Songs reveal the hearts & minds of young people after a year in lockdown.  Impressive originality, creativity & musical bravery displayed.  Young creators across the world unite.

Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Tom Odell, Miranda Cooper, Chris Difford,
Calum Scott, Midge Ure, Tom Grennan & Michelle Escoffery

Drumroll please! The top 3 finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter (SAYS) 2021 competition have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted over 1,000 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  As in previous years 70% of entrants were girls.  13% of entries were in the international categories and 70% were from 13-18 year olds.  Entries from the UK/Ireland were widespread with 65% outside London.

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 being special and original. Emily Phillips, renown songwriter and chair of The Young Songwriter 2021 judging panel said, “Chairing the judges this year was an exciting and stimulating experience!  To hear the feedback and thoughts of such renowned writers, producers and artists was fascinating.  The selection process was hotly debated as strong opinions clashed over different genres of music, reinforcing the fact that this is not an exact science but equally, that the winning songs were recognised and applauded for their artistry, inspiration and craft.  The standard was very high this year, so a huge congratulations to the winners and runners up!”

Michelle Escoffery, President of the PRS Members’ Council and SAYS21 judge, said:  “The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 competition is an incredibly valuable platform for helping the next generation of music creators develop their skills and build confidence in the profession. This year’s submissions have been filled with some fantastic original and interesting new music, that really captures the imagination and most importantly, reflects the resilience displayed by these songwriters over the past year. I want to thank all of the applicants for sharing their creations with us and a huge congratulations to those who have made the top three in each category. I look forward to seeing what you all do next and wish you the very best of luck in your careers.”

Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the finalists’ songs!   The winners will be announced on the 29th June and The Young Songwriter 2021 live showcase will be held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London on Saturday 25th September 2021.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “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.”

TOP 3 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 13-18 YEAR OLDS, UK/IRELAND

ALL IT TAKES – HETTA FALZON
LAYING ON MARS – BENJAMIN FRERE

WE’RE NOT LONELY ANYMORE – LEXIE CARROLL

TOP 3 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 8-12 YEAR OLDS, UK/IRELAND

FIREFLIES – LILY CRIDDLE
GIRL IN THE DRESS – LOIS BROOKS
ILLUSION – JOHNNY BEAU

TOP 3 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 13-18 YEAR OLDS, INTERNATIONAL

LOST MYSELF – JO MACKENZIE
PEOPLE LIKE YOU – PIP LEWIS
STARDUST – KELTY PARKER

TOP 3 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 8-12 YEAR OLDS INTERNATIONAL

COLOURFUL – EVANGELINE DURUPT
MY FRIEND IN MIAMI – VENICE AND BELLE HERRERA
TALK – BENJAMIN MAGRO

Listen to all Top Finalists songs on the Song Academy Soundcloud account

Quotes from The Young Songwriter 2021 finalists:

Benjamin “It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how much equipment you have. Someone who just has a guitar and a voice has just as much opportunity and chance as someone with a full size music studio.”

Charlie “allows 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.”

Jacob “What I like most about The Young Songwriter is the community it creates between songwriters.”

Hetta “It’s a really cool way to listen to what other people your age are writing and I’ve discovered so many songs that I love just from the Song Academy playlist. I also like how it is judged purely on the song and not the quality of recording or production which means anyone can enter.”

Hatty “This is a fantastic platform for songwriters to be heard and to learn from.”

Morietnez “Inspires us to be brave to express our feelings and be ourselves.”

James “I like how the competition pushes young people and encourages creativity, allowing songs that might not otherwise be out there, a chance to shine.”

Conor “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!”

Faye “I love how it gives a supportive space for young songwriters like me from all over the world. I also really like how we can listen to each other’s entries to hear the diversity and uniqueness of each individual song writer.”

Venice & Bella “It’s easy to enter and you don’t have to record in a fancy studio or have expensive equipment. It’s genuinely about the song and you feel truly heard.”

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes:

Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Phillips (Rizzle Kicks, Florence and the Machine, Sigrid, John Newman, Madison Beer, SOAK), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, says “Song Academy inspires young people to speak up, express themselves, celebrate their individuality & get heard. By connecting them to a vibrant community of their peers who all love writing songs, as well as exposing their songs to key players in the Music Industry, we help to build young people’s confidence, self-esteem and drive to achieve their potential. As well as nurturing the next generation of music & creative leaders.”

QUOTES FROM SPONSORS KOBALT, SOUNDTRAP AND YAMAHA

Willard Ahdritz, Founder & Chairman of Kobalt says “It’s very important to support, inspire, and celebrate young creators as they start on their path in music. We are happy to be involved in this competition as it provides great opportunities and education for the young contestants. I know many of them will go on to have bright careers in music!”

Leanne Barrell, Marketing Manager of Yamaha says, “At Yamaha, we believe that music can empower everyone to express themselves, build friendships and make a positive impact in the world, so naturally we’re delighted to support The Young Songwriter 2021 Competition. It’s a great opportunity for young people everywhere to get inspired and share their music on a global stage. This is all about the future, and we can’t wait to hear the songs of a whole new generation of musical talent.”

Per Emanuelsson, Director of Soundtrap says “The annual Young Songwriter competition is a premiere event introducing many students from around the world to the art of creative expression through song, and is therefore an event close to our heart. Soundtrap is pleased to sponsor the 2021 Young Songwriter competition and advance the mission of helping students find and share their voices.”

For further media information, photography, videos, interviews, etc., contact Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy at rowena@songacademy.co.uk or on +44 7710 023743

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice

Founded 12 years ago, we’re dedicated to the future of music & the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. We enable young people to express themselves and have their voices heard. From their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers & creative thinkers, empowering young people at a formative time of their life.

We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people by helping them find their voice. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast changing & potentially isolating environment, which can cause various pressures and lead to issues with their mental health. Through songwriting young people can communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. This creative and therapeutic process helps young people discover & develop their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered by speaking up and advance their creative and social skills. The songs they write have the potential to spark debate, help their peers and shape their future.

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

NEXT OPPORTUNITIES:

Summer Holiday Workshops

Song Feedback Reports

Autumn Term 2021 weekly songwriting clubs

Songs reveal the hearts & minds of young people after a year in lockdown.  Impressive originality, creativity & musical bravery displayed.  Young creators across the world unite.

Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Tom Odell, Miranda Cooper, Chris Difford,
Calum Scott, Midge Ure, Tom Grennan & Michelle Escoffery

Drumroll please! The top finalists (top 10 for the UK/Ireland categories and top 5 for the International categories) of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter (SAYS) 2021 competition have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted over 1,000 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  As in previous years 70% of entrants were girls.  13% of entries were in the international categories and 70% were from 13-18 year olds.  Entries from the UK/Ireland were widespread with 65% outside London.

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 SAYS21 entrants for creating an impressive community of young songwriters, up for sharing and developing their creative talents.

Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the finalists’ songs!  The top 3 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 1st June.  The winners will be announced on the 29th June and The Young Songwriter 2021 live showcase will be held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London on the 20th November 2021.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “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.”

TOP 10 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 13-18 YEAR OLDS, UK/IRELAND

ALL IT TAKES – HETTA FALZON
CLAPHAM JUNCTION – JOE LEVER 
DROWNS ME OUT – TAIA THOMPSON
HONEY – NETTLE
HOW TO BE VULNERABLE – EMILY SEMPLE
I CAN’T BREATHE – HATTY YAP
LAYING ON MARS – BENJAMIN FRERE
TALKS TOO MUCH – LEONA MAE 
TWO TWO SEVEN- ALEKS KOSTOV
WE’RE NOT LONELY ANYMORE – LEXIE CARROLL 

TOP 10 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 8-12 YEAR OLDS, UK/IRELAND

DEEP WATERS – TWINKLE ANSAR
DID I – ISLA CAMPBELL 
FIREFLIES – LILY CRIDDLE
FOLLOW ME – LUKE PENDER 
GIRL IN THE DRESS – LOIS BROOKS
GOLDEN DAYS – LILY CARROLL 
ILLUSION – JOHNNY BEAU
SLOWLY – SAMBELLE PRINCE 
TEARDROPS – NELLY BINGHAM
VOICES – MACY O’NEILL 

TOP 5 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 13-18 YEAR OLDS, INTERNATIONAL

GOLDEN YEARS – YOB
LOST MYSELF – JO MACKENZIE 
PEOPLE LIKE YOU – PIP LEWIS
STARDUST – KELTY PARKER 
THE ASTRONAUTS’S SONG – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG

TOP 5 SAYS21 FINALISTS – 8-12 YEAR OLDS INTERNATIONAL

COLOURFUL – EVANGELINE DURUPT
GRAFFITI ON THE WALL – ALEXIS G. ROLEY 
MY FRIEND IN MIAMI – VENICE AND BELLE HERRERA
TALK – BENJAMIN MAGRO 
WHO AM I – TAMARA YASIN

Listen to all Top Finalists songs on the Song Academy Soundcloud account

Quotes from The Young Songwriter 2021 finalists:

Benjamin “It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how much equipment you have. Someone who just has a guitar and a voice has just as much opportunity and chance as someone with a full size music studio.”

Charlie “allows 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.”

Jacob “What I like most about The Young Songwriter is the community it creates between songwriters.”

Hetta “It’s a really cool way to listen to what other people your age are writing and I’ve discovered so many songs that I love just from the Song Academy playlist. I also like how it is judged purely on the song and not the quality of recording or production which means anyone can enter.”

Hatty “This is a fantastic platform for songwriters to be heard and to learn from.”

Morietnez “Inspires us to be brave to express our feelings and be ourselves.”

James “I like how the competition pushes young people and encourages creativity, allowing songs that might not otherwise be out there, a chance to shine.”

Conor “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!”

Faye “I love how it gives a supportive space for young songwriters like me from all over the world. I also really like how we can listen to each other’s entries to hear the diversity and uniqueness of each individual song writer.”

Venice & Bella “It’s easy to enter and you don’t have to record in a fancy studio or have expensive equipment. It’s genuinely about the song and you feel truly heard.”

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes:

Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Phillips (Rizzle Kicks, Florence and the Machine, Sigrid, John Newman, Madison Beer, SOAK), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, says “Song Academy inspires young people to speak up, express themselves, celebrate their individuality & get heard. By connecting them to a vibrant community of their peers who all love writing songs, as well as exposing their songs to key players in the Music Industry, we help to build young people’s confidence, self-esteem and drive to achieve their potential. As well as nurturing the next generation of music & creative leaders.”

QUOTES FROM SPONSORS KOBALT, SOUNDTRAP AND YAMAHA

Willard Ahdritz, Founder & Chairman of Kobalt says “It’s very important to support, inspire, and celebrate young creators as they start on their path in music. We are happy to be involved in this competition as it provides great opportunities and education for the young contestants. I know many of them will go on to have bright careers in music!”

Leanne Barrell, Marketing Manager of Yamaha says, “At Yamaha, we believe that music can empower everyone to express themselves, build friendships and make a positive impact in the world, so naturally we’re delighted to support The Young Songwriter 2021 Competition. It’s a great opportunity for young people everywhere to get inspired and share their music on a global stage. This is all about the future, and we can’t wait to hear the songs of a whole new generation of musical talent.”

Per Emanuelsson, Director of Soundtrap says “The annual Young Songwriter competition is a premiere event introducing many students from around the world to the art of creative expression through song, and is therefore an event close to our heart. Soundtrap is pleased to sponsor the 2021 Young Songwriter competition and advance the mission of helping students find and share their voices.”

For further media information, photography, videos, interviews, etc., contact Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy at rowena@songacademy.co.uk or on +44 7710 023743

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice

Founded 12 years ago, we’re dedicated to the future of music & the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. We enable young people to express themselves and have their voices heard. From their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers & creative thinkers, empowering young people at a formative time of their life.

We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people by helping them find their voice. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast changing & potentially isolating environment, which can cause various pressures and lead to issues with their mental health. Through songwriting young people can communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. This creative and therapeutic process helps young people discover & develop their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered by speaking up and advance their creative and social skills. The songs they write have the potential to spark debate, help their peers and shape their future.

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

NEXT OPPORTUNITIES:

Half-Term Songwriting Workshops 

Summer Holiday Workshops

Song Feedback Reports

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 1,000 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.

Faye Nicole – Walk Again 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  ‘Walk Again’ is written about my experience with scoliosis, which was a very traumatic and personal aspect of my life. When I was 9, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine that can cause a lot of issues, depending on the severity and what stage it’s at. The plan was for me to undergo 2 rounds of surgery over a 3-week period in order to correct the curve. When I was 11, I had my first operation. I was in hospital for the following 2 weeks, and I was confined to a bed or a wheelchair as I couldn’t walk or do anything independently. During this period, I was preparing for the final round of surgery, which unfortunately didn’t go as planned. The operation had to be aborted due to potential nerve damage in my left leg. Waking up, I remember faintly hearing doctors around me talking about a ‘3rd operation’ and saying that they ‘couldn’t finish it’. At that point, the thought of going through it all over again was almost unbearable. I was kept in the intensive care unit for around 4 days so that they could increase the blood flow to my spine. I wasn’t allowed out of bed, I barely ate anything, and I was so mentally and physically drained. All I could think was ‘will I be able to walk’? The shape of my spine didn’t matter to me anymore, as long as my legs still worked. The final round of surgery was thankfully successful. I still had to re-learn how to walk, and the recovery was long and frustrating. But it wasn’t until about three years later that I realised I had such a unique story that deserved to be shared, and what better way to do that than to channel my creativity and put it into a song?

What got you into writing songs?  I started writing songs as a way to express what I had been through. Not only my experience with scoliosis, but the events that have shaped me throughout high school and the impact that had been left on me after facing challenges that I never thought I’d face. I got such a good feeling from turning my personal struggles into something that other people could listen and relate to, so song writing became a necessity for me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Definitely lyric writing. Creating unique ways of expressing my thoughts and finding interesting metaphors and interpretations of a concept has to be the part of the process where I feel like I have the best opportunity to really deliver a powerful message.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  When I was writing ‘Walk Again’, it was pretty much just me, my pen, my song book, and my piano. I wanted to write it in a stripped back, authentic environment, so that I could get the rawest emotions out and focus my energy on powerful, passionate lyrics.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with messing around on the piano to find a chord progression, and then I try to visualise an emotion that matches the music. After that, I’ll try to find a part of me that personally connects to that emotion based off experience, or I’ll put myself in the shoes of someone else. Once I have the rough feel of the song, I’ll start humming along until I find a decent melody and I kind of sing whatever words come to mind. If the words fit, I keep them. Otherwise, I change it around until it sounds and feels right.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  If I could choose one, it would have to be Boy in Space. Something about his music is so captivating and it inspires me to incorporate different sounds and concepts into my own originals.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I heard about The Young Songwriter Competition back in 2019, and I started entering it since then. Especially this year, since I’ve been experimenting with different song writing styles, I saw it as an opportunity to put some different stuff out there and just see what happens!

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 just give it a shot! There’s no reason to hold back on putting yourself out there, and the worst that could happen is that you don’t progress, but continue to work on your craft, only to improve and give it another go next year. The first step to getting ahead in anything is to just try. If you don’t try, you’ve already set yourself back. So definitely don’t be afraid to enter, you’ve got nothing to lose!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I love how it gives a supportive space for young songwriters like me from all over the world, the opportunity to put our music out there and see what happens! I also really like how we can listen to each other’s entries to hear the diversity and uniqueness of each individual song writer.

Joa – Golden Years 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I got the inspiration to write this song after a conversation I had with my friend. We were talking about the covid-situation, and how we felt that we had to sacrifice a lot. “the old people live while the young once, we die, is this supposed to be the time of our lives” concludes our conversation. I couldn’t stop thinking about what we talked about and had to write something about it.

What got you into writing songs?  I started writing when I was about 14. I’ve always loved music but never really liked my voice specifically, so when I started writing I finally found something that I felt comfortable singing. I write songs when I feel like my head is about to explode and I’m overwhelmed by thoughts and questions.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of writing a song is when the pieces fit together. Going from a few melodies and lines to a complete story. I also love when I come up with a chorus and the rest of the song comes naturally.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote the song at my keyboard in my room and wrote it down of my phone. I also recorded it at my room in Garage band.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with a melody. I’ll sit down and the feeling I have at that moment will often reflect the melody. When I come up with a melody is often a chorus, and I will try different chords on the piano to find a verse and pre chorus. I find the spark when I often have a lot on my mind, and writing becomes a way of clearing my mind.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I have listened a lot to Empire of the sun lately and it would be a dream to write with them. I think they have a unique way of writing and interesting, magical melodies. I also love Ryan tedders songs and what he has written, so it would have been super interesting working with 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?  Go for it!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s an easy way of getting in touch with young songwriter all around the world.

Jo Mackenzie – Lost Myself 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote my finalist song “Lost Myself” about feeling disillusioned about the person you’ve become after years of trying to fit into a mold that isn’t you.

What got you into writing songs?  I started writing songs when I was seven years old and was inspired by songwriters Elton John, Taylor Swift, and Billy Joel.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part of the songwriting process is when parts click together. For example, when I figure out the right way to transition from the verse to the chorus or how to spice up the second verse in a fun way.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? The whole process is like a puzzle and finishing it and getting to see the whole picture is super fun and satisfying. I wrote “Lost Myself” in my bedroom studio.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I first started out by recording myself playing a drum loop. I then used Ableton Live to chop it up and add other elements. I started to freestyle over the loop and from there I built up the rest of the song. This is exemplary of one of the ways I start songs. Sometimes, I will get an instrumental loop going to write over. Other times, I just like to sit by the piano and think about my day and what I’m feeling. I will then usually play chords and start to sing whatever comes to me at the moment.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream collaborators are Jack Antonoff, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Grace Vanderwaal, Conan Gray, and Lorde.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it? I entered #SAYS21 this year because I also participated last year (my song “Suicide Season” made it to the top 3!), and it was a great experience. If someone was wondering if they should enter SAYS, I would tell them that it’s a great way to showcase their art and listen to other young artists’ songs.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think my favorite thing about SAYS is that it’s a platform for young artists to be heard by successful and talented judges and artists.

Julie Kuhl – Where Seabirds Scream

What inspired you to write your finalist song?   Last year I started a stay abroad in England but after a couple of months I had to go back to Germany because of the corona pandemic. It was very painful for me because it has always been my dream to live in England. I wanted to come back as soon as possible. My plan was to return in 2021 but I got a rejection from the school I wanted to go to, because of the Brexit. Out of my frustration I wrote that song.

What got you into writing songs?  In a way I have been inventing music since I was a little child. I always made up stories in my head and chanted them to myself. Mostly in fantasy languages – there are some really funny pieces my parents secretly recorded. Later I tried out different instruments and started writing songs on my guitar. When I was 13 I went to an Ed Sheeran concert which inspired me a lot. In the following weeks I wrote many songs and making music became a very, very important part of my life.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part in the song writing process is expressing myself through music. When harmonies and lyrical words reflect the way I feel it’s very healing for me. I love processing my feelings through music.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote that song lying in my bed without any purpose. When I played it to my guitar teacher he really liked it. We recorded it in the next lesson, it was actually just a kind of sketch but I realized, I liked it that way. So I didn’t change anything and the final song ended up very pure.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  There is not one way how I start to write a song. Usually I need to be alone in my room. But I find a lot of my song ideas and small lyrical pieces when I’m somewhere outside for example when I’m going for a walk. But the important thing is I have to be on my own so I can let my thoughts flow.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  There are many! It’s hard to decide. The first two musicians who come into my mind are Phoebe Bridgers and Arlo Parks. They inspire me a lot. It would be also great to work with the Giant Rooks. Not to be forgotten: Ed Sheeran. He really inspired me when I was younger.

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 can just say believe in yourself and enter with a song you are happy with, eventually that’s the most important thing. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings because that doesn’t make you weak. It is brave!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I love that you support us young musicians. I feel very seriously taken as a musician and such a competition is a big motivation. It is great that everyone has the opportunity to take part. It’s all very well and easily organized. Thank you so much for giving me the feeling to get a step closer to my dream.

Kelty Parker – Stardust 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  This song was inspired by a boy I went to school with who committed suicide shortly after I met him. When I attended his funeral, it felt clear to me that he died largely unknown and misunderstood. The funeral did not represent any part of him correctly and left me haunted for weeks afterward. I didn’t quite understand why I felt the loss so deeply but as I processed it, I realized that it was because I felt the same way I think he did. I felt like a cosmic beam stuck in a reality in which I would never truly be seen or understood. I think many people resonate with this hopeless feeling of unfulfillment with the realities of everyday life; it seems to be a cloud that never quite lifts. This song tells the story of what it feels like to be burdened with something unique to offer the world but also the heaviness of that burden — “our seeds so magnificent they were treacherous to sow.”  These lyrics are some of the dearests to me I have written, because they tell the story of me, my friend from Chemistry, and all those who feel unseen in their brilliance as they live in a dull world.

What got you into writing songs?  We always had a guitar in the house and once I started learning how to play it was impossible for me not to create songs, and I fell in love with writing. Throughout my life, songs have been a place where I can explain how I’m feeling to myself through rhythms and melodies. Once I start a song, where it is meant to go feels natural to me and always comes from a raw place of struggle, anger, or pain.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part of the songwriting process is when while writing I come across a lyric that completely explains to myself how I am feeling. Oftentimes, accidentally I will be playing guitar and find a perfect line that rhymes, and this rythme just so happens to be a truth I hadn’t even yet known until after I had written it down.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote Stardust in my basement shortly after my friend’s funeral in my writing journal. After writing it and editing it, our family friend who is an incredible musician, David Zach, helped me further produce it and diversify the melody.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I often get a sick feeling in my stomach when I feel I need to write something and am not writing it. I usually write my first draft of a song in 10-20 minutes and often write when I feel as though no one or nothing will be able to settle me except for words on paper. I start my songs with an idea- it is usually based on feelings of injustice, anger, depression, or the feeling of being deeply misunderstood.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Matt Maeson is my favorite artist. I feel deeply connected to each one of his songs and I have never felt so understood by any artist. My dream would be to create music as honest and raw as his that has such a powerful effect on people.

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 push anyone considering entering this competition to do it. For the longest time, I was terrified to even share my songs with my friends or family because to me my songs are somewhat of a diary. All the things I can’t find words for I can somehow find rhythms for, and it is in my songs where I am maybe the most vulnerable and true version of me. There is something so courageous about being willing to share your work but also something so gratifying. Art was meant to be shared. A tip I would give would be just to be as honest and genuine with your lyrics as possible. The more vulnerable lyrics are the more powerful they affect and connect with others.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I love that the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition is an international competition. I also love that since it is an amateur competition it feels like the youth’s talent is more applauded, seen, and not looked over. It is a community in which I feel encouraged to continue writing, creating, and sharing.

Lily Welch – Grey 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Quarantine. It was so hard being isolated from all of my friends and family and even doing simple things like going to the movie theaters and traveling. The more and more I sat with myself I felt empty, alone and grey. In any situation when I don’t know what to do, I write a song. The words flowed out of me so easily because I had so much I wanted to share about the experience.

What got you into writing songs?  In 3rd grade I would keep numbers of journals with lyrics in them. I would bring them everywhere with me and I would write about things I didn’t even know much about. Once I started to really learn to play many instruments my dad bought me a loop pedal and an amo which I would use everyday. It was like the possibilities of what I could make with my words and music was infinitive. I fell in love with songwriting then and still to this day it is my biggest passion.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Definitely the lyrics. I love this part; I could sit in my room for hours and write about so many things. Another fun part is putting the lyrics and music together. Once it all clicks together, that’s it. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  My bedroom is my sanctuary, my studio. I always use pen and paper to write a song. Occasionally if I have an idea in the middle of nowhere I will write it down in my phone, but I really prefer to write it down, get it in my brain, and have that hard copy forever. Every song I write starts with me and guitar. Even if it ends up being on piano or ukulele it always starts with a piece of paper and guitar for me.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Often, I will have days or a moment where I just FEEL like writing a song. It will come easily to me and I can knock out a rough draft within an hour. Other times, I’m stumped on what to write about and nothing comes to me. So it really just depends on the day or the experiences I’ve had.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  People always ask me this question and it is a hard one to answer. I have so many artists I look up to and would love to collaborate with them. My number one will always be Taylor Swift. The way her words resonate with me is really a cool thing. I can relate to so many of her songs, she’s incredible. Other artists I would absolutely love to work with are Bon Iver, Noah Kahan, Billie Eilish, and Matt Maeson and Khalid.

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 just have to go for it. One’s music can really affect someone more than you think!

 What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like how it gives young people an opportunity to share their talent and songs with everyone.

Malvina Kavita – Ghosts In Our Hometown 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Due to the pandemic, my plans to move out for college were pushed back and I found myself still at my parents’ house in my hometown.  I felt like I was in this strange place in between childhood and adulthood grieving the life I had imagined for myself.  No matter how much I wanted to move on, I couldn’t.  I realized I felt like a ghost stuck between two worlds unable to fully let go of the past.

What got you into writing songs?  I became fascinated with songwriting after learning that my favorite musicians wrote their own music, but I never considered it was something I could do myself.  I spent so much time watching interviews of my favorite musicians talking about their writing process that, when I got an idea for a song, I somewhat knew how to proceed.  Once I wrote my first song, I was able to get over the mental block that I couldn’t write songs, and I kept practicing and honing my skills every chance I got.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part of the songwriting process is that it’s different every time.  I have never written two songs exactly the same way, and I think a lot of the excitement comes from seeing how it all comes together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote this song out on pen and paper sitting on my bedroom floor with a guitar.  I have experimented with lots of different ways of writing, but I think starting with something simple allows you to really focus on lyrics and melody.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I start songs in a lot of different ways.  Usually, I have a general idea of the topic I want to write about in mind.  From there, I will either pick up and instrument and try to find a chord progression that matches the tone I’m looking for, or I brainstorm words, phrases, and feelings that correspond to that topic.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to collaborate with Taylor Swift, because she is one of the people who inspired me to try writing songs and I still learn so much from analyzing her work and work ethic.  I would also love to work with Brandi Carlile, Bon Iver, and HAIM, who all inspire me greatly.

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 go for it and try not to overthink it.  Having others hear and judge your work can be a vulnerable experience, but it is so worth it and will make you a better songwriter in the long run.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it focuses on young writers and that it’s open internationally!

Michael Abimanyu Kaeng – Astronaut’s song 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I love reading about space exploration, planets, and what happened beyond our solar system. One day I watched a video about the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the 73-seconds tragedy stuck in my mind. I imagined myself being an astronaut when the space shuttle was about to launch. There would be hundreds of feelings in that very moment. Love, fear, courage, hope, pride, and what else?

What got you into writing songs?  I write songs to express my thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions. Music and words complement each other. There are some feelings that words cannot describe as distinctly as music does.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I love the early stage of the song writing process which is finding the soul of the song in one or two lines of melody. This is my favourite part as well as the most challenging. Once we got the soul of the song the next parts would effortlessly flow.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? It was Yamaha PSR 970 and myself.  I use the piano sound to make the outline of the song. After that I added various tracks such as flute, string and percussion.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with understanding my thoughts or emotions. As in my No, 3 anser, the next step is finding the spark in one or two lines of main melody.  For me the main melody is usually in the chorus or in the beginning of the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Keyboard master Cory Henry

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 would say how SAYS competition unites the world. I am a student in Jakarta but immediately connect to hundreds/thousands fellow young songwriters from other countries. No doubt. Join it.  My tips would be “Be true to yourself in writing your music!”.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition?  I really appreciate the fact that SAYS Competition publishes all the song from the contestants. We can learn and have fun with the songs.

Morietnez Azra Mashuri – Best Friend 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I felt really sorry for him because a simple thing could change the way we feel about others, especially close friends. So I decided to write this song and let you know that communication is an important thing in any sort of relationship.

What got you into writing songs?  Well I was in junior high at that time and my music teacher gave the whole class an assignment to make their own song. The idea I had was from my friend’s love story which she felt friendzoned by her “boy friend”. I wasn’t that confident and was very shy to listen to my own song. 2 years passed by and there was this talent event called Bintang SMA who are looking for a senior high student around Indonesia to star in Pocari Sweat commercial. I decided to sign up because I felt it was a very good opportunity. I thought it would be great to show something different. I wanna show that I am not just a singer but I also write songs. Then I wrote the song Prince Charming, inspired by some high school love story issues  and gladly I made it to the top 10 Bintang SMA Pocari Sweat. I am so proud of myself seeing that now I am not just a singer but I can write my own song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Definitely the idea and the story plot. I grew up watching Disney movies and fantasizing in my room. When I was little I used to write stories on my laptop and imagine what would happen to my stories if they were  in real life. Now the idea that I imagined for years could be poured to my songs.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It’s basically my pencil, my songwriting book, then I grab my guitar, and strum the chords that suits with the idea of my song. The final process is to record it in my home recording studio.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I was inspired by a story or something that I felt, saw or heard about which can come from me, my friends, my family and even the world’s situation. So it basically came from something inspiring then I took my time to focus on it and the idea just pops up.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would really love to collaborate with BTS, Amen! I’ve followed them since the early 2020, and I fell in love from the moment I heard their newest single. I’m not only loving their appearance or their style, but their personality and songs really touched me. At first I wasn’t into them because I thought they were just some Korean boy band group who sing and dance just like the others. But when I listened to their songs, it was just a whole new thing. They aren’t just artists, they actually care about other people especially their fans and motivates people to love themselves. They made a campaign about their Love Yourself album and spoke in UNICEF. That made me inspired and I wish I could collaborate with them someday.

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 am a singer who always sings for a song cover. It’s good,  I learn lots of  genre music but at some point I felt something was missing. I need to show who I  really am. That is when you sing your own song. So I would absolutely recommend them to be confident and enjoy songwriting from a young age. This environment is making us creative,  build more confidence and definitely be proud of your own song. Being the winner is not the key to it, but to always make your own creation because no one knows someday it would be a masterpiece. Keep making your own song!!  Don’t be shy to express how you feel, let the world hear you and always be inspired by little things in your life!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  What I like about this competition is it has a good and conducive environment that can gain our creativity, brave enough to express our feelings,  build confidence and the most important thing is being ourselves.

Pip Lewis – People like you 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? “People Like You” was written during the height of the pandemic and lockdown, and I found that many people were growing despondent about both the situation of the world and towards themselves. I have faith in the good of humans, so the underlying message of the song is “if there are good people like you, then everything’s going to turn out fine”.

What got you into writing songs? A combination of my love of listening to music, and personal struggles I was going through at the time. I started to write about a year after I moved from the UK to the US; it was a difficult time for me and it was a useful outlet of negative emotion.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I absolutely love finishing songs because I get to hear what I was formulating in my head. My songs often look kind of weird when they’re written down, so hearing them as a tangible finished product – as they were intended – is so rewarding.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? I sat down and wrote “People Like You” in twenty minutes in a Logic Pro session, and then built the arrangement around the lyrics. The following day, I recorded the top vocal and harmonies with the mic and interface I have in my bedroom. Then I sent my demo to my producer, Mylo Bard!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Honestly, I don’t find the spark. I just wait for it to come to me, and that can take a while! It’s frustrating to hear professional songwriters say “you should write songs even when you don’t feel like it”. Personally, I’ve written my worst songs when I don’t feel like writing them. “People Like You” was created because a spark came to me, and it turned out to be my most successful song to date.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Gosh, there’s so many. I’d love to collaborate with Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) or Phoebe Bridgers. Then again, there are people like Mavis Staples, FINNEAS, Tom Odell, Madness, Maggie Rogers, and MARINA, too. Can you tell how indecisive I am?!

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it? I entered in 2020 and made it to the Top 10 with my song, “Missing in Action”. I wanted to enter for the last time before I turn 19!

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! Music changes lives, and it could be your song that does so. My only tip would be don’t overthink it! If you have something you love and want to share with the world; do it!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the support that it provides young artists. It’s such a one of a kind experience and an awesome opportunity. I’m so grateful to be amongst such amazing songwriters.

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 1,000 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.

Alexis Roley – Graffiti On the Wall

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I like art.  My mom, my aunt, my cousin and my twin sister, Lauren, would always want to go to New York and ride the subway and visit the museums and parks. I’ve not been able to go, so I imagined what it would be like to be in the subway.

What got you into writing songs?  My grandfather likes to write songs and has a home studio, and I like to write, so it was like a perfect fit.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I like writing lyrics.  Sharing stories, while singing, is fun.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I have a songbook that I write in.  Much like a journal, but what I write about are stories that can become songs. My grandfather has a machine (Focusrite Scarlett 4i4) that he used to put my song in GarageBand.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I think about my problems and the problems in the world around me, and my family and other certain topics, and start to put the words on paper.  I have a band called the Kusinz, with my twin sister, Lauren and my ten year old cousin, Brooklyn, and we love getting together playing each other’s songs.  We like to challenge each other.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My grandfather, Boppa and my great uncle, Scott, who is a singer songwriter in Nashville.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year?  Do it!!

Do you have any tips for them?  Follow what you like and keep on writing no matter what happens or whatever anyone says.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that the SAYS gives me a chance to prove myself as a songwriter.  And I love the idea that it includes so many kids from around the world.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Antea Turk – Dream

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  My dreams inspired me to write this song.

What got you into writing songs? I always have a passion for songwriting.  I always find them fun to do because I can tell a story and also express my feelings.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the song writing is the lyric writing because I can write about my dreams.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It started when I played a melody on my keyboard and then I added the lyrics after that.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start writing a song by finding inspiration from other people’s songs.  Since I have a fun personality, I like to twist the song to make it fun.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  BENE, the singer from New Zealand.  My favourite song is “Glitter” because it is a fun 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?  Just send your songs so it will be heard by other people, we never know if it will end up winning or not, at least we have tried. Tips: try to record in voice notes whenever or wherever you have an inspiration for a song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition now separates the International category into 8-12 years old and 13-18 years old so kids have a bigger chance of winning.

Ava Rosenberg – Crazy Eyes

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  To be totally honest I don’t know why I wrote Crazy Eyes. All I really remember is, it was the first love song I ever wrote. I guess I was just messing around with the lyrics and then it hit me. This could be a song. A bunch of people ask me for the inspiration of Crazy Eyes and I just foolishly answer, it is about my dog. Of course, this is not true but that was the first thing that popped into my mind when asked the question. Maybe this song is about a past life or someone I made up in my mind. To tell you the truth, I think about the inspiration for this song every day.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favorite part of song writing is hearing the rhymes come together. I also like rehearsing what I wrote and realize that a rhyme is “fire”.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  The set up I used was pen to paper for the most part. When there was enough on paper and the melody became clear in my mind I would record to voice memo. I then took the completed acapella to my song teacher who helped translate it to piano.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I just make something up in my head. Usually it is based on an event, a song title, a person, or I once wrote a song based on a picture I painted. So my spark comes from everywhere.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream artist to collaborate with is Taylor Swift.

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 a person should not question their song, be confident and enjoy the experience.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I really like that it is international and that I am able to submit my song along with so many other kids my age. I can’t believe there is a place to do this. I am also amazed about how popular SAY21 is in the UK/Ireland.

Benjamin Magro – Talk

What inspired you to write your final song?  I got lonely during school lockdown. I missed my friends terribly and I became increasingly close to my dog Chip. I used to talk to him like a friend. Then one day during a lesson I just thought of some lyrics and a melody.

What got you into writing songs?  I wrote my first song and I realised it made me happy. It was a good way to express my feelings.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Melody and Song Structure – I like humming a melody and writing the lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It was first during a maths online lesson with pen and paper then recorded in a studio.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  First I get the melody in my head, and I hum it over and over again. I then I start writing lyrics about some feelings I am having, about messages I want to send out to the world.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Mine would be Maroon 5.

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 and do your best. Wait for the moment when you get inspired, when you get the spark and enjoy doing it. Don’t hassle too much about the competition, and don’t rush yourself. You need to find the right time. When I wrote my song I wasn’t thinking of the competition. I did it for myself.

What do you like about the Song Academy Songwriter Competition?  It gives young children a chance to express themselves and show their talent. In my country there aren’t plenty of opportunities for the art of song writing but mostly singing. It also helps us to learn and inspire ourselves from each other.

Evangeline Durupt – Colourful

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Being at my cabin in Port Alice with my family and my best friend.

What got you into writing songs?  My mom.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Once I’ve got my tune and the first line, then I can just write and rhyme! It brings up different emotions and I always love to see what comes out of it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  Just pen and paper! And of course my ukulele.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  When I have a big emotion, I pick up my ukulele and start playing. Or if a tune comes into my head I try to get it out.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Taylor Swift!

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 keep going with your idea for a song there’s no right or wrong way to make music.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I get to hear other young songwriters’ music and feel inspired to write more.

Luna Kup – Fantasy

What inspired you to write your finalist song? A dream actually. I had this dream, where the melody to this song was actually playing. When I woke up, I decided to write a song with that melody. The lyrics are what I thought a girl would feel about liking someone a lot, but it is all in her mind, and I just really liked how the melody went with that theme.

What got you into writing songs? So for my first birthday in quarantine, I got a guitar. I was really inspired by Taylor Swift since I had more time to listen to music due to quarantine and summer. I wanted to make songs like Taylor Swift’s older albums, especially the Fearless one. Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop writing songs and it turned out that I really enjoyed it!  After a few songs, I found my own style of music. This was when I really got into songwriting.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I think it depends. Emotionally, my favorite part of song writing is writing lyrics. “Creatively,” my favorite part is coming up with new chords and melodies. For me, I can’t have a song without lyrics and I can’t have lyrics without a song. Most of the time, the idea and the lyrics of the song relate to something I am going through at the time. Whether that week had been really good, or I have a new crush, or that week was just not the best week. Now, for coming up with chords and melodies, I feel there is no limit. I like how there are so many possibilities for chords. Overall, it just depends on what my favorite part is either emotionally or creatively.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? My setup is just me and my guitar, ukulele, or piano and google docs.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start the song by either coming up with the melody first or the lyrics. And that just depends on how I feel during the week or day. On days when I’m not having the best time coming up with a melody, I just take a break and write some lyrics and then the melody and chords come to me. On other days, I just start experimenting with chords, and then the lyrics come to me later. I think I find the spark when the song actually relates to something I’m going through at the time. I like writing out my feelings through song instead of a journal. With singing my feelings through a song, I’m not limited to only pencil and paper. I can use my voice in a way where I don’t have to speak, speak, speak, and go on and on.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift. Definitely.

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 enter the songs which you personally like the most, but still show who you are and your voice and your songwriting.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how there are all different types of music and there are so many places around the world that the entries are from. I also like how you can use SoundCloud to show your songs. Most of all, I like how the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition gives children from all over a chance to share their songs with others.

Lynette Lee Lyn Xi – So Young 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was inspired by my brother on his birthday as a gift .

What got you into writing songs?  I just love singing and writing songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the process is singing. I hope one day I could be a professional singer.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I just used a pen, paper and ukulele .

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  When something pops out of my head I will just write it down.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would like to collaborate with Blackpink but they are k-pop singers and I don’t know korean.

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 it’s a great idea because we could let the world hear our beautiful voices and songs. Do not be afraid, just be brave!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s really a great competition that brings all good songs together. Thanks to Song Academy!

Smile – Singing Butterflies

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  We were thinking about flowers and meadow, because it was spring at that time.

What got you into writing songs?   We took a singing class together, and our teacher had an idea, that we should write a song, and we really wanted to do that.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Basia: Playing the instrument was the best part for me. LeiIa: I liked the process of composing music.  Ada: Playing with music software was very fun!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kited out studio?   We were using a pen, keyboard, microphone, computer, speakers and audio interface.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?   First thing that we found was the chord progression, but we changed the key later to fit the melody better.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Girls: With Miss Karolina!!! (the teacher).  Leila: I would love to record a song with Sofia Carson, I like her voice very much.  Basia: I’d like to sing with Zuza Jabłońska (polish singer).  Ada: Ariana Grande!

What do you like about Songs Academy Young Songwriter competition?
Basia: This competition is really cool! Leila: We are very happy that we could participate in the competition with people from other countries and we were able to listen to their music.
Ada: It was a lot of fun!!!  Temat: Being a top 10 Finalist of The Young Songwriter 2021 competition

Tamara Yasin Who Am I 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I always wanted to know who I am. This song is just my personal thoughts and questions.

What got you into writing songs?  I am lucky to be born in musical family. My mom is a music professor. Music always been around me and it made me feel better. I “wrote” my first song about Prince when I was less than 3 years old.  Before pandemic in our house we constantly had music classes, music camps, concerts.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I liking making up the melody. Melody is what makes a song a song, not a poem, not a story.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It is all started with ukulele. I wrote this song while I was improvising; singing and playing ukulele. Then I wrote it on the paper and showed it my mom. My mom really liked it and we recorded an acoustic version of the song. I submitted that song to the songwriting  competition for National Association for Music Education ( USA) and to my big surprise that song became a winner. I received a monetary award and invested all the money into professional production of this song. Sometimes dreams come true!!!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I just think about something and then start singing. Sometime it is just an improvisation and sometime it becomes a song. Sometimes I write songs for specific occasions: I wrote a song for my cousin’s wedding, for my father’s, grandma and grandpa birthdays.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to collaborate with Paul McCartney, Katy Perry and Pacek and Paul (songwriters for the Greatest Showman and Dear Evan Hansen)

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I use Soundtrap to create compositions. I saw the announcement about SAYS21 on Soundtrap.

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 believe in yourself and don’t give up on your dreams.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?​  I really like to listen to all other songs and I think having a competition is a great motivation to continue to write songs.

Venice and Belle Herrera – My friend in Miami

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Our friend at school told us she’s moving to Miami. As British expats in Dubai, we’re meant to be used to saying goodbye to friends, but sometimes it still feels hard. Our mum is really positive and when we told her she just said “Well, now you’ll have a friend in Miami”… We just looked at each other and knew it was a great song idea.

What got you into writing songs? We’re identical twins and have been making up songs, poems and stories together since we were tiny (we’re 12 now!). Songwriting just seems like a really fun and natural way for us to put things into words, like losing friends, or the pressures to conform, or sometimes more whimsical things like nature and folklore.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Definitely the initial ideas phase. It gets a bit boring when it comes to recording it and Venice gets frustrated playing the same thing over and over on her guitar or ukelele!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? We just use a pen and paper to work out the lyrics while Venice plays around with the melody. Then we sing the harmonies and put it together. It’s usually a fairly fast process.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Inspiration comes from books, feelings, things happening in our lives, nature… lots of things can give us the initial spark, then we play around and see if there’s a good song in it. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? We have a lot of fairly obscure, old time influences, but one band we’d love to work with is definitely First Aid Kit. They’re sisters, like us, they sing beautiful harmonies and we love their folkish country style.

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 are hesitating, just do it and see what happens. Don’t feel bad if you’re not shortlisted, because there are hundreds of entries and the competition is amazing. But listen to the finalists and see if you can find inspiration from them. But also, don’t try and sound like anyone else, just do you!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s easy to enter and you don’t have to record in a fancy studio or have expensive equipment. It’s genuinely about the song and you feel truly heard.

 

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 1,000 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.

Alice Maxwell – Sometimes

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  During lockdown, I had noticed how hard it had been for many, whether taking public exams, or coping on your own, as my granny had experienced. However, my song isn’t just based on the difficulties in lockdown but also a general message that goes out to everyone that ‘it’s not whether you are knocked down, but whether you get back up again.’ The aim of my song is to prove that there is always hope at the end of the tunnel and difficult times will mostly always get better. My step Grandpa passed away just over two years ago and I notice in my Grandma that she will always miss him, but instead of feeling sad about his passing away, she can feel happy about the amazing things that he did in his life. I hope that everyone can find their own interpretation to my song, and that maybe it can give them just a little bit of hope.

What got you into writing songs?  When I was 8/9 years old I decided that I wanted to start teaching myself the ukulele, so, as a result, I used my pocket money to buy one from the music shop near me. After time I improved at playing it, and that same year, I wrote a song for our talent show in Year 4. Ever since then, I have enjoyed writing songs, and have subsequently taught myself the guitar on my dad’s old one and have now taught myself the piano on my keyboard, in which I have written my song ’Sometimes’ that I entered into the competition this year.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I think that may favourite part of writing a song is, once I have found the melody to my verse, progressing the song and thinking about how I am going to keep it interesting throughout the rest of the it. I also love to watch it come together as a whole once I have come up with the 4 different melodies.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  To write my entry, I simply used my notebook and write down the chords and lyrics as I went along. To record, I used my microphone I recently got for Christmas, in which I set up in the shed at the back of out garden to act as a mini recording studio!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start my song with a chord pattern and then actually I usually think if my theme after that as I just want to get going! After finding the chord pattern to my verse, I add a melody on top, in which I sing.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Probably Amy Winehouse as she is such a talented song writer and singer!

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 you should write a song on whatever you feel passionate about, as it helps you to write the song enormously!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I love how it gives your song/songs a proper chance to be heard!

Brydie O’Hanrahan – Never Said My Goodbyes 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  What inspired me to write my song was music from famous singers and people because it is the story for my song.  What got me into writing songs was my favourite singers such as Queen, Elton John, George Michael, ABBA and David Bowie.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the writing process was creating the lyrics because I could be free with my word choice.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  To write my song it all started with me just writing the lyrics in a piece of paper and then I recorded it with Jessica Steele with professional gear.  How I found that spark to write the music was I listened to different singers and how they structured their songs and that helps me find the tempo and the lyrics to the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream celebrity to collaborate with would probably be Queen or Elton John.

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?  What I would say as advice to the people who are thinking of entering next year is start writing your music now so you have the rest of the year to perfect it and write as many songs as possible so you have a wide range of songs that you can enter into the competition and even if you don’t make it through you still have songs that you could show to producers or use for auditions. There is so many positive outcomes from creating songs.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  What I like about this competition is we get to listen to other people’s music so we have inspiration moving forwards with other songs we create in the future.

Charlie Prince – I’ve Gotta Be Me 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  What inspired me to write I’ve gotta be me is because of people telling people to act a certain way or look a certain way but everyone is unique and does not need to blend in with the crowd

What got you into writing songs?  My sister actually started writing songs first and I really wanted to give it a go so I tried it and now it’s my new favourite hobby

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part about writing songs is when you get to record yourself singing and then listen to the song you have made.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  To write my song, I had my computer, some headphones and some paper and a pen. That really is all it takes to write a meaningful song

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I used lots of different techniques; for example, I picked out 5 items in my room and put them together and see what song title you can make and then carry on from there!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?   If I had to choose one artist to collaborate with, I don’t know if I could choose! I like so many artists and music 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 say go for it, and the tip I would give them is write about something you feel strongly about so you can do what you enjoy and spread a powerful message at the same time.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how the age limits to enter are very far apart so you could be writing a song for fun (at 8) or you could be writing a song for an entry for college (at 18)

Cora Harkin – Rumour

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  It was something I noticed that goes on in school. People will gossip and make up stories or exaggerate about people. It’s not right and I wrote this song about that.

What got you into writing songs?  When I started playing the guitar I just started messing around with chords. The first song I ever wrote had 2 chords – Am and C, I since went back to that song and added two more chords! I then began to learn the piano and I do the same with the keys. I like English in school and I like creative writing and writing poems so that always helps with my lyrics.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I love performing the song live to an audience when it’s finished. It gives you confidence in performing your own song. I can’t really make a mistake because it’s my song and however I play it is the way it goes!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  this song, ‘Rumour’, I kept it very simple. I just started playing my guitar and singing. I recorded what I had on my phone. I then had to go back and edit it, as it was about 7 minutes long, I do go on a bit! I then tried it on the piano and thought it sounded richer, so I just recorded myself playing and singing on my phone and uploaded for the competition. It’s very raw with no production, no professional recording gear and no edits. If it wasn’t for Covid restrictions and lock down I would of liked to perhaps go to a studio and add some production and effects. But I still think it stands up as it is.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Most of the songs I’ve written have been based on what I see around me. This song is about a situation I noticed at school. I usually have a riff and then I structure the song around that. I’ve quite a few riffs now, who knows what songs they will turn into. I usually get inspiration quite late at night. Something will spark and I’ll grab my guitar and see what I can do before my family start telling me to be quiet because they want some sleep!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Definitely Queen – I’m a huge Queen fan. I’d love Brian May to lay down a guitar solo on a song I wrote. I’ve recently been getting into Oasis, my dad loves Oasis. I’d love to write Liam Gallagher a song.  Mother Mother are also really cool. I’d definitely like to write a song with 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?  Definitely go for it as it is good motivation to finish a song. I have many unfinished songs and competitions are a good way to finish the song. Song Academy’s competition is UK wide and it allows a wide audience to hear your song. My tip would be to keep writing and write what you like, and stuff you relate to.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the motivation to finish a song and submit it for people to hear. I also like the feedback and tips you get to help develop as a song writer. It’s a good way to bring like minded people together on one platform and share creativity.

Eleanor Crickmore – Dance Floor 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I like composing songs so I just got an idea and developed it.  I come from a very musical background

 What is your favorite part of the song writing process?  When it all comes together at the end and you add the finishing touches

 How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I begin with de chorus and a tune and then make the lyrics and the verses.

 Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift or Clean Bandit.

 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?  Make sure the song is catchy and memorable

 What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It gives people a chance to share their music to places that they wouldn’t reach if they didn’t enter.

Ellie-Rose Heimans – Out Of Touch

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  The strangeness of the lock down inspired me to write this song. Life has felt very disconected and I’ve been missing my friends and grandparents.

What got you into writing songs?  I love poetry and music and my music teacher was impressed with my song so she entered me into this competition .

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I loved writing the lyrics. It was really fun seeing the sing come to life and collaborating with my little sister who played the drums. I also love performing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? I wrote it at home on my piano.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with the chord progression, then i play it over and over until the tune starts coming to me.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Paul McCartney

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?  Definitely enter because you never know and it feels really great to be part of this song writing community.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It gives young people a chance to explore their talents. I loved hearing my song up on Soundcloud along with all the other entries. It feels so professional!

Isla Campbell – Did I? 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote my song from the perspective of being a victim of bullying. I wanted to raise awareness for situations like this, whilst also writing something that can be interpreted in different ways.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve always loved music, not only listening to it but playing too. I play piano and I like to sing. I like to work out songs that I like by ear and sing along.  I also aspire to the singers that I listen to like Koffee and Tiana Major 9. Because of this I’ve naturally got in to writing my own songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I think writing the lyrics, because it is the part of the process where I get to express my feelings the most.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I started with pen and paper then I transferred the lyrics onto notes on my phone. I used my electric piano in my bedroom. I then slowly started to transfer onto Garage Band for the backing whilst also recording my chords straight from the piano. I recorded my lyrics with a microphone that we have connected to my computer (I did all of this in my bedroom!).  I start with a topic that’s important to me and sometimes I’ll start with a poem. I’ll establish my chords and start to write the lyrics.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would choose Koffee because of her pure talent and the fact that she also writes songs about things that are important to me.

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 really recommend entering the competition, it’s a really fun and exciting process, and you learn so much! I wouldn’t worry about the amount of time it takes, because in the end the song you come out with is a reward in itself and something you should be very proud of. My tip is to write from the heart.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s a fun and rewarding thing to be a part of. It’s helped me create something that I’m proud of and inspired me to write more.

Jack Strickland – On Top Of The World 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote On Top Of The World because I was thinking how great it is to have people who care for you, love you, and how it makes you feel on top of the world.

What got you into writing songs?I became interested in songwriting when I started to learn   the piano. I found all these chords and so, I found chord sequences and created melodies over them. The satisfaction and happiness that I got made me love songwriting.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the songwriting process is when you find the chorus of the song. The music seems to come to life at that moment and the other parts of the song fall into place.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  For my SAYS21 entry, I wrote on the piano with my pen and paper.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Usually, I find a chord sequence on the piano and then I create a chorus. Then I find the other parts like the verse, and bridge section for example. Next I find the meaning of the song and find it’s message and the story of the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with is Paul McCartney. This is because he is such an accomplished songwriter who has made some unbelievable songs. He writes great melodies and is a very good musician. The way he writes to me is very inspiring.

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 Song Academy is great to do because it gives you something to feel good about and that you can feel proud of your creations. A good tip is to have fun and be happy about your achievements no matter how far you get in the competition.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like Song Academy because you can meet and hear other songwriters that are your age that are also inspired by music.

Johnny Beau – Illusion 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Having spent so much time on my own in lockdown I had lots of thoughts running round my mind as I was revising for exams. This inspired me to write a song based on the ideas of having thoughts running through my mind that I didn’t want. So as I wrote the song it made me feel better!

What got you into writing songs?  Music is all around me at home from opera to jazz and soul music . I love vocalists such as Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell because they know how to express feelings in their music.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  When I have finally found the right chord that connects the verse to the chorus.

Describe your set up to write #SAYS21 entry.  I used a piano and pen and paper. I like to be able to play the instruments that are on my songs.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark I have a little book by my bed and sometimes at night I get Ideas and put them in the book. I get ideas from other artists about how to use lyrics and the styles of singing.

Who would be your dream artist/band to collaborate with?  My dream artists to collaborate with would be David Bowie

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering? Do you have any tips for them?  It’s a really good way of getting a song finished! My advice would be don’t over complicate the chords sometimes the simplest songs are the best.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?   It’s a great way to get creative especially during lockdown.

Lauren Withall – Be Proud 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wanted to be more confident in myself and I wrote some lyrics about this, and about how it’s important to just be proud of who you are.

What got you into writing songs?  I feel like it’s a really good way to channel my emotions, and I love writing. English is my favourite subject in school, and song writing is a bit like poems. When I got a guitar I began to write my own songs and my teacher really encouraged me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  When you get a brainwave it’s always fun to be scribbling down idea.

Describe your set up to write #SAYS21 entry.  Just a pen and paper, and my guitar and piano, the old fashioned way!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I scribble down ideas then I do a bit of a mind map and string all the pieces together, and then have a brainwave!

Who would be your dream artist/band to collaborate with?  Sigrid, she is a Norwegian singer and she writes all her own really cool music.  I also like Haim they have got a very casual style, they live in LA, their music is the kind of thing you hear in a beach bar it’s very catchy.

What would you say to someone thinking of entering? Tips?  Go for it! Be Brave. Be Proud, to quote my own song! You might doubt yourself along the way and think that other people’s songs are much better but you just need to believe in your song and have lots of fun with it.

What do you like about the competition?  I think it gives freedom for people to open up their voice and let themselves be heard through music, it’s a wonderful opportunity.

Lily Carroll – Golden Days 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  The inspiration for my song is the feeling when a day feels truly golden. When you’re with friends and family and great things are happening you forget the things that have happened in the past and this is what my song is about.

What got you into writing songs?  When I was younger I would always write songs whenever I had time but I never really thought anything of it until lockdown when I really had time to write. During lock down it was definitely the thing I did most and was probably my main coping mechanism and certainly still is.

What is your favourite part of the song writing proccess?   I really love that with song writing there are not boundaries what so ever. My favourite part of the process though is definitely that initial spark as I think that’s what really keeps the magic of writing alive. Also the satisfaction of turning something that has happened which wasn’t necessary a positive experience into a song I’m really proud of is always going to be magical.

Describe your setup that you used to write your entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  When I write it usually starts with a pen and paper for the lyrics and voice memos for the melody. I just think this is the easiest way of doing it and it doesn’t involve any fancy tech. Sometimes when an idea comes to me I know I only have a really short amount of time to record it before I forget it and voice memos is awesome for this. I also fiddle around on the guitar and piano a lot because I think it definitely helps build on ideas and also sparks new ones to; plus it’s really fun!!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Normally if I’m in a moment that’s really special or something that’s happened that’s impactful to me I get ideas in my head. I also love to read quotes and common phrases that people use because I think the way people communicate is always going to be an inspiration for songs. I think that you can get inspiration from anywhere, you just have to look beneath the surface to find it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Definitely Taylor Swift and Niall Horan! I think they are both legends and the way that they write and perform is out of this world!!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering? Do you have any tips for them?  I would definitely advice them to enter, I mean why wait! I would also say to them to enjoy the whole process of creating a song because songs live forever.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?   I love the way it’s a friendly competition and you get to hear everyone else’s music as well, I think that makes it very interesting and fun.

Lily Criddle – Fireflies

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was finding lockdown difficult and was missing my friends. Music always makes me feel better and so I started the song just playing around on the piano. I love the image of fireflies in the night and thought it would be fun to base the song on this. As I was feeling sad, I tried to put my feelings into the song imagining some sort of heartbreak.

What got you into writing songs?  We love and play music in our family. I have been coming up with songs since I was five. As soon as I learnt to play piano, I started writing more and recording some of them.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love writing the lyrics because there is so much space for creativity. You can express yourself and invent different stories.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? I wrote the song playing on the keyboard in my bedroom and put it down on paper. Once the song was finished, I recorded it in our small home studio.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I begin by playing around on the piano and ideas tend to just appear. Sometimes I have an idea already in my mind that can be used to fit into the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I really like Cavetown (Robin Skinner) and would love to meet and collaborate with him. I love the relaxed vibe that calms me down. It is incredibly interesting music that keeps me immersed.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I was a finalist last year with my song “Don’t You Worry” and wanted to try again. I enjoy sharing my music with other people.

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?  The Song Academy competition is a really great opportunity to have your music heard by lots of people. I would say don’t be afraid to be yourself and have your own style – do what you want to do!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s great to have the chance to show my music and get to hear so many great songs from other people.

Lois Brooks – Girl In The Dress 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The internet where girls are always dressing up glamorously for ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, instead of just trying to be themselves.

What got you into writing songs? – I’ve grown up listening to all types of different artists, and they have inspired me to write my own songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? – I like the part when all my ideas start coming together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? – The lyrics to “Girl In The Dress” was just written into my lyric book, I then played around at the piano trying some different chords. My dad has a studio where he helped me record and develop the song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I sometimes lay in bed and melodies and lyrics will just pop into my head, I then write these ideas into my lyric book.  I will then experiment at the piano with some chords and see if I can get the melodies to fit.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to have sung with David Bowie, the song I would have liked to sing with him would have been Heroes.

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 go for it because it is really exciting to find out if you got into the final 30 and it is very interesting listening to all the other entrants.

Do you have any tips for them? Don’t worry if all your lyrics don’t rhyme and try to write about something that is important to you or write about how you feel about something.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s an opportunity to have professional song writers hear your songs.  It’s also really good to hear other people of a similar age and what their songs sound like.

Luke Pender – Follow Me

What inspired you to write your finalist song? What got you into writing songs?  After learning the piano and the guitar, I started experimenting with chord progressions and melodies. I really enjoyed it, and then started to write lyrics.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really enjoy ‘layering’ songs, adding harmonies and additional instruments to the basic song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I record my piano playing, guitar and vocals on garage band, before adding additional instruments via the app.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I normally start with interesting melodies and chord progressions and then start to think of lyrics to match.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Paul McCartney… Living legend!

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 great fun and motivates you to write songs. I would say to write about your own experiences and things you enjoy.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s great to be part of the competition, listening to the other artists and to see what people think of your work.

Macy O’Neill – Voices

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  When I wrote “Voices’ I used the song as an outlet for all my feelings. I felt like no one ever listened to me and I felt this song gave me a bit of a voice.

What got you into writing songs?  This amazing songwriting adventure started last year when I thought I could write a song about how hard the NHS were and still are working and ever since then I fell in love and couldn’t stop.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the songwriting process has got to be finding the melody and chords.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I first started with my piano and some bad quality phone audio recordings but soon I developed it onto my microphone at home and into Logic Pro X.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start a song by getting onto the piano and playing random chords and deciding what I like or sometimes I just randomly think up some words and a melody and then I have to figure it out on piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  The artist that I would love to collaborate the most would have to be Elton John as he is a legend and all of his songs are amazing. Also I feel I could learn a lot from him and he could help me develop my songwriting career.

What made you enter #SAYS21? I entered #SAYS21 because I wanted people to listen to my music and feel something and maybe make someone’s day better; I never thought I would get this far.

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 the one thing I would say to people wanting to enter a competition such as this is when you’re writing a song write from the heart. Don’t try and write things that you think other people like, write things that come from you and not from anyone else.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition gives young singers a voice and get some a bit of recognition for all the hard work and passion that they’re pouring in to their songs and I think that’s very admirable.

Maeve Thumim – Waiting 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Lock down. I was bored, I wasn’t allowed on a screen and I was listening to music, and I thought: why not write a song?!

What got you into writing songs?  I love music, and these are some of my favourite artists; Billie Eilish, Jorja Smith, First Aid Kit and Christine and the Queens.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  When you have to jumble it up a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to make it fit together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? At first it was a pen and paper, then my brother (who is into beat making – he has a mic) helped me produce it and he made a beat.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Iusually  start by writing a list of words that I want to write about, and  go on from there.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jorja Smith or Christine and the Queens.

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? The worst that could happen is that you don’t win. I’d say that you should totally enter.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? That it is a great opportunity.

Matilda Gant – New Horizons 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? For my finalist song I was inspired by the quote “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today” – Will Roberts.

What got you into writing songs? I got into writing songs as it was a way to express how I am feeling, allowing me to do it through something I love.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is when you get an idea and feel a rush of excitement to start writing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? I use my songwriting notebook and pens. I also use a microphone called Tonor and of course my trusty piano.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song with a topic or theme that is personal to me. If I have nothing then I use quotes or other techniques to spark a song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would like to collaborate with Tom Walker. I love how heartfelt his music is.

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 don’t hesitate. If you write a song you may think it’s rubbish but others might not. You should find the courage to enter it, you never know how good it might be. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how inclusive and supportive everyone is. It is a happy and safe environment to be in. I feel encouraged and confident to share my songs.

Nelly Bingham – Teardrops 

What got you into writing songs?  Because I grow up with so many different styles of music all around me, I’ve been able to create my own fusion of sound. Before writing as a solo artist, I wrote with my friend Greta and we had such a good time! I continued writing by myself and it seemed I was loving it even more. I had found a hobby that reflected who I was.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I love the first part. The part where it is quarter-past eight in the morning, you’re brushing your teeth and you randomly start singing a song you have never heard of. As the day goes on, you can’t get it out of your head. Then, when you’re brushing your teeth at quarter-past eight in the evening, you decide to write it down.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS21   ?I wrote my song in my bed with a biro and a single piece of paper. Then when it came to recording, my dad has a section of our flat where he records music.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  For most of the songs I write, certainly this one, I don’t need to experience anything in particular. I just pick an emotion, for example sadness, and go from there. For me I don’t need to really feel an emotion but when I write the song, it seems as though I do feel that feeling. Most people may think this is a strange method. It works well though.

Who would be your dream artist/ writer/ band to collaborate with?  Now this question excites me! Well… I think it has to be Taylor Swift. She is such an amazing artist and her style is quite similar to mine. If I could collaborate with a band I would say Walk of the Earth. They are the cleverest musicians I have ever heard.

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  The inspiration of my song is a mysterious one. I love to sing, dance and love. My parents are also very musical and I was very lucky to grow up in a house brimming with music. The theme is about a person who has been left by her partner, quite a common choice for a song. I suppose the inspiration may come from my parent’s separation. It was the worst thing to hear but music is my hope to battle through the tough times. When I write my songs I am transported to another world. A world that belongs to me where I make the rules. This song is my first shot to a career in music. That is probably the thing that has inspired me most of all.

What would you say to someone entering next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Go for it. If this is you and you get joy from doing this, then you’re on the right path. Let the music flow through you and… be proud of yourself for even entering and participating. Tips: take it easy and believe in yourself.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It is a great kick-start for budding young musicians like me. It has pushed me to put myself out there, boosted my self-confidence and has made me create a brilliant piece of music. For those reasons I would like to say: thank you and even if I don’t win I’ll be back next year.

Niamh Gallen – Sing Good Vibes

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  My passion for singing and how it makes me feel. I wrote my finalist song in the middle of the 2020 COVID lockdown, so as you can imagine, moral was pretty low. I then thought about how singing and song writing makes me happy, then maybe I could try making others happy through my music.

What got you into writing songs?  Well, I have always thought it’s really cool that just a pen and paper can turn into a beautiful song filled with all different kinds of sounds and words. A song can make me other people feel happy and uplifted.  When I sing, I feel like I’m on top of the world and nobody on the entire planet can pull me down. As I mention in my song, singing makes me feel alive, I can set all my emotions free through writing my songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Probably when it starts in my head as a tune and I can feel the song coming alive as I start to think of the lyrics. All based on that one note that starts off if in my head. Writing beautiful mixture of notes and words makes me happy and most importantly it makes me feel complete.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It really was just me at my desk writing with a pen and paper and my guitar.  Strumming along on my guitar as I say and sing the words to see if they will fit in to the song. I then began choosing which notes would suit the type of song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Usually it depends on how I am feeling at the time.  If I am having a happy day or down day, I think about how that made me feel and try and express it in my songs. Song writing is my everything, without it I don’t really know how I would be able to express my emotions.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream artist would be Rihanna or Pixie Lott because I love all their songs. I would love to sing with them.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  If you feel that spark to write, just go for it.  I never thought I would be one of the finalists. It does not matter what other people thing about your song, as long as it makes you happy that’s all that matters.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think it is a huge help to anyone who loves writing songs and a great opportunity to show your songs to the world and share your voice. Really inspiring to know that lots of other people out there are just like you who love singing and write songs.

Queenie Stanbridge – Braveface

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was feeling hurt and betrayed by a good friend, but I didn’t want to make the situation any worse by saying how I truly felt. Those feelings didn’t go away and I still felt sad, so I played my faithful Am chord and the song came pouring out and I felt much better.

What got you into writing songs?  I have always loved singing and my parents reliably inform me that the first song I made up, at the age of 3, was to the chorus of a northern soul classic “What” by Judy Street, my version was about butterflies and caterpillars.

What is you favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the songwriting process is coming up with a good melody that fits with my idea for the song. I like this part because it is the very first step before the song begins and I find it really satisfying.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote my song at my piano with a pen, paper and a lovely view from my window. Once I had finished the song I used garage band to produce my entry with a bit of help from my Dad.

How do you usually start the song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start the song at my piano and play around with the melody. The spark can come from anywhere, whats going on in my life or around me, what I’m feeling, nature, the seasons.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream artist to collaborate with is Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy because he is an amazing singer songwriter and his songs are really quirky and the words are so clever.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I entered #SAYS21 because my music teacher Mrs Byrne sent me an email about it and I thought ”what an amazing opportunity to to enter my music”and for it to be heard by professional 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?  If I knew someone who was thinking about entering, I’d say don’t be afraid to be yourself or stand out from the crowd.

What do like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 competition?  I really enjoyed listening to the other entries because it was very inspiring and it has inspired to write some more songs.

Raine Surla – Unique 

What inspired you to write your song? I was inspired by my best friend and just the idea of friendship and how special it is.

What got you into writing songs? I always loved listening to music and I wanted to see if I could do it to.

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? When it all comes together at the end.

Describe the set up that you use to write your entry. I just used pen and paper and my keyboard.

How do you usually start a song?  I think about something that means a lot to me and try to put it to music.

Who would be your dream artist 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?  Give it a go – you have nothing to lose.

What do you like about Song Academy? It gives you a chance to write more songs and learn how to write more advanced songs.

Rose Rowntree – I Dream Of You 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  As in the words in the song, ‘there’s this boy who I kind of like’.

What got you into writing songs?  I started loving songs while learning to play the guitar and I thought I could write my own songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Sitting on my bed with my guitar and creating the melody.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  When things happen to me I want to tell the story with music.

Who would be yo ur dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Ariana Grande and Oasis, totally different but both cool. Also Olivia Rodrigo.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  To give young people the chance to put their song out there.

Sambelle Prince – Slowly

What inspired you to write your finalist song? What inspired me was the kind people around me.

What got you into writing songs? I love to sing songs that I feel link to my experiences so writing my own is perfect for me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is writing the middle 8 because it is usually the opposite subject of the song which is very exciting and intriguing to write the carefully thought lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper of a fully kitted studio? To write my entered song, I used some coloured pens, some sheets of paper and the song academy app.

How do you usually start a song? I usually start a song with many different exercises. Sometimes I will get some words from a magazine or book and link them to create a song theme, or I will just think of an experience I have had and incorporate them into a song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would collaborate with Lizzo because her songs really dive me lots of energy and make me feel happy. Her songs are also very catchy and are what I am aiming for my songs to make people feel, even if they are sad, they still give off hope.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song academy young song writer competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? If I were to give them advice it would be to write your songs from the heart.

What do you like about this competition? I like that this competition is very fun to compete in but is also a challenge and motivates you to impress the judges. I think that it is a good experience learning what it feels like to be very committed.

Skye Bishop – Butterflies 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I am a competitive runner, and I run track and CX for my club, Thames Valley Harriers. Before races, I get very nervous. I wrote this song in order to help me with the Butterflies I get in my stomach before each race.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve been writing songs since I was 8.  I’m not sure why I do it. I just enjoy making music and the lyrics allow me to express myself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  At times, songwriting can be frustrating, so I leave the song and come back to it a few days later. But sometimes the words just roll out perfectly. That’s such a good feeling.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  Both, I started it at my piano, then worked at it during one of Song Academy’s song writing courses and then finished it off in the studio. I am always changing words at the last minute.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Can happen anywhere, often it’s in the car or at my piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Taylor Swift

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! It’s great fun. Especially the final concert.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I really like the live performance at the end of the competition. It’s so much fun.

Thommy Bailey Vine – Together For Christmas 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  The fact that none of us were able to get together for so long, which made me so sad, but also that we could still be together virtually, even if it’s not the same.

What got you into writing songs?  I really love singing and I’ve wanted to be a songwriter for a long time.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Recording the song, even if it takes a long time to get it how I’d like it!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I had a pen and paper and my guitar. I started by strumming a chord sequence, then I wrote the melody and lyrics. My uncle bought me a distortion pedal last year, so it was awesome to be able to put that sound in as the song builds.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start a song by finding a good chord sequence on either my guitar or the piano, and the melody just seems to happen in my head, then I find lyrics for it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Taylor Swift 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?  Believe in yourself and keep writing songs!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that people get to listen to my songs and see who I am. It’s great to hear other young people’s songs too.

White Cloud – Modern Romeo & Juliet

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I have been studying Shakespeare and my favourite play is Romeo and Juliet which was the inspiration for this song.

What got you into writing songs?  When I was younger I used to play around on the piano and compose music.

When is your favourite part of the song writing process? Writing the lyrics

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? It was pen and paper as well as a small keyboard on my desk on the landing at home during lockdown.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Brad Meldhau as my pianist, a Miles Davies/ Chet Baker trumpeter and Mo Pleasure on the bass.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Believe in yourself.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that everyone has been included and everyone can listen to each other.

 

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 1,000 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.

Aleks Kostov & Aryan Pal– Two Two Seven 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was reading about the competition on the website as I got informed about it… and as I was scrolling I saw that you guys were looking for kind of a “deep” song, so I was like right… let me talk about my life

What got you into writing songs?  I listened to music and I was never satisfied by the lyrics. I’d always change the lyrics up in a song and be like “that sounds better”.  So I just decided to write my own music that satisfies me. That’s also the reason I do several genres.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  My spark comes from my mood… I’ll start writing whatever is on my mind depending on my mood.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  SANTAN DAVE… I cannot get enough of this guys 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? Don’t be scared to try something… you can lose from not trying but you don’t lose nothing from trying… take every opportunity.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it makes you feel involved and it gives people an opportunity to evolve.

Benjamin Frere – Laying On Mars 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was in an online science lesson for school and I began to wonder what a tree would look like if it could grow on Mars. Very quickly, this turned into a fully fledged daydream about ‘laying on mars’. I kept my guitar next to my working space for when I had finished my work and so I picked it up and began to write the chorus.

What got you into writing songs?  My Brother and I have always had a shared love for music, especially on long car journeys. He used to be the musical one, but he had to stop doing music for personal reasons and so I thought I’d try and live up to his passion. After a few years of learning guitar, piano and singing, I tried writing a song. But it wasn’t until lockdown started that I had enough time to actually finish one. It was called Pink Clouds.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Definitely after having trusted the process for ages on the production of one part of a song and then finally it comes together and sounds just how I imagined.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  Technically I wrote most of the song in my garden, but I am very lucky to have a small room with just enough recording equipment to more or less make the sounds I need. A keyboard and a MIDI, and a laptop with Logic Pro X and a Focusrite interface with a mic etc.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It starts one of two ways. Either I’ll sit at a piano or with a guitar and develop a melody or progression – then I’ll do my best to write whatever I’m thinking, but also making sure to make weird and wonderful lyrics – rather than ones I’ve heard before.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collab with?  My dream would be to work with FINNEAS, he is a huge inspiration when it comes to production. Also Lawrence the band and Jacob Collier are heroes of mine – and Yungblud, I could go on. Also Jimi Hendrix, Dire straits and Talking Heads are amazing but you can’t collab with the past.

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 first ask them why they’re thinking about it and haven’t already done it. But then I’d tell them that it’s 100% worth a shot if they have a genuine, undeniable passion for music and sound. Music is something none of us can live without, so there’s no reason not to live even more and have a great excuse to write.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?   I thought this from the start, and it is that it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how much equipment you have. Someone who just has a guitar and a voice has just as much opportunity and chance as someone with a full size music studio.

Charlie Hewlett – Dust In My Hair  

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  During the height of the first lockdown, I remember feeling really trapped just like many other people around the world. I’d been apart from my closest friends for so long and without them to cheer me up, or just simply give me a hug, I felt very alone. I wanted to write a song based around those two ideas, being trapped and being alone. I started off with the lyrics of the first verse: “I’m stood watching the sun rise over the hill, throwing pennies in a golden fountain watching the water spill”. For me this was about how I felt like every morning, I was waking up to another day of being alone and apart from people and I felt like I was hopelessly throwing another coin into a fountain wishing that tomorrow would be different.

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 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.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  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. 

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.

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 also 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 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!

Conor Marcus – No More Broken Hearts 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote the song about by mum, who’s mum passed away when she was my age. I was just imagining what it would be like to go through a loss like that, so I wrote the song from her perspective of the experience.

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 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.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I picked up my guitar and came up with the chords, and on my way home from a gig, I finished it using the Notes app on my phone.

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.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  A dream collab would have to be with Dean Lewis, his songs are really inspiring, and his lyrics are insane!

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I was part of a project in Belfast called Scratch My Progress, a nine-month mentoring program for northern Irish artists. A few people I met through that suggested the competition to me, so I thought it was worth a shot. I really didn’t expect to get into the top 30, but I’m over the moon that I have.

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 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!

Emily Semple – How To Be Vulnerable 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The lyrics came from an idea that had been going round in my head for a while. I was thinking a lot about the sense that vulnerability can be a strength, and this led me to think about what this meant in reality and to wonder if it can even be taken too far sometimes. I think this idea felt particularly relevant for young people this year.

What got you into writing songs?  I can’t remember! I was lucky to grow up in a house where there was always music around. I don’t even remember having to learn to read music, and as soon as I started playing the piano at an early age I began playing around with harmony and singing along. It just grew from there, and it’s been a really good outlet for self expression.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I don’t think I have a favourite part. Every song is different. For some songs, the lyric-writing part is very cathartic, for others it’s exploring the different ways of using harmony that I love.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? All my lyrics are on my Notes app, and to record I used garage band and a mic for the piano and vocals in our study at home.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I always start with the lyrics. I never have a ‘light-bulb’ moment as such, an idea just comes together when I have some headspace and time to explore my thoughts and feelings. Interestingly, this often comes when I take a break from social media!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  London Grammar would be amazing to collab 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? Don’t think about what the competition might want. Just make what you write as true to what you want to create as possible, and that will allow your passion and your authenticity to come through your writing, which is far more important than fitting into a box or a genre.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how the judges have looked for individuality and chosen such a wide range of styles. It’s also just a really good opportunity for young people to share their creativity and have a friendly and open platform for doing this, particularly for those who don’t have a lot of self-confidence or don’t already have links with the music industry.

Evernow Beats (EB) & Sarah Baaziz (SB) – Sahara 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  EB In terms of the production and instrumental side of the song, I was inspired by a general feeling of wanting to write something upbeat and catchy. I wrote the foundations of the song in the heat of early lockdown; I feel like music has been a really important form of escapism for me in the past year, both listening and writing. SB It was mid-lockdown and Alex approached me with this blazing, energetic instrumental and I just thought, something fun and fresh could really uplift us. I tried to imagine extremes – extreme heat, extreme energy, extreme excitement. I wanted to paint a picture of an upbeat adventure, and I thought the desert would be the perfect setting.

What got you into writing songs?  EB I started learning the piano when I was around 4, and since then I’ve always had an interest in writing music. Still, I never really wrote anything more developed until I was around 11, when I was inspired by producers on YouTube and started learning music software – and from there I’ve just been trying to improve wherever I can. Having listened recently to some of my songs at age 11, I’d like to think I have!  SB I have always been a curious person. Once I become interested in something, I cannot remain a viewer – I feel this urge to look into how things are done. And that is exactly what happened with music! I have always adored singing, but I realised that I could only convey so much raw emotion whilst singing other people’s songs. Music already made me feel so alive, but I wanted to take it to the next level. Singing my own melodies and my own words only amplified the musical experience, and that is what has kept me hooked.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  EB I’d say my favourite part of the songwriting process is the initial rush of getting the first idea for a track and being able to build upon it and really experiment with where I want the song to go; it’s the stage where I can really be most creative. SB I love writing chord progressions. There is simply endless possibility, which makes finding one you love so special.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry.  EB I work at a PC with Ableton Live 10 Suite installed, along with additional plugins that let me diversify the soundscape of a track (reFX Nexus 2, Serum, Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2) – by my desk is a Q49 MIDI keyboard that lets me input my ideas straight into the project. SB On my side, a pen and paper to begin with! Then the classic bedroom studio to record the vocals – a microphone, stand, headphones, and a laptop.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  EB Sometimes ideas just come to me, other times I find that I’m inspired by music that I listen to – oftentimes I start a project with a certain style or artist in mind from where I can develop it in a new direction and put my own spin on it. SB If an instrumental excites me, and triggers almost and uncontrollable vision for the song in my head, the song-writing process is so natural. The words and feelings flow onto the page.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  EB Firstly, it’s been incredible with a friend of mine, Sarah – she’s a fantastic singer; it’s always great bouncing ideas off each other and she always brings so much to the songs she performs.  This past year I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Ocean and SZA especially. Given that “Sahara” is just over a year old, it might not exactly reflect these influences, but I would love to collaborate with them as well as some of the YouTube producers that got me interested in production – Aries is a big one. SB I would love to collaborate with Anastacia. I cannot get enough of her funk records.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 thinking of entering next year? Any tips?  EB Do it! Getting your music out there is so, so important. In the way of tips, never get discouraged along the songwriting process – it’s an art like any other and it’s completely natural to get frustrated or hit blocks. Sarah and I wrote “Sahara” over a long span of time in which there were times in which we struggled to finish the song, but given enough time it came together really well. Never force yourself to write when you’re not inspired, but persevering with the craft will always be worth it in the end. SB I think the best way to go about it is to be true to yourself. To not change the way you write to fit someone else’s taste! If you are happy with your song, go ahead and submit it. Art is a ground-breaking medium for this very reason – diversity of perspective.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition?  EB What I love about the competition is the opportunity it gives us. There’s the prizes but just being involved is a great experience. The prospect of having your song listened to by such a talented judging panel this year is worth it alone.  SB I love the opportunity it grants. There is so much hidden talent that deserves a platform that, in hosting this competition, Song Academy provides!

Gabby Horne – Bring Back The Noise 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  During lockdown, the thing I missed most was entertainment, especially music. I loved going to see musicians live and listening to new tracks by upcoming artists, but when lockdown happened, it all came to a screeching halt. Writing “Bring Back The Noise” came surprisingly easily because it was something I had given a lot of thought to over the months stuck inside.

What got you into writing songs?  Over lockdown I decided to teach myself guitar. I had always loved to sing, so I ended up putting two and two together. My Dad used to write songs in a band as well and he’s always been my biggest inspiration, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I love the freedom of being able to create a narrative and put it to music.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I find that inspiration can strike at any time and I always have my phone on me so I can write notes or record audio clips. I usually find a chord pattern or get an idea for a melody. Then I put in temporary lyrics just to see how the song takes shape and that’s usually when it starts to come together. I take my inspiration from what is going on in the world at the time and also personal experiences. I find that it makes me feel better putting my thoughts into song form.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I love artists like Olivia Rodrigo and the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I’d say my biggest inspiration is Taylor Swift. I love her creativity when it comes to creating a story that she puts to music, like “Betty”. I also love the way her lyrics make me feel while listening.

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 go for it! It’s a really good opportunity to show experienced songwriters what you’ve got and get some professional feedback. I’d tell them to be confident in their own ability and not to worry about being judged – the competition is really positive and everybody is supportive.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the fact that it gives you a chance to get your music heard by people in the industry who really know what they’re talking about and can help you improve.

Gabriella Bongo – Don’t Call 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  There is no ‘big story’ behind this track. It was very late at night and I was bored so I just started a session and went with it. The song is not personal to me – it’s just about a random story I made up. I’m a very empathetic and sensitive person so I can often feel what others feel – even if i’ve never been through their situation.  So when it comes to songwriting, those traits can definitely work in my favour I guess.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve been musical all my life – singing, piano or just sitting in front of the TV for hours watching music channels like Channel AKA and Kiss. I started composing and writing songs seriously at age 9. Ever since then I’ve just been getting better and better and my love for the art has grown stronger and stronger.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When I hit save on the project for the final time. The feeling of creating something from nothing but a vision. Bringing that vision to life through lyrics, instruments, vocalists, artwork – all of it. I feel proud and happy every time.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It was in my bedroom studio. I saved up for it and bought everything at around Christmas 2020. My sessions are always late at night most of the time so I have my headphones on, keyboard, and my phone to record rough vocal melody lines and get down any lyrics. Then over the next few days (during the daytime) I recorded the vocals for the demo.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I encourage myself to have regular sessions. I always start with chords – I’m a pianist so it’s just natural for me to do that. Then I have a rough arrangement of the instrumental. After that I start on the vocal melody and lyrics. As for the ‘spark’, it’s rarely ever initial – I usually feel it along the way once I establish where the track could go.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Very hard question. I am going to have to say John Newman. His voice is absolutely incredible and it’s so unique and powerful. I listened to him a lot growing up and I still do. Collaborations are such a special thing to me – I’m a huge fan of all my collaborators and can’t thank them enough for believing in me.

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?  What is there to think about? You have nothing to lose. Even if you don’t get through, someone will have listened to your music. A complete stranger. That’s always a win. Their judgement doesn’t entirely matter because art is subjective so don’t take it personally. One tip I would give is fully finish your projects. If you are serious about music then have a studio-quality track.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like how it’s looking out for the next generation of talent. It’s giving young songwriters a chance to be taken seriously.

Hatty Yap – I Can’t Breathe 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Current events:  the pandemic brought about many changes good & bad, I saw the news of a grave injustice, I sat at the piano, my emotions did the rest.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been around music my whole life.  It’s my comfort zone, my friend, my expression.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Depending on the song subject but for me it’s melody.  I always start on the piano exploring new chord progressions and sampling rhythms, then bring in the lyrics.  The more powerful the subject the easier the song is.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I started on the piano, then transferred the accompaniment onto my electric guitar and recorded that into garageband.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Emotion is my trigger.  Melody often pops into my head and I play and record the idea.  Sometimes if I’m out away from my piano I will “la la’ the melody into my phone and work on it at home later.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  It would be a deream to collab with Queen, sadly Freddie Mercury is no longer here, therefore I would have to pick 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?  Write and enter your song, music is so subjective, it can never please all the people, all the time but it will reach the hearts of many and that’s a great achievement.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  This is a fantastic platform for songwriters to be heard and to learn from.

Herodot Maric – Sky and Stars

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Th Sky. I’ve had many experiences where I stop and stare at the sky for up to an hour straight. The colours, the gradients, the textures of the clouds are all so fascinating to me and I really wanted to express the way that I felt when looking at it. Especially during the summer.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve never been very good at structuring my sentences and phrasing things that I wanted to say. I found out that I could express my feeling through writing songs and making music in a way that I could never do otherwise.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  That’s a difficult question, but I would definitely say that it is the vocals. It just feels like the track comes together, and I believe that the voice is one of the best and most powerful instruments to exist in our world. Vocals are so malleable and you can use them to create different emotions in your song if used correctly, and I find the whole process behind both recording and editing vocals so fun.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  It was only really my laptop and my mic. I have Ableton Live, so that’s what I used to produce the beat. I used a homemade pop filter made of plastic pipes and a sock to filter out the popping sound. I also placed the mic in my cupboard for sound isolation while recording vocals.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  The very first step in my song writing process is the way that I’m feeling. For example; if I’m tired I’ll use sounds and chords to emphasise tiredness, like a soft warm synth with a slow attack. Written in a minor chord. Usually, if the melody does not sound interesting within the first 10-15 minutes of making a song, then I will discard the beat and start another one.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would absolutely love to work with Travis Scott one day. The energy behind his songs are unmatched and his vocal intonations are extremely catchy. He expresses his emotions and feelings brilliantly through both his lyrics and his instrumentals, he does not solely rely on the lyrics of his song to express the way he feels about something. Instead he will literally make you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster with all elements in some of his songs, like he does in his ASTROWORLD album. Despite the fact that people think he is very surface level, he takes you on a journey  through HIS party and HIS life. And you feel the way that HE feels which I find so powerful.

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! You can only gain from this competition! My tips for future contestants are to really try and experiment with different sounds and techniques. Taking risks in music is the reason that a lot of musicians have become popular!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that there is nobody holding you back from expressing yourself the way that you want to. I also like hearing all the other contestants entries because I love looking out for really good music!

Hetta Falzon – All It Takes 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? ‘All it Takes’ was inspired by something I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s about the one person who you will always feel something for. It’s really about this cycle of being loved and let down but never letting go, by choice, because you’d rather be loved by this person now and then, than not at all.

What got you into writing songs?  I started writing proper songs when I was 12, I’d been making up bits of songs forever really but that was the first time I wrote a real song. Songwriting was and is a way for me to clear my head and figure things out.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part is when it all comes just together, when you find one line or chord and everything sort of falls into place.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote ‘All it Takes’ at my piano at home, however I think I wrote most of it by recording voice notes if I had an idea at any point so really I wrote it all over the place.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I write songs about my experiences or something that’s been on my mind. Usually a couple of days after something happens, a lyric will come to me. Then I put it to a melody and chord and then write the rest of the song all together.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Lizzy Mcalpine, Dermot Kennedy, Bruno Major and definitely Tom Misch.

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 enter the songs that mean the most to you and that YOU want to enter because at the end of the day your song is also representing you as a writer.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s a really cool way to listen to what other people your age are writing and I’ve discovered so many songs that I love just from the Song Academy playlist. I also like how it is judged purely on the song and not the quality of recording or production which means anyone can enter.

Honor Carr – A Sunken Future 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? This song was inspired by the current pandemic and is written in the perspective of a woman to her son. It’s about what life could be like if the pandemic hadn’t been controlled and had gone apocalyptic.

What got you into writing songs? I first started writing songs just for fun and then realised how much I enjoyed creating melodies and chord progressions and so began to start writing seriously.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the process of songwriting is coming up with harmonies or different arrangements. So I’ll come up with a chord progression or some melodies but putting them together and playing around with it is what I enjoy the most.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  My set up for this song entry was very basic, as I have very limited equipment, and it was just recorded on my phone using the garageband app.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  When writing songs I usually start with chords or just the basic structure to build upon, very rarely do I start with a melody or lyrics. However, sometimes I’ll think of some interesting lyrics and then write the melodic aspects around it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream artist to work with would be either Lana del Rey, or Radiohead as I love both artists’ music so much and believe my style of writing is complimentary to theirs.

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 try and discover who you are as an artist and don’t be afraid to be original in your ideas and have a strong idea of where you’d want to take your music in the future.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the fact that you don’t need to have a lot of experience with recording or production to have a chance of getting through each round, as it is very much judged on the song and not on the production which I think is really important, and is a better way of finding raw talent.

Jacob York – Sweet Thing 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  The song flowed naturally from the start. With most of my songs I’ll get an idea that just comes randomly that I will write down in my phone. This time, I had an idea repeating in my head over and over, it was the ‘just a sweet thing’ line. Where these ideas come from I’ll never know but they do come and go at any moment, that’s part of the reason I love the feeling and process of writing. As soon as I had the chords for the track, I knew which way I wanted to go.

We all have a sweet thing, well most of us, and that sweet thing is something we do, have or want that we know is bad for us, but we just give in. If you were to just listen to the start of the track, you’d probably have a clear idea of where it’s going to go, it’s not until you realise the song is about heroin that you really feel it. My inspiration for this song is the inability to separate ourselves from our addictions and vices and the pedestal we put them on mentally to what they are physically.

What got you into writing songs?  I started off musically as a guitarist who could sing the odd note, I loved playing covers and listening to music. I never thought of writing my own song when I first started. That all changed when I first heard Jake Bugg, I had his debut album on repeat and just sat there every time I listened with amazement. I can just remember feeling great and really enjoying music before I knew it, I knew covers for the songs of the album. There then was a turning point where I had my lightbulb moment, if he can write songs about his life and get somewhere why can’t I. I had dreams of others listening to my songs and learning how to play them feeling the way I did. This took my writing so far, I was having fun with it.

Then I hit a wall in my life, I hit a low. For a young kid it’s a difficult time not knowing what is wrong or how to speak up about how you are feeling. Through writing I had an escape, I could get all my feelings out on to paper and make something of it, or I could be someone else for an hour. And I think this was the real seller for me, writing made me feel good.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the song writing process is that first initial idea, where there is just an overwhelming feeling of creativity. I think being able to get that first bit down is the most difficult but rewarding part of writing a song. It gives me a real thrill, and before I’ve even finished, I’m thinking of what’s next and where can I take this.

Describe your set up that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry. When writing my songs, I try to keep things simple. I’m sat with my guitar and phone playing and singing ideas and just going with what flows naturally. Then I’m just writing everything down in my notes and recording voice notes. For this song in particular I just played through the chords I had and then sang whatever came out.  It was one of those incredible moments where everything just comes together.

How do you usually start a song?  A lot of the time I just have a burst of an idea sometimes it’s a lyric, other times it’s just a song title and I write to the title. I try and stay aware of everything going on around me and I think a lot of my ideas come from what I have heard or seen either in that moment or in the past. They really do just come and go. Recently I’ve found myself being inspired by other people and putting myself in their world for an hour or to. I think by just looking for another angle or view to be able to find that first idea for a song has been really crucial for me as a song writer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  From a list a mile long of the people I would love to collaborate with, I would probably have to go where it all started for me. That would be Jake Bugg. Other than the fact he is an incredible writer in general, he is one of those song writers that writes stories and that’s how I see my songs.

What would you say to someone thinking of entering?  Go for it! I honestly can’t say anymore other then go for it. My top tip is to be proud of what you have created, that song is a piece of you so have the confidence in yourself.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think providing young songwriters a chance to have their music heard is my favourite thing about the competition. Not only having your songs heard by industry pros, but you also get to share your music with other young writers. So yeah, what I like most about the young songwriter competition is the community it creates between songwriters.

James Bakian – Divided 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Even though I haven’t gone through an actual break-up, I wanted to write a song about how I might feel if I really did find myself in a toxic relationship. I also wanted to write a stripped-down, ballad-like, emotional song after listening to “All of Me” by John Legend over and over, and “Divided” is what came out of it.

What got you into writing songs?  I got into writing songs after discovering Maroon 5, particularly Adam Levine. After becoming fascinated by his talent back in 2015, I wanted to challenge myself to write a song, and after that, I never stopped.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part is creating the melody because that’s where I feel like the song takes itself exactly where it needs to go, even if it takes time to get there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote “Divided” in my home-studio which is in my bedroom. I’ve got a keyboard, guitar, bass guitar, mixer, mic and Logic Pro X on my laptop, where all the magic happens, but my songs always start in the form of literal gibberish of vague vocal ideas on voice memos on my phone. From there they progress to the final productions.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Usually, I’m feeling some emotions that I feel like I need to let out, which always seems to result in me writing a song, because it’s the best way for me to express myself, even if the song might not necessarily be exactly what I’m feeling (sometimes it is), so I tend to sit at the piano when I’m alone, start playing some chords until it feels right, and the rest just starts to flow.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I really admire Charlie Puth. Music just flows out of him and he’s exactly the kind of musician I aspire to be. I love how the music he writes, sings and produces is all already pre-crafted in his head, and his job is to organise it, which he does amazingly well. That’s what I’ve found in myself as a writer, singer and producer. Making a song with Charlie would be a dream come true for me, especially because I still have so much to learn from 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?  If I could give a young songwriter some advice, it would be to write and write, because if it comes from the heart, eventually you’ll create something incredible.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like how the competition pushes young people and encourages creativity, allowing songs that might not otherwise be out there, a chance to shine.

Joe Lever – Clapham Junction 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I started out creating and then shaping the chords, and from there with the lyrics, I painted a picture of escape to a more vibrant world, away from our lockdown and the other pressures of life. Whilst they don’t describe the song, these pressures are very much an inspiration for writing it.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve been doing it for a pretty long time – it stems from listening to great music, great artists (old and new), and then from a young age just wanting to be like those artists.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  Definitely the musical side of things- sat at the piano, finding some great jazzy chords, and working from there is really what comes most naturally to me.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  For my entry, I just recorded the song with my setup at home- I basically did a live version of me playing (piano) and singing with my mic and midi.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It’s pretty spontaneous to be honest- sometimes you can sit for hours and get no where, and sometimes, the right vibe brings about that spark pretty quickly! I start writing a song almost always sat at the piano, and the first thing I do is figure out chords- their voicing, rhythm, and also experiment with melodies which work with them. I often find that writing late at night when the world is asleep is when I’m most creative.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Jacob Collier – he is such a musical genius in every sense: multi-instrumentalist, producer, harmoniser etc. He does it all, and so he would definitely be my dream artist to collaborate 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?  Never feel disheartened if you don’t have a professional production to send in. I and many others have made it to the finals with home recordings, so really if you write songs, just get them finished and go for it!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think what’s great about the competition is how it allows songwriters to enter without having to worry about their recording and production capabilities- the competition doesn’t require a complete studio production, and so this really does makes it accessible to all songwriters.

Leona Mae – Talks Too Much

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  This song started when I was jamming around with some chords, integrating minor and 7th chords to give it more of an edge. I wanted it to be fast so I decided to start writing an upbeat song but not the typical ‘feel good’ sweet sounding one I usually lean to. I started with the line ‘talks too much’ and built the song from there, wanting to use a more ‘racy’ interpretation of the line. I was writing from the perspective of a character, which I always find fun, and made her convey female empowerment; here is a girl/women who is saying exactly what she wants and with complete confidence.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve always enjoyed English at school, especially ‘creative’ writing ; it gives you freedom to be as creative as possible. But when you have to work and think really hard at how best to marry melody and rhythm to the words, it’s an even more satisfying task. I wrote my first song when I was 7 and was pleased with the result, so I thought I would carry on! As I went on, concerts always inspired me the most, like my first Concert ‘Red – Taylor Swift’, who I think is one of the best song writers out there. Seeing the crowd respond and fall in love with music was 100% what I wanted to achieve some day. I love how songs can make you feel different ways and you can intensify emotions when it all comes together in the right way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I would definitely say writing lyrics as there are so many different words to choose from, but when you stumble across a really clever line or word play (something you’re proud of), it’s a great feeling. Lyrics only have to be spoken (like a poem) and they can have an impact. I also like how they can create really cool rhythms as there’s so many ways to compose them ; you could do internal rhymes, or 3 lots of 2 syllable words in a row for example and it rolls off your tongue in different ways

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  To write my entry ‘Talks too much’ it was how I usually write ; sat cross legged on my bed with a guitar and the notes page open on my phone. For this one, I wrote it all in one sitting which is usually the way my favourite songs get written as the have more of a ‘flow’ to them. I use the voice memo app on my phone to record my ideas as I go along and then by the end, I had the whole song down.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I don’t usually wait until I find inspiration, I just sit down and decide I’m going to try. I find it’s better to write more often than to wait until inspiration strikes, especially as I like writing songs about characters/movies/situations I’ve observed rather than my own life. I plan what I want to say in each section and then jam around on guitar/piano until I’ve got a sound I like. I always start with the verse as well, because I find it easier to then know where to build up into for my chorus.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  This is an easy question for me, it’s always been Taylor Swift. I think she’s one of the greatest writers; She can write absolute killer commercial hits and then subtle lyrical geniuses like her latest era ‘folklore’. The range of genres she’s done is so impressive and if I got to write a song with her, I’d want it to be from her ‘fearless’ era. These were the ‘feel good’ country hits she did that were single-handedly responsible for every kid over romanticising their teen life!

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I entered last year so I knew about the annual competition and wanted to enter this year of course, I think it’s a great competition as the standard is so high. I’m a fan of so many people who’ve entered songs ; It’s tough, which is good.

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 to definitely do it, there’s nothing to lose and you can check out other people entering and collaborate even if nothing happens. In terms of your song, a tip I always use is to look through your song and think ‘if this song was turned down, what would be the reason’ and it forces you to identify the weakest points. Also, send multiple songs to a bunch of people and get them to vote their favourite, it’s hard to judge your own songs.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like how it’s a tough competition, the standard of applicants is really high – I know anyone who wants to be a song writer enters.  It’s a great collection point for me personally to check out everyone else and think about writing with people. Leading on from that, It’s great a playlist is put together so you can actually hear all the songs especially the ones that beat you so can try to think why and appreciate them. I also like that you have to put a description together and answer questions as when I did that, it was the first time I had thought about some of those things.

Lexie Carroll – We’re Not Lonely Anymore  

What inspired you to write your song?  I don’t really know where it came from as I’ve never had this experience but I had this image in my head of a very movie-like scene of meeting someone at a party you don’t want to be at with people you can’t understand and then heading outside to chat under the night sky. Quiet but with the distant sounds of the party in the background as you get to know each other.

What got you into writing songs?  I think I’ve always done it as I’m always singing so I’d just make up bits of songs. The earliest actual song I remember and wrote down was when I was 9 and I wrote about the summer holidays haha.  But as I’ve gotten older and written more and more it’s become a really helpful thing for me to get out my feelings.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  I love a second verse, I find them really fun to write as by that point I know what I’m writing about and I like adding details. There’s so much less pressure on a second verse than choruses or verse ones!! It’s very freeing.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote it in my bedroom with my guitar

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It’s sort of a subconscious thing I guess- I’ll often come up with a lyric not really knowing what it means or anything, I just think it sounds nice, and then as the song goes on I’ll realise what I’m writing about.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My favourite singer right now is Aurora, so that would be the dream at the moment. She’s like a fairy!! But also I’ve always wanted to collaborate with Cavetown, his lyrics are so so good and I think it would work really well.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I’ve been entering ever since I started at song academy 3 years ago :)

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?  Even if you don’t think your song is any good, you never know what might happen so you may as well give it a shot!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it’s focused on songwriting and you celebrate writers whereas usually people focus on singing. It provides such a great platform for anyone who wants to share stuff they’ve written.

Luca Howsam – Sunburn 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote this song during the first lockdown last year, I was feeling very isolated and made music as a way to reflect on how I felt. This song was one of the few I wrote in that time. I developed it further later in the year for my GCSE music composition.

What got you into writing songs?   I’ve always loved music and have been playing piano since I was young. I began learning how to produce a few years ago, I started writing so I could improve my production and express myself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I like adding layers and detail into my instrumentation, it helps to bring my songs to life I think.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I made my song with a laptop on Ableton. I also a used keyboard and a Focusrite Scarlett i2i audio interface and microphone.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with chords and then record different ideas onto my laptop. A lot of the time I have a full instrumental before I start writing the melody and lyrics.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to collaborate with Frank Ocean or FKA twigs. I also love Jack Antonoff’s production and would love to work with 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?  If you want to, just go for it!! There’s no pressure to win, but you never know what you can achieve.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it gives young people the opportunity for their art and voices to be heard and appreciated.

Meg Curl – Fabric Flowers 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  Fabric Flowers is inspired on the idea of writing letters to someone in a long-distance relationship. I was inspired by the longing for closeness and how hard the distance can be for couples across countries, time differences make a big change too. I think a lot of people know how difficult it is to be far away from loved ones after the virus so I wanted to write a song that can mean something to people.

What got you into writing songs?  I started piano when I was about 11, I started writing a couple of songs along to keyboard. But I really started writing songs when I taught myself guitar, I started making videos on YouTube and began uploading my own songs which increased my confidence, it was a really good way for me to express my emotions in a way I’ve never been able to before.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really enjoy trying to find lyrics that the listener wouldn’t expect and writing lyrics I haven’t heard in other songs before. I also love coming back to a song after a few days to edit and change lyrics for the better, making songs more complete feels very comforting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  My guitar, lyrics notebook and a pencil!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It is different for each song, but I start by trying to find poetic metaphors that fit how I’m feeling, that can then turn into lyrics. Once I have a few lines it gives me motivation to find more.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Dodie, Bruno Major, The Paper Kites or Jacob Collier.

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 a really great opportunity to put out your songs! And you get to hear all the other entries from other young artists which is inspiring. A tip would be to remember that any song can be improved so making multiple drafts of a song and then editing and getting second opinions from other people is helpful.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s really great to hear other artists work in my age group. I like that it gives less heard about musicians the chance to be seen.

Millie Rhye – Sometimes 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was just listening to the dramas my friends were having with boyfriends at school and thought it related well to teenage relationships.

What got you into writing songs? I don’t know really, I really love singing and it’s a way of expressing myself, and relaxing.  I just stared jotting down words then put them together and it sounded good.

What’s your favourite part of the song writing process?  Playing with words in sentences. Being able to express myself and song interpretation.

Describe your setup that you used to write your  #says21 entry, was it just pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote the song lyrics down then took them to my producer, then together we created the music. Then we recorded it in his studio and he mixed and released it for me.

How do you usually start a song?  How do you find a spark?  I’d say radio really . I love listening to songs and picking out cool sounding effects or instruments I think I could incorporate in a song and make it my own .

Who would be your dream artist/writer/ band to collaborate with?  Some of my biggest inspirations are Harry Styles , Tom Grennan and Billie Eilish . It would be a dream to just meet them let alone Collab with them!!!!!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter compertition next year?  Do you have any tips for them?  Yes, just go for it. Continue to enjoy what you’re doing and let other people have the privilege of your individuality.

What are your favourite other entries from this years competition? Who out if the other entrants would you like to collaborate with?  I love the sound of Lizzie Holliday . Her voice and song writing techniques are so different and I love the piano chords in her entered song “Alone Again”.  I also love her runs and inflictions are great.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition.  It gives me the ability to express myself through song writing and help get my music noticed.

Nettle – Honey

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was thinking about the everyday interactions people have with strangers, and what they can lead to.

What got you into writing songs?  I first started writing when I was about twelve and my dad bought me a ukulele – It was a really good outlet for me to express myself as I was always really shy. Since then I’ve started writing on the cello, guitar and piano.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really like writing the lyrics and finding ways to fit them with the melody, It’s very satisfying !

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I was lucky enough to record this at a friend’s studio, but usually I just work on a pen and paper level.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I think its usually just playing around with chords and humming along until you find something worth working on.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Probably Bjork because of her weirdness

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 probably just say go for it and don’t be nervous, you never know!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s such an accessible platform for young people writing music, amazing to have  your songs listened to and judged by such inspiring people!

Ollie Moore – Sign 

What inspired to write your finalist song?  I was inspired to write my finalist song as I had lost touch with a girl because of lockdown and it got to the point where I didn’t know what she was doing or where she was.   The situation inspired me to write my feelings down and this is what the song is about.

What got you into writing songs?  I got into writing songs because I found it an effective way to get my emotions out and written down to get them out of my system.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the song is when you finish that first chorus and you realise you have the main structure of a song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I wrote this song on the beach with pen and paper.  I was looking out over the ocean at the time.

How do you usually start a song?  I usually start a song with just a melody or a phrase comes to mind.  I expand upon it with chord progression and more lyrics.

How do you find that spark?  Finding that spark is just a feeling I get.   When this happens, I drop everything and focus on my song writing.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to collaborate with James Bay or the Artic Monkeys.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year?  Do you have any tips for them?  I would say to any youngster, ‘If you don’t try, you’ll never know!’  ‘Believe in yourself’.  ‘Don’t have any self-doubts because there is always someone willing to listen.’

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that the SAYS competition is a great platform for young songwriters to get their music heard by professional ears and I am so glad I entered.

Rachel Burnett – Like A Shadow Steals the Sun

What inspired me to write this song?  I wrote this song at a time when I was especially feeling lost. I struggled to find any motivation to carry on with the things I loved, as I felt so isolated. So I personified the loneliness and addressed it in the song. This is representative in the lyrics, ‘The light is melting, am I one with you?’ in the second verse and as I talk about letting go and giving in to the isolation, elsewhere in the song, with ‘take my heart, take it all, like a shadow steals the sun’.

What got you into writing songs?  I got into songwriting after growing up training as a classical singer and pianist, whilst listening to a range of genres of music, influenced by my parents. I became interested in harmonies and chord progressions. Learning to play by ear unlocked the ability to express myself and create my own music that reflects my message.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I compose all of my songs at the piano, writing down my chord progressions and lyrics. After I have finished writing my music, I record it at home with my microphone and mix it on Logic Pro X.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I always start my songs with a chord progression. I don’t always know what my song will be about when I first sit down to write it; however, as soon as I get a movement I like on the piano, it opens up many opportunities for direction. It’s one of the many things I love about songwriting; the meaning of any song can change by altering only one chord. It’s incredible.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  My dream artist to collaborate with would have to be Elton John. He is so inspiring to me, mainly how he uses the piano to illustrate and match his lyrics. In his song, ‘goodbye yellow brick road’, the key changes and chord cycles are so addictive to listen to. They first encouraged me to write outside of my comfort zone and expand past a cycle of just four chords.

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 to make sure they enter the song they feel is the best representative of them, not what they think judges will like. Music is subjective, so as long as you always reflect your ideas in your music, enter it!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I think one of the main attractions is the calibre of the judges. There are not many competitions that have such a wide variety of incredible judges; deep experience in the music industry alongside current recording artists. This competition is an excellent opportunity to write something you are thrilled with and reflect on why this song is so important to you. It also allows you to form connections with musicians all over the world!

Rosie Trentham – I’ll Change For The Better

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I wrote this song in December 2020, on the eve of the third national lockdown. There was a very dark feeling at the time, with all our daylight hours taken with online commitments and the cold weather keeping us inside and isolated. I wanted to write a song of hope for the future, and one that I could play with my dad (a classical cellist, as heard on the track) at home, in our family bubble.

What got you into writing songs?  I started writing songs about four years ago when I competed in Open Mic UK and reached the final. I realised that I was much more likely to progress in the competition if I performed original material, so I started to write my own songs. There was about a month between each round which gave me the perfect amount of time to fully compose a song, and then after that, I just didn’t stop!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I most enjoy the first part of writing, when you come up with the original concept. It’s genuinely exciting to have a new musical idea which makes you think of stories and lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  When I started writing “It’ll Change For The Better”, I began with a keyboard and the voice memos app on my phone. I find it really useful to be able to record musical ideas, so that you can remember them and come back to them, rather than slip into something more generic.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  Usually, the music comes first and inspires a lyrical concept. I really enjoy improvising on the piano, and when I find a new progression or idea that I really like, I build on it with lyrics and a melody.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Stevie Wonder. He has such an interesting sense of harmony and his vocals are always amazing. I would love to unpick his brain and co-write with him.

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I’ve entered Song Academy for the past two years and have really enjoyed having my songs featured.

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 recommend making the effort to record your song properly. I’ve found that having a microphone and Logic is essential for the writing process and can transform your song.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I really enjoy listening to other up and coming artists and it goes to show how much talent is out there. The top 30 song this year have been astonishing show such a variety of voices from all round the country.

Scarlett Grig – Boundaries 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I’d been composing a piece on the piano that was more like a classical piece of music than anything else I’d ever written which took me down an alternative path to how I usually start. I realised that it could work with lyrics with the intricacies, the changes between major and minor really correlated with things I’d been wanting to write about recently about mental health and shutting people out.

What got you into writing songs?  For as long as I can remember I’ve sat down at the piano and tried to sing along to the melodies I’d made. As I had proper piano lessons I began to experiment more, my ideas grew and my piano and notepad was where I began to spend all my time.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really like creating lyrics because I consider myself a wordsmith above everything else. One part of the songs I especially love creating are bridges, because they can be an unrepeated moment of escape and are unique compared to the rest of the song and add so much more.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I sat at our piano and wrote it – just me, the piano and my notebook.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I’m constantly singing and having melodies in my head. Occasionally I’ll subconsciously sing or say something that wakes me up, I’ll take notice, and I’ll work on that lyric or melody or piano chord, until it becomes a song.

Who would be your dream artist / writer / band to collaborate with?  In an alternative universe I’d like to collaborate with composers like Chopin and Tchaikovsky because I have always admired how they craft a narrative and capture emotion. Culturally, the romantic period in music has always inspired me to be driven by emotions and to capture pain and progress in the music that I craft.

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 an amazing opportunity to have something on which you’ve spent so much time and energy, and which is so personal to you, judged by some of the most incredible songwriters in the business.  My tips would be to be brave and don’t worry about if you songs will progress or not – take the criticism and move forward with it.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition?    I like the way I’m able to interact with young songwriters from all over the world, to celebrate their amazing talent and to learn from them.

Scarlett May – Second Place 

What inspired you to write your finalist song? At the start of lockdown last year, my GCSEs had just been cancelled and I really felt that there was lots of unfinished business. It was hard because I felt selfish for feeling like I was missing out. When I started to write I realised that it was the what ifs and almosts that bothered me most and that’s why the song is called second place, because I felt like I just couldn’t quite come in first.

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 14. I’ve always loved music and been surrounded by it from a very young age. When I realised that I enjoyed playing guitar and singing, writing my own songs just felt like such a natural step to take and I’ve never looked back!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the songwriting process is definitely when you have a verse you’re happy with and you move on to the chorus and it fits perfectly and naturally and you get a little buzz and it’s so exciting and you know you have to write it down and voice memo it straight away because it’s a keeper.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? To start the entry it was just me and my guitar and my songwriting book. As we started to come out of lockdown in October time, I got the chance to record it and that was super exciting as you see and hear your ideas fall together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? There’s always the hard part of sitting down with an empty page and thinking about what you want to say, but lots of the time, I think of the things that I want to do or say, or didn’t get to say and the minute the idea comes to my head I keep my fingers crossed that the rest will follow and I’ll feel the spark. And if not, sometimes it is harder and you have to finish it to complete the circle and start afresh if it doesn’t work.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It’s hard to pick! My dream collaboration would be singing with Dolly Parton- but who wouldn’t want to do that? I’d also love to play with Brandi Carlile and her band, the energy they have on the stage is insane and her voice is just perfection.

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? Definitely apply. You have nothing to lose and putting your music out there is always scary but not everyone is going to like it and that never means it is a bad song. Other people don’t have to like your music to make you a ‘real’ songwriter.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think the fact that the judging panel is made up of such a diverse set of people in the industry is really special, some of them are listening for the lyrics, some the instrumentation and some for the whole package which means each song is really listened to in detail.

Sophie Grace – Like Us 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  It was one of those sudden sparks of inspiration. I’d been struggling all day trying to put pen to paper and write a song specifically for the competition. At about 1am the idea came to me, built around the struggles that I’ve felt to fit in and the way I feel around the people I love compared to how I am with everybody else. It was almost like I’d got rid of some sort of creative block from my brain.

What got you into writing songs?   When I was 12, I picked up my Mum’s guitar and taught myself ‘ocean eyes’ by Billie Eilish. Finding out that Billie was only 13 when she posted it on Soundcloud made me think ‘what if I wrote a song?’.  So, using a few of the chords that I could play back then, I wrote ‘Quiet’, a song about my then undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder. It felt so right to make music, like this way of processing complex emotions without them having to sit building up in my head

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? The first draft of the lyrics were written in my notes app, with the guitar part worked out the next day while sat on my bed. Even when recording it I used a simple interface, my normal gig microphone and synths controlled using my laptop keyboard to really build my vision for the song and what I wanted it to sound like. I would’ve loved to have had access to a studio but I feel like, for me, I was always going to get my most authentic performance of such a personal song in my room, recording during my breaks from online school.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  There’s no one way. A lot of the songs I’ve written draw on personal experiences, and I just add to them when and where I feel the need. What I’ve found is that you can’t force a song.  I’ve had times when I’ve gone six months without writing anything I loved and times when I’ve written three or four songs in a week. Most of the time I won’t even know what sparked it until I think back and go ‘Oh, I guess that song was really about this’. It’s beautiful to me that there are moments in life, even the worst ones, which spark so much creativity weeks, months or years later. If you’re looking for inspiration, you will find it, maybe not right now and maybe not where you expect but it’s there.

Who would be your dream artist/band/writer to collaborate with?  That’s a really difficult question because there are so many artists who I absolutely love and dream of collaborating with. I’d say Phoebe Bridgers would probably be my answer. She writes in such a beautiful way in that it’s so specific and yet it’s still relatable, she also has a stunning voice. Her music leaves you with this feeling that I can’t even describe, I’d give anything to listen to ‘Moon Song’ for the first time again. Collaborating with her is just too insane for me to even comprehend, like literally the stuff of dreams.’

What made you enter #SAYS21? How did you hear about it?  I hadn’t heard of any competitions for young songwriters until my music teacher emailed me a link telling me that she saw the competition and thought of me. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to enter, I worried that I wouldn’t be good enough or that I wasn’t what they were looking for, but then I decided that I’d never know unless I tried and I’m so glad that I did. As a teenager, it’s so difficult to get your voice heard to the point where sometimes you forget that there are any opportunities out there, especially in lockdown. The idea of a competition just for young songwriters really appealed to me because I knew that I wasn’t going to be rejected or underestimated based on my age.

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. Honestly, don’t overthink it or doubt yourself. Two years ago, I’d only just written my first song and now I’m a finalist. It’s so easy to underestimate yourself when you hear others put you down, write for you because that way no one else’s opinion will be of as much value as your own. And, just have fun with it! At the end of the day, the song you write will convey so much more of your personality if you have the best time you can writing it.’

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?   There’s no limits. Whatever genre your song is, whoever you are, you have a chance. Teenagers are so overlooked, especially teenage girls and the Young Songwriter competition gave me the opportunity to say what I need to say in a community of people like me. It’s a way of helping to kickstart your future while you’re still in school and a platform to amplify your message.’

Taia Thompson – Drowns Me Out 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  This song in particular, was a bit of an outburst of emotions. I was going through a tricky time, where I was lacking confidence and lots of self-doubt. So as a form of escapism, I wrote this song.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve always loved music, however it was only after being set a composition assessment in my GCSE Music, where I wrote my first proper song. I’d been fascinated by songwriting beforehand, but when I was set to do it myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of those things where something just clicked and it came naturally.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part in the songwriting process is definitely writing the melodies. I love trying to find catchy melodies that get stuck in your head, and then being able to add harmonies- which are also one of my favourite things to do!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  The set up for this song was my bedroom (sadly I’m a student, so no studio for me yet!). This was the first full song that I had wrote on the guitar, so it was all a bit of an experiment for me. I put on a Capo, grabbed my handy lyric book to scribble down on and then played around with different guitar techniques and the song flowed.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  The majority of the time it’s a burst of inspiration. Sometimes I’ll pick up an instrument and a melody will pop into my head, usually followed by some lyrics. Other times I’ve even been in the shower and something will come to me- that’s where voice memos are my saviour!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  The list of my dream artists to collaborate with are infinite, but some of my most desired are: Freya Ridings, Will Joseph Cook, Tom Odell, XamVolo, Ruel and Lizzy McAlpine.

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 would be to go for it. Have fun with what you’re doing and if you are passionate about songwriting, this is a great way of getting yourself heard and out there!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that it’s an opportunity for singer/songwriters to have exposure and have fun entering a competition.

Urbanparcs – Show Me Love 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I was inspired to write ‘show me love’ after experiencing the feeling of showing someone how much they meant to me and getting nothing back. It’s a situation that I felt was relatable and so I harnessed in on that emotion which led to the creation of this song.

What got you into writing songs? I initially got into writing music after being in awe of The Beatles. Growing up on their music it was immensely hard to not be influenced by their wealth of songs, and it was what got me to put pen to paper in the first place.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  My favourite part of the song writing process was when I added the final synth pad. It lifted the song completely and was what brought the whole tune together. I was sitting on the song for quite a bit as I didn’t think it had much character but after I found the perfect synth patch it finally felt complete.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio? I recorded my song in my home bedroom studio which I built up over the past year. It consists of a MacBook, two speaker monitors and an interface. It’s far from a fully kitted studio but I fully believe with enough time dedicated and lots of trial and error you can create some awesome sounds from just your laptop.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I think I find that spark for a song differently each time however for ‘show me love’ it definitely came after I wrote the chorus. I never usually like my own music and sometimes find it hard to finish a song. For example I’ll start with an idea, then get bored and move on. However, with ‘show me love’ I had the chorus stuck in my head for the rest of the week I wrote it, which never usually happens, so I knew immediately that I had to get it finished.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? There are so many artists and bands I dream of collaborating with however for me it would have to be either The 1975 or Post Malone. These two artists never fail to make hits and it would be so cool writing with 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? If I had any tips for someone entering for next year, it would be just do it. It doesn’t matter what quality of recording you have, if you have a good song go for it. You have the chance to have your song heard by some of the best songwriters and have the potential to really project you as a songwriter.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?   The thing I love most about the song academy is discovering all the artists and their songs. I love finding new music and it was ace to hear all the entries with such a large range of styles and genres.

Wasia project – Why Don’t U Love Me 

What inspired you to write your finalist song?  I had a crush on someone, and they didn’t like me back at all. I was low key salty so I wrote a song about it.

What got you into writing songs?  Well, I remember from quite early on improvising around on the piano and making up little melodies for fun, so I guess it’s just come from that. I’d always hear these tunes in my head and get frustrated that they weren’t actual songs. So I made them actual songs. I also think that music, for me, has always articulated my emotions in a way that words cannot, and therefore it became an outlet for the rawest forms of my expression.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I would say the excitement after a wave of initial ideas come through, especially with chord progressions. I also love playing around with harmony a lot, like there are so many directions an idea can go in.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS21 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  Our song was recorded in our living room over 24 hours. We had lots of coffee and lots of fun. Originally, I scribbled the song down in my notebook but I lost the lyrics so we ended up all working together to create an even better sound off the top of our heads.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start with an emotion I’m feeling or a situation I am in. Usually a tune will come to me, just produced by the intensity of those emotions. But otherwise I like to play around with chords, and the overall atmosphere of the song is just naturally captured by my feelings through the music.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Phoebe Bridgers, Rex Orange County, Daniel Caesar, Hozier. Don’t even ask me to choose one artist; the list goes on forever.

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’d just say have the music at the heart of your intentions, opportunities will follow if you keep this in mind.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  It’s such an opportunity for songwriters to get their stuff heard, because there’s all this amazing music out there that never gets the publicity it deserves, and this competition really provides a platform for artists to grow from.

 

Songs reveal the hearts & minds of young people after a year in lockdown.  Impressive originality, creativity & musical bravery displayed. It’s critical to make the mental health of young people a top priority.

Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Tom Odell, Miranda Cooper, Chris Difford,
Calum Scott, Midge Ure, Tom Grennan & Michelle Escoffery

The finalists of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter (SAYS) 2021 competition have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted over 1,000 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  As in previous years 70% of entrants were girls.  13% of entries were in the international categories and 70% were from 13-18 year olds.  Entries from the UK/Ireland were widespread with 65% outside London.

The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs. Listening to the entries gives a fascinating insight into the hearts & minds of young people, and provides evidence for making the mental health of young people a top priority.  Goto the Song Academy SoundCloud account to listen to the finalists’ songs! The top 10 finalists of the UK/Ireland categories will be announced on the 30th April.  The top 3 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 1st June.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “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.”

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes: Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Phillips (Rizzle Kicks, Florence and the Machine, Sigrid, John Newman, Madison Beer, SOAK), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

CATEGORY 13-18 YEAR OLDS
UK/IRELAND

A SUNKEN FUTURE – HONOR CARR (Croydon, London)
ALL IT TAKES – HETTA FALZON (Bath, Somerset)
BOUNDARIES – SCARLETT GRIG (Winchester, Hampshire)
BRING BACK THE NOISE- GABBY HORNE (Derby, Derbyshire)
CLAPHAM JUNCTION – JOE LEVER (Highgate, London)
DIVIDED- JAMES BAKIAN (Finchley, London)
DONT’ CALL – GABRIELLA BONGO (Dulwich, London)
DROWNS ME OUT – TAIA THOMPSON (Brighton, East Sussex)
DUST IN MY HAIR – CHARLIE HEWLETT (Barnstaple, Devon)
FABRIC FLOWERS -MEG CURL (Wells, Somerset)
HOW TO BE VULNERABLE – EMILY SEMPLE (Hereford, Herefordshire)
I CAN’T BREATHE – HATTY YAP (Highgate, London)
IT’LL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER- ROSIE TRENTHAM (Croydon, London)
LAYING ON MARS – BENJAMIN FRERE (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire)
LIKE A SHADOW STEALS THE SUN – RACHEL BURNETT (Liverpool, Merseyside)
LIKE US – SOPHIE GRACE (Derby, Derbyshire)
HONEY – NETTLE (Hitchin, Herefordshire)
NO MORE BROKEN HEARTS- CONOR MARCUS (Belfast, Ireland)
SAHARA- EVERNOW BEATS (Highgate, London)
SECOND PLACE – SCARLETT MAY (Kent)
SHOW ME LOVE – URBANPARCS (Liverpool, Merseyside)
SIGN- OLLIE MOORE (Norwich, Norfolk)
SOMETIMES – MILLIE RHYE (Newcastle, Tyne & Wear)
SKY AND STARS – HERODOT MARIC (Ealing, London)
SUNBURN – LUCA HOWSAM (Leeds, West Yorkshire)
SWEET THING – JACOB YORK (Wolverhampton, West Midlands)
TALKS TOO MUCH – LEONA MAE (St Albans, Hertfordshire)
TWO TWO SEVEN- ALEKS KOSTOV & ARYAN PAL (Lancaster, Lancashire)
WE’RE NOT LONELY ANYMORE – LEXIE CARROLL (Hammersmith, London)
WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME – WASIA PROJECT (Woldingham, Surrey)

 

CATEGORY 8-12 YEAR OLDS
UK/IRELAND

BE PROUD – LAUREN WITHALL (Kingston Upon Thames, London)
BRAVEFACE – QUEENIE STANBRIDGE (Brighton, East Sussex)
BUTTERFLIES – SKYE BISHOP (Kensington, London)
DANCE FLOOR – ELEANOR CRICKMORE (Burnley, Lancashire)
DEEP WATERS – TWINKLE ANSAR (Hastings, East Sussex)
DID I – ISLA CAMPBELL (Hitchin, Hertfordshire)
FAIRY TALE – MATILDA LE FLEMING (Reading, Berkshire)
FIREFLIES – LILY CRIDDLE (Liverpool, Merseyside)
FOLLOW ME – LUKE PENDER (Worcester, Worcestershire)
GIRL IN THE DRESS – LOIS BROOKS (Preston, Lancashire)
GOLDEN DAYS – LILY CARROLL (Manchester, Greater Manchester)
I DREAM OF YOU – ROSE ROWNTREE (Manchester, Greater Manchester)
I’VE GOTTA BE ME – CHARLIE PRINCE (London)
ILLUSION – JOHNNY BEAU (Dulwich, Surrey)
LOCKEDDOWN – DAVID ADOM APPIAH-ONOJOB (Middlesex, London)
MODERN ROMEO AND JULIET – WHITE CLOUD (Fulham, London)
NEVER SAID MY GOODBYES – BRYDIE O’HANRAHAN (Sheffield, South Yorkshire)
NEW HORIZONS – MATILDA GANT (Enfield, London)
ON TOP OF THE WORLD – JACK STRICKLAND (Manchester, Greater Manchester)
OUT OF TOUCH – ELLIE-ROSE HEIMANS (Dulwich, Surrey)
RUMOUR – CORA HARKIN (Derry, Ireland)
SING GOOD VIBES – NIAMH GALLEN (Marylebone, London)
SLOWLY – SAMBELLE PRINCE (London)
SOMETIMES – ALICE MAXWELL (London)
START AGAIN – HARPER CUNNINGHAM (Highgate, London)
TEARDROPS – NELLY BINGHAM (Exeter, Devon)
TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS – THOMMY BAILEY VINE (London)
UNIQUE – RAINE SURLA (London) 
VOICES – MACY O’NEILL (Birmingham, West Midlands)
WAITING – MAEVE THUMIM (Bristol, Gloucestershire)

 

CATEGORY 13-18 YEAR OLDS
INTERNATIONAL

BEST FRIEND – MORIETNEZ AZRA MASHURI (Jakarta, Indonesia)
GHOSTS IN OUR HOMETOWN – MALVINA KAVITA (Philadelphia, USA)
GOLDEN YEARS – YOB (Oslo, Norway)
GREY – LILY WELCH (Boston, USA)
LOST MYSELF – JO MACKENZIE (Kansas City, USA)
PEOPLE LIKE YOU PIP LEWIS (San Diego, USA)
STARDUST – KELTY PARKER (Colorado Springs, USA)
THE ASTRONAUTS’S SONG – MICHAEL ABIMANYU KAENG (Jakarta, Indonesia)
WALK AGAIN – FAYE NICOLE (Melbourne, Australia)
WHERE SEABIRDS SCREAM – JULIE KUHL (Frankfurt, Germany)

 

CATEGORY 8-12 YEAR OLDS
INTERNATIONAL

CRAZY EYES – AVA ROSENBERG (New York, USA)
COLOURFUL – EVANGELINE DURUPT (Comox, Canada)
DREAM – ANTEA TURK (Jakarta, Indonesia)
FANTASY – LUNA KUP (Los Angeles, USA)
GRAFFITI ON THE WALL – ALEXIS G. ROLEY (Indiana, USA)
MY FRIEND IN MIAMI – VENICE AND BELLE HERRERA (Dubai, UAE)
SINGING BUTTERFLIES – SMILE (Wroclaw, Poland)
SO YOUNG -LYNETTE LEE LYN XI (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
TALK – BENJAMIN MAGRO (Pembroke, Malta)
WHO AM I – TAMARA YASIN (Florida, USA)

One of The Young Songwriter 2021 judges, platinum selling songwriter Emily Phillips listened to all the entries and commented:The expression and lyrical content of these songs reflect the mood of these young songwriters and listening to so many songs in a short space of time has given me a clear indication of the emotions, observations, preoccupations, and insights of a generation. Needless to say, given the year we have all endured, there are recurring themes of despair, depression, doubt and anxiety. But there are also songs which offer answers to these feelings, and some that give hope and meaning to the listener. Lockdown, social media, the environment, love, rejection, homelife, crushes, self-doubt, family and friends are subjects which feature over and again.

I have written songs professionally for nearly 20 years, and I sit on the songwriter committee for the Ivor Novellos Academy. I am campaigning for a fairer industry given that the streaming music services do not remunerate songwriters fairly. To add to the difficulty in maintaining a career as a songwriter, between 30,000 and 50,000 songs are released daily. On this basis, I am looking for, above all, originality in songwriting. If a melody or lyric catches my attention, (given the deluge of releases), that is a big step forward for a song. The algorithms of Spotify tend to encourage copycat and generic pop writing, so the Song Academy is really important as it stands for the craft and art of song writing 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. This means being your own harsh critic and editor, but also, to learn to collaborate with others and get feedback whenever you can, so as to raise your own game.

When a song hits you, and makes you lose yourself for a moment, or carries you away, or gives you a feeling that you can’t explain, it is a magical and mysterious feeling that can stay with you forever. If you love a song and listen again and again, it can become part of your life and define a part of who you are. Songs can change lives. Music is arguably the greatest of all art forms. I cannot stress enough how important it is, that despite a fast changing world, young songwriters feel that they can express themselves and aspire to be great.

Some of the songs in this year’s competition have amazed me. I have heard melodies and lyrics that I could never have thought of in a thousand years, – it really is humbling to hear such invention and musical bravery. There is nothing like the hotspur of youth to keep that cutting edge in music.”

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, says “Song Academy inspires young people to speak up, express themselves, celebrate their individuality & get heard. By connecting them to a vibrant community of their peers who all love writing songs, as well as exposing their songs to key players in the Music Industry, we help to build young people’s confidence, self-esteem and drive to achieve their potential. As well as nurturing the next generation of music & creative leaders”

QUOTES FROM KOBALT, SOUNDTRAP AND YAMAHA

Willard Ahdritz, Founder & Chairman of Kobalt says “It’s very important to support, inspire, and celebrate young creators as they start on their path in music. We are happy to be involved in this competition as it provides great opportunities and education for the young contestants. I know many of them will go on to have bright careers in music!”

Leanne Barrell, Marketing Manager of Yamaha says, “At Yamaha, we believe that music can empower everyone to express themselves, build friendships and make a positive impact in the world, so naturally we’re delighted to support The Young Songwriter 2021 Competition. It’s a great opportunity for young people everywhere to get inspired and share their music on a global stage. This is all about the future, and we can’t wait to hear the songs of a whole new generation of musical talent.”

Per Emanuelsson, Director of Soundtrap says “The annual Young Songwriter competition is a premiere event introducing many students from around the world to the art of creative expression through song, and is therefore an event close to our heart. Soundtrap is pleased to sponsor the 2021 Young Songwriter competition and advance the mission of helping students find and share their voices.”

Quotes from The Young Songwriter 2021 finalists:

Benjamin “It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how much equipment you have. Someone who just has a guitar and a voice has just as much opportunity and chance as someone with a full size music studio.”

Charlie “allows 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.”

Jacob “What I like most about The Young Songwriter is the community it creates between songwriters.”

Hetta “It’s a really cool way to listen to what other people your age are writing and I’ve discovered so many songs that I love just from the Song Academy playlist. I also like how it is judged purely on the song and not the quality of recording or production which means anyone can enter.”

Hatty “This is a fantastic platform for songwriters to be heard and to learn from.”

Morietnez “Inspires us to be brave to express our feelings and be ourselves.”

James “I like how the competition pushes young people and encourages creativity, allowing songs that might not otherwise be out there, a chance to shine.”

Conor “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!”

Faye “I love how it gives a supportive space for young songwriters like me from all over the world. I also really like how we can listen to each other’s entries to hear the diversity and uniqueness of each individual song writer.”

Venice & Bella “It’s easy to enter and you don’t have to record in a fancy studio or have expensive equipment. It’s genuinely about the song and you feel truly heard.”

For further media information, photography, videos, interviews, etc., contact Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, rowena@songacademy.co.uk 07710 023743.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SONG ACADEMY – helping every child find their voice

Founded 12 years ago, we’re dedicated to the future of music & the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. We enable young people to express themselves and have their voices heard. From their first song to developing their first album. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers & creative thinkers, empowering young people at a formative time of their life.

We believe that songwriting and music can transform the lives of young people by helping them find their voice. Young people are growing up in a competitive, fast changing & potentially isolating environment, which can cause various pressures and lead to issues with their mental health. Through songwriting young people can communicate their thoughts and feelings and connect to others. This creative and therapeutic process helps young people discover & develop their identity, overcome challenges, feel empowered by speaking up and advance their creative and social skills. The songs they write have the potential to spark debate, help their peers and shape their future.

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

NEW MUSIC ALERT! Congratulations to Alex and Carina on their EP releases ‘Birthday Cake’ and ‘Spaceout!’  We’re so proud to support all of our Song Academy members as they release new music into the world.  It’s incredibly exciting but can also be scary to release new music, so we’re proud to support our members who decide to share their gift with the world!
We caught up with Alex to find out more about her songwriting and where she get’s her inspiration.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing or were you a fan for a bit first?  I was a big fan of Ed Sheeran growing up and I think his music was what inspired me to properly write songs as I was so in awe of how he wrote lyrics. But I think I’ve been writing bits and pieces for as long as I can remember.

Where did your inspiration come from for the songs on your EP?  I tend to find inspiration from things going on around me and stuff I’ve heard about however these songs were all pretty personal and I think that’s why I like them so much.

What’s your favourite part of the song writing process?   Probably when the main scaffolding of the song comes together and I start singing it through. It’s always really exciting to have made something from a couple of random thoughts in your head.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?   I find it a very subconscious process, I’ll often come up with lyric not really knowing what it means or anything, I just think it sounds nice, and then as the song goes on I’ll realise what I’m writing about.

How did you produce your songs?  I pretty much recorded and produced the whole thing myself on logic.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?   Definitely Cavetown, his lyrics are the coolest.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about writing songs but hasn’t started yet?  Or do you have any tips for 8-18 year old songwriters who are already writing?   Don’t overthink it too much!

What do you like about Song Academy?  I’ve met some really lovely people who’ve inspired me with my own writing. It’s cool to find people who also write songs and see each others progress.

Here’s our interview with Carina on her songwriting and where she finds inspiration.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing or were you a fan for a bit first?  I was always a pretty quiet so I never used to be into music, but I’ve always loved to write: stories, poems etc. As I got older I grew more confident and I guess my love for writing evolved into lyrics and music production also. I find it so much easier to convey how I feel and my ideas through music rather than just prose.

Where did your inspiration come from for the songs on your EP?  The bulk of the EP was made during the pandemic – and I’d look on my phone through all these videos and voice memos when life was normal (when I went to nyc and it was raining, friends talking at parties, etc.). It really inspired me to create something out of it, especially because it’s always been a goal of mine to release some music while I’m still a teenager. I think young people have interesting stories to tell, but often don’t get the opportunity to tell them, so I’ve always wanted to challenge that.

What’s your favourite part of the song writing process? The best thing about writing for me is that I struggle quite a bit with dissociative episodes, and it really helps. Dissociation can make you feel like you aren’t real and it becomes incredibly difficult to connect with anything, but writing can counteract that. When I make music, I’m taking something from inside my head and turning it into something that exists outside of myself. That process is very grounding for me and that’s why I do it so much.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I guess it’s different every time, but I ususally get my initial ideas in pretty random places. I came up with the hook for ‘frontin’ when I was sitting in my school library which is funny because that does not match the vibe of the song at all. It always comes first with a little phrase that I find interesting though, like something that my friend will say in conversation or something I’ll see in an advert.

How did you produce your songs?  It took me about 10,000 years. I’m not joking. Essentially my parents have always been very supportive of me doing this, so they helped me to get everything I needed which is amazing – however they are not musical so I had to learn everything mostly on my own, with some help of a very cool producer guy called Ian who my Mum found on the internet. All my songs are written, recorded and mixed in my bedroom by me alone, which means it takes time but it’s also very special to me as well. Ian masters them for me though, which is cool.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?   See that’s an interesting question. There’s a bunch of artists who I take inspiration from for my music but I think my dream collaboration would be with someone who has a very different vibe to me, because it’d be amazing to do something outside of my comfort zone and that I couldn’t do on my own. Either this artist called Toro Y Moi who has this very unique chillwave indietronica sound that I’m obsessed with, or LAUSSE THE CAT who’s an anonymous rapper that came from Soundcloud. He makes soundscapes that tell stories, and they’re so effective.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about writing songs but hasn’t started yet?  Or do you have any tips for 8-18 year old songwriters who are already writing?  There’s really not much more I can say than just be brave and do it. I was so scared to share my music for so long, so I understand what it’s like, but I am so so so beyond glad I did because it’s so rewarding. Being a young person can be difficult sometimes and having an outlet that’s entirely yours and that no one can control but you can be such an incredible thing. I’ve actually recently started to build a label and community with a bunch of my friends, because I believe young people shouldn’t have to be held back.

What do you like about Song Academy?  Song Academy is so important to me because if I hadn’t have gotten involved here, I’d probably never have pursued music like I have. Just the simple act of performing and watching my peers there perform a song once a fortnight is so motivating. It made me improve so much, because instead of writing stuff solely for me to hear, it was for 4 or 5 people to hear now. That alone is so encouraging. I want to try to build that too eventually with my label.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs? Fancy writing your first song? Get ready to enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2021 competition from 1st Feb-31st Mar 2021!

The Song Academy Young Songwriter Album 2020 is officially OUT NOW for you to enjoy! 27 tracks from this year’s competition all on one amazing compilation album. It’s available on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and more! Go and check it out now!⠀

Young songwriters on the album are:  Alex Carroll, Cathy Jain, Cora Harkin, Demie Bagnato, Eliza Mai, Guy Courtie, Hetta Falzon, Hugo Rankin, Jordyn Richards, Dodd-Noble, Leona Mae, Lilith Bee, Lily Criddle, Max Eastland-Park ft. Kiera Milward, Nadia Ahadi, Naomi Vosika, Pip Lewis, Rachel Dawson, Riley Stevenson, Ruby Mulholland, Sadie Mustoe, Saga Elizabeth Gregory Strand, Skye Bishop, Venice and Belle Herrera, William Massie & Zach Zbar.

This album not only gives young songwriters a unique platform to get noticed by a larger audience and educate them in the digital world of e-commerce and the dynamics of the music industry, but it also provides them with their own revenue source.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS21 judge) says “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.”

Do you know any young people who are…

  • Writing their own songs & want to get them heard?
  • Secretly writing their own songs and need a bit of encouragement to share them?
  • Creative & musical and would like to write their first song?

Then encourage them to enter The Young Songwriter 2021 competition!  We’re looking for pure, fresh songwriting talent. Songs will be judged on their originality, lyrics, melody, composition, and potential to be a smash hit! There’s no need to enter professional recordings, however a good recording can help to enhance the impact of songs.

Enter between the 1st February and 31st March 2021 for the opportunity to:

  • Get noticed by some of the best songwriters & key players in the music industry
  • Have your songs heard and stand out from the crowd
  • Record your winning song with a top producer in London
  • Win £1,000 worth of Yamaha equipment
  • Receive a professional music video & photos from the recording session
  • Win a Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Studio Bundle
  • Perform in The Young Songwriter 2021 showcase at The Tabernacle, London
  • Get connected to our vibrant community of young songwriters

This competition will be separately judged for UK & Ireland 8-12 year olds, UK & Ireland 13-18 year olds, International 8-12 year olds and International 13-18 year olds.  More information is at www.songacademy.co.uk/says21

This year’s panel of award winning judges includes: Fraser T Smith (Stormzy, Dave, Adele, Drake, Sam Smith), Tom Odell, Chris Difford, Tom Grennan, Michelle Escoffery, Calum Scott, Hannah V, Calum Scott, Dan Gillespie Sells, Harley Sule (Rizzle Kicks), Janet Devlin, Eg White (Adele, Duffy, Take That, Pink), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Jason Mraz, Duffy), Paul Adam (Dannii Minogue, Amy MacDonald & A&R Director at Island Records), Emily Philips (Rizzle Kicks, John Newman, Maddison Beer), Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys, Alesha Dixon), Starsmith (Ellie Goulding, Lady Gaga, Jess Glynne, Paloma Faith), Simon Aldred (Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Avicii) and Iain Archer (Bugg, Sea Girls, Lisa Hannigan, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Snow Patrol, Niall Horan).

Click here for more information on The Young Songwriter 2021 competition.

Click here to join our songwriting workshops in December to get your songs ready!

We’re delighted to announce the top 3 songs in The Young Songwriter 2020 competition, International category! Drum roll……..the top 3 songs in alphabetical order are:

Cloud 9 by Nadia Ahadi

Suicide Season by Jo MacKenzie

Ten by Jordyn

The winner will be announced at a special Instagram live event on Saturday 20th June from 2 – 3 pm BST.  Stay tuned to our social media channels – Instagram, Facebook  and Twitter  for latest news on special VIP guests joining us.

We caught up with Nadia, Jo and Jordyn to talk about all things songwriting!

NADIA AHADI (17 years old from Jakarta, Indonesia) 

What inspired you to write your song?  I’ve always thought about writing something about cheering people up during a tough time. Everybody goes through it, yet so little people want to talk about it. Writing a song about it will encourage people to open up and build a more supportive community.

What got you into writing songs?  From hearing my favourite artists write about things that they are deeply passionate about, I’ve always wanted to try seeing how I would express my personality through music as they have done it. I also enjoy writing poems or short stories, so I figured combining my love for writing and music would allow me to expand my creativity, especially if the songs are about things I deeply care about and would like to share without directly stating it, as I know people are going to take different interpretations of it.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  When I find the right lyrics and chords that deliver the message of the song in a way that is easy to listen to and catchy as well. It was also thrilling to be able to work with my arranger and see how she envisions the song in her own way that I appreciate and enjoy. Producing a song in a studio was a new experience for me, so I learned a lot more about how the music and song itself would come together.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS20 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  Writing Cloud 9 was actually me first learning chords on the ukulele while typing out possible lyrics on my phone. This was all done on the floor inside my room. I had no idea why, but just sitting down on the hard wooden surface gave me reassurance that even though I was on the lowest height and position, my mind was able to wander off to the highest of heights, and I was able to focus and give myself enough pressure and drive to create without being too comfortable, which would probably happen if I was sitting on the warmth my bed.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It usually depends on what I feel and what state of emotions I am in, so it is sometimes difficult to find the spark. However, if there is either a high or low moment in life I would want to either remember or get out of my mind, I would write songs as a memoir or a coping mechanism for the things that happen. I would start out by either writing notes about a certain theme, how I felt, then I’d find a tune on an instrument and associate that with modified lyrics.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?It’s difficult to choose, but it would probably be Sabrina Claudio or Phum Viphurit because I’ve always enjoyed listening to all of their songs which never bore me. Since they both are artists from different genres, it would be a great opportunity to get a share of their writing or thought process when creating songs that produce varying styles but equally uplifting outcomes.

What made you enter #SAYS20? How did you hear about it?  I first heard about it from my friend (Andrea Turk) and decided to give myself a try. I’ve never been in any songwriting competitions before so I thought this would be a good experience to start off with, even if I didn’t win.

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 do it. Don’t be afraid and put an immense amount of pressure on yourself because that kills the joy and fun of making your song to only meet the qualities of others. Do it because you love writing and you love the experience. I would say write a song that means a lot to you, a song that contains a special message that a lot of people could take into consideration and gain appreciation for.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like that this competition allows various young achieving artists around the world an opportunity to express their various styles of music, finding that each writer’s song consists of different messages that can communicate itself in various ways, inspiring others in the process as well. It’s incredibly interesting to see a wide range of cultures coming together to share their same passion for music and songwriting.

JO MACKENZIE (16 years old from Kansas City, USA)

What inspired you to write songs? When I was 8, I remember watching the Disney Channel show Austin and Ally and was so inspired to write songs. My best friend and I then wrote a bunch of songs and tried to perform them whenever we could. From there, I learned how to play piano and guitar, and also began producing with Logic and Ableton at 11. I then released my first song “C.U.R.E.” when I was fourteen and have been releasing music since.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  Regarding the songwriting process, writing the production elements is one of my favorite parts of the process. Another favorite part of mine is being able to sit down and work through emotions via songwriting.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS20 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  For the three songs that were chosen as finalists, two were recorded in my bedroom (I Should Come With A Warning Sign and Suicide Season) while the other one (Just Like the Rain) was recorded in a studio. However, all of them were written by myself in my bedroom!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? My inspiration can come from anywhere. When I was younger, I really loved classic/soft rock n roll, such as Elton John and Billy Joel. To this day, other artists also inspire me, as well as real-life experiences and stories. It might be a cool lyric, an intense feeling, or an interesting chord progression that inspires me to write a song. The spark can come from anywhere!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?My dream collaborations would include Jack Antonoff, Ricky Reed, Jason Evigan, Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Maggie Rogers.

What made you enter #SAYS20? How did you hear about it?  I entered #SAYS20 because it seemed like a great opportunity for young songwriters to find their voice and share their creations. I found it while actually looking for songwriting competitions, and I honestly wish I had found it when I was younger, for it is really cool!

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 someone was thinking about entering the SAYS competition next year, I would highly encourage it! My advice would be to write a song from the heart and do your best to get a quality recording of it. However, the most important part is the songwriting and not the production/recording quality.

What do you like about The Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like how the SAYS competition gives young writers a voice and place to promote and celebrate their work.

JORDYN (17 years old from Sydney, Australia)

What inspired you to write your song?  10 was inspired by the street I grew up on. I was looking at old photos and a few images really stuck out to me; little plastic cars, chalk, playing in the garden. The song took shape really quickly and I think that was because I didn’t have to create the images, they were already there in my memories and all I had to do was translate them into words.

What got you into writing songs? The first song I wrote was a present for my mum and it was about how much I love her (cliche I know, but I was 10). After that I didn’t write again until my mum pushed me to. I had hit a wall and was bored singing covers, but I didn’t know what else I could do. Without my mum pushing me to write I don’t think I would have started again, or at least not for a while, and I would not be the artist I am today.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  My favourite part is the satisfaction I feel  when I finish a verse or chorus or find the perfect chord. Songwriting is a lot of trial and error and improvisation so when I find the chord or the words I’m searching for it’s the best feeling, especially if I’ve been stuck.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS20 entry, was it just a pen and paper or a fully kitted out studio?  I have a ‘music area’ in a study that I share with my dad and on the wall behind my desk I have a collage of my favourite artists and songs. I find writing in this space rather than on my bed or somewhere else helps me stay focussed and on track.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually start with chord progression that I pay on repeat and improvise over or I’ll start by listing keywords or phrases and create some rhymes to build upon. I think that having a strong foundation for a song (lyrical ideas, chords etc) is really important… I find that when a progression or a phrase sparks something in me, those songs turn out the best. I have stacks of half-written songs that I just haven’t clicked with.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?I would love the chance to write with Julia Michaels. She has had so much experience as a songwriter before she made a name for herself as an artist and has worked with so many successful artists. Getting the opportunity to learn from her would be a dream.

What made you enter #SAYS20? How did you hear about it?  My mum saw the competition on Facebook and we thought it would be a good opportunity for me to keep active since all of my gigs have been cancelled.

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 if you are thinking about doing it, just do it! There is no harm in submitting your song, especially when you have the chance to be heard by some amazing people and possibly win great prizes. It can be daunting at first, but once you enter a competition a whole new world opens up for you and you find so many more opportunities to put yourself out there.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I really enjoyed listening to everyones songs! In other competitions I’ve entered, I haven’t had the chance to hear other entries. I feel like hearing everyone else’s songs made it feel less like a competition but more of a community and exchange, which was really nice given the disconnection we are all experiencing at the moment.


The winner will be announced at a special Instagram live event on Saturday 20th June from 2 – 3 pm BST.  Stay tuned to our social media channels – Instagram, Facebook  and Twitter  for latest news on special VIP guests joining us.