). He’s one of my big inspirations in the industry, he simply doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just do it! Read the suggestions for what the judges are looking for, but also don’t be afraid to be creative and do whatever feels right to you. There’s no wrong or right answer when it comes to music.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed ‘Flinch’ by Meg Curl. Really laid-back and quite a personal feel, good use of lyrics too. I also liked ‘Topiary’ by Oscar Meades. He’s got an incredible voice and the lyrics are incredibly evocative. Coincidentally, I’m in the same group as Oscar for the song writing club on Wednesday!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think it’s great that it gives everyone a chance at getting heard, regardless of the production quality and irrespective of musical background. It’s so easy to enter too!

HONEST – CONOR MARCUS, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote Honest on one of those nights where everything just seemed to get to me in a way it usually doesn’t.
The song is about accepting the fact that maybe you’re not happy, and about what you need to do to better yourself.

What got you into writing songs? I come from a fairly musical background on my Dad’s side. He was in a band when he was young and he and his band won a competition a bit like Song Academy in the South of Ireland. When I was nine, I started learning the guitar, and me and him would jam in the music room with him on bass and me on guitar. The singing and song writing I guess kind of followed suit.

What does songwriting mean to you? I love songwriting and it’s great to know I want to make a career out of it at such a young age.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My lyrics tend to come from the heart so that makes it my favourite part of song writing. Lyrics make or break a song and that’s what I love about them. They allow you to be creative with your music.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Sometimes I apply myself for a certain amount of time, and just try to write something, but most of my good songs come from those ideas that just come at random points in the day. I always have my phone to write or record ideas when I get them so I can work on them when I get the chance to.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  It was just me and my piano, I then took it to the studio and got it produced

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? First off, I’m blown away that Plested heard my music! I mean he’s someone I’d look up to as an incredible songwriter! A dream collab would have to be with Dean Lewis, his songs are really inspiring, and his lyrics are insane!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I think everything’s worth a shot! It’s all about going into these things with the right attitude, and with the intention of growth and development as a musician, so what’s the harm really?

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Charlie Hewlett – Breathtaking Tension. Sisi – cannot loose myself. Vinniec – Contrast

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s really open minded with the music it takes into the competition. There is a list of genres, from rock to rap! It’s really incredible, and a great experience!

GATEKEEPER – BEA, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote the chorus of the song a long time ago, and had never really given it a proper verse – but it stuck around in my head and I just had to give it something good! It came at a time I was feeling like everything was really unfair, so it’s about struggling with not being in control of everything and how much fate can screw you over.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been casually writing and composing for a long time as more of a hobby, but with nothing else to do during lockdown I plummeted into songwriting hysteria. I think it was quite hard to be so isolated a lot of the time, and away from all the live music, so it became a real comfort to write for myself. It’s literally all I did for a very long time and there’s absolutely no way I could let it go now!

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a way for me to process how I’m feeling, but also to express it. Sometimes I write just for me to hear it, sometimes I’m just bored, sometimes I’m trying to do something specific or prove something. Because it can be so much or so little, it has such a big impact on me.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favourite moment is the breath you take where you realise what you’ve got is really good. There’s a point, and it comes better for some songs than others, that you can take a step back and have that moment. It’s really great.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s really different depending on what I’m writing – but I usually find that whatever the starting point was will become the main focus of the song – melody, lyric chord whatever. I usually find just sitting and messing around is good – then a good rule is whatever is still in your head the next day is good and should be a song, most of mine come from this, but also sometimes it just happens and those are usually the best things you’ll ever write. If you get that moment, forget about everything else and focus on the song because it’s worth it!

Describe you setup you used to write you SAYS22 entry. I had a guitar, a pen and notebook, and my brain. It very much did not end up sounding like it started there, because it really came to life when recording it, but it started very small.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? A band like the 1975 would be my dream – I think they’re where my urge to write came from anyway after I went to see them in concert! There’s just something so encompassing and enigmatic about their music that just makes me want to know how and why. I’d also love to write with someone like Orla Gartland who I feel like just gets me musically – and is so effortlessly honest in both a lyrical and musical context.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? I entered last year after seeing adverts on social media, and I didn’t really know what I was doing back then! This year was like my redemption shot and it is too great an opportunity to miss, even just to submit your songs and know that people are going to hear them!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Don’t be afraid to rewrite and rework things! If you wrote a song that’s half brilliant, rewrite it until it’s all brilliant. It will feel right when it is and trust that feeling when you get it – it might fade as you endlessly critique it and self-obsess, but if you felt it first time others will too!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really love Belladonna by Ruby Cooke. It was just so incredibly beautiful and cut right through you! There was also this song called WAKE UP MOM by Yenuli Binara that I heard once and was just in awe – it was so wonderfully odd that it definitely hasn’t left my head yet! I also have to mention Male Gaze by Mabel West – I watched her write this in our songwriting group and can’t ever stop singing it! It’s really great.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that it gives me a chance to share my art and listen to so many other young people’s as well. It’s so incredible to hear the breadth of sounds and talent, and then of course who doesn’t like a little competition!

RIVIERA – OLIVIA SWINTON,  18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Creating my first EP: Purple Skies, I had written sad songs and felt that there was enough sadness in the world, and I needed to create a feel good song to make people dance. I was inspired by European summer time, creating my fantasy version of a summer love.

What got you into writing songs? I wrote a song for my friend who died of cancer when I was 10 called ‘Dance with me’. I had written songs before but this was the moment that truly inspired me as all of the comments and support for her and the music made me realise the power music has.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s the only thing that makes sense to me really, it’s my way of making sense of life and expressing emotions, experiences and inspirations I feel daily.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? It’s hard to pick my favourite part. I’d have to say lyrics are such a wonderful part of the process but finding beautiful chords and melodies are also extremely fulfilling.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s almost instinctual to me, I’ll be sitting it bed and have a urge to pick-up my guitar and write something, or I’ll hear a phrase someone says in the day and write it down to save as a lyric for later. Sometimes it’s other artists work that inspire me, sometimes it’s books or films or tv shows. I find the ‘spark’ everywhere really.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Set up specs-

Software-
Logic x
Native Instruments Massive X Synth
Native Instruments Battery Drum machine
U-He Diva Synth
Valhalla reverbs & Delay
That Sound drum samples

Mic-
Neumann TLM 107

Guitar-
Fender USA Stratocaster

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Billie Eilish!! In my wildest dreams.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Enter and see what happens! Especially if you feel you have worked hard on your music, it’s worth it to go for any opportunities presented to you, such as the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Daniel Mcarthy has a beautiful voice and way with lyrics. Definitely my favourite entry!

SWEET 16- TWAYN (TWINS HANNAH AND GRACE), 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Our song, sweet 16, is about the challenges faced by teens so it’s inspired in part by things we’ve experienced or observed, but just as much by situations faced by others. It’s a really tricky time growing up and it’s not uncommon for teens to find themselves struggling at school and feeling somehow on the outside looking in. Friendships come and go and sometimes can be quite insincere leading to self-doubt and loneliness. ‘Sweet 16’ talks about that pain and confusion, sense of bleeding, drowning in sorrow and sometimes feeling invisible. It’s a challenging time for quite a lot of people we know. You pin your hopes on everything changing when you turn ‘sweet 16’ and imagine everything will somehow be better, but sadly the milestone comes and goes with no real change.

What got you into writing songs?
Grace: I’ve written songs since I could write. I’ve always found it much easier to put things into a song lyric than trying to explain to someone how I feel, which probably doesn’t make much sense but it works for me.
Hannah: Lockdown gave us the opportunity to learn how to start producing and recording some our ideas. Being stuck at home meant we had much more time to focus on song writing. Trying to learn how to build a track was a brilliant distraction from what was going on in the world at the time.

What does songwriting mean to you?
Grace: Songwriting means the world. There are times, particularly at the end of a rough day, when all that is getting me through is knowing that I will be able to get to the piano and start ordering my thoughts and developing them into a song. I find songwriting can be a very therapeutic process.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?
Hannah: That is a really tricky question, but I think it might be when we take the lyrics and tune and start adding layers to bring the track together. We put a lot of layers of harmonies; that’s probably a bit of a theme in what we do. Creating music together has brought us even closer together and, I think, going through the process has improved the songs we produce as we really debate a whole range of ideas on things like instrumentation before we agree on the best sound for a track.
Grace: For me it’s the lyrics! I think it is such an art to be able to capture a feeling or emotion in words. It’s probably the part of the song where I spend the most time trying to get it right. I really value specificity and honesty in my lyrics.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?
Grace: In Taylor Swift’s “Tiny Desk” Concert, she said that all of her best songs “fall out of the sky”. I feel exactly the same. My favourite songs that I’ve written have been the ones where I sit at the piano, start my voice memos (because if I don’t – I’ll definitely forget what I played/wrote!) and improv some chords and a melody until I find something that works. In the case of “sweet 16”, it only took one recording to get the first verse and chorus done. Sometimes just letting your subconsciousness speak for itself is the best way to create honest lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry
Hannah: It’s a very simple set up: two phones, two voices and a piano! For the writing, we usually sit around the piano with very basic chords and harmonies. Grace always has her phone recording what we do so that if we improvise something good, we can come back to it. I also write down any words or sentences that work well when we improvise and try and find a place for them in the song later.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?
Grace: I’m constantly finding new writers that I love so the list is endless! Artists like FINNEAS, Ashe, Taylor Swift, Grace Davies, Eddie Benjamin, and Olivia Rodrigo I listen to on a daily basis. Recently I’ve been listening more to Joy Crookes, Maddie Zahm, Amy Swift, and Lexi Jayde and hugely admire their respective works – take your pick!

Hannah:
Jacob Collier is a genius! Just to sit in his studio and watch him work would be fascinating. His harmonies are unbelievable too – I’d love to work with him. Also, we’re both big fans of musical theatre so artists like Ben Platt and Renee Rapp would be a dream.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?

Hannah:
We would say absolutely go for it! It gives you something to aim for and a real purpose, focus and deadline for your writing. More than that, don’t give up. We entered a song last year which wasn’t successful, but we learned from it, and have submitted a much better song this time around.

Grace: Try not to be disheartened. Sometimes it’s just the wrong time or audience for a song, so don’t give up writing. I revisit songs all of the time to keep working on them. I have a book full of them that I’ve been writing for years and years, and a collection of random lyrics on my phone. Inspiration can come at any time – be prepared to take a voice memo or write something down at any moment! And don’t be disheartened by writer’s block; sometimes it takes a break for your thoughts to reorganise themselves into a song again.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? So many of the artists on the playlist had some amazing tracks but we would love to collab with our friend from school, Elle Longstaff! Though we have written together in the past on a few occasions, we’ve never formalised it with a studio recording. She is such a talented young artist with a very bright future in the industry ahead of her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s a really good opportunity to get to listen to what other people are doing, and listening to a variety of different styles and genres is always going to spark creativity. It’s also great for rising stars to be heard by so many artists – we still can’t believe that such a talented panel have listened to our song!

DAISY – CINTA AURELEE, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The inspiration that I got from writing Daisy is from my own personal experience where once my feelings wasn’t reciprocated by someone else. From that moment, I felt disappointed because he gave me quite a lot of mixed signals.

What got you into writing songs? I started joining a choir group to compete in one of the biggest international choir competition in the year of 2019. From there, I tried to go out of my comfort zone and discover my creativity by making my own songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, writing songs helps me understand myself and my complex emotions which I can share to other people.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I start making the melody and lyrics that fits into the rough draft of the song. I tend to find the spark when I come up with unique words to use for the song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The favorite part of the song writing process is how the words we write could speak for itself. It gives us the opportunity to make stories and be creative about it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I started off by making the melody of the song with the help of the piano and connect the words that fits for the lyrics along with one of my friend. After I completed the base of the song, I made a rough demo and asked my friend who is a producer to help record and mix/mastering the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Artists that I had dream for a long time to collaborate with would be Snoh Aalegra, Daniel Caesar and Ed Sheeran

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? One tip that I could give is just to be themselves and be passionate about making their own song because it could be the biggest achievement in their lives.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One of my favorite entries would be is All in by Daniel McCarthy.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how the competition is worldwide. it is such a diverse competition where we can acknowledge amazing people from different cultures with all the talents they have.

IRON FIST – WOODY COLLINS, 13 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My inspiration was the daily frustration I felt about corporate greed and corruption which is so oppressive and greater than ever. We must stand together and fight the 1 percent, fight world injustices and fight for a caring, fair and unified future.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been fascinated by the sounds a piano can give off since the age of four. As my experience playing the piano grew, I was able to discover new sounds, sometimes by mistake. A turning point for my compositions was when I got hold of Garageband on my 9th birthday. I would spend hours playing around intrigued by these new synths and sounds, and it was these first few years that stamped my familiarity with music tech. Copying the common structures of songs, I started to compose proper songs and would eventually post them onto a Youtube channel I created making homemade music videos to go with it. This evolved into a common enjoyment, and I was eager to write more music and explore different chord combinations. Now I’m 13 years old, I feel more experienced with how the art of composing works but I still have a long way to go.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting has always been a thing that I enjoy. It can be a pain sometimes when something doesn’t feel in the right place but the determination to make it sound better has always overruled. Songwriting has always been a loading bay for all the ideas trapped inside my head.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? For me, it has always been the start and the finish. The start has always been very enjoyable, finding the base chords for my song. And the ending gives me a sense of completion and its great hearing feedback.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start it when I’m in a creative mood or just bored. I enjoy playing around with chords on the piano and trying to find some interesting chord progression and then an idea emerges of what I want to sing about.

Describe you setup that you used to write your SAYS 22 entry. I recorded ‘Iron Fist’ at a table on Garageband with a midi keyboard. I sung the lyrics down a mic that I attached to Garageband.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock-in my dreams of course!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Have fun, take risks and be yourself.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? ‘Up to the sun’ by George Dickson is uplifting and has a lovely melody and great harmony. ‘Flinch’ by Megan Curl-original and quirky with great lyrics! I love the 1980’s styled song ‘Better Off’ by Luke-Elliot.  Really enjoy ‘Don’t Rile the Young’ by Sonic Daze-in particular the powerful lyrics.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s good fun, it creates a bit of tension and it’s great to see what other songwriters are up to. Also, it’s really good to have your songs listened to by people in the music industry.

CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was feeling really distant form myself and wrote this song to remind not only myself but everyone to stay true to themselves.

What got you into writing songs? My older brother, Bre has been a huge influence on me getting into music as he himself also makes music. Growing up in Church also massively influenced me.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is like a safe haven for me, somewhere that I can be 100% myself and keep my authenticity and no one can take that from me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Harmonies and layers throughout the song are my favourite part of the songwriting process.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I will start humming a melody and once I’ve found this I’ll pick a topic to write and then piece it all together like a puzzle.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just wrote Cannot Lose Myself at home in my bedroom, I was then lucky enough to take a trip to London and record my track there with Hypertone.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say just go for it, do what you want to do. What’s the worst that can happen, life is all about taking risks.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I love Twayn’s entry and would love to collaborate with them!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? This competition gives an opportunity to us under 18, I find that a lot of opportunities are for 18-25 year olds, but this gives a platform for us below that age bracket.

FLINCH – MEG CURL, 15 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Flinch is about losing an argument that you want to be winning. The main idea behind the song was self awareness and ‘knowing you’re in the wrong.’ I hadn’t heard this perspective in a song before and thought it may be interesting to express the frustration that I felt in the situation through song. I wanted to give Flinch a memorable hook to catch the ear of the listener!

What got you into writing songs? I found that I could express my emotions, thoughts and ideas a lot better through lyrics and music than I can with conversation! I have always loved singing and although over the past five years I have been more of a classical singer, once I discovered song writing I was able to branch out into a music genre that I am passionate about and truly love.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is one of the most precious things to me and helps me with most things. If I’ve had a bad day I know I can write lyrics or compose music to express this and bring some positive creativity to a negative experience. I am very thankful that I am able to express myself in this way. After writing songs for nearly four years, I can’t imagine living without it anymore.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love having an idea of what I would like a song to be like in my head and then being able to create it in real life. I feel that I’ve added something new to the world.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s a hard question to answer! To be honest, songs usually just come to mind without much structure.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the song itself with my notepad and acoustic guitar. I recorded and produced the song in my bedroom using my acoustic guitar, a microphone, a macbook and an Arturia midilab keyboard which I used to imitate bass guitar and drum kit.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would have to be between Dodie, Ed Sheeran or The Oh Hellos.

What would you say to someone ages 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say that entering is a good first step towards getting your songs out into the world if you haven’t had the chance! And also I would definitely say that it’s so so nice to hear about other young songwriters and listen to their music, you forget how many people there are that are interested in what you’re interested in. It’s great to form connections over music! A few tips would be: don’t compare your music to other people’s! It’s great to have your own sound, that’s what makes your music new and exciting for listeners.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants would you like to collaborate with? I really like Oscar Meades ‘Topiary’. And if I could collaborate with another artist I would be interested in working with This Elegant Gull, Vinniec or Oscar Meades.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it gives opportunities and sets goals for young musicians to grow and improve their material. It’s really nice to see a platform that appreciates young people for their art and ideas. There are too many places judging and criticising people for their ideas and feelings so it’s nice to see a space in the media for young artists to feel seen!

IT’S A FUNNY WAY – AMELIE CLOWREY, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write a song that had a message that could apply to a time in anyone’s life, I based it on the difficulty of accepting that self-growth and healing from challenging times is a slow process that you can’t compare with others.

What got you into writing songs? As cliché as it sounds, I’ve been writing songs ever since I can remember. When I was around five years old I remember trying to teach myself the guitar and piano, and writing songs, even if it was accapella. I think writing poems from an early age helped me get better at writing lyrics.

What does song-writing mean to you? Song-writing has always been one of my most favourite ways to express the way I feel, in the same way that one might write a diary or speak to a friend. I find that if I feel low or I am confused about the way I feel, after I write a song, I get so much clarity and understanding of my emotions. I also think it means a lot to me because I can listen back to the snapshots of moments in my life in a creative way.

What is your favourite part of the song-writing process? I don’t usually have a specific way I go about song-writing, so I think my favourite part is finding that spark of an idea, whether that be musically or lyrically that I then turn into a song. I think there’s something so exciting about being able to develop a small idea, as there are so many possibilities and routes it could go down.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s really hard for me to sit down and tell myself to write a song; In my music lessons it took me so much longer to finish a song as it feels very forced and unnatural. Nearly all of the songs that I have written have been in a moment where I feel heavy emotions or have strong opinions about a topic, then the music seems to just flow and follow. However, when I write a song with a friend, sometimes I like to pick a theme or a story from a character or someone we know and have a go at improvising to explore a “spark”.

Describe your set up that you used to write your SAYS22 entry. I used one of the pianos in my school and had it recorded in our school recording studio.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? There are hundreds of artists and writers that would be a dream to work with, I think that Matt Maltese would be incredible to collaborate with as his lyrics and melodies are so emotive and beautiful. I have connected with so many of his songs and I hope to be able to that one day. I also would love to work with Matilda Mann for her wistful and enchanting harmonies and voice.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the SongAcademy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would most definitely say go for it! Especially if you’ve always wanted to finish that song you’ve wanted to write or want people to listen to the music you’ve created. It’s such an amazing opportunity. As for tips I would say, trust and have confidence in the song you are creating. Write about something you care about as it really helps to build more detail into your ideas and if you have anyone in your life that is musical, whether that be friends or family or teachers, ask them how they like to approach song-writing, as there are so many different ways to write a song that work for everyone.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the the entrants would you like to collaborate with? I really liked the song Tethered by Seaside Feel, I loved the harmonies and it was so gentle and delighting to listen to, I also really enjoyed Hourglass by Bella Howells, I thought the range and tone of the vocals in the song was is insane, not to mention the beautiful harmonies throughout.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition? I think that it gives the opportunity for young people to show and hear other people’s music with such a wide variety of styles, it definitely gave me so much inspiration.

SOULS ARE RISING – THE ELEGANT GULL, 14 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The song is about a radicalised youth, who finds direction and meaning in his life by the destruction of the innocents. It is also inspired by the horrific events in the Ukraine, I was reading about people being bombed in their apartment blocks whilst writing the end section.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been writing songs for ages but the first one that sounded okayish was when my dog died when I was 9. The first song that had critical acclaim was Social Media, which Tom Robinson played on his show when I was 11.

What does songwriting mean to you? Song writing is a good way to express creativity in something that inspired me, or evoked strong feelings. It’s also really fun.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I like it when everything has almost come together, and then you change one small thing, like add or remove a harmony, and suddenly it’s finished.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I don’t have a song writing routine, if I have an idea, or am inspired to create one, I write.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Our studio is in a room off the bathroom, so rather than a bedroom artist, I am a bathroom artist! We run Logic on a Mac mini, Clarett interface, various guitars and basses, but mostly virtual instruments.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Labrinth, I love his music and what his songs are about.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Not really, I guess just be original and write about something you’re inspired about. And it doesn’t have to be a traditional ABABCB repeat structure!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? George Dickson, I like the early Beatles style harmonies

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? That it gives everyone a voice.

IT’S A FUNNY WAY – AMELIE CLOWREY, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write a song that had a message that could apply to a time in anyone’s life, I based it on the difficulty of accepting that self-growth and healing from challenging times is a slow process that you can’t compare with others.

What got you into writing songs? As cliché as it sounds, I’ve been writing songs ever since I can remember. When I was around five years old I remember trying to teach myself the guitar and piano, and writing songs, even if it was accapella. I think writing poems from an early age helped me get better at writing lyrics.

What does song-writing mean to you? Song-writing has always been one of my most favourite ways to express the way I feel, in the same way that one might write a diary or speak to a friend. I find that if I feel low or I am confused about the way I feel, after I write a song, I get so much clarity and understanding of my emotions. I also think it means a lot to me because I can listen back to the snapshots of moments in my life in a creative way.

What is your favourite part of the song-writing process? I don’t usually have a specific way I go about song-writing, so I think my favourite part is finding that spark of an idea, whether that be musically or lyrically that I then turn into a song. I think there’s something so exciting about being able to develop a small idea, as there are so many possibilities and routes it could go down.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s really hard for me to sit down and tell myself to write a song; In my music lessons it took me so much longer to finish a song as it feels very forced and unnatural. Nearly all of the songs that I have written have been in a moment where I feel heavy emotions or have strong opinions about a topic, then the music seems to just flow and follow. However, when I write a song with a friend, sometimes I like to pick a theme or a story from a character or someone we know and have a go at improvising to explore a “spark”.

Describe your set up that you used to write your SAYS22 entry. I used one of the pianos in my school and had it recorded in our school recording studio.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? There are hundreds of artists and writers that would be a dream to work with, I think that Matt Maltese would be incredible to collaborate with as his lyrics and melodies are so emotive and beautiful. I have connected with so many of his songs and I hope to be able to that one day. I also would love to work with Matilda Mann for her wistful and enchanting harmonies and voice.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the SongAcademy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would most definitely say go for it! Especially if you’ve always wanted to finish that song you’ve wanted to write or want people to listen to the music you’ve created. It’s such an amazing opportunity. As for tips I would say, trust and have confidence in the song you are creating. Write about something you care about as it really helps to build more detail into your ideas and if you have anyone in your life that is musical, whether that be friends or family or teachers, ask them how they like to approach song-writing, as there are so many different ways to write a song that work for everyone.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the the entrants would you like to collaborate with? I really liked the song Tethered by Seaside Feel, I loved the harmonies and it was so gentle and delighting to listen to, I also really enjoyed Hourglass by Bella Howells, I thought the range and tone of the vocals in the song was is insane, not to mention the beautiful harmonies throughout.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition? I think that it gives the opportunity for young people to show and hear other people’s music with such a wide variety of styles, it definitely gave me so much inspiration.

TOO FAR DOWN – IVY PRATT, 15 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write this in isolation. It’s written from the point of view of being so far down in your own head mentally having not seen my friends for so long that things start to feel very distorted, desperate and a bit surreal. Things don’t seem to make sense in the way they do in a normal world. It’s also interwoven with other teen angst issues. However I didn’t want it to sound too self indulgent and sad so gave it lots of interesting production and a strong beat for contrast.

What got you into writing songs? My family have always played music in the house or the car etc, and I admire both my parents taste musically. So when I started playing guitar the songwriting felt like a very natural progression.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting for me is ultimately a means of expression. I get to say the things I don’t necessarily want to say out loud. I can look for different ways of getting my message across through metaphors.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is the 2nd verse. After drawing the listener in with the initial parts of the song, I find with the 2nd verse I can be more free and less literal with my choice of words.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? The spark can come from something that’s happened in my day that’s given me a lot of a certain emotion. After that the chords and melodies just start to form in my head.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Sam Fender or Phoebe Bridgers

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say that as much as you can be inspired or influenced by other artists, it’s important not to try to replicate, rather just be yourself as much as possible. I also think it’s important to remind yourself that you are not necessarily the finished article and that you are always evolving.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I admire anyone who has the creativity to put together a song with a melody, instrumental accompaniment and lyrics. It’s a beautiful thing so well done to all who entered. However, I will be performing with my friend Joslyn Plant for a charity gig later this month on the 15th at The Spice of Life Soho!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? SAYS competition is a fantastic idea and a great platform for young songwriting talent. The social media pages are also really well done and I like how they have quoted the young songwriters in several posts. The team behind it seem really dedicated to showcasing young talent and it’s no small task to listen to nearly 1000 songs individually and judge each of them on their own merits.

BREATHTAKING TENSION – CHARLIE HEWLETT, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Well, I had this pretty big crush on a girl in my class at college. I was drawn to the way she held herself and the effect she had on a room when she walked into it. After a few awkward conversations we became very close friends, and she became someone I promised myself I would always be there for, because she would do the same for anyone, (she’s got a big heart). Now, on the one hand I was falling in love with this girl and on the other hand I wanted to ensure we would stay close so we could be there for each other, these conflicting emotions inspired me to write ‘Breathtaking Tension’. Musically and lyrically, it became a battle between two ways of thinking, two ways of feeling, I really liked that, so I recorded it. I wrote the song over a year ago and now it’s gotten me into the final of this competition. I’ve also been going out with that girl for nearly 14 months and we’re heading off to uni together in September. WOOHOO!

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 13. Nothing that I came up with at that point was any good, but I’d always loved the idea of telling stories and sharing emotion through music. I think being able to use music and lyrics to communicate things that I would never speak about really drew me into it. After a couple of years, and with a lot of practice, it has become my main outlet when I want to talk about things I’m going through or things I’m seeing around me that I don’t quite understand, and it’s been amazing to see people relating to it and finding it comforting too!

What does songwriting mean to you? To put it simply, everything. I’ve been connected with music one way or another for as long as I can remember, and I find it a struggle to stay still when there’s a beat playing. When I discovered songwriting and realised, I could put across my thoughts, emotions and stories using music as a sort of weird rhythmic audiobook, it sort of blew my mind. It’s been an escape, a saviour, a communicator, and it will always be part of my life, whether I find success or not.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? For me it is always near the very start when you get those first few lines or melodies, and you just know that this one is going to be a good one! You’re never quite sure where it’s going to go and at that point you are free to take it wherever you want to. Nothing is set in stone; you can forget about everything else and just create without any boundaries or pressure.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Personally, it is all about telling the truth. Music is the one place where I can really open up and talk about how I’m feeling so, whatever I’m feeling in that moment, I say it and I let it all out and it just seems to flow naturally. At the end of the day, for me, honesty holds the key to finding that spark.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I’ve written almost all my songs sat on my bed in my room with a voice note app open, my guitar on my lap and a pen and paper next to me. There’s no expectation or rush to do anything. I always find if you push anything then it doesn’t work out as well. I’ll sit there playing around for a couple of minutes until I get an idea and then I carry on from there.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would be Ben Howard. He is my favourite artist of all time and one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to creating and performing music. He’s an extremely talented musician and singer and his songwriting skills are incredible. I haven’t heard another artist who can lyrically and vocally transmit emotion as well as him. It would be a dream come true to collaborate with him and work on a project

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? If you’re even remotely interested in taking part in the competition next year I would say, just go for it! There’s nothing to lose, you get to be a part of something incredible and share your music with other people. It can also lead you to lots of other opportunities whether that be meeting new people to collaborate with or getting to perform at the Young Songwriter Showcase!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed listening to ‘Topiary’ by Oscar Meades! It’s exactly my sort of music, the lyrics are so perfectly intricate, the emotion in the vocals is wicked and the instrumentation is really soothing yet powerful. I also really liked ‘Sweet 16’ by Twayn. Another awesome track, I love how the track progresses and the ebbing and flowing nature of the track. Some incredible harmonies in there too! I would love to collaborate with either of these two artists to make something special!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? There aren’t many other competitions like this that allow people from all areas and walks of life to share their music with people and spread messages and emotion through music. There is also such an incredible judging panel and team behind the competition and it’s great to see that they are all just as excited as the entrants. I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of this competition and I’m amazed I’ve made it into the top 30!

TOPIARY – OSCAR MEADES, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My inspiration for my song in the finals, was a real sense of fury. It’s a song about being let down by yourself, and how you truly believed someone was something that they turned out not to be.

What got you into writing songs? The thing that got me into writing songs was expressing my feelings. I really found a way to channel how I felt and make ugly situations a lot more beautiful.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting to me is a way of expression, and for a private person like me, it’s a real insight into who you really are and what you really feel.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is definitely when you find a melody and words finding there way to fit onto it, and how natural it all just comes out of you.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? When starting a song, I like to find a beautiful chord progression. Chords are so important to the character of a song to me, so when I find the chords, I can channel whatever I’m feeling musically.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. When writing ‘topiary’, I was alone in my bedroom with my guitar in my hand, just plucking away at this swung rhythm and these beautiful descending inverted chords.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? One day I’d love to sing with Joni Mitchell, her music is so inspirational and timeless.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Always stay authentic. Sure be influenced, but don’t aim for anything other than what you’re naturally feeling is right to do with the song you’re making, make sure it’s a strong inner projection of yourself.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really love ‘All In’ by Daniel McCarthy, a very mellow song to vibe to. I’d love to collab with Daniel too, I love the tone of voice he has, very soft and delicate.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how this organisation is bringing so many different styles of music, by underground artists to the forefront. Really shows a diverse range of songs and emotions.

DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Over the past few years, there have been several political changes made at the expense of young people. It’s very frustrating, because it will most likely be the younger generation who will have to live through the consequences. This song acts as a warning: don’t rile the young, because it will come back to bite you.

What got you into writing songs? We both started writing songs separately, Archie through production and Rosie as a singer-pianist. When we met each other at the BRIT School, we started writing dance music and eventually leaned towards this jazz inspired hip-hop sound.

What does song writing mean to you? Song writing is about expression and atmosphere. As much as we enjoy creating a recorded finished product, we always imagine the tone and ambience of performing our songs live, and how it will impact an audience.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Archie likes starting songs and Rosie likes finishing them. Maybe that’s why we make such a good pair.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Sometimes we start with a chord progression, sometimes a bass line or breakbeat. After we have established the tone of the song, the lyrics come naturally.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. As production is just as important to us as the lyrics, melody and harmony, a large part of the songwriting process happens behind Logic or Ableton. We write, record, produce and mix all of our songs at both of our home studio setups. We recorded most of the instruments live and layered chopped drum breaks from splice.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Black pumas, Tricky, Sault and Gregory Porter.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write songs that you would enjoy listening to. If other people enjoy it too it’s a bonus.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We really like Leona May’s song. It’s somehow abstract but also means something. We think she’s a very skilled songwriter and she’s brilliant live.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Listening to all the other songwriters.

GIRL THAT OUTGREW – ROSIE TRENTHAM

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’d just come to the end of a long relationship with someone that I grew up with. It’s about parting ways amicably and appreciating that a good thing doesn’t have to last forever.

What got you into writing songs? When I was twelve, I won the pop music competition at my school. I was the surprise winner, being only in year seven, but it inspired me to keep going. Now I’m eighteen, and writing songs absorbs most of my time.

What does song writing mean to you? When I first started, I thought it was about self-expression. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that it’s about tapping into shared experience with the listener.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I like the satisfaction of lyrics coming neatly together. Lyrics are a puzzle of saying exactly what you mean in very few words.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start with a chord progression. Once you have an established sound, it inspires the subject matter and melody.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry? I write acoustically at the piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Stevie Wonder.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write as much as possible. The best work is often an amalgamation of lyrics and chords from different originals.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed Leona’s song. She has a way of writing songs that already exist in my head. Suddenly, I’ve heard it once and I feel like I’ve known it all my life.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Hearing all the other young talent across the country.

NEW YEAR’S EVE – RUBY ANN SPIEGEL

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was sick of this expectation to be happy on New Year’s Eve, and the coinciding idea that you should just forget all the bad things that have happened and move on. I wanted a chance to sit with my feelings, to acknowledge both them and the realisation that you can’t always be okay just because society tells you to be. You can take a second to grieve the things you didn’t have the chance to do, before leaping to plaster a smile on your face for the sake of the future.

What got you into writing songs? I have way too many thoughts in my head, all the time, and no one can remain sane with all that chatter going on. I guess song writing is my way of journaling. I tried to keep a diary, but I honestly don’t have the patience for it. I’m still finding pages of half written entries in old notebooks!

What does songwriting mean to you?  I’ve always written songs as a means of expressing myself, and often the things that I don’t have the courage to simply say. Confessions are much more enjoyable when they’re wrapped in melodies.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love playing the early versions of songs to my family, and forcing them to sit and relisten to every little tweak I’ve made. They become very invested in the whole process, to the point where my sisters know most of my songs off by heart!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I love the spontaneity of writing; I don’t follow a fixed routine – lyrics then melody or vice versa – but instead follow whatever feels right. I’ve written a song very early in the morning with no accompaniment just because I couldn’t get the first few lyrics out of my head.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I was not in a great state of mind, and then suddenly had these lyrics already set to a melody in my head. So, I went to my piano, sat down, and wrote the accompaniment around the basic melody. Sometimes it takes me weeks to finish one song, but other times it’s all there, and I have a song within fifteen minutes. In this case, it was the latter.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to work with Alanis Morissette, or Carole King. Though my music isn’t necessarily similar to the two artists, they have been a huge part of my life, and I am greatly inspired by both of them. I am in awe of their talent every time I hear their music.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’d say absolutely go for it. I entered a few years ago, and though I didn’t qualify, it was still an exciting experience to be sharing my music with others. I thought I had no chance this year, so I really didn’t enter for the sake of winning, but rather for the sake of showing people my creations. Do it for yourself, even if you don’t qualify – music is such a fluid thing, a yes or no doesn’t define its quality.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I really love Wasted Potential by Lindsay Liebro and how upbeat it is despite the harsh reality of the lyrics. It is also brilliantly produced. As another teenage girl with a need for academic validation clashing with wanting to do something completely random, this is a brilliant anthem to scream in the car! I also really enjoyed What if by Peter Pulst.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I’ve enjoyed the whole process but seeing my song among so many other teenagers’ music was a very special moment for me. My other entry that didn’t qualify was quoted on the Song Academy Instagram, and that was unbelievably cool for both me, and my friend who helped me out for the instrumentation.

THINKING I’M FINE – ANNEKA SHELLEY

What inspired you to write your finalist song? This song sparked from the feeling that I think a lot of people had around the time of the lockdowns, feeling particularly isolated and down. Motivation just really wasn’t there at that time, and everything definitely got really hard. The song is about not being okay, but feeling like your own feelings aren’t really valid, and thinking that it’s probably for the best if you just act like everything is okay.

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 13-14. I picked up guitar quite a lot later than other musicians I know, as it took me a while to find my passion as a kid. I taught myself guitar and started learning little covers of songs I liked, and I suppose for me, writing songs just felt like a given as a guitarist. I just had the ideas and songwriting felt very natural to me. I guess I’ve grown up seeing singer-songwriters and I assumed that was what guitarists did, so I did it!

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting has always been very special to me. It’s just like an escape where I can express my emotions in a beautiful format. I also love to make up whole new stories about people in my mind; I think creating something exciting that’s completely made up, but other people can relate to, can be so much fun.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting is when I find the catchline of the song, and it feels like it’s completed the whole thing. Normally it comes at the end of the chorus when you write the hook, and it’s normally the hardest thing to do in the whole process at least for me, but once I’ve found it, the song feels much more formed and that’s very exciting.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It really depends, to be honest. Sometimes an idea will come to mind and then I will put it to some chords and carry on writing, or sometimes I will just simply be in the mood to write a song and so I will find some chords and then brainstorm ideas. It’s usually one of the two, I haven’t yet pinpointed which one turns out better. I did do a song once where I wrote all of the lyrics on the train and then put chords to it, and it did turn out really nicely – I should probably try that more.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. This song was literally just written with me and my acoustic guitar. I’m pretty sure I wrote a chorus and I loved it and then I had to go somewhere so I recorded it on my phone really quickly and then finished the rest of it later.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Orla Gartland has been my biggest writing inspiration for so long, pretty much as long as I’ve been writing. Collaborating with her would be a dream, I just admire all her work.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would just say to make sure you really connect with your song. It’s so obvious when somebody’s song means so much to them, and it just adds so much emotion.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One of the other finalists Leona Mae is incredible, and we have already collaborated a few times. I’d love to collaborate with Frankie James or Gemini Gemini who are both brilliant songwriters. 5:41 by Frankie James is such a beautiful track.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it gets young people sharing their work and being creative. I have found so many other musicians through this competition so I also definitely love how many people you can meet through it.

ALL IN – DANIEL MCCARTHY, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote ‘All In’ for a number of reasons but primarily because I liked the concept of pursuing your dreams against all odds and seeing things through regardless of what life throws at you. I took inspiration from rhetoric tricks of repetition, using opposites (i.e. all in… vs… all out) and using words that sound the same but have different meanings in order to make the lyrics more memorable and singalong-able. For example: “You gotta be all in, you gotta be all in… But if you gotta go all out, you better go all out…”  That’s repetition and opposites. And then comes the emotional ending of the chorus: “Take me with you, ’cause you know I’m all in”. The ‘all in’ in this sentence has a completely different meaning to the previous use of ‘all in’ in the chorus.

What got you into writing songs? When I was younger, around age 11, my school choir – which fortunately happens to be one of the top boys’ choirs in the country – would sometimes get invited into major London studios (such as Air Studios, Metropolis, Angel Studios, etc) to sing on some major movies (e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody, Last Christmas, Dumbo, etc… and we also got to sing on two of the tracks on Madonna’s latest album). During those trips, I was fascinated with all the equipment in those studios and I thought it would be cool to become a producer and work in a big studio one day. I was already learning the piano and guitar, and I also loved listening to pop music on the radio, so I decided to teach myself music production at home. And in order to produce my songs from scratch, it meant I had to create my own original songs. That’s how it all started I guess and I got into songwriting!

What does songwriting mean to you? I started songwriting when I was 11 years old and it’s become so much a part of me now that I wouldn’t feel complete as a person if I wasn’t doing it. I find it… inspires me, relaxes me, teaches me, challenges me and rewards me! There’s no feeling in the world like it… when you create something (hopefully beautiful-sounding & relatable) that didn’t exist before you created it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the process is that initial moment when the fusion of lyrics and melody works and creates something interesting and original.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? For me, the spark normally comes from the lyrical concept… often a story or a turn of phrase that I think is cool. That lyric can come from anywhere… a book I read, a film I watched, or something that happened to me or a phrase I may have heard one of my friends say. Once I have that critical lyric, the melody usually comes relatively easily to me. It often ends up being the main chorus or pre-chorus.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I have a keyboard, two speakers and a couple of mics that feed into my Logic Pro software on my mac.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? These days, producers contribute greatly to the songwriting process. My dream would be to work with producers like Steve Mac or Max Martin as I love so many of the songs they’ve been involved in.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would 100% encourage them to enter. The only way to become a good songwriter is to keep writing more & more songs. When you enter a competition like this, it really helps focus you on the quality of the songs you’re writing because you know that really experienced & successful songwriters will be judging you.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really liked the entry from Sonic Daze. I know one of their members, Rosie Trentham (she goes to my Saturday music school), and I think she and her band are very talented.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? What I like the most about it is that it comes across as quite a casual competition in that it’s very inviting & encouraging to young people of all standards, but then from what I’ve heard of the other finalists’ entries, the standard is extremely high, so it means that it also appeals to much more experienced & ambitious young writers.

SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wanted to touch on all the things that were going wrong in the world at the time, the song details a semantic field of destruction, ‘cutting ties when the marriage ends, hear the cries at the orphanage, burning tires at the car crash ditch…’. I then hone in on a more specific story about a mother losing her son and how the media deals with stories like that, ‘selling a story’. It’s in a way, a protest song which is something I haven’t really experimented with before. I also utilised changing time signatures in this song which is something new for me also.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always loved song writing; ever since the age of 8, I was writing songs with my guitar and performing them for other people. I always used to love creative writing and English lessons in school, this perhaps sparked my interest and I attended song writing workshops at the Hertfordshire music centre. I’ve been inspired by other artists, especially Taylor Swift who I really admire for her great song writing capability.

What does songwriting mean to you? Song writing gives me an outlet to express my feelings ; when I’m feeling low, it definitely helps to go to the piano and express that in song form, like writing in a diary.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is writing lyrics, I think this is where my strength lies and what I deem to be very important in a song. I love the feeling when you suddenly come up with a great line and get a rush of excitement. Metaphors can describe a feeling so much better than stating the feeling simply and I think finding a really good, clever one always resonates with people.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start by picking up an instrument and playing around with different chord progressions or tunings. Finding songs I love with alternate tunings is my favourite inspiration at the moment ; artists like Phoebe Bridgers have so many to choose from. Playing on different instruments, for me piano, is also a great way to find different harmony and produce something with a different emotional intensity.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I always write my songs just me and a guitar/piano, so this song was no exception. I wrote it on my guitar, starting with the chords and rhythm, and went from there using the notes app and voice memo on my phone to record my ideas as I went along. I started with the verse and then the chorus, writing the bridge later on when I had figured out how to create the contrast the song needed. I always write in my room as it’s the most comfortable environment and inspires me the most.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I have so many artists whom I love but my dream artists to write with would be Phoebe Bridgers and Maisie Peters. The details in their lyrics always grabs my attention and they never demonstrate feelings too literally, the metaphors are always very clever. In terms of production, I would love to work with FINNEAS as his work really elevates the song.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to definitely go for it, there is nothing to lose. Try to pick more of an unusual song to grab the judges attention and if you can, produce it or ask someone to help you produce it. Good production will really elevate a song and draw out the melodies to make them even stronger. I would say to consider submitting a couple of songs, that way if they’re contrasting you have more of a chance of one of your songs getting short listed. If your song is more unusual and unique I also think this also sets you apart from the crowd. In terms of the songwriting process, I would create lots of contrast ; if the verse is wordy, the chorus should be sparse and vice versa.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite is ‘Thinking I’m Fine’ by Anneka Shelley, I love the melodies throughout each section in the song ; we already collaborate lots as we go to school together.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how the competition gives younger writers a chance to be heard and gives everybody a fair chance. It’s also great to see the other up and coming songwriters your age and to be able to connect with them, especially as it runs across the whole UK with an international category as well.

CONTRAST – VINNIE COHEN

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The song is about not knowing how someone else may feel. We may be able to guess, but never truly understand. We make mistakes, we say the wrong things, we slip up. Perhaps the place of stewing in whatever emotion someone is suggesting is the best place for healing.

What got you into writing songs? It was only around age 13 where I started meeting people writing and recording songs that I became attached to it.

What does songwriting mean to you? A way to deal with my problems, a way to connect with people, a chance to make friends. I wouldn’t have met most of my friends if it weren’t for music, there’s almost a magical bond when people collaborate properly.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Recording the vocal.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Most of the time it just happens. Sometimes I’ll look for a beat on youtube or play some chords on guitar or piano and run with what comes to me. Usually if I’m being honest, whatever has been bothering me, or is making me joyous will be the subject of the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Wrote it on my I phone, recorded it in my bedroom on logic, mixed and mastered it myself.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Action Bronson

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just do it, you don’t know what something might bring you until you try. Even if you lose, sometimes we hide ourselves away making fantasies about who we could be, but until we put ourselves out there, we will never know what we can achieve!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Ruby Ann Spiegel

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Gives me a bit of confidence.

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

TOXIC TIME BOMB – AEJ, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Anna-Elea: In school we had a lesson about plastic pollution in the oceans. After doing some further research, I got so frustrated with the current situation that I decided to write a song about it. I asked myself how the band The Police feel about their song “Message in A Bottle” today? We believe the formerly romantic notion of throwing bottles (with messages) into the sea is no longer acceptable.

What got you into writing songs? Anna-Elea: My friend Josefine and I have been singing together for several years. Our headmaster in school introduced us to the idea of writing songs and taking part in songwriting competitions.

What does songwriting mean to you? Anna-Elea: Songwriting is a form of introspection. By thinking about new ideas and topics, you actually learn more about your own personality and your perception of the world.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Anna-Elea: My favourite part of the song writing process is, of course, when the song is finally finished! Up to that point, it’s an emotional roller coaster ride which ranges from euphoria (Wow, I’ve found a cool chord) to absolute horror (Oh no, this song is never going to work).

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Anna-Elea: I usually try to find a melody and let the music speak to me. It’s as if the music suggests the words or the topic of the song. With “Toxic Time Bomb” it was a bit different. The idea of writing about plastic pollution was there before the melody.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Anna-Elea: We first wrote an acoustic version of the song on the piano. Later we teamed up with a local musician who owns a studio and happens to play drums, bass and guitar. We did all backing vocals ourselves.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Anna-Elea: Since our song “Toxic Time Bomb” uses citations from “Message In A Bottle” we would be thrilled and honoured if former members of “The Police” listened to the song were willing to do a collaboration.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? Anna-Elea: We learned about the competition through surfing on the internet.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Anna-Elea: My tips for young songwriters are: Find something that’s constantly bothering you. Think of an interesting way of delivering your view on it. Find people who help you to produce the best version of your idea. Make yourself heard.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We like the song “Talking To The Devil” by NEAV and “Wasted Potential” by Lindsay Liebro. Both artists appear to have a similar take on music, so this might work well in a collaboration.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Anna-Elea: We are grateful that there is such a possibility as the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition. Young talents are encouraged to create art and send a message to an international audience. So thank you very much!

HEROES HAVE SHADOWS TOO – ISAAC STAINES, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was a time in my life where someone very close to me had let me down, and really disappointed me, I was very sad and angry for a long time. Part of my process of healing was to write songs and that’s why I wrote ‘Heroes Have Shadows Too’. I also wrote it because I know it is an emotion that isn’t hugely written about yet happens in the majority of peoples’ lives, people close to them hurt them.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been musical since I was young and was making little shows with friends and family for friends and family and eventually it just evolved.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a very healthy thing for me – the two main factors being spiritual and emotional health. I’m a very spiritual person and writing songs has such a sort of anointing on it. It also helps me deal and process my emotions. Most situations that I’ve been through in my life I’ve written a song about – I write down my feelings in the form of not just lyrics but chords and melodies too. I also simply love it, I find the most enjoyment out of creating and crafting a song!

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? The first strain of ideas. It’s like one explosion setting off 1000 more, the first idea explodes in my head and immediately my head is full of beauty within music and the chords and lyrics and then I’m already thinking about production and then a video to go along with it. It’s that first explosion that is my favourite part in the songwriting process.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I have two ways of writing, a lot of the really good songs that I write come spontaneously – I will have been thinking through something in my life and then I will just sit down and write a song about it. Or, I have a few people that I songwrite with a few times a fortnight and a lot of the time those specific sessions will produce some bangers!

Describe your setup that you used to write #SAYS22 entry? I have over the years busked week in and week out and saved up enough to have a small studio in my bedroom – it includes all the essentials, guitars, mics, midi keyboards, pianos and a drum kit.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? ‘ I have three artists that I would love to collaborate with;
1. Fleetwood Mac – my favourite band of all time, they are all very old and rarely play together so it would be a hard situation.
2. Ed Sheeran – Ed has an insanely unique way to tell stories and you can definitely feel the emotion in every word of every one of his songs.
3. Charlie Puth – I’d love to be able to simply sit with Charlie for a while and pick his brain on music theory and production, two areas I think he has a lot of skill in.

What would you say to someone 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? All I would say is who cares? I know it sounds strange but if you’ve got a connection to your song, you like it and know it’s good, who cares if it goes far or not. If you like your song and your craft that is all that matters. In saying that, this competition is a great way to put it out for others to hear your emotional process, hear your story.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite entry so far is from Sonic Daze (Don’t Rile The Young). I like this song because it’s different to everything else in the competition, most of the songs in here are break up songs and they are great but there are always so many break up songs in music at the moment. Being teenagers most of us haven’t really experienced a really bad break up in our lives yet but we are the next generation and we can use this song as an anthem. I would like to collab with them because I believe we have similar intent – both of our songs are different and unique compared to the majority of the lovey dovey or break up songs, we are working toward something new.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I simply think it’s a great worldwide competition that showcases some of the talent and skill of all ages around the globe. It gives the young people a platform where at times we aren’t necessarily heard in the music Industry (our actual songs and the message behind them).

WASTED POTENTIAL – LINDSAY LIEBRO, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write “Wasted Potential” after I did poorly on an AP Physics test. I had always been an academically “gifted kid,” but I felt that title slipping away from me. My whole life, everyone has told me how smart I am, and it almost felt like I would be wasting my potential by pursuing music instead of a more traditional career.

What got you into writing songs? I wrote my first song in 2nd grade, and I would say I was inspired by artists like Taylor Swift who created the soundtrack for my life.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting is a way to express emotions, a way to sing the things that are hard to say, and a way to connect people around the world. I think songwriting is magical and cathartic and something I will never stop doing.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is sharing it with others and having them resonate with it. It’s so fulfilling and special to have that connection between the artist and fans.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Most of the time, I’ll just pick up my guitar, play a few chords, and sing whatever comes to mind. Usually, my subconcious will start creating the lyrics based on whatever is currently going on in my life.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote this song in my bedroom! It started off with just a verse and chorus, and I instantly had a feeling this song was special. My producer knew there was something there too, so we finished it up. This song took me the longest to write, but it was so worth it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My ultimate dream collab would definitely be Taylor Swift. I’d also love to be able to produce with Jack Antonoff and Dan Nigro.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to do it! I think it’s really important to put yourself out there as soon as you can because you never know who will listen to your song and think there is something special about it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would be so excited to work with any of the entrants! Some of my favorites include:  Boy – Summer Brennan, California – Ally Cribb, Crossroad – Marthe, Heroes Have Shadows Too – Isaac Staines, Lost – Monique Raso, Phases – Peter Pulst, Sundays – Lily Welch

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I’ve never been part of an international competition, so I think it is such a cool experience to be a finalist along with other people from around the world!

THE SKY & I – JANE CALLISTA, 14 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your song? I was inspired to write my song based on my personal experience and what I feel in daily life as a 14-year-old performer (singer, TV host, musical actress).

At this age, many people would ask me, “What would you like to be when you grow up?”

I love singing as well as songwriting, and my family have always been supportive of me and my dreams. Still, some people are often skeptical of me and what I can do–what I want to do because of my young age.

So, this song serves as a reminder for myself that there is no limit to what I can do and achieve. Just like the sky; it has no limit to it. Hence the title, “The Sky & I”.

What got you into writing songs? I got into writing songs so that I could be able to express what I feel and what I see in my daily life into lyrics and melodies.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part in songwriting is finding and writing the rhymes to complete the lyrics, as well as exploring all the possibilities of melodies that match the sequence of chords to find the one I like best.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. The setup I used for the process of writing my #SAYS22 entry was a voice recorder, note pad on my simple mobile phone and piano.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start my song by writing the melody of the chorus by strumming various chords with my ukulele or piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream come true to be able to collaborate with Taylor Swift or Charlie Puth. They’re amazing singer-songwriters.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? A tip from myself to my fellow young songwriters who would like to join next year’s competition, is to always be yourself because that is your own superpower that you can express through your original songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? They are all great musicians, but one of the entries that I enjoyed listening to the most would be “Think Myself to Death” by Joey Wilbur.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? What I like about the Song Academy Songwriter Competition is, it gives the platform and opportunities to unleash the potentials of young songwriters like me all around the world.

OCEAN CHILD – SUMMER STARLING, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? What inspired me to write “Ocean Child” was my love for those catchy heart-warming staple classic songs made for everyone to welcome into their lives. I wanted to project a valuable message that lasts forever through a form of storytelling where the lyrics just fall into place which they sort of did when I wrote the song.

What drew me to the tropical setting was my collection of memories from traveling all over the world throughout my childhood and how I’ve in some way found a connection between my travels and my journey of growing up. Sometimes when I’m in certain places it feels as if time has stopped and I get to observe and reconnect with life. Another inspiration behind the setting was the place I imagine the type of song I mentioned earlier to be played in, friends and loved ones sitting around a bonfire with guitars under palm trees and reconnecting with what matters the most through music.

Everything sort of flowed in the songwriting process and I had a magical sense of connection to it which I think is something you can sometimes tell when you listen to songs, how much the artists believe in the lyrics and understand the meaning behind them. The key takeaway of the song as I explained more thoroughly in my entry form is the importance of staying connected to what you love, wish and dream to the extent of it being a source of guidance and confidence throughout your journey rather than something that holds you back from reaching your true purpose. I also wanted to bring to light the value of love and meaningful relationships with people and multiple aspects of life as they are just as powerful and can support and motivate you when challenges surface. As one grows the complexity of life tends to do so too and I wanted this song to be a reminder of all the treasures that are yet to be found if one chooses to believe in it, not only for whoever listens to it but also to remind myself. If I could only choose one song to sing in front of the biggest audience in the world right now it would be this one. The song is written directly from my heart and one I wish to reach as many others as possible.

What got you into writing songs? Since my first knowledge of music, I’ve longed to write songs and placed a huge emphasis on the creation of music. But what kept me from it was a drought of a place to start from along with uncertainty in the path I saw ahead of me career-wise. Then, as my interest in Taylor Swift’s music and undeniable proficiency expanded, I gained clarity and confidence in my calling and above all songwriting. Her music is nothing but brilliance. She is an artist who has demonstrated that she can do the impossible, achieve anything and outperform herself continually, and that never fails to inspire me.

From then on my everlasting songwriting has been in full speed and I’ve continued to gain a broad variety of influences along the way such as John Mayer, The Killers, and Tears for Fears, all exceptional artists I look up to in different ways. Writing in itself is such a magnificent way of expression and I love that there are so many ways to write. What makes songwriting so endearing is that the addition of music and melody that follow provides an expansive understanding of the songwriter’s intention behind the lyrics. In other words, the combination of lyrics, melody, and music holds the ability for listeners to engage with the songwriter’s perspective of this world and beyond, and the ability to provide that intimate connection is something I choose to pursue.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? One of my favorite parts of the songwriting process is the spark that ignites when a song is just bursting out of me and I get into a flow of songwriting in which I in the best way lose all sense of time and my awareness is solely found within the song. It was one of those moments that paved the way for my song Ocean Child, and it’s one of the parts of songwriting that fuels my motivation to proceed with it more than anything. Sincerely though, I value the whole process of songwriting. Even when I can’t seem to find the right rhymes or stand in the uncertainty of where to lead a story, I know that it’s a part of the process that strengthens me as a songwriter and leads to amazing songs. Songwriting is all worth it to me and something I will always do!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? There are multiple ways for me to start songs in which all that lovely spark can occur. Sometimes I only write the lyrics and then proceed to add melody and chords with my guitar. On the contrary, there are also times where the process embarks oppositely with me playing the guitar first and then adding melody and lyrics, or all at the same time. It can honestly strike me anywhere at any time, right when I’m about to fall asleep, after I wake up, in school, as I’m cooking, and that’s one of the best parts of it. At those times when I can’t spend much time on it, I try to memorize it as best as possible by fetching a pen and paper, recording a voice memo or video, writing it down on my phone, I’ve even admittedly taken notes on my arm as well!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I sat in my bed one evening with my fairy lights turned on in my bedroom and used a diary and a pen to write the song. I wrote most of the song, both lyrics, and melody, and came up with the whole structure in one sitting and then later on completed it with the addition of the guitar as well.
A funny story behind the so-called diary is that I think I bought it intending to write about my everyday life and thoughts as diaries are made for but ended up mainly writing songs instead. The diary holds a special place in my heart because I wrote my first songs in it and there’s just something so special about writing songs manually to me. It feels so intimate and the handwriting adds a layer of personal context.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I intend to collaborate with many of my favorite artists, writers, and bands but one of my dream collaborations would be with John Mayer. John Mayer is another artist that has notably inspired and interested me as a singer/songwriter. The first song I mindfully listened to by him was “Edge of Desire” from the album Battle Studies. What I found the most captivating about it and what I now see in many other songs of his as well is how cleverly he adjoins the instrumental ambiance to his astonishing lyrics and consoling voice. I once read a statement saying “this guy is an emotion” and it speaks for itself. There’s a sense of home and attachment to one’s soul he so fluently incorporates into his music that I aim to channel in my songwriting and musical arrangement. Whenever I view his live performances I acquire an urge and motivation for improvement in my guitar skills as well, as I intend to improve at playing instruments whilst singing. There are so many lyrics of his I know off the top of my head that display his clever songwriting such as “I want you in the worst way, is the gate code still your birthday?”, and to be in the same room as him and adjoining our strengths as songwriters and musicians would be an absolute dream!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say just go for it! It is a perfect chance to display your creativity and individuality! Focus on having fun rather than putting too much pressure on yourself and remember that there are no right or wrong ways to write songs. Another tip is if you can’t decide between different songs to apply with, add both of them. You never know how others will receive the song and what you may dislike about it someone else might love.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? There are so many amazing entries from this year’s competition. I’m blown away by all the creativity and so happy that all these young songwriters have chosen to share their gifts and express their originality. It makes me beyond grateful to be a part of this community. Some of my favorites are “All in” by Daniel Mcarthy, “Belladonna” by Ruby Cooke, and “Topiary” by Oscar Meades. One entrant I’d like to collaborate with is Daniel Mcarthy. I thoroughly enjoyed the uplifting and comforting atmosphere of his song and it reminds me of the music I usually listen to. His message about letting nothing stop you if you see it through you and going all out and being all in is something I stand for as well and the way he delivered it through the songwriting and melodies felt genuine and encouraging. I think my favorite lyric is “Just go out and sparkle, let the whole world marvel the way I do about you”, such a great line to hold near. It’s overall a really sweet and enjoyable song full of heart with memorable lyrics. Both of our songs have acoustic elements and share similar themes and for that reason, I think our sounds and songwriting styles would collide very well if we’d collaborate!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I admire plenty of things about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition. First and foremost is that it’s something made possible for every young songwriter no matter how experienced one might be or where you come from. It’s been more than a joy to listen to the other contestants’ entries and it has made me realize what a wide and colorful spectrum songwriting truly is. Another aspect of the competition I appreciate is how motivating and helpful Song Academy is in the process, from all the information and great variety of resources to the possibility of actual feedback. It is no secret that the people behind this are passionate about songwriting and have the entrants best interest at heart. The competition has been an exciting experience so far and I’ve felt taken care of along the way. This is a wonderful community I’m happy to be a part of!

YELLOW, WITHOUT ME & THINK MYSELF TO DEATH BY JOEY WILBUR, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? All of my songs are based on my own personal experiences. “Think Myself to Death” is by far my most personal song. At first, it was meant to be a song for just me, as a way to express my emotions. I was scared to play it anywhere because of how personal it was to me, but I really hope my song can help someone as much as it helped me. “Without Me” is a song I wrote during the end of a messy relationship. I was torn between letting this person go, and trying to hold on to them. I knew that trying to keep them was bad for me, but that person meant so much to me, and I didn’t want to let them go. “Yellow” is a happy song I wrote about the beginning of a new relationship, where you just love everything about that person.

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 12 years old. I’ve always loved music, and wanted to see if I could create something like what I had heard on the radio. After a few tries I was able to make something that a 12 year old me was happy with. After that, I enjoyed it so much that I just kept doing it.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is one of the most important things to me in my life. It has become an outlet for my emotions, and very therapeutic for me. If I am ever stressed or upset about something, writing a song about it will usually make me feel a lot better, while giving me time to think about it in a healthy manner.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I enjoy having the creativity to do and say whatever I want. I like starting a song from one line that I had saved in my phone notes, and watching it grow as I write, record, and produce it myself.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually a song will start with just a one line lyric or idea that I will think of during the day. I will then start writing with that one lyric and go from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I usually write my songs in my bedroom. I’ll start with a lyric, and write a guitar part that fits the vibe of the song that I plan to create.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I have always been a huge fan of Ed Sheeran. He inspired me to pick up the guitar and start writing. I also love Jeremy Zucker’s music, who has more recently influenced my writing.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Enter your most personal songs that you are proud of. Make something true to you, and other people will relate to it. The judges are looking for good songwriting and want to see something that is real to the songwriter.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I really like Lindsay Liebro’s song “Wasted Potential”. Her music is exactly the type of music that I would listen to on my own. She is very talented!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it gives the opportunity for young songwriters to get their name out there. Not a lot of organizations focus on that, so as a young artist, I really appreciate what they are doing.

TETHERED – THE SEASIDE FEELS, 13 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Our inspiration for this song was a sad story we heard, about a teenager who killed himself when his girlfriend left him. We thought how tragic it was to feel you couldn’t live without someone, even when the relationship was obviously unhealthy and even toxic.

What got you into writing songs? As identical twins, we’ve always made music together. Songwriting together was a natural progression of that. We didn’t sit down at any point and say “let’s write a song”. We just do it when we feel an idea is worth exploring.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to have fun together, to create something unique that expresses our thoughts and feelings. It’s a special thing for us to do together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually start with lyrics, well really poems. Then Venice will usually be the one to come up with a melody. But sometimes it’s the other way round. Sometimes one of us has a melody in her head and the words come after.  We always jot lyrics in notebooks and often they don’t come to more than a few lines. Sometimes they become complete poems but never songs. Then sometimes it all comes together. We never push it, we just let things happen and have fun doing it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? We’d love to collaborate with the band The Rare Occasions, or Cavetown. We love their music and think maybe they would like us! We also love the folk indie band, the Oh Hellos and would love to work with them. We cover some of their songs when we play sets around Dubai.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Anyone thinking of entering next year should absolutely go for it! You have nothing to lose!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We love all the finalists’ songs. It would be really cool if there were finalists in the UAE we could meet up with!

BLUE – AMANDA FAGAN, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote “Blue” during a low point in my life. I had cut ties with someone very close to me because I knew it was the best thing to do for my situation. It was painful to watch that person move on, seemingly forgetting me so soon. This song is packed full of the emotions I struggled to understand. Should I be happy my old friend was moving on? Was I jealous? Did I do the right thing, ending what we had? Or was I just sad and caught up in the nostalgia? One thing I knew for sure was that I was blue.

What got you into writing songs? In 2011, my dad used to compile new songs he’d find on a CD and play them on the way to school for my sister and me. At six years old, one song on the disc stood out to me especially: “Mine.” It was a song off of 20 year-old Taylor Swift’s newest album, “Speak Now.” After that, I just knew I wanted to sing and write like her. My Dad signed me up for voice lessons shortly after and I got a music book full of Taylor Swift songs. In the following years, my Dad would surprise me by hiding “Red” and “1989” in my school bag on the days the albums were released. I’d learn to play ukulele, guitar, and piano in middle school and soon enough I was writing song after song. The reason Taylor Swift’s songs always stood out to me were because she told stories through her music. I wanted to do that too.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means everything to me. Music is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift to be able to write it, sing it, or even listen to it. Songwriting has been a good outlet for my bottled up emotions and creativity. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, music calms me down. When I’m having problems with those close to me, I write about what’s pent up inside of me. When I’m anxious on a Monday morning at school, I find a spot before class to fiddle around on my guitar. Or sometimes I just want to tell a story, whether it be a fictional one or a true one I heard from a person passing on the street, from a face I might not meet again. There are endless possibilities when it comes to songwriting. Let your creativity shine.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process.  My favorite part of the songwriting process is the lyricism. Not only am I a songwriter, but I also love creative writing and poetry. I think that’s why the words are always the part I look forward to most.

How do you usually start a song?  How do you find that spark? I usually start the song with this question in mind: what story am I trying to tell? I don’t have a pattern of lyrics first or music first. I make it up as I go. I can’t say for sure where the spark comes from. The other day I was walking my dog, got an idea of a melody and lyrics in my head, and sprinted home to record a voice memo, singing the same line over and over in my head so I wouldn’t forget it. I have hundreds of voice memos like that on my phone. I get home and work off of what I have recorded. What’s the story? Do I want to change the key? What instruments? What genre? Anything goes.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I used my home studio which consists of my Mac desktop computer, a Rode mic, a mic stand, some sound insulation items I bought online, a midi box, and Logic Pro X. I also had some musicians play instruments in my song. My best friend of 18 years (she’s known me since I was born), Grace, helps me in the production area. She is my producer and my best friend.

Who would be your dream writer/band/artist to collaborate with?  My dream artist to collaborate with would have to be Taylor Swift. I love her writing style and I feel like our music is very similar in genre. I’d love to make a song with her that sounded like something off of her album “Folklore.” I love the vibe and aesthetic of the album.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year?  Do you have any tips for them?  If I had to say something to someone thinking of entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year, I’d say to go all in! Push your nerves aside and submit your song. Don’t compare your value as a songwriter based on a contest. Do it for fun and for the experience! There are countless talented songwriters in the world, all writing about different emotions and in genres. Even if your song doesn’t win, you get the chance to be creative and make something beautiful; you get the chance to discover fellow songwriters and listen to cool music you probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition?  Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you like to collaborate with?  There were so many incredible entries. Some of my favorites were “Yellow” by Joey Wilbur, “Heroes have shadows too” by Isaac Stares, and “California” by Ally Cribbs. All of them had amazing voices. I loved the story Ally’s song told, the simplicity yet beauty of Isaac’s song, and the upbeat banger that Joey made. The song makes you want to jam out and dance! I think it’d be really fun, collaborating with any of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that the Song Academy Young Songwriter competitions give young songwriters an opportunity to be heard.

RISE – MONIQUE RASO, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs?  My song Rise is an uplifting ballad all about not giving up and having the strength to keep on going and being that light to carry on through difficult times.  Lost is all about finding your way out of confusion and knowing that everything will be ok and work out in the end.

What got you into writing songs?  I attended a songwriting workshop and at the end of the day we had to share our very own first original and since then became inspired.

What does songwriting mean to you?  Songwriting means so much to me, it’s a way of expressing my emotion and writing thoughts and life experiences into lyrics. It’s a way to convey messages to the world. Also, the enjoyment of completing a song is pretty cool!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I love playing around with chords on the piano and then finding a melody to go with it and the lyrics. Then after, to go the studio to get the song recorded is lots of fun!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Firstly I start writing down how I am feeling at the current moment or storytelling through life experiences or even the scenery around me and brainstorm and come up with lyrics from that. Then after I play around with some chords on the piano and start singing some melodies over the top and see what comes together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I first wrote my song acoustic on the piano then later teamed up with a producer Nick.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Celine Dion. I absolutely love her music and she is such an inspiration and known for her big ballads. In her songs you can definitely hear her emotions and the messages she is sharing to the world.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Go for it, take every opportunity you can. Believe in yourself and the message you have to share within your song. It is an amazing platform where your music can be found and listened to. Have fun with it!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Everyone is all so amazing and have such incredible originals!   In terms of collaboration, Isaac Staines – ‘Heroes have shadows too’.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It encourages young songwriters all around the globe to have a go at making then submitting their original music and sharing it! It gives us a chance for listeners to hear our stories and the messages behind our song that we have to say and inspires us to keep writing.

ATOMIC BOMB – CALISTA HARMS, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song in quarantine when the world was feeling like it was at its darkest. Almost as if it in its entirety was ending. So I wanted to try my best to put a lighter spin on that in my song by taking this theme of the world ending and turning it into a sort of everlasting romance. with my two characters sharing this mentality throughout the entirety of the song that say well the world might be ending but at least I have you

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since I was little and always wanted to live a life similar to hers so I started songwriting when I was about 12 and I’ve just fallen in love with the craft

What does songwriting mean to you? For me songwriting is an outlet I’m not a person who I consider to be very skilled with words or even just general writing so it feels like songwriting is my only outlet to truly explain how I feel in a moment.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? For me my favorite part of songwriting is the crafting of the story, I can use aspects of my life, things that I have gone through and placed those troubles and woes onto another person in this fictional world that I have created. So that seems to be the most fun part for me

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s different every time but recently I’ve been starting with chords and that seems to be the way I go about the process.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use any fancy Recording studio I just went to a spot in my house that had good acoustics and recorded using Voice Memos.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One song I loved was Boy by Summer Brennan. I feel like we have a similar style to our voices and I love the song she wrote. It would be a dream to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how this contest allows for so much room for creativity and gives us access to share our creative thoughts and ideas with others as well as have a safe space to do so. I would 100% recommend this contest and what I really particularly liked was that I could listen to the other contestants’ songs which I thought were all amazing.

DONE & LIKE A GHOST – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT, 15 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I was inspired to write “Done” by a friend who was frustrated about constantly receiving mixed signals from a friend she was interested in as a boyfriend. I was inspired to write “Like a Ghost” by the tricks our minds can play on us when we have strong feelings for someone.

What got you into writing songs? I have been playing classical piano since age 4 and I started writing little melodies around age 8. Later, when I started listening to more pop music, I also started writing my own songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? I see it as a form of expression and increasingly as a fun activity to share with friends.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Coming up with interesting melodies.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start with a certain topic in mind. Sometimes it is an inspiration from real life, other times it is just a story I create.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote both songs on the piano and later recorded them in my home studio, using Logic Pro X with various instrument and effect plug-ins.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write about a topic you are passionate about, so that you write with maximum motivation.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? “Lost” by Monique Raso is my favorite entry. I would also like to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The fact that younger, less experienced musicians are given a chance to present their music.

FALLING IN LOVE – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was simply the complicated feeling when I fell in love, but the girl I liked had not said yes yet.

What got you into writing songs? My passion for music and the need to express my feeling

What does songwriting mean to you? To me it means telling a story. The music and lyric work together to convey my message.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finding the mood or nuance I want to share, whether it is from music or lyrics

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with finding the theme in shape of some basic notations.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My piano when composing, followed by arranging it using my keyboard

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jamie Cullum

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? It is a very good opportunity to show your music to the world (literally). My tips would be to be honest to yourself when writing a song.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Boy – Summer Brennan (love her voice)

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Opportunity to listen to songs from young composers from all over the world.

TALKING TO THE DEVIL – NEAV, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? A relationship I was in at the time was being threatened by someone else for jealous means. I didn’t understand how someone could act in a way that could hurt others so much so I decided to write the song as a form of therapy.

What got you into writing songs? Ever since I was very young, I would make melodies and silly lyrics. I think once I got into high school, songwriting became therapeutic for me, almost like writing in a diary.

What does songwriting mean to you? I have realised songwriting is as much a need for me as breathing air. It is therapy for me and I love to express myself in that way, hopefully helping others through experiences similar to the ones I write about.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The whole process is so much fun but my favourite part of songwriting would have to be when the song is complete. You can have something that you created that represents a moment in time, an emotion or a story, like a little time capsule.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I am very much a ‘melody’ person so I usually start off by playing random chords or singing random notes until something sticks and I write lyrics over the top. Other times, there will be an idea that I feel a need to write about and so the song kind of just flows from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just grabbed my electric guitar and hit record on my voice memo app on my phone and went for it. The song was later adapted to piano as it suited the song better.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to work with David Byrne (formally from Talking Heads). I think he is just incredible and has made an amazing lifelong career out of music, always adapting and collaborating stay relevant. He has created lots of different types of music across many genres.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to write what feels good, don’t force the song to be something that it is not.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite other entries would have to be Daniel McCarthy, DSWRV and Sisi.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the opportunity that the competition gives anyone and everyone who wants to be heard. I also love how we are given the opportunity to hear other new and young artists that we would have probably never have heard of otherwise.

THE SOUND OF LONELINESS & DIMPLES – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN, 18 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I think, the two songs both came to me naturally, like they were always meant to be.  “The Sound of Loneliness” was inspired by me accepting myself fully, embracing the thought of my authenticity and rejecting the fear of being alone, healing. For many years I thought that loneliness was something unnatural, as if I was supposed to always be surrounded by people, but growing up I realised that it wasn’t the complete truth. It’s okay to be alone. “Dimples” is one of the most intimate songs of mine. Though I am still very young, this song is about my feelings, the way I view the world. For me, love is something soft and gentle, delicate even, so the song “Dimples” was inspired by my perception of love in its purest form.

What got you into writing songs? My childhood left me with many bad memories, as well as my teenage years. Never being supported, being ignored and alone, – I never had lots of friends, I never had the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. Writing songs became the ultimate, only way for me to express my thoughts, my feelings, songwriting was my only friend. At first, I simply wrote songs for myself, to make it easier for me, but as years went by, a desire to support others like me who are struggling, who feel lonely and unloved, that desire transformed to the primary reason why I continued writing songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting always feels like healing. Besides, I always find myself exploring emotions, feelings from different points of view while writing songs, so it’s a process of maturing in a way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the song writing process is the first few words that appear to me. When I write them down, – doesn’t matter if it’s a verse, chorus or pre-chorus, bridge – I get this feeling of certainty, like I know that this song is eventually going to manifest itself, it always feels like a new beginning.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? If I’m being honest, it’s almost never the same process. Sometimes, I sit down by the piano and start improvising without a thought of writing a song, and it just happens. Sometimes, I write the lyrics down and the melody comes along. It’s hard to control, but it’s an extremely interesting process every time, as it is unpredictable. But recently, I found that “the spark” is simply related to the things that surround me and touch my heart. My songs are reflections of my most intimate feelings, reflections of me.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use anything too fancy, it was just a normal sunny day as I sat down by the piano in my parents’ house and played the E major chord. That’s how the song “Dimples” was born. Then I went one tone down and wrote “The Sound of Loneliness”, using the piano and writing the lyrics in my notebook.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Though there are many immensely talented artists, I do have one in mind. Tom Odell saved me countless times with his songs, he was the artist who influenced me to not be afraid of my creative authenticity, write songs that I feel connected to fully. I cannot express how grateful I am to Tom Odell for his works, so I would love to collaborate with him. Also, I’d like to mention late Jonghyun – a member of a group SHINee. His way of telling stories was immaculate, genuine, rare, so he will always be one of my most favourite artists and a dream impossible collaboration.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Don’t be afraid to try. I know, entering any competition is hard and it takes courage, there will always be doubts and anxiety, I had and still have them too, and it’s okay. But you will never know if you never try, and there’s always room for growth. As for the songwriting, – be your authentic self. No one can write songs the way you do, because nobody has the same perception of the world – we are all different. I think, putting your heart and soul into your songs is a way to show the world who you are, and the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition wants to see you for who you truly are.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really loved “Heroes Have Shadows Too” by Isaac Staines. I think, it is really powerful in a sense of emotion, as well as melody. He managed to tell a story of hurting in a way that listening to the song left me with a feeling of being strong rather than being broken.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The fact that the judges carefully listen to each artist, trying to see, feel and hear our stories. I am infinitely grateful for this opportunity and for the hard work of the judges.

SUNDAYS – LILY WELCH, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? As the new year started I began to make a new friend. I decided to write a song about how much we have in common with each other. The time we spend together makes all the stress in our lives go away for a few hours.

What got you into writing songs? I started off by writing poetry when I was younger. As I learned to play many musical instruments, I found my voice and began singing my original words. Songwriting continues to be my favorite thing in the world.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is so important to me because while being an introvert, with songwriting I am able to get all my words out and across to people. I want my words to be relatable and/or emotional for people. Songwriting is also essential in my life because it helps heal me from my anxiety.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? Definitely writing the lyrics. I think it’s so fun to incorporate unique and personal words to tell a story. The words come so easily to me and I love writing about my own personal experiences as a teenager.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? For me, it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes I will be eating at a restaurant or at school, and an idea for a song will just pop into my head. I take my time to write down words in my head and record a quick voice memo and end up going back to the idea later and working on it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Sylvan Esso, Matt Maeson, Billie Eilish, or Bon Iver.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Go for it! It’s so fun to enter a song as well as listen to all of the other entries!

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Oscar Meades. I think we write and sing the same style of music.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how it is open to such a wide age range. It gives so many kids an opportunity to gain recognition.

BIGGER & CALIFORNIA – ALLY CRIBB, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist songs? I was sitting at the piano in our cottage, in a tiny town in Eastern Canada when I wrote Bigger. I had been playing around with a few different chord progressions when I stumbled across the chords and was immediately hooked. I played the intro to the song and knew I had something special. In the next couple of days I drafted the first version of the song. I remember sitting there at the piano, thinking about my hopes, dreams, and everything I wanted my future to be. I love Bigger because it sounds like how that moment felt, staring out the window and thinking about all the possibilities of my future if my dreams were to come true.

What got you into writing songs? My dad is a musician with whom I would practice and play music growing up. He brought me up in a very musical home and I always looked up to him. I watched him play piano and saxophone in different bands when I was younger, I used to go to his shows. I quickly realized I wanted to experience the same feeling he got whenever I watched him play. I think in many ways, he influenced the way I write songs today and the attention I pay to detail in lyricism. He was the one who taught me that what makes a good songwriter is the ability to make every line as detailed as possible, while still finding a way to make the listener want to sing along. The listener should feel like they’re right there in the moment you’re describing. My dad is the one who inspired me to make music.

What does songwriting mean to you? I started writing my own songs at the age of 12. During the course of the pandemic, music has been my outlet and escape. Whenever I am going through something significant in my life, I turn to my piano or guitar and start sorting through feelings of confusion or frustration and finding the words and music to give them expression.The feeling I get after finishing a song I’m proud of is a feeling I’m always chasing. I love songwriting because it follows you everywhere. All I need to write something meaningful is a notepad and a guitar. I think there’s something really whimsical and special about that.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? One reason I love songwriting so much is because the creative process unfolds differently every time. Sometimes I start with music. I’ll stumble upon a chord progression I love or strum my guitar until a melody pops into my head that I really love. Other times, a lyric will pop into my head and I’ll immediately grab a napkin and a pen and write it down. I have a list of lyrics on my phone that’ll come to me in the middle of the day (most of the time when I’m in class). It’s so funny how the creative process works. There are days I’ll clear an afternoon in the hopes of writing a song or finishing up a couple of rough drafts, but nothing will come. I’ll just be staring at the piano for hours, unable to think of anything at all. And then there are days I’ll be sitting in the classroom, writing a test, and an idea I love will pop into my head and I know I need to write it down immediately or I’ll forget it. No two songs are written the exact same way, and you never know when creativity is going to strike.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Funnily enough, songwriting inspiration always hits at the strangest times, usually when I’m not trying to write a song at all. Whenever I go through something, it takes me a little while to process it and think it over before I’m able to sit down and write a song about it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My songwriting setup is always extremely basic. It usually consists only of my guitar or piano, a notepad and a pen. That was definitely the case for both Bigger and California. One reason I love playing the guitar is because you can pack it up and take it absolutely anywhere. When I first started writing California, I’d take my guitar down to the beach near our cottage. I think the setting really helped set the scene for the song in my mind, and allowed me to fall into this idea of a small-town love song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Definitely Taylor Swift. I’ve been the biggest fan of hers since I received her album, Speak Now, as a Christmas present from my dad when I was six years old. I’ve always admired her songwriting, and I tend to get a lot of ideas just by listening to her music.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to go for it. There is no downside to putting yourself out there and sharing your creation with others. Regardless of how far you get, you’ll always learn something new along the way and you’ll get good experience out of every songwriting competition you enter.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really love the song Sundays by Lily Welch and the song What If by Peter Pulst.

IN SPACE – ANTEA TURK, 13 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I am always fascinated with not giving up because you can achieve a lot by doing so. So I made a song to express my feelings about how other people can also achieve their goals by not giving up.

What got you into writing songs? I always love how artists can express themselves through music with their heart and soul. So I always wanted to do that in my own way.

What does songwriting mean to you? I feel so happy whenever I want to write a song, because of how free it can be when you want to express and inspire people from how you feel with words through a tune. I also like poetry and how it rhymes, so that also inspired me to make my words fun with different types of rhyming patterns.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love the chorus, because to me, there are so many possibilities to make it catchy and meaningful, since it’s usually the main part of the song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I would think about the special things that happened to me, or the meaningful things that I want to express to the public, that would make me excited to start the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My setup would be from a notepad in my workstation in a software app called Logic Pro.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream if I collaborated with the band QUEEN. I love their music, because of how they express themselves through a really catchy tune that people fell in love with.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would encourage them to participate. My tip for them is to prepare themselves better by listening to the previous years’ SAYS songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Lindsay Liebro, because of how passionate she sang her song, and how her song brings happiness.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it is very simple to enter, and that I am very happy to be selected in last year top 10 finalists!

CROSSROAD – MARTHE SKEIDE, 16 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was the many choices, decisions and challenges related to being young and growing up that inspired me to write this song. I wrote it with the message of inspiring and motivating myself as well as other youths to believe in themselves and their dreams.

What got you into writing songs? Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved singing! I also play a little piano and some guitar. When I was 13, I discovered that I liked writing my own songs and have been doing it ever since.

What does songwriting mean to you? Writing songs comes very naturally to me. It’s just something I have to do, and I think I will never stop doing it. It’s a way for me to channel my thoughts and feelings. I find it very beautiful that I can tell stories, convey messages and be creative when writing songs.

My favourite part of the songwriting process? I love the feeling of excitement that I get when I get a good idea for a melody or a lyric. My favourite part of the process is seeing these ideas coming together to a final product.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find the spark? I usually write songs spontaneously, cause I feel like that’s the best type of songs: the ones that comes naturally. To get started I often pick up my guitar or play some piano to get into the flow. Sometimes I can write songs in like 10 minutes, other times, the process last over a longer period of time.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Spontaneously and on a low budget I got to record my song in the studio with a music teacher at my music school.

Who would be your dream artist/band to collaborate with? Oh that’s an interesting question! There are so many talented singers and songwriters that I look up to: Alicia Keys, SKAAR, Sigrid, AURORA, Bon Iver, Highasakite, Anna of The North, Tom Odell and Adele, just to mention a few. It would have been a dream to collaborate with any of them.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 years who is thinking about entering the competition? Do you have any tips for them? I think that it’s a unique opportunity and I encourage all young songwriters to enter. Don’t be afraid of trying and believe in yourself. Do it for fun and the experience! :)

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition, who would you like to collaborate with? I’m impressed by all the good songs! I especially like the song “Sunday”, by Lily Welch.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young? I think it is a brilliant and unique platform for young songwriters to be heard and explored and I am very grateful to be selected as one of the top 30 in the competition.

FIVE FINGERS – MILAN BHATIA-GUERIN/THE CICADA, 17 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? This song as an individual unit wasn’t directly inspired to be created, rather it came about as part of a larger process. I was inspired to write an album examining the ins and outs of our brains, how we conceive death, how we deal with trauma, and the album that is formed around Five Fingers (the submitted song) tells a story about how three specific characters deal with it. This song in particular follows a sound that I’ve wanted to explore for a while: chaos. The total collapse of will is an interesting topic to think about, both lyrically and compositionally, and that’s mostly what drove me to include this part into the story.

What got you into writing songs? Originally, when I first began making my own music back in 2016, I would not have lyrics. I would slap on some improvised lines so there would be some sort of vocal layer on the tracks, but they never really meant anything. More recently, as my brain began to start… being bad, I looked to lyricism and song production as an outlet. My own inadequacies when it comes to communicating to the people around me fuel my need to write songs about things, not even just my own life, but just stories in general.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting to me is just life. I can’t have one without the other and still be human. It’s come to the point where I’m always actively thinking about my music and finding more inspiration to write more stories and try and escape my own body. Nothing compares to the transcendental experience of writing a song and then living in it. Songwriting has effectively replaced the bones that open and close my jaw, but in a less dramatic fashion than that.

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? My favorite part would probably just be figuring out what to write. When I’ve finally finished a large project, like I did just recently, there’s this sort of giddy freedom that follows suit quickly. There is quite literally an infinite source of music just waiting to be tapped into and that agency to just create is something that never gets old. Eventually, I settle on one topic that I expand upon, but the exploration up until that point is one of the most fun things I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Starting a song never starts with a lyrical process, that usually happens separately. The most important aspect of a song to me is the sound of it all. People will listen to an amazing sounding song with terrible lyrics but they usually wouldn’t listen to a terrible sounding song with amazing lyrics. Once I’ve found a chord progression, a synth, a rhythm, an interesting structure, or basically anything else that I like, I will shape lyrics around it. Eventually, the lyrics start taking the main stage and I finish the song’s aesthetic based off of where the lyrics go. Everything starts with a sound and then explodes outward from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My recording setup was all pretty basic. I have a Samson CO1 condenser microphone that I used for literally everything on this song, from my vocals to my friend’s vocals and viola. I use Logic Pro on my laptop (it’s a free trial, but I’ve been able to renew it indefinitely, so it’s basically like I own it at this point) to do all the recording and mixing, as well as the synthwork. I have a pretty crappy piano in my house but with enough layering and EQ it sounds good enough in the mix. The actual lyrics I think I finished on my phone in bed at 3AM, but I wrote them over the course of a couple weeks, working on a bunch of other songs simultaneously. Everything about the process was claustrophobic and fast, but it was exhilarating too.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? This is an incredibly tough decision, as I have so many different musical inspirations that picking just one is borderline impossible. Phil Elverum from The Microphones would be really cool, as would someone like Laurie Anderson, but I don’t know if they would be good to collaborate with. Honestly, I would probably want to do something with Swans, or at least just Michael Gira, since they have one of the wildest and most compelling sonic palates out there. This is a very difficult question.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the SAYS competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’m not very good at talking to people, especially words of encouragement, but honestly when it comes to songwriting I think the most important thing is to make sure that you like what you’re making. If you’re submitting a song and editing it furiously, just trying to appeal to the judges of some competition, you aren’t doing it right. If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re making, submit it and see how it does, because how other people will interpret it is out of your control. If you really love it, chances are there is someone else who will too, and you might also win a bunch of stuff so that’s an added bonus I guess.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I listened to some other songs from fellow songwriters, although I could not get to all of them. The ones that stood out to me were Lost by Monique Raso, Confession by Cinta Aurelee & Jessica Andrea, Boy by Summer Brennan, and Sundays by Lily Welch. I feel like writing a song with Summer Brennan would be fun, since I love their cadence and the contour of their vocals, as well as just the aesthetic of Boy as a song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? This whole contest is such an important concept just in general. I think that giving young people (especially while they’re still blossoming musically) the opportunity to be evaluated in their craft or even just to let their music be heard is a vital step to take. It’s a bit unfortunate that it doesn’t take production or orchestration into more of an account but to be fair it is a songwriting competition so that’s to be expected. I think organizations like this one are incredibly nice to have in this growing world of music.

BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN

What inspired you to write your finalist song? There was someone I knew, and we had grown apart. After seeing this significant change in our relationship and that person, I wanted to take time and reflect on how I felt.

What got you into writing songs? What got me into writing songs was the storytelling. I remember singing random things to myself in my room all the time and when I was about 12 years old, I realized that I found happiness in this creative outlet and haven’t stopped since.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means to be unapologetically expressive. Songwriting allows me to say anything I need to get off my chest. It is deeply personal and yet still relatable.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part of the process is when I am playing with colorful ways to tell a story. There is no feeling like finding that one line that comes out just the way you wanted it to! Honestly, that is like the most exciting part!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually find my spark by reflecting on past experiences or looking upon current events in society or in my life. I typically start a song by mumbling while I play the piano in my room. I know it sounds crazy, but it is very effective.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My set up was in my room with a pencil, keyboard, microphone and Logic Pro! That’s all you need!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would be Taylor Swift, Harry Styles or Stevie Nicks. They are all such unique writers, and they inspire me so much.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it? I was looking for songwriting contests online and found Song Academy. #SAYS22 was unique because it had an international category, and I was intrigued by the idea of being in a competition with talented teens worldwide. The judge panel is super impressive, and with Song Academy’s commitment to promoting young artists and their musicianship, I could only see the benefits in my entering.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to them that the way to stand out is to be authentically yourself. What makes your music yours. Don’t try and be someone else because it will show in your art. Of course, you can have your inspirations but let those influential artists morph you into something that can only be done by you. Don’t second guess yourself, just submit your song!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? One of my favorite entries from this year’s competition is Calista Harms. Her lyrics and vocal performance in Atomic Bombs are so intimate and gripping. I would love to co-write something with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that I can hear stories/songs from all over the world. These stories are so emotional and breathtaking, this is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. I am so grateful for the opportunities provided by Song Academy!

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN – CLARA FRANZ-ARAU

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote it a while ago when I had a really close relationship with a best friend who didn’t have the best intentions towards me and always ended up hurting me no matter how there for them I was.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve always loved making art in different ways and love applying my experiences into the art I make.

What does songwriting mean to you?   It’s a great outlet for emotions and a healthy way to express yourself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part is when I write lyrics that capture a situation or emotion perfectly as well as having musicality and a good flow.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Each song is different. Sometimes I start with a theme or a phrase and add chords and then finish the song and other times I make chords and a tune and lastly I add the lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I used a little story behind the song and how the topic of betrayal can be dark and gloomy that seems to lead to no answers. So, in my song I tried to convey the darkness of that feeling as well as wondering If that person will ever be a good person with morals.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to work with Paul McCartney. I love his music style and I have always loved the lyrics and musicality all his songs have.

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it?  My uncle, who is a musician, sent me an email saying It’d be a great opportunity to get used to people hearing my songs and getting feedback.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Do it! It’s a good way to get out of your shell if you have one and also beneficial to hear other people’s work to continue to be inspired.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I liked getting feedback and it’s a great way to not be so shy about sharing your music, at least for me it’s been help to step out of my comfort zone.

 

 

 

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’d just been kicked out of a band that I’d been playing Bass in for 2 years because I was doing well outside the band as a solo artist and I started to get more gigs and more of a following than them and they didn’t like that. I’d put a lot of time and effort into getting us better and better and I was quite hurt by that. I wrote this song mainly based on how people who are jealous of you often try to stop you from doing what you love and just having to turn your back on them and carry on.

What got you into writing songs? When I started playing guitar I guess I wanted to give everything a try so I did.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? Definitely when I’ve finished it and play it after because if it sounds great then the feeling you get makes you want to do it all again!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I get a riff that I like, think of a melody, hum along to it and then write words.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry.  I wrote it in my little songwriting book then put a tune to it on my guitar. I recorded it first and made my own mix using Soundcloud but then I went to a proper studio using the money I made from busking in Manchester.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love Johnny Marr so I’d like to collaborate with him. Other than that I like Blossoms, Sam Fender and the Courteeners.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it, you put your music on a bit of paper, then sing it and then share it with the world. Song Academy are amazing for running this competition which lets people like me share their music!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? DSWRV has got an amazing sound which is so cool. I also liked Meg Curl and her song. Lastly, Woody Collins has got some great effects to his song, sounds a bit like Bowie! I’d like to collaborate with all of them and lots of others in all the categories.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? When I gig or busk, I just enjoy meeting other musicians and hearing other original music. I like the Song Academy gives a chance to kids like me to share their music.

FOMO – HOLLY DAIS, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? ‘FOMO’ means ‘Fear Of Missing Out”. Starting secondary school was difficult. I didn’t say a proper goodbye to my primary school and I found myself in a place with lots of new people, who weren’t always kind. Being a young person in a world where everything is shared on social media makes it even harder, because it is so easy to feel left out. I wrote this song after I wasn’t invited to a sleepover and I saw it online. It made me really think about what I wanted from friendships and after writing the song I felt a lot stronger. I realised I had enough of toxic friendships and I decided that my happiness was down to me, not other people.

When I talked to other people, including adults I found out that lots of people feel the same as I did, worried about missing out on something, even if they don’t actually want to go!
Now I make the decision not to be on social media at all and I am not planning on having any social media accounts when I am legally able to on my next birthday. I want to live in the real world!

What got you into writing songs? During the first lockdown I learned how to play the piano using an app. In the second lockdown I started to pick out my own chords and tunes and I found that adding words to them came really naturally, before I knew what was happening, I realised I had written a song! After that, I couldn’t stop writing songs!

What does songwriting mean to you? Sometimes my head is full of feelings and worries and ideas. Songwriting gives me a way to get all of my thoughts out. A bit like writing a diary. Whether I am happy or sad, excited or scared once my feelings are made into a song I feel free.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I absolutely love every part of the process, from the initial chords and tune, to the words right through to the recording at the end.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? The spark is really like magic, I still don’t really understand how it works! If I am in the right frame of mind I just sit at the piano and I start playing around with chords and tunes. If it feels right then I start to hum a melody, imagining how the words will fit in. My mood usually leads the music; if I am angry, I might play a heavier tune, if I’m happy it might be more joyful. Once I am in ‘the zone’ the words flow, I scribble them down in my notebook and keep going over them until they are just right.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAY22 entry. I wrote FOMO on my own; just me and an electric piano. I worked throughout the summer holidays to earn enough money to spend a day in a recording studio. The recording studio is Momentum Studios run by Josiah J Manning, he produced the track and played the other instruments, whilst I played all piano parts and sang all lead and backing vocals.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My hero is Taylor Swift and I would love to meet her! I love how she tells stories in her songs, and how she shares her feelings and her life with her listeners. It is amazing how she started with Country and has moved into Pop. It seems there is nothing that she can’t do!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Go for it! What have you got to lose?

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? They are all so amazing! My favourites are ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Sambelle Prince, ‘Find A Place’ and by Nelly Rose Bingham and ‘Miracle’ by Georgia Taylor, I love the catchy tunes and stories.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? To me, the most wonderful thing about this competition is that real professional songwriters have taken the time to listen to and judge my song. They will know all the hard work that goes into writing a song. It is truly amazing that my song got picked against so many other incredible entries. Thank you SO much for this opportunity!

BUSTING THE HINGES – SPARROW DURHAM-LOVE, 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I got into writing songs quite recently when I came upon a video of the inspiring Grace Vandawaal. I was loved her uniqueness.

What got you into writing songs? Songwriting for me is about expressing to music what I see around me and what I feel.

What does songwriting mean to you? I was passionate to write my own song because a group of friends at school and I were entering this competition, but I felt that nobody was listening to my ideas, so I thought I would enter on my own!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I usually start with the words and then put music to it over a period of time.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would of course love to collaborate with Grace Vanderwaal but there are lots of other artists I would like to work with.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? My advice to anyone entering the competition would be do it you own way.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Uma Martin that is my favourite so far, I haven’t managed to listen to all of them YET!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the way it has inspired all aged children to write music, such a great idea!

SOMETHING BIG – LEANNE JOAN FERNANDES, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? When I composed this song, I was not aware about this competition. But when I found out about it, I knew my song was perfect for it. What inspired me was the great composers out there and I want to be something big just like them.

What got you into writing songs? I started by singing in the shower and said some random words and somehow formed a song. What really got me into songwriting is all the comments my family inspired me with. I used to and still do covers of other songs and usually send them to my family and hear the inspiring messages they send me.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means success to me because I feel I have the potential to write so many more songs in the future. It does let me express my thoughts and music always makes me happy.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite bit is coming up with the lyrics. The method I use is to first write the lyrics and then come up with the tune, jamming up with my older brother who accompanies me with harmony and joining me in playing the keyboard or guitar to add some beats to our songs done together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? To start the song, I come up with a set of lyrics and then record the composed tune I want. I first look for a topic to write on based on my thoughts and that is how I find the spark to my lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. This was the first song I composed and was not made for the entry but for fun. But when I learnt of this competition I decided to enter it as felt it matched the criteria. For the recording, my dad recorded it on my mum’s phone, my mum was cooking in the background and my brother joined in to sing the harmony and play the guitar while I was singing the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with is George Strait because he bases some of his songs on his life and that is what I did with ‘Something Big.’

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would tell them to keep going even if things don’t work out and I would also share my experience with them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I don’t have a favourite as many are nice, but I enjoyed Chloe Turner’s song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that you were able to help young songwriters to strive for success in writing songs and thank you for this opportunity. My mum also did mention about the academy having courses which is very good to get some guidance to learn and improve in songwriting.

SUNSET, SUNRISE – CHLOE TURNER, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I see the sunset and sunrise while walking to and from school

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always been into writing songs, I don’t know why but I do know that it’s a way I express myself

What does songwriting mean to you? Expressing feelings you have yourself or others may have.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When you are done and you have the best possible version of your song in front of you

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’ll be doing anything and a tune just forms out my mouth and suddenly I guess I’m singing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAY22 entry. I wrote the song on my messy desk throughout 2 days

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Probably Ariana Grande because she has got the sweetest voice ever.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? My tips would be to write from the heart to make the song really you and go over multiple times to improve on what you’ve done.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? FOMO – Holly Dais

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? it’s a very fun experience to write a song and to see my name and my song on the 30 finalists.

IN-BETWEEN – TIMI HUGHES, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? A girl in my form group at school randomly mentioned one morning that she still watches Peppa Pig when she’s bored. This got me thinking about all the things that I still like to do what are typically associated with younger children – such as reading Dr Seuss books and playing games like Hide and Seek. I thought it would be fun to write a song about turning 12 and how at that age we’re walking the middle ground between child and teenager. I used my friend’s line about still watching Peppa Pig as a basis for the chorus and built my song up from there.

What got you into writing songs? I first started composing songs during lockdown. One of my favourite lessons during homeschooling was when our music teacher asked us to record an audiobook and create the sound effects using things we had at home. I recorded myself reading the Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, experimented with different sound effects to bring the story to life, and then composed a theme tune to accompany the recording on my piano. It was so much fun! Before that, I’d only ever played other people’s music. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I just experimented with what I thought sounded good, and fortunately, it turned out ok.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love experimenting on my piano and coming up with my own ideas and tunes. I love the creativity involved, and I know that whenever I’ve had a bad day, I can sit at my piano and play. I’m the only musical person in my family, so fortunately there’s never any competition for the piano!  I love hearing it all come together at the end!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I find most of my inspiration comes from things other people have said – such as my friend at school saying she still watches Peppa Pig when she’s bored! I then try to turn that into a rhyme that I can later put to music. In this particular song, a small part of the melody for the chorus was actually inspired by the Peppa Pig theme tune – if you listen carefully to the line “still watch Peppa Pig when I’m bored” you can hopefully hear that it sounds a little like the second half of the Peppa Pig theme, albeit with a different rhythm and tempo.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the lyrics first and then just tinkered on the piano until I had a melody that I thought worked. I then recorded myself playing on the piano and singing using GarageBand on my computer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love musical theatre, so if he were still alive, then definitely Stephen Sondheim. I love how clever and poetic his lyrics are. I would also like to collaborate with Richie Webb, who composes all the songs for Horrible Histories. It’s my favourite TV programme and I’d absolutely love to write songs for a show like that.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it. I didn’t expect my song to make it into the finals, which just goes to show that we’re not always able to judge the quality of our own songs.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I absolutely love Twayn’s song “Sweet 16” in the 13-18 age category. It’s on a similar theme to mine in that my song is about being 12 and wondering what it’s like to be 16, whereas theirs is about actually being 16. But more than that, I just really like the song. The lead singer has got an amazing voice.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s such a great opportunity to have our songs listened to by people other than our friends and family! As I say, I didn’t expect to do very well in the competition and it’s an honour to have been chosen as a finalist, especially considering the quality of some of the other songs.

PATCH IT UP – ROMY, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote Patch it up because I wanted to tell a story about two people who are in a relationship. One wants to leave but is finding it hard because they still love the other person. I had a bunch of chords in my head that were really catchy and I came up with the words of the chorus quite quickly. I liked the idea of feeling heartbroken by a person, but that very same person was able to fix that broken heart, or ‘Patch it up’. I think a lot of relationships can be like this. My song is not a happy love song, but it’s also not about the end of a relationship. It sits firmly in the middle.

What got you into writing songs? When I was very young I had a little guitar and I used to make up songs. They probably didn’t really make any sense at all! One day, when I was 5, I asked my teacher if I could play one to her. I’d seen her singing and playing her guitar in an assembly and wanted to be able to do what she did. I guess she inspired me to play. After I’d learned to play the guitar properly I found it made things easier for me to write songs because the music and the words come to me often at the same time. I’ve written a lot of songs now and I enjoy performing them live.

What does songwriting mean to you? I’ve always enjoyed reading, and poetry, so when I write my songs I like to tell a story. Songwriting makes me feel happy! I love it when I play one of my songs and people ask me who wrote it? Who’s song it is. Today I went busking to raise money for a charity I support, I played ‘Patch it up’ and a young girl asked if it was a Taylor Swift song! That MADE my day! When I am singing my songs and performing, I feel like that’s the real me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finishing it and performing it! Some songs come to me very quickly, they just fall out of my head. I like performing my songs as I get a real buzz from that.

How do you usually start a song, How do you find that spark? Often I think of a catchy hook and then build the rest of the song around it. Other times I just have a bunch of chords in my head that are catchy and build a song around them. I know when my songs are catchy as I can hear my family walking around the house singing them! My brain is always in songwriting mode which can be exhausting at times. Words and music go around and around in my head. This can be really distracting and inconvenient. I have to write things down as soon as they come to me.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Just me and my guitar, I was 11 when I wrote this song and had been playing it for a while. Towards the end of last year I wanted to try and get some good recordings of some of my songs so that I could send them into the local radio station. So I went to a local recording studio. We recorded Patch it up live, in one take. I’d had a baseline in my head which I wanted to add and so Paul at the studio added that for me over my track.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with. Absolutely, top of my list would be Freddie Mercury and Queen because he was an amazing singer songwriter! His songs were all so different and unique, and he was an amazing performer! But in second place would be Ed Sheeran! But only because no one beats Freddie!
What made you enter #SAYS22 and how did you hear about it? My mum had seen it advertised on Facebook but was unsure whether it was genuine competition. But then my music teacher at school mentioned it to me and then we knew it was good to go! I’m so glad I entered now!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter competition next year? Definitely do it. If you’ve written a song and you like it, enter it…because you never know!

Who are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants, (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you collaborate with? Probably Uma Martin who wrote ‘Fried’ because I like how her song flows and my favourite line is ‘My brain is fried like a fried egg’. Also I liked the simplicity of the song, I liked her style and it reminded me of how I play my songs with just me and my guitar.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the idea that you are giving young people in music a chance to share their songs with people in the music industry.

TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’ve always loved everything about space since I was very young. The film Apollo 13, inspired me as it is such a great story. During lockdown I often used to go outside to see if we could see the ISS or just look at the night sky.

What got you into writing songs? I started playing guitar about 5 years ago and I loved writing little songs as well as learning other people’s songs and it felt natural playing around with different chords and shapes. Once I had a good base and a hook I just added, it either needed a melody or some words or both. I’ve been making up tunes since I was 3, although I don’t think I’ll be sharing those.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a great way to express creativity, you can let feelings or ideas come out that can’t be shown on paper.

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process? It can be quite frustrating trying to find the right word or the right chord, but it’s so satisfying when it all comes together – especially when you play it for somebody and they enjoy it.

How do you usually start a song? I usually start off with a chord progression or a lick. I will grow the song until I get it somewhere where it feel like it needs words. I’ve got lots of musical ideas that need words adding to them.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Take Me To The Stars was recorded using Garageband on my iPad in my bedroom. I used an iRig 2 to get my electric guitar signal into the iPad. We bought a cheap USB mic a while ago and that was used for the vocals. We had to pray that a car wouldn’t disrupt the guitar solo. Once everything was coming together I kept playing it through our stereo downstairs to check it sounded okay at a decent volume through better speakers.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with. I’d love to work with Brian May. I’ve been a massive Queen fan since I was small, and went to see Queen and Adam Lambert when I was 5. Of course, Brian is obsessed with Space too. Or James Taylor, he’s an absolute inspiration and I’m going to see him live in October.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter competition next year? Go for it as there’s nothing to lose. In terms of tips I always like to have the song almost finished before I start recording so I know where I’m going. Make sure you play it for other people and be ready to listen to what they think of it. It also really helps if you can play a little bit on another instrument – I play guitar, but I can play a little bit of keyboards and that really helps when you’re using things like Garageband.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants, (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you collaborate with? I really like Noah Robertson’s entry – On The Run. His guitar work is great and the song really fits together well.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The whole vibe of the competition is that it celebrates songwriting as a craft – even though it’s a competition it doesn’t feel like one , more a celebration of a common skill. It’s also great that it’s judged by people who write great songs and really understand the industry.

FRIED – UMA MARTIN, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I just felt the need to write about mental health. It’s a serious issue and must be addressed. I imagine stress and anxiety, especially in big, busy cities like New York can build up, escalate and eventually run you down.

What got you into writing songs? A songwriting class in school 2 years ago started it all but I haven’t stopped writing since.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s an opportunity for me to voice my thoughts, share my feelings and tell stories.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When the chords and the lyrics come together and create something special and meaningful to me.

How do you usually start a song? I just start playing different chords on my ukulele. How do you find that spark? I find the spark in the poems I write and the places I visit.

Describe your set up that you used to write your SAYS22 entry. In my room, just me and my ukulele.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo, Gracie Abrams, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Give it a shot! It’s a good opportunity to show your songwriting skills and creativity plus you get to know more about yourself in the process. Do you have any tips for them? Write about things you know, about things you find interesting and things you want people to talk about.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? I really enjoyed listening to Leona Mae’s Sold The Story and Cinta Aurelee’s Daisy

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you like to collaborate with? I’d like to collaborate with Leona Mae (Sold the Story), Max Kenworthy (Don’t Leave Me Now) and John Denton (Anthem X). If I could collaborate with a former SAYS Finalist, I’d love to work with Lexie Carroll.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s a good platform for young songwriters like me to express ourselves and see how far we could go with our music. I also like that we are able to listen to the work of other songwriters our age and learn from them.

SPARK – ISLA HANNETT, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write Spark because songwriting is deep in my heart and a big part of my life. I wanted to express how it made me feel, the good and the bad parts of writing music and the emotional rollercoaster I can sometimes go on when getting my feelings down on paper. By personifying it means it is also relatable to others.

What got you into writing song? I would sing little melodies around the house and then one day I thought for fun I would sit at my piano and write a song. I guess since then writing songs has become part of me and I find it helps me through difficult times and allows me to celebrate the good.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means a lot to me – in fact I don’t know what I would do without being able to
get my thoughts out and my feelings down on paper and heard through melodies.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love to see how my thoughts and feelings sound, through the melodies, words and instruments. I find the production part extremely fun layering up all the instruments and seeing my songs come to life.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually have a strong feeling about something in my life or in the world that I want to express or explore and that begins the process of songwriting for me. As soon as I hear a
melody on the piano I feel excited and it flows from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. It always starts at my piano, I will play around with chord progressions and see what works, the rhythm usually comes from the wording and together I blend the two. I then record into Soundtrap with the piano first, followed by my vocals and continue to develop the production from there.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Olivia Rodrigo

What made you enter #SAYS22? How did you hear about it?  I heard about the competition last year through The Week and enjoyed entering so much that I wanted to be part of it again. I also joined Song Academy and have been enjoying
developing my songwriting skills.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Give it a go! Write from the heart, be genuine, don’t just write lines that rhyme to fit a melody make them mean something to you and others.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed Uma Martins song, Fried, she is extremely talented, her song is catchy, quirky and I think I would really enjoy working with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love it all. The experience from start to finish, the achievement you feel, the excitement knowing your song has been enjoyed by others and being able to listen to other artists and learn from them. Thank you for recognising my song and giving me the chance to progress to the next stage of the competition, it really means a lot to me.

LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH & BROTHERS, 8, 10 & 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Siblings often make music and sing together organically, one day Matthew played the tune and then everyone started singing along, and then decided to write it properly. Cousin’s grandma passed away and Cousin’s mum said the song blessed her.

What got you into writing songs? During COVID, Matthew wanted to learn Happier, Oliver already knew how to play drums so then they became a band and started writing songs after that. They presented their songs to their parents, and they recorded it and sent it to family and friends.

What does song writing mean to you? It is very important to write the thoughts that come to you and it can help other people when they’re feeling sad, or even yourself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Playing through the song together.

How do you usually start writing a song? How do you find that spark? In the living room, playing random tunes, finding a beat that works on the drums and singing along. A natural process.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Keyboard, drums and a singer, wrote the lyrics on an iPad. Recorded the first draft on dad’s phone and the submitted version on a portable audio recorder at school.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Stormzy, Travis Greene for gospel songs, Anne-Marie from The Voice Kids, Santan Dave, Ed Sheeran and Marshmello.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I say go for it, when it comes to writing the song, write whatever comes to your mind, write it on a piece of paper, improvise.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Sambelle Prince, Sisi and Leona Mae.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It gives people a chance to show their abilities in music and song writing.

OPPOSITE WAY – MAYA HELON, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? When I first heard about the competition, I was keen to start the process and as soon as I put pen to paper, I could feel the creative momentum start to take over. I am a firm believer that music has the power to change someone’s life and what better way to contribute through telling my story and perhaps influencing someone for the better.

What got you into writing songs? I grew up in a very happy home and as a toddler I recall that my family were always listening to various genres in the house. This inspired me rhythmically and melodically. I would often dance around the house singing songs in Polish entertaining my Mom and Dad. This stirred an excitement in me to try my hand at telling stories through songwriting.

What does songwriting mean to you? Music is freeing in itself and songwriting gives me the opportunity to delve deeper into my own emotions without holding back. It is very therapeutic.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really enjoy writing in metaphors. Being able to tell a story without using too many literal references is where I find the most creativity.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’ll often look around me. Sometimes everyday objects can inspire the most intricate lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I sat in a quiet room by an open window. I had my recording device (phone), my songwriting book and my singing coach accompanied me on acoustic guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift, Tom Odell, Ariana Grande and Sia.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Just go for it! Don’t hold back. There are so many things you can do and to have an opportunity such as this will only elevate you to become more of who you know yourself to be!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really enjoyed listening to Boy by Summer Brennan as I could really tell that she had control over her voice and had lots of tonality. It inspires me to try and focus on how it could affect my singing if I controlled my voice a little more just like Summer. I also enjoyed listening to Atomic Bomb by Calista Harms as I liked the tonality in her voice and I think it would be intresting to see how both of our voices sound together as I see a few similarites within style and how we perform. I also believe that even our differences can affect our ideas and create something that people would love to listen to.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It is inclusive to anyone who thinks they show potential in writing songs.

SET THE WORLD ON FIRE – RUBY MULHOLLAND, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I decided to write this song when I was in Primary Seven because I was getting ready to move on to secondary school. My sister Molly and I worked on the melody together and she helped me to perfect the lyrics. My sister had a quotation from Saint Catherine of Siena in her school RE book ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire’. We really liked that quotation and used it as the title.

What got you into writing songs? My sister and I both play guitar and I love singing. A few years ago, I got a new notebook for Christmas and I sat down to write a story, but it sounded better as a song. I came up with a melody and my Uncle encouraged me to enter the song into Song Academy 2020. I was delighted to make it through to the final 10. This has inspired me to try and write some more.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a way to express my thoughts and feelings.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love creating a really strong chorus.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It depends. Sometimes it starts with a melody. Or I think about something sad or happy in my life and put it into words. I always research famous quotations to inspire me.

Describe your set-up that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My daddy set up the guitar for my sister, the amp and mics in my living room. I sang, Molly played guitar and accompanied me on vocals. Mummy recorded it on her phone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I love Anne-Marie and Ed Sheeran. I also love a great band from Northern Ireland called Dea Matrona.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say, “just do it!” If you have written a song, it is a good idea to let people hear it and you never know what it could lead to!

Which other finalists would you like to collaborate with? Conor Marcus, because he is also from Northern Ireland and has entered songs over the last few years.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives young songwriters the chance to have famous songwriters listen to their music!

FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES, 9 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My life… I wanted to make a song about some of the things that I do everyday.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve loved music my whole life and last year when I was 8, I decided I wanted to start writing my own songs. This was after I met my neighbour Helen who overheard me singing last August. She’s a record producer and we first off did a Christmas cover and I was on the radio which was fun and then Helen asked if I’d ever thought about writing my own songs and I had a go. Frankie in the House is my first song. So it’s extra exciting to be a finalist.

What does songwriting mean to you? I don’t think it will be my job, I find it fun. If I’m older and I make songs and I am not famous I don’t really care, it’s for fun really.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is the lyrics, I really like making up lyrics. When I was thinking of writing something I knew it didn’t all need to rhyme, but that it would be good if some of it did. And then I wanted to repeat some of the phrases so the song was easier to remember and more catchy. The music came after, when I was in the studio and I really liked picking the different loops we used for the backing.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’d been thinking about what I could write a song about and I wanted it to be about my life. It’s at the back of my mind all the time now and I have a lyric book to write my ideas down. At first I was nervous about writing words in case they weren’t any good then I was encouraged to just write anything and see what could be done with it. Which is what happened. I had the verse and the pre chorus when I went round to Helen’s and something she said made me come up with the chorus. It was all very quick.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote down some words and then went over the road to Helen, and sang them to her. We only recorded the track once, and that was because Helen had set up the mic when I sang her the idea I had. She then had to work out the key and the beats per minute so we could add a backing. Which she helped me to do using Logic on her computer. There’s been no actual musical instruments used so far.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Definitely Ariana Grande.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? They should go for it, if they want to do it. No pressure if they don’t. If you think you’ve got a good song, you’ll know because you’ll vibe to it. Not be bored by it. As soon as I made my song I sent it to my friends and they all said it was amazing, that’s why I entered because Helen said it would be a good idea and my friends gave me confidence. But it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks really. You won’t know if you don’t try. And I was amazed to get into the finals. And now I want to do more.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? There were some great tracks and I listened to all the others in my category as I feel that it would be best to collaborate with someone around my own age. So these three artists were my favourites, Miracle by Georgia Taylor, Turn Back Time by Sylvie Hammersley-Fox and FOMO by Holly Dais.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like it because I know the people that are judging have written the lyrics of very famous songs that I love listening to. Just knowing they’re listening to my song is amazing. When we got the email I couldn’t believe it, I genuinely didn’t think I’d make it into the top 30. I didn’t even think I’d make it into the top 50! I am really happy about it.

PARADISE FALLS – FINN CRABTREE, 9 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I watched a bird fly past my window while making my song and I thought of an eagle flying over a mountain, so I thought of beautiful places like the mountains and a waterfall, and I thought picking (a technique on guitar) would be good to describe the water drops falling.

What got you into writing songs? I listen to songs anywhere normally and then one day I thought why can’t I be like them, writing songs? So, using my guitar skills I started to write my first song and then it turned out so well that I kept on making them.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a lot to me, and it gives me a place to relax and feel the music.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really like the lyrics because with notes or chords you cant’ bulk the song without description, so I like to be creative and come up with words that will fascinate people.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? You would think of what you want it to be like and you would keep throwing ideas at your page until you find something interesting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Holding my guitar on my bed and in front of me was a window and I wrote the lyrics on the windowsill with a pencil and paper.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Foofighters!! Because their music has a vast variety of music styles which I can get inspiration for my songs.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Give it a try! Not only you might win something, but it opens your musical taste, and you can build up to a potential music career. If one of your songs gets stuck in people’s heads it shows that it’s catchy and the judges might like it

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite song from the thirty finalists was Anthem X and I want to collaborate with John Dennon.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how it’s a way of putting your songs worldwide and to have fun.

FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES (CAROLINA AND NATALIA), 10 & 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We were inspired by hearing female songs, we then realised that all of the songs that women are in there view. Therefore we wanted to try writing in a different mindset (the view of a boy) whilst creating our song.

What got you into writing songs? Hearing songs on the radio inspired us, for we love having the joy of dancing to music and we wanted to create that joy in someone else’s life.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means to us that we can talk about important issues or current affairs in a way that is joyous and has a way of catching people thoughts.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Our favourite part is joining the lyrics to the melody. When this is done we can see our song unfold and all our hard work goes into play.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually start a song by finding a theme of the words which then switches on our brains to our own opinions and thoughts. We then add a catchy melody and fierce high notes to really secure the balance of quality and the important message.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We spread out what we had to do in a course of days. Each day we made more and more progress focusing n different things each time. When we were in the end we were happy of hour achievement and the image of our song was going to create.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Our favoUrite artist to collaborate with would be Camilla Cabello for the songs she sings are based on every day problems which we are trying to accomplish. She also had a particularly hard life before she was famous however she still came out on top.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? We would definitely tell them to try, good talent shouldn’t go to waste. If they love to sing and dance even just instrumental talent the competition is a great way for them to express themselves in a friendly way. Our tip would be to always have someone there for support and don’t be afraid to try, if you don’t life wouldn’t be as exciting.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? If we could our favorite artist to pick it would have to be the song don’t leave me from Max Kenworthy. This is for the song is upbeat and really just wants to make us dance. Her voice is incredible and her song has deep meaning. We would definitely love to collaborate with him.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? We like that it encourages to express ourselves where there is no pressure and we can do what we believe. I love that anyone can enter and the competition is completely fair.

DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – MAX KENWORTHY, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I had been listening to a lot of songs and decided to write something in this style. I noticed that lots of songs are written about a break up so I decided the lyrics would be based on that.

What got you into writing songs? I started when I was eight and was doing a songwriting club at school. I was really inspired and decided to start writing songs at home.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is for me a way of expressing how I feel without saying it and I love the variety of sounds on offer.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is producing my vocals and programming and creating sounds.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start a song with a chord progression either on piano or guitar and then improvise melodies until I find one I like.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My setup is a Mac running Logic, an old Korg N 5 synthesiser, an AKAI MPD218 ( a birthday present) and a shure SM7B microphone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would be Charlie Puth because his songs are very creative and I love the way he talks about songwriting on TikTok and YouTube.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to anyone thinking of entering next year that it’s a really good experience and you get helpful feedback on the song. There is also some publicity with being a finalist. A top tip would be to write loads of songs in different styles.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I enjoyed listening to many of the other songs. I thought Spark by Isla Hannett was very good and stood out.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The competition is well organised and it’s good that they don’t focus on production but also focus on the actual song.

OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? After missing the deadline last year and loving singing I wanted a challenge

What got you into writing songs? I started loving music in general and wanted to try and make my own songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s a way to express yourself with no rules.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? When an idea or word pops into my head and when I finish the song and get to sing it through.

How do you usually start a song ? How do you find that spark? I find a theme and usually establish a chorus, which is normally at the start of the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I found a bench at school lunchtime and started writing the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My favourite writer is Taylor Swift because of her inspiring lyrics but since my voice is a similar style I would want to vary it and introduce a rapper to my songs like Lizzo

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? You should just go for it because it’s a fun challenge which stretches you.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? After listening to them I really like Nelly Bingham’s song and would love to sing with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how it’s got a large age range so lots of people can take part in it. Also its reminded me how much I love singing.

YOU NEVER LISTENED – MARTHA & THOMMY BAILEY VINE, 8 & 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Martha: Thommy sat at the piano and started playing a chord sequence that I liked the sound of, so I started singing with it.

What got you into writing songs? Thommy: I like playing guitar and piano and have a passion for singing, so it seemed like the next natural step!

What does songwriting mean to you? Martha: It means I can tell stories in a song. Thommy: It means expressing my love for music and creating stuff.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Martha: Belting my voice out. Thommy: Recording the different tracks and building the song up.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Thommy: I usually start by playing piano or guitar. When I need to find something to do I start a song! Martha: I start by singing a verse and writing it down. I start with a story.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Thommy on piano and Martha singing.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Martha: Taylor Swift!! Thommy: Ed Sheeran or Olly Murs

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Martha: Just go for it! Thommy: Believe in yourself; no matter where you get in the competition, you’re still amazing and I hope you do well.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Martha: Sparrow Durham-Love. Thommy: Holly Dais

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Thommy: It’s an opportunity for young people to show their emotions and ability, and I like listening to other entries because everyone is unique and special. Martha: I like that other people can listen to our song.

MIRACLE – GEORGIA TAYLOR, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  What inspired me to write Miracle was that during lockdown my Mum was vulnerable, and I was worried about her getting very ill. I prayed that she wouldn’t get sick. I believe that someone was looking down on us, saw we were struggling and protected us.

What got you into writing songs?  Since I was very young, probably around 4 onwards I was constantly singing around the house. At 7 I got my digital piano and I realised I connected with singing and writing songs straight away. I have since become determined to be a singer/songwriter.

What does song writing mean to you?  As you grow up you start to feel lots of emotions, some you don‘t understand and song writing helps me feel better about how I’m feeling.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really enjoy finding the perfect chords, I’m also constantly writing ideas and lyrics down in my song writing journal.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I experiment with chords and different melodies on the piano and then the tune starts to come into my head and I start humming it, it then quickly builds from there. I can lose myself for hours creating and experimenting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. Just me, my digital piano and a voice recording app on an iPhone.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I really like Taylor Swift and Adele as their music expresses their emotions and it’s clear what they are feeling when they wrote the song.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  You only have one life, live it to the fullest and just keep dreaming. Don’t be afraid.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I love songs where you can feel the emotion coming through and two songs that do that are FOMO by Holly Dais and Beautiful Stranger by Sambelle Prince.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s open to everyone, it really shows how much talent there is and this allows them to have the spotlight and shine

FIRE HEART – MIDNIGHT STARZ, 10 & 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We were inspired by our emotions and how we can deal with them and trust ourselves to do the right thing and control it, instead of bursting out, and possibly hurting somebody else’s feelings.

What got you into writing songs? We are from Latymer Prep School and when we found out about this song writing competition, we thought it would be very fun and interesting to try. We also love listening to songs and enjoying music so we just wanted to make a song that put a message across to the audience.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to express yourself (and your friends that you are doing it with) and tell others about your feelings, thoughts etc… We find that songwriting is an easier way to tell somebody what you are thinking or feeling rather than just talking because you don’t just have to say it blankly, you can say it metaphorically

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Our favourite part of songwriting is the finished product – when we get to sing it at the end – record it with mics – it is so fun! We also liked consulting with each other and communicating about the lyrics and how it should be sung.

How do you usually start a song? We start by thinking about what subject we want to talk about, and then we plan out the verses and choruses and see how many we are going to need. Then we start thinking about the words (we like them to rhyme) and start to think about the tune that might match the mood of the song.  How do you find that spark? We think about what we may be feeling or thinking or a message that we strongly want to get across to people and then modify it down to words that we can put in the verses and chorus.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We were in the school music studio which was quite noisy with everyone else doing their songs. It probably would have been better in a quieter space but we tried our best to make the best of it. Sometimes we went outside to practice quietly without interruptions.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would say to just trust yourself and even if you feel like you can’t think of anything, just have a go. We had absolutely no clue of what to do, but we just thought of something that mattered to us and it became more and more easy to think of ideas and words. Go for it and don’t give up!  Do you have any tips for them? Don’t give up but don’t worry if anything goes wrong – you can always fix it. Have a good go at it. Make sure you use all of your group’s skills – if somebody is better at something then they should do that – play to your strengths. You can use this as a chance to improve your creative skills too! Most importantly, try your best and remember you’re doing this for fun!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Sambelle Prince, Cookie Monsters and Ruby Mulholland

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? 5 X Wild

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? We like how anyone can take part, because it is very inclusive. And anybody over 8 yrs old can join and it is really fun! The competition encourages us to use our imagination and creativity to make the best song possible. It is an opportunity to spend time with other people and discover new ideas! And of course you can enjoy jamming with your friends and altogether having a fantastic time!

TURN BACK TIME – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write my song by the experience of losing friends in the transition from Primary to Secondary school.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been writing songs since the beginning of Lockdown – when I was about 9. At that time, songwriting helped to keep me entertained and made sense of the emotions I was feeling.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting helps me to deal with the stresses of life. It makes me feel relieved and relaxed. Without it I would feel trapped. Songwriting allows my emotions to come out.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love it when an idea, lyrics and music come together. Sometimes this happens several times during the song-writing process for example when a single verse is completed and then right at the end when the whole song is finished.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I can’t be forced to write a song. Something has to trigger an idea such as a particular feeling or experience. If I’m doing an activity that I don’t have to think about – such as walking or skiing – songs just come into my head because there is space in my mind.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. My entry was written in my kitchen at home on my own. I was sitting at the piano with my book where I write my songs.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? For song writing, my dream collaborators would be: Cat Burns, Claire Rosinkranz or Olivia Rodrigo.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? If the entrant has written multiple songs, I would advise them to play through all of their songs, record them, listen back, maybe play them to family and friends to get other opinions but then go with their own gut feeling. Don’t listen too much to other people! Once a song has been chosen, explore the lyrics and check that they are exactly how you want them to be. Be prepared to adapt the lyrics – especially if you wrote the song a while ago.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite entries from the 8-12 category are: ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Sambelle Prince, ‘Find a Place’ by Nelly Bingham, ‘Fried’ by Uma Martin and ‘Our Secret Heaven’ by Greta Kill. I would happily collaborate with all of these singers.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the big age range from 8-18 – it’s really inclusive. I also like the way you can listen to all of the other entries – it’s inspiring. Finally, I like the way anyone can enter.

FREE – JOHNNY BEAU, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I thought about the idea for this song when I went wild camping with my grandma! I like the idea that when you are on your own you can be whoever you want to be and I thought of the line – ‘don’t be afraid to be free’.

What got you into writing songs? I started to write songs when I was about 9. I preferred making my own stuff up as I found it really hard to learn to read music.

What does songwriting mean to you? It’s just how I can express myself. Also, I have some friends that I jam with every week and we share ideas and it’s a great way of spending time.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finding that perfect chord that matches the meaning of the word.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with chord progressions. My lyrics come to my mind all the time. There’s lots of bits of paper in my room full of random ideas.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I usually write songs at the piano but this was the first one I did with guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? It’s so fun to hear all the other songs from others entrants and get inspired by them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I liked the song turn back time- I liked the way she used her voice.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? For me the highlight was playing at the showcase last year it was an amazing event.

WHAT COOKIES MEAN TO ME – GLEBE ACADENT YEAR 3 COOKIE MONSTERS

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Because we all like cookies and we thought, why not write a song about cookies?

What got you into writing songs? Listening to songs that we like, and our music teacher Mr Brom who is always making up songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means fun, epic-ness, joy, inspiration and excitement.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Making up the chords and words, and singing it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? By listening to music that we like and making up our own version of it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. We brainstormed our lyrics on whiteboards, and then tried out chords on the ukulele until we found something we liked the sound of, then sang our words over the top.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jason Derulo, Arianna Grande, Becky Hill, Ava Max, Lady Gaga, Mark Feehily, Beyonce, Billie Eilish and the football players Ronaldo and Lewandowski.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Write about something that inspires you. Think about your favourite things and write about them.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We liked the other Year 3 song about ‘Money Isn’t Everything’.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It was fun! Thank you for the opportunity.

MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was sitting in a very boring English class and all of a sudden the words “dream” and “fate” came up into my mind. I started thinking about “living up to one’s dreams” and about “expectations in life” and that was the beginning of my song…

What got you into writing songs?  Honestly I was kind of forced into it at first as my mum made me try it at 7 years old but now I feel like song writing is something I will do myself, it doesn’t feel like a burden.

What does song writing mean to you?  It feels like a way to escape because you can say whatever you want and it feels amazing when you get a good rhyme.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Writing the lyrics is my favourite part and kind of the thing that gets me started at first which is weird because many people prefer to start with a melody…

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with a couple of words, then I come up with a melody for those and try to make them rhyme together and fit well as if they are not forced.

Describe your setup that you used for #SAYS22 entry?  I used our basement floor because not many people go there and I needed a place where I could listen and not be disturbed.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would really like to collab with lil baby because he’s probably the best rapper right now and makes some really good lyrics or maybe iann dior because he has a bit more of a melody and sings a bit more and has done collabs with MGK but collaborating with lil tjay and polo g would also be cool.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Writer Competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I say just do it, it might feel hard at first but once you get into that rhythm it becomes something you want to do. A tip is just you can do anything you want. Now I feel like song writing is a thing I want to do and I want to come up with these lyrics and melody, I want to finish this song.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants would you like to collaborate with?   Find You – by Fire Flies; Cool song. The two voices sound almost sad but the chords sound bright and happy!

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER – SAMBELLE PRINCE

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My family

What got you into writing songs? I had already loved to sing but when I heard about being able to write my very own songs, I was immediately intrigued.

What does songwriting mean to you? To me, song writing means letting your imagination take control.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is coming up with the topic to write about.

How do you usually start a song? I usually start a song by thinking about things I have experienced or things that are personal to me and use that as my topic. How do you find that spark? I find that spark by just writing down my thoughts and turning them into lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote it from home

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would collaborate with Olivia Rodrigo or BTS.

What made you enter #SAYS22? I wanted to challenge myself and see how far my songs could take me. How did you hear about it? I actually heard about it from the song academy and then told my mom I wanted to sign up.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would tell them to definitely have a go and try it out. Do you have any tips for them? I would say to follow your heart and to have fun with writing the lyrics.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the fact that even if you don’t win, they help you stand back up again and keep going until you reach your goals.

 

 

 

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 850 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.

We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.  We’ll add more Q&As as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

PERSEVERANCE – GIOELE UBEZIO, 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song in a moment of great sadness that I don’t know where it came from, but I knew that I couldn’t let myself go to sadness, that I had to try to be happy. I often play in moments of reflection, playing whatever I feel in my head is something I often do and it helps me to find calm within myself.

What got you into writing songs? This is the first sung song I’ve written, the others were all just piano compositions.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? What I like most about writing music is hearing new, original musical melodies that leave something in the hearts of the people who hear them.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I always start by doing the technical exercises that my teacher gives me, then I get bored and change direction…

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I only used the piano and my voice to write this song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would like to play and meet Steven Tyler, whom I always admire and listen to.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I would like to tell the other children that making your music known is very important because it enriches your soul with all the feelings that others feel when they listen to you.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the seriousness of this competition and the fact that it recognises that even a small child like me has something to tell in music.

HOLIDAY CHEER – ALEXIS & LAUREN ROLEY & THE KOUZINS, 8 & 10 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I love Christmas and being around my family. I wanted to write a song about being together and how happy I am with them at Christmastime.

What got you into writing songs? It is easy for me to put my problems and what I am thinking about onto paper. Writing songs helps me deal with my problems and worries, and it lets me express how I am feeling.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means everything to me. It allows me to express what I feel so it means a lot.

What is your favorite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part is seeing my thoughts on paper.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually think about what I want to write about (from a feeling or an experience), and then I write down the title of the song first. After I have the title, I start writing down the words that come to me. I usually find that spark from an experience I have.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I am usually in my room and I write in my song book journal (where I compile all my songs). After I have all of the words written, I sing the notes/melody (how I want the song to sound) to my grandpa. Then he puts everything into his music program.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It would be a dream to work with Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to anyone thinking about entering the competition next year is to enjoy the process and do the best you can. Have fun with it!

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finlast) would you like to collaborate with? “On the Run” by Noah Robertson and “Anywhere” by Austin Bruford are some of my favorite entries this year. It would be fun to collaborate with Ilah Gardiner because I like her voice and the message of the song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it gives me a chance to show others about the message I have to tell.

RISING FROM THE FIRE – ILAH GARDINER, 12 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My song was inspired by being in a toxic friendship and how much emotional impact it can have on young people. Rising from the fire was a song I wanted to help empower people in the same situation to get back up and recognise that they are not alone.

What got you into writing songs? Many things actually. My dad used to be in a band when I was younger, so I was exposed to a lot of the music atmosphere. I think after listening to other songs that made me feel a certain way and how many people they can empower people, I wanted to do the same. Once I picked up a guitar and collaborated with my voice, I knew this is what I wanted to do!

What does song writing mean to you? Song writing means a chance for me to express myself and be heard. It also gives me the chance to help and connect with people. The magic that song writing brings has always meant so much to me. And has made me want to pursue my dream as a songwriter to bring that same magic!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part would be realising you have something. Sometimes you work on multiple songs at once and only come out with one in the end. In the early days of writing a song, which is just me sitting and strumming my guitar, singing, when you realise you have potential for your song it is the greatest feeling! It is like the scaffolding of the song!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Many ways. I like to take a problem that is happening and put what is going on into lyrics. Other times I might just have a trigger, which can be a word or phrase e.c.t, that I feel has the potential of being cooperated into a song. Most of the time though it starts with a riff on my guitar. Then I come back to that riff when I feel I have found the lyrics for that riff!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I didn’t use much really! For my D.A.W (Digital Audio Workstation) I just used GarageBand. It had everything I needed! I could just use the built-in microphone on a computer and still get the sound I wanted! And I used my Michael Kelly guitar!

Who would your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Woah,the possibilities!!! Definitely Birdy as I adore the music she writes. When I was little (4 or 5) I got one of her albums for Xmas, inside the album was written ‘Keep trying and one day you will be like Birdy’. I hope one day I can be! But then I would love to collaborate with Amy Wadge as she is an awesome songwriter and has actually written for Birdy! But then I love Florence & the Machine, City & Colour, Queen and many more!!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Song Writers competition next year? What have you got to lose? If you are looking for a way to express yourself and for your music to be heard this is your competition! You have to start somewhere!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who you like to collaborate with? Probably Elle Longstaff? I love her voice. There is so many people to choose from!!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Song Writers competition? I love how its aim is to get young people to express themselves through music and creates an environment for that as it is quite hard to find. The encouragement is awesome!!

I WISH, I DREAM – TAMARA YASIN, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I have been deeply disappointed by the news on the TV about what happening with the war between Russia and Ukraine. I knew that if I couldn’t help physically, but I should help spiritually. Of course, donating to Ukraine would be great, but also showing people of Ukraine that all of us care would be important. So, I wrote this song to help all of us see that instead of war should be peace and harmony and love should always conquer hate. I hope that this song will bring awareness that even young people care about current situation and praying for peace in the world. The bridge in my song is stating “Humans! Peace is in YOUR hands!” Honestly, I wanted to write “Putin!…’, but it would be too political and not poetical.

What got you into writing songs? Writing songs is like saying a poem but doing it while singing. In songs you can say things that you want to say but in a rhythmic and lyrical way. After a songwriting camp I decided, I should start writing songs, and now I love it!

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is like a paragraph from an essay but includes singing and expressing the paragraph in a way that you can’t say it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is when I say, “ I’m done!” And then five minutes later I’m writing a whole new verse because it didn’t sound right.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Songs for me just pop out at any moment and …Bam, I am scribbling words on a piece of paper. Most of the time the spark comes from the tune that I am humming. I usually get ideas for a song when I am playing the piano or watching the news or even eating dinner!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Arianna DeBose because she is a great singer and dancer, and she was outstanding for her performance for the West Side Story and in many other of her hits!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say “Remember this is all about you, not me or your mom or whoever else. This is art and art are unpredictable, creative, and very fascinating thing. Express your emotions in your songs, and don’t get sad if you ever lose or not get an award. The future has many more opportunities!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really like songs by DEVY, it would be cool to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that I have a chance to share my songs with not only my friends and family but the whole world!

ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I love playing guitar and writing songs. But, it’s hard to write songs when you are just 11 or 12yrs old as you haven’t really had any heartbreaks or anything yet! So this song I decided to write from someone else’s perspective. Someone has done something wrong and they are on the run! They are looking for forgiveness but feel they can’t go back.

What got you into writing songs? I guess playing covers is where everyone starts and then you kind of figure out your own style and you want to write your own music and words to create something original and different. Also having a reason to write a song or a story to tell makes the process a bit more meaningful and a lot easier.

What does songwriting mean to you? I just love being able to create a story through music and song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really like the musicality side of songwriting. Once I’m feeling a certain melody or creating a certain feel on the guitar the words come along and are in flow with the feeling of the music I’m experimenting with.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I spend a lot of time playing guitar. I really like coming up with melodies first, playing some cool riffs and then I wrap some words around it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I just have a notebook and pencil with me when I’m writing songs. I’m really lucky, my parents built me a little space (a studio of my own) so I have my guitars and amps in there etc. It’s a great space to create. My song entry ‘On the run’ is just a very raw acoustic recording – just the guitar and I.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I’d have to say Keith Urban, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, James Taylor and John Mayer. What a dream come true that would be!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Just write from your heart and enter!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Too many to choose from! I think all the entries offer so much.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I’m from Australia so it’s fantastic that the Song Academy has an international entry.

BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY, 11 YEARS OLD

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song about an imaginary girl, who I describe as a ‘Bubblegum girl’, who is overly-positive about everything. The idea behind the song is that ‘it is okay and perfectly normal to feel sad and express your emotions’.

What got you into writing songs? Every since I could talk, I used to sing about everything happening around me. Once I was old enough to write, I started recording them in little notebooks.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is a way to express my emotions and thoughts. Whenever I song-write it’s like a release. I also like to write about stories and the point of view of other people.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is singing it all together when I finish a song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It’s like a mood, it just comes.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the song in my room and I wrote the lyrics on apple notes while recording my melodies on voice memos. I made the backing track on my computer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream collaborator is Olivia Rodrigo!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! Your song will make someone smile.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? I’m a fan of all the songs but if I have to choose I would go with Nelly Bingham’s Find A Place. Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Tamara Yasin’s vocal is angelic! She would be awesome to collaborate with.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how Song Academy gives a platform to share your songs and listen to other young artists! I am honoured to be one of the finalists out of so many incredible entries.

COME BACK HOME – ZJAMYR

What got you into writing songs? I was inspired by my big brother.

What does songwriting mean to you? To me it means singing a poem or rapping a story.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Arranging the instrumental parts, putting the song together & choosing what fits best in my song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I play around with the plugin “FLEX” on fl studio. I mess around to find an ideaI like.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I used a Rodes Condenser Microphone, fl studio, skytec monitors.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I don’t really have a favourite artist, I love all of them so it’s kinda hard to choose.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’d tell them it’s fun and and you learn from the experience, and to start their career too.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Ooo I have no idea I love all of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think it was challenging and fun! I would love to learn more about song writing.

DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was thinking about some times when I was mean to my sister. Around Christmas time I thought I would write a song for her to let her know how much I love her.

What got you into writing songs? My parents have always had instruments in the house so I grew up with an interest in music. I wrote my first song on the ukulele when I was four!

What does songwriting mean to you? Music gives me a creative outlet to express my feelings. Instead of yelling at somebody I can write a song about them.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? I love the moment when a chord progression comes together, it makes me feel satisfied. I also enjoy writing lyrics because it gives me an outlet for my creativity.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I try to write based on my own experiences. That makes it easier to understand what I’m writing about and have a heartfelt song. I also keep a notebook with scraps of lyrics that I can look back on and use later.

Describe the setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. I wrote the lyrics and music for this song in my bedroom on my Dad’s 30-year-old Seagull S-6 guitar. The rest of the instruments were added during the recording process. My dad helped me figure out some of the parts but I played everything myself!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would like to collaborate with Chris Murphy from Sloan. Sloan is the first band I got to see live and I met Chris after the show. He seemed like a really cool guy!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? Music isn’t a competition so do your best and have fun with it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favorite song from both 8-12 categories is Anthem-X by John Denton. I would love to collaborate with DEVY. I loved the vibe of her song and I think she has a unique sound. We could probably do something really cool mixing our styles.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I’m really excited for the chance to have so many people hear my song! I don’t know any songwriters near me so it’s great to hear songs written by other kids my age.

ANYWHERE – AUSTIN BRUFORD

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I honestly didn’t really know at first, but now that I think about it I feel that I understand why I wrote it. This song came together really quickly when I wrote it on the piano really early in the morning, so at the time I wasn’t thinking about the process which I felt made it such a great song. But, now that I look back at the lyrics I feel like I wrote it about having a relationship with someone and just showing what the outcome would look like, and then reassuring them by saying don’t worry I won’t go anywhere.

What got you into writing songs?  The first time I wrote a song was in grade 3, I played it for the grade and they loved it. After that, I kind of stopped for a while because at that time I was only messing around with it. I didn’t write another song until I heard the song “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, for some reason that just sparked something in my head that made me want to make a song as good as that. Every day since then I have been pushing myself to make an even better song than the one I made the day before.

What does songwriting mean to you?  Songwriting means a lot to me, it doesn’t only help me express how I feel but it also helps me decompress and relax. With songwriting I have been able to make stories, and I have been able to make something beautiful that other people love. This all has inspired me to stick with songwriting for as long as I can.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I have two favorite parts of the song process. My first one is just getting an idea that I can stick with, an idea that I know will end up creating a wonderful song. My second one is being able to produce the song because it’s like the possibilities feel endless and I can really do whatever I want with my song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I really don’t know, I feel like I have found many ways to start an idea for a song. I find that often I sit by the piano playing chords, and once I find a good progression I play a melody over it and just keep writing. Sometimes I don’t even sit down at the piano, I just get on to the music software and start producing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS22 entry. At that time I didn’t even know I was writing this song to be entered in a competition. At the time I was writing songs for an album and came up with this one. This song just felt so much more natural than the ones I had written before, it came together really quickly. I started off by playing a couple of chords and making a chord progression, and then I hummed a melody over it and wrote the lyrics. I produced the song on GarageBand pretty quickly, and then I kind of stopped for a while and didn’t record the vocals. I didn’t record the vocals until I knew that I wanted to enter this songwriting competition again.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  This is a tricky question because there are a lot of artists in the world to collaborate with. If I had to pick one I would say Ed Sheeran because he’s been one of the first artists I ever listened to, he was also the artist that inspired me to start songwriting. However, one of the most important reasons I kept on songwriting is his movie “Songwriter.” This movie was basically about him traveling around the world making songs for his album “Divide”. I liked this movie because it showed how he made his songs and his process of making them. But, since we’re talking about the collaborating part I would have to say that I would like to collaborate with Ed because he seems like a really interesting person, a good songwriter, and has a wonderful voice.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I’d say that it’s a pretty cool experience and that the people hosting it are really open and experienced, and that you can do many things like getting your song critiqued by others, and it is a great chance to work with your friends. My tips for next year’s songwriters are to always try to be free with what you’re writing, there are no constraints, and also try to be yourself as much as you can because that will make your song a lot better.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I would collaborate with DEVY because they have a unique style of songwriting and probably have written lots of songs in the past too. Her song really stood out to me because I felt it was a bit more professionally produced than some of the other songs. In the end, I want to collaborate with her because I think it would be fun trying to write a song with someone who has a wonderful voice and is a very good songwriter.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the fact that it’s open to people who are living internationally. I also like the whole idea that I can share my music with others that are professional and can help critique it. The songwriting competition is a great experience and I will probably enter next year too.

Songs reveal the hearts & minds of young people.  Impressive originality, creativity & musical bravery displayed. Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way. SAYS22 gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The future of music is bright and diverse.

SAYS22 Star Judges include Tom Grennan, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Simon Aldred & Grace Davies

Drumroll please! The top finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition, in its 12th year,  have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted an impressive 852 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  67% of entrants were girls, 28% boys, 2% preferred not to say & 3% had a unique gender identification. Entries were from across the entire UK (82%) and around the world (18%).  The future of music is bright and diverse.

The Young Songwriter competition stands for the craft and art of songwriting in its purest form, enabling young songwriters to aspire to the very best melody, lyric, structure, concept, harmony, mood and impact a song can have. It inspires young people to think about and speak up about things that are important to them personally, in their community and in the wider world and get their voices heard. It’s a supportive community where young people feel brave and can express themselves, celebrate individuality and be themselves. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.

What makes a sensational song is ultimately subjective. The top finalists songs were selected as they stood out for their creativity, invention & courage with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations. Congratulations also go to all SAYS22 entrants for writing some wonderful songs & sharing them with our vibrant community.

Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the finalists’ songs!  Plus the top songs and young songwriters are shown below.

The top 10 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 6th May.  The top 3 finalists will be announced on the 13th June.  The UK/Ireland winners will be announced on the 25th June at The Young Songwriter 2022 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  The International winners will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 26th June at 2pm GMT.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

As well as The Young Songwriter competition, Song Academy run songwriting clubs in term time, songwriting workshops in the holidays, song feedback reports, recording & production workshops, bespoke songwriting workshops & birthday parties.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2022 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music, IK Multimedia, ICMP and Orange Learn.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-18 YEAR OLDS

ALL IN – DANIEL MCCARTHY
BELLADONNA – RUBY COOKE
BETTER OFF – LUKE ELLIOTT
BOYFRIEND – DSWRV
BREATHTAKING TENSION – CHARLIE HEWLETT
CANNOT LOSE MYSELF – SISI
CONTRAST – VINNIEC
DAISY – CINTA AURELEE
DON’T RILE THE YOUNG – SONIC DAZE
FLINCH – MEG CURL
GATEKEEPER – BEA
GIRL THAT OUTGREW – ROSIE TRENTHAM
HIDE AND SEEK – KIMICHI
HONEST – CONOR MARCUS
HOURGLASS – BELLA HOWELLS
IRON FIST – WOODY COLLINS
IT’S A FUNNY WAY – AMELIE CLOWREY
LAY A LITTLE LIFE DOWN – ESME HALLWORTH
MACHINE HEAD BOY – STATYC
NEW YEAR’S EVE – RUBY ANN SPIEGEL
RIVIERA – OLIVIA SWINTON
SOLD THE STORY – LEONA MAE
SOULS ARE RISING – THIS ELEGANT GULL
SUCH A GOOD FIGHT – DAISY-ROSE IRESON-HUGHES
SWEET 16 – TWAYN
THINKING I’M FINE – ANNEKA SHELLEY
TOO FAR DOWN – IVY PRATT
TOPIARY – OSCAR MEADES
UP TO THE SUN – GEORGE DICKSON
USED TO BE – STUART VEITCH

 

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS

ANTHEM X – JOHN DENTON
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER – SAMBELLE PRINCE
BUSTING THE HINGES – SPARROW DURHAM-LOVE
DON’T LEAVE ME NOW – MAX KENWORTHY
FIND A PLACE – NELLY ROSE BINGHAM
FIND YOU – FIRE FLIES
FIRE HEART – MIDNIGHT STARZ
FOMO – HOLLY DAIS
FRANKIE IN THE HOUSE (SUPER COOL) – FRANKIE MEADES
FREE – JOHNNY BEAU
FRIED – UMA MARTIN
IN-BETWEEN – TIMI HUGHES
LINGO – MATTHEW ARKOH
MIRACLE – GEORGIA TAYLOR
MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING – THE MAWNEY SCHOOL YEAR THREE
MY FATE – NIKOLAS ROCHE
OPPOSITE WAY – MAYA HELON
OUR SECRET HEAVEN – GRETA KILL
PARADISE FALLS – FINN CRABTREE
PATCH IT UP – ROMY
ROAD TRIPS – HENRY MARNHAM
SET THE WORLD ON FIRE – RUBY MULHOLLAND
SOMETHING BIG – LEANNE JOAN FERNANDES
SPARK – ISLA HANNETT
SUNSET, SUNRISE – CHLOE TURNER
TAKE ME TO THE STARS – JOSEPH DAVIS
TURN BACK TIME – SYLVIE HAMMERSLEY-FOX
WHAT COOKIES MEAN TO ME – COOKIE MONSTERS
YEAR 3000 – HATTIE
YOU NEVER LISTENED – MARTHA & THOMMY BAILEY VINE

 

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS

ATOMIC BOMB – CALISTA HARMS
BIGGER – ALEXANDRA CRIBB
BLUE – AMANDA FAGAN
BOY – SUMMER BRENNAN
CALIFORNIA – ALLY CRIBB
CONFESSION – CINTA AURELEE & JESSICA ANDREA
CROSSROAD – MARTHE SKEIDE
DIMPLES – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN
DONE – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT
FALLING IN LOVE – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG
FIVE FINGERS – THE CICADA
HEROES HAVE SHADOWS TOO – ISAAC STAINES
IN SPACE – ANTEA TURK
LIKE A GHOST – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT
LOST – MONIQUE RASO
OCEAN CHILD – SUMMER STARLING
PHASES – PETER PULST
RISE – MONIQUE RASO
SUNDAYS – LILY WELCH
TALKING TO THE DEVIL – NEAV
TETHERED – THE SEASIDE FEELS
THE SKY & I – JANE CALLISTA
THE SOUND OF LONELINESS – SEDA PARTIZPANYAN
THINK MYSELF TO DEATH – JOEY WILBUR
TOXIC TIME BOMB – AEJ ((ANNA-ELEA & JOSEFINE)
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN – CLARA FRANZ
WASTED POTENTIAL – LINDSAY LIEBRO
WHAT IF – PETER PULST
WITHOUT ME – JOEY WILBUR
YELLOW – JOEY WILBUR

 

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS

ANYWHERE – AUSTIN BRUFORD
BUBBLEGUM GIRL – DEVY
COME BACK HOME – ZJAMYR
DEAR MADELEINE – EVA STEINERT
HOLIDAY CHEER – ALEXIS & LAUREN ROLEY & THE KOUZINS
I WISH, I DREAM – TAMARA YASIN
ON THE RUN – NOAH ROBERTSON
PERSEVERANCE – GIOELE UBEZIO
RISING FROM THE FIRE – ILAH GARDINER
UNBREAKABLE – DANIELA VERTIACHIKH

SAYS22 Official Partners include First News, Amazing Radio, BMI, Ivors Academy, FAC, SoundCity, AOC, MUSIC:ED, The Troubadour, Sing Up & Fun Kids Radio

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice and find their tribe

Founded 13 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We aim to take them from their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

Our focus is on the craft of songwriting, creating lyrics and music. We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast-changing and potentially isolating environment, leaving them vulnerable to various pressures and issues with their mental health. Songwriting enables young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. Through this creative and therapeutic process, they can discover their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered, and advance their general writing and social skills. Not only can the songs they write advance potential musical careers, but also spark debate, build connection with peers and shape their future.

Song Academy runs after-school clubs, holiday workshops, school workshops, birthday parties and an annual international Young Songwriter competition. As a result of our programmes, we have seen an increase in confidence, self-esteem, creativity, motivation, well-being and technical songwriting ability of our members.

Email: rowena@songacademy.co.uk. Tel: 07710 023743

ORIGINALITY • CREATIVITY • COURAGE • INDIVIDUALITY • SELF ESTEEM • INSPIRATION • RESILIENCE • CONNECTION • RESPECT

Star Judges included Fraser T Smith, Tom Grennan, Miranda Cooper, Tom Odell, Eg White, Emily Phillips, Iain Archer, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Michelle Escoffery, Eg White, Dan Gillespie Sells & Janet Devlin

Song Academy is delighted to announce the release of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 Album on Spotify, Apple Music and many other distributors through AWAL (Artists Without A Label). The album includes 27 tracks from the winners and selected finalists of the 2021 Young Songwriter competition, which attracted outstanding young talent from 8-18 year olds around the world.

The Song Academy Young Songwriter (SAYS) competition champions youth creativity, giving them a golden opportunity to get their songs heard by a star-studded judging panel, get recognition for their creative talents, connect to other young songwriters and win some incredible prizes.  SAYS21 attracted 1,031 high quality entries from around the world.

The Young Songwriter 2021 album on Spotify

The Young Songwriter 2021 album on Apple Music

Artists/songwriters featured on The Young Songwriter 2021 album

227 by Aleks Kostov
All It Takes by Hetta Falzon
Clapham Junction by Joe Lever
Colourful by Evangeline Durupt
Did I? by Isla Campbell
Drowns Me Out by Taia Thompson
Express Yourself by Song Academy
Fireflies by Lily Criddle
Girl In The Dress by Lois Brooks
Golden Days by Lily Carroll
Graffiti On The Wall by Alexis Gail Roley
Honey, by Clara Freeman
How To Be Vulnerable by Emily Semple
Illusion by Johnny Beau
Laying on Mars by Benjamin Frere
Lost Myself by Jo MacKenzie
My Friend in Miami by Venice and Belle Herrera
People Like You by Pip Lewis
Right To Be Loved by Song Academy
Sing It Out by Song Academy
Stardust by Kelty Parker
Talk by Benjamin Magro
Talks Too Much by Leona Mae
Teardrops by Nelly Bingham
The Astronaut’s Song by Michael Abimanyu Kaeng
Voices by Macy O’Neill
We’re Not Lonely Anymore by Lexie Carroll
Who am I? by Tamara Yasin

If you know aspiring young songwriters or musical young people who’d like to write their first song, please encourage them to check out https://www.songacademy.co.uk/says22/ for all information about The Young Songwriter 2022 competition.