We’re delighted that Natalie Shay has joined our Young Ambassador Board.  Natalie is a super talented songwriter whose songs have had significant radio play.  We caught up with Natalie recently to talk about all things songwriting!

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  Started playing classical guitar aged 5 and started musical theatre around the same time so I’ve always kinda been part of it. When I was 10 or 11 I got my first acoustic guitar and started writing songs around the same time (they were bad). Did this for a bit until I started playing shows aged 13, been doing it ever since.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  Once I have the melody and it’s time to lyric it. Writing lyrics is such a big healer and outlet for me, a song gets its stamp from the lyrics so I love that part.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  On my own usually just because I feel inspired by an emotion or am feeling sad. When I’m in sessions it’s normally formed around what I’m wanting to document through song and what kinda flavours the other person / people in the session are feeling.

What achievement are you most proud of?  Being on the Eurovision UK jury in 2018.

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  I think my song ‘yesterday’. It was an independent release and I will always be proud of how it did. I really liked the song but obviously had no idea what kind of response it would get. It premiered on billboard and secured spots on 9 new music Friday playlists including the uk.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  I feel like you’re always learning. But I feel like for now as 21 year old shay I’ve established my brand for where I’m at now. Who knows where things will go.

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?  Get writing. There’s nothing to lose. It’s a great way to document your life and development as a person. Even if you never share the songs they will always be special and important to you.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Little Comets (band)

Songwriter? Taylor Swift

Song? Summer Girl – Haim

Album? Fearless – Taylor Swift

Chord? E ( if u listen to my songs, this becomes apparent)

Gig you’ve been to? Little Comets in Brighton

Lyric? The lyrics to ‘ the blur the line and the thickest of onions’ by Little Comets.

Genre? Indie pop

Catchphrase? If my grandmother had wheels she would’ve been a bike

Fruit? Mango

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?  Guitar

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  I know full film scripts

What are you non-musical hobbies?  Does musical theatre count

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  Experience

What do you like about Song Academy?  It’s cooler than coool

We’re super excited that Sebastian Croft has joined our Young Ambassadors Board.  As well as being a keen songwriter and musician, Sebastian is an actor, who’s been in five feature films; The Hippopotamus (written by Stephen Fry), Wonderwell (with Carrie Fisher and Rita Ora), Music War and Love (with Stellan Skarsgård and Adelaide Clemens), Where is Ann Frank and Horrible Histories The Movie (in which he plays the lead role of Atti). We caught up with Sebastian recently to talk about all things songwriting!

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  I definitely was a fan first, but I never had classical music lessons so my playing and writing journey kind of coincided with each other – learn on the job type thing. My desire to express how I felt is what pushed me to learn more about the piano and guitar – rather than already having the skills and then starting to create.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  For me, maybe it’s a line in the verse or maybe it’s the first time you hear the chorus in your head, and that becomes the cornerstone that you build a song around. Even though sometimes you end up scrapping the initial ideas because by the time its finished the song has morphed into something different, or more refined, but those bits early on where you start to hear something you like, and you can begin to see the road map of what it will be, that’s the best bit. Also the first time you show your song to someone or perform it, there’s this feeling of letting them into something really private, like telling a friend a secret and its horrible and amazing at the same time.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It can be very different. Sometimes it’s a line that sounds cool, but I think the best songs are where you feel you have something you need to say, often to a specific person, and it’s more of a journey of expression than it is of creation. You spend time trying to relive feelings and emotions, sometimes good sometimes painful. It sounds ridiculous and is something hard to articulate, but that’s how it is for me. Everything I do around that (listening to a broad range of music, reading poetry, learning new chords on the piano or guitar) that is about sharpening my tools, so that when that desire to write hits, everything is in tip top condition and ready to go.

What achievement are you most proud of?  I wrote a song about a very specific friend of mine because I was worried about him and the decisions he was making, and the song was super whacky and to most people was gibberish, but I played it to another friend of mine who said, this may not be what you intended but all I could think about was X which I’ve have problems with in the past. The idea that I managed to communicate something very specific without it feeling clichéd was an amazing feeling, and something I spend all my time trying to do again. I think music is very unique in that way, you can feel something you think only you feel, and yet so many people will (hopefully) relate to it in the same way. It’s about making a human connection on a deeply personal level.

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  I don’t think I’m far enough along the song writing journey to make that judgement, and I also hope that to different people, different songs mean more than others (and that my best songs are yet to come!). However I wrote a love song called Chess, that to me is so obviously about a specific person, and yet most people would have no idea who it is. It’s like a secret message put out in public that only we can read.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  This is a hard one because my favourite artist literally changes on a daily basis. I think it would probably be Easy Life. Their songs are just so creative and I’d love to see how they write.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  If I ever say that I’ve learned everything, and there’s nothing new to say, then I must have just given up. It’s a constant learning experience, and I all the people I look up to seem to have mastered basic skills to the point where it’s not a conscious decision its almost innate, and that’s what I strive for.

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?
However old you are, or wherever you’re at in your song writing journey, just start writing, and know that no one, not even your favourite artist, wrote the perfect song when they first tried writing, quite the opposite. I look back at some of the songs I wrote even 6 months ago, and I think how I’d do them differently, and I hope in 6 months’ time, I’ll look at the songs I write today and have grown and therefore would do them differently, because it’s a long and beautiful journey, and everyone has a story to tell. So the sooner you start, and stop being scared of it not being perfect and start embracing that there will be lots wrong, the sooner you can start learning and evolving. Soon you will be creating exactly the kind of music you want to hear, and trust me there is no better feeling. And to others out there writing, I don’t feel nearly qualified in any way to give advice. Just glad there are other people, like me, passionate about the same things. So thank you, and keep going!

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist?
David Bowie

Songwriter?
Tom Fletcher (defined by the fact that he has written such a broad range of different songs – pop, musical, classical – and transcends all genres)

Song?
Viva la Vida (Cold Play)

Album?
24K Magic (Bruno Mars)

Chord?
Cm 7th with an A flat in the base (no idea what it’s called but I’m in love with it)

Gig you’ve been to?
I saw Easy Life at truck festival and that was amazing.

Lyric?
“I was meant to tread the water, but now I’ve gotten in too deep” (James Morrison)

Genre?
Everything and anything. I don’t think it’s helpful to think of music in genres, it’s way too restrictive and, in my opinion, sets boundaries which hinder creativity.

Catchphrase?
That’s what she said (The American Office).

Fruit?
Really sour blueberries

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?  Piano is my instrument of choice, and I’d love to wake up and be amazing at the double bass.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  I used to do lots of magic when I was younger, bit rusty now, but still have a few tricks up my sleeve..

What are you non-musical hobbies?  Am currently obsessed with making TikTok videos.

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  Being heard.

What do you like about Song Academy?
The talent I saw at last year’s Young Songwriter competition was off the scale, insane, incredible.

 

We’re delighted that Andrea Turk has joined our Young Ambassadors Board!  Andrea is an amazing songwriter and performer from Indonesia.  She won The Young Songwriter 2019 competition in the International category and it was a privilege to have her perform at our live showcase in London last June.  We caught up with Andrea recently to talk about all things songwriting!

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  I remember listening to Ed Sheeran’s “+” album and Adele’s “21” album on repeat when I was ten years old. I ate, slept, and breathed the words to each song, and I could never shut my mouth from singing them. Keep in mind, I was a very shy kid and you probably wouldn’t catch me saying more than a few words when conversing with me. When my parents heard that I could sing, that’s when I was introduced to a world of music. I wrote my first song at the age of 12 and I’ve been writing ever since.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  The ability to imagine. Imagine all kinds of scenarios that you’ve built for the characters in your story. The freedom to feel all kinds of emotions and have that captured with words on a piece of paper. It’s an immersive experience in which I’m happy to be able to engage with all my senses.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  In the past, I’ve always been one to start with melodies along with a thought-out chord progression. The emotions that’ll be put into the song determines how I paint the melodies (e.g. going from low to high notes paints a picture of the sky which symbolizes peace, etc.) That’s how I usually start when the ‘spark’ isn’t there. Other days, it just kind of flows right out of me.

What achievement are you most proud of?  In the summer of 2019 I had the privilege to take part in my country’s national Independence Day celebration. It wasn’t until two weeks prior of my performance that I realized I will be singing as a soloist with an orchestra and choir in front of the entire country on live television. I kid you not it felt like a dream. I sang one of Indonesia’s national songs titled “Tanah Airku” by Ibu Soed in front of everyone (including the president) at the Palace, and I’m sure at that point it felt as if I was flying. It was an ethereal experience that I’m extremely grateful and proud to have been a part of.

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  My second single “Nothing About You” has received the most praises from people. It’s ironic because it’s my least favourite song out of all the songs I’ve written. I think what sets it apart from the others is because this one’s based on my true experience, and that I put a lot of honest emotions into it. The simplicity of just having my voice and the piano does make the song stand out more than compared to a fully produced track.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Finneas. If I could collaborate with anyone before I die, it’s definitely him. Although he writes commercially, his songs have always introduced a new different element to them and I’m excited to know what goes through his head when he writes his songs.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  Not by a long shot. Even when you feel as if you have the formula down or have gotten the gist of things, there’s always new knowledge out there for you to learn to make your songs sound even better. Personally, I’ve always wanted to find that ‘sweet spot’ of being able to sound commercial without having the need to sacrifice any emotion or plot in your storyline.

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?  I’d say just write. Write and write until you’ve convinced yourself that what you’re writing is good, and by then you’re probably already writing your next hit song without even knowing.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist?
Lolo Zouai.

Songwriter?
Billie Marten.

Song?
“The Great Escape” by Patrick Watson.

Album?
“Self Portrait” by Sasha Sloan.

Chord?
Ab or Eb major.

Gig you’ve been to?
Iyla’s concert at The Troubadour, LA.

Lyric?
I waited for something, and something died. So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived.

Genre?
Synth-Pop or Indie/Alternative.

Catchphrase?
A moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips! (my high school English teacher told me that)

Fruit?
Pineapples and bananas!

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?  Piano, but I’ve always wanted to fully master the guitar. Bass is a fun instrument to be able to play with!

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  I remember people’s zodiac signs more than their names.

What are your non-musical hobbies?  Watching movies, making movies, editing movies. Movies, movies, movies. Oh, and I love running.

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  Finding yourself without having anyone else tell you who you should become. Life’s too short to waste it on being someone you’re not happy with.

What do you like about Song Academy?  I love the hope and opportunities that Song Academy gives to the youth. Having an inclusive and supportive environment for young songwriters to share their songs and expressing themselves is a gift that not many of us are able to find elsewhere.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re super excited that Tabitha Jade has joined our Young Ambassadors Board.  Tabitha is an extremely talented songwriter whose songs have had national airplay.  We caught up with Tabitha about all things songwriting.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  My Parents love music, my Dad always played Jazz, soul and hip hop around the house. I have always been interested in music, when I started playing the guitar at the age of 11, this is when I
began songwriting constantly. My first song I wrote was called Butterfly, I can still remember the lyrics now!. Songwriting is one of my biggest passions, I find it is a great way to express my emotions and convert negative energy into a positive.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  I love writing a really catchy melody that I can’t get out of my head.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I usually begin improvising on the guitar, once I find a chord progression I love. I then go onto the melody and finish with lyrics. Depending on my mood it effects the vibe and feel of the song.

What achievement are you most proud of?  Receiving National airplay on Radio 1xtra, for two songs Caught Up & Nothing on Me. It’s still so surreal hearing my songs on radio knowing hundreds, potentially thousands could be listening in.  BBC Music Introducing – A few of my songs have been Producers Pick of the Week. Secret, Caught Up, MindReader

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  My latest single Secret, I think is my best song yet as it helped me move on from a relationship and get closure. I spent more time writing the lyrics, as this stage of my career, I realise songs need to get better each time.  I always tend to write about my own or a friends personal experience.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  I would love to collaborate with Young T and Bugsey, I love there vibe! There beats and flow are so fresh and they always get people on their feet.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  I’m definitely still learning, I think I will always be learning no matter what my age, as I always want to better my craft. My next milestone is to release an E.P. which I am currently working on.

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?  Go for it! The more you write, the better your songs get. Don’t hold back and I find it’s easier to write about your true life experiences, what you felt with real emotions which you can channel into your songs.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist?
Lauren Hill

Songwriter?
John Legend

Song?
I blame you- Ledisi

Album?
The Truth- Ledisi

Chord?
7th chords

Gig you’ve been to?
Jorja Smith
Mahalia

Lyric?
Today I fell in love with you all over again

Genre?
Rnb

Catchphrase?
It is what it is

Fruit?
Mango

What’s your instrument of choice? Guitar. Is there an instrument you would like to learn?
Piano, I would love to be able to play classical piano. I can play a few basic chords. to Grade 1 standard.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  I can do good impressions.

What are you non-musical hobbies?  Vintage clothing shopping in Camden and Brick Lane, as well as healthy eating and going to the gym.

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds? Hmm quite a lot!  Family, friends, music, sports, clothes & social media.

What do you like about Song Academy?  I love how Song Academy supports young up and coming songwriters, from an early age. Helping them to develop and give constructive criticism. This helps them develop further and improve. It is also a good platform as it gives exposure and an opportunity to perform which encourages young songwriters to continue working on their craft and thrive.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re delighted that Ronnie Warwick has joined The Song Academy Young Ambassadors Board! Ronnie is a super popular TikTok content creator with 340k+ followers! Young people relate to his funny video clips & takes on life.  We caught up with him recently to talk all things music.

Why do you think music is important to young people?  With performing, I think music is not only a way for young people to be creative and express themselves, but it also helps them to get out of their comfort zone and develop socially. As for those who just listen to music, I believe a song can really empower someone and help with their thoughts. You’ll always be able to find a song that is relatable to your current mood, and often it just feels nice to hear that somebody else has felt the same way at one point in their life.

What got you into using TikTok?  I was really inspired by the success other people had reached through TikTok and so I thought I’d give it a go. After one video did well, I kept it going and started to post consistently and before I knew it I’d gained quite a large fanbase. I think this is the mentality everybody should have in life; ‘If they can do it why can’t I?’.

How important do you think music is for the TikTok platform?  As much as TikTok seems to run the music industry nowadays, without music TikTok couldn’t function as well as it does. For example, trending dance videos require a song for creators to dance to. Without that it’d just be a bunch of people doing a bunch of random movements and nobody would see the rhythm.

What do you look for in a song that you would use in your videos on TikTok?  I tend to look for songs that really tell a story with the lyrics, with those I’m then able to create a POV acting video lip-syncing to the artist. Those videos tend to do quite well.

What achievement are you most proud of?  I’m proud that I broke out of my shell and entered a community of people so similar to me. I kept it up even when times were hard and for that I am gaining more and more followers and friends day after day.

Who would be your dream musician to collaborate with?  Lewis Capaldi, easy decision.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist?
Lewis Capaldi

Songwriter?
Ed Sheeran

Song?
Before You Go – Lewis Capaldi

Album?
Staying at Tamara’s – George Ezra

Chord?
I have absolutely no idea, can somebody please teach me how to read/write music…

Gig you’ve been to?
Blackbear – o2 Academy Brixton

TikTok creator?
Dixie D’Amelio. Or my nan, she’s great too!

Lyric?
‘I did it my way’ – Frank Sinatra

Genre?
Pop

Catchphrase?
‘It is what it is…’

Fruit?
Purple grapes :)

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  Being appreciated, loved and having a good network of supportive family and friends.

What do you like about Song Academy?  Song Academy puts time and effort into teaching kids about song writing and I believe that the workshops they run could really help kids to build up their self-confidence whilst meeting other people with similar interests to them. I hope that more and more people across the nation share their knowledge and/or experience with Song Academy as song writing isn’t just for making music, it’s also for expressing emotion and kids don’t do that enough nowadays.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

 

We’re super excited that Kevin Jones has joined our Young Ambassadors Board!  Kevin is a talented songwriter and musician who won The Young Songwriter 2018 competition.   We caught up with Kevin about how he got into songwriting, his advice for aspiring young songwriters and so much more.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first? I’ve always been into music, since I was a little kid. I think the idea of writing my own song was something I wanted to do, but didn’t really realize that I had the ability to do until I was around 10 years old. I really started writing a lot more in middle school after being inspired by British artists like The Beatles, ELO, and Tom Odell.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? Hard to choose a favorite part because they all kind of work together, but I’d say creating the melody. I love progressions that support a unique, yet beautiful melody. I consider melody to be the most important piece and if you have a great melody, then your song can just flow around it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  There are a lot of ways, but I usually start by messing with chord progressions on the piano. Sometimes I have ideas based off my own experiences that I feel like would make for a good song, but usually the music comes first. Several songs of mine recently have been started just with a drum loop though. I add instrumental layers to it until it creates a mood that I feel would convey something meaningful.

What achievement are you most proud of?  Opening for Tom Odell at Thalia Hall in Chicago

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  Out of what I’ve released, it’s between Clara and Barista Girl. I love the simplicity and relatability of Clara while Barista Girl was quite intricate and I’m proud of the work I put into it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Jeff Lynne, Tom Odell, or Vulfpeck

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  I don’t think anything is ever really mastered, you’re always learning something new. Right now I’m trying to learn how to write more genres for various artists that I’ve been collaborating with.

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?  Just go and make something! Don’t let anything cause you to doubt your ability. And have fun doing it! Make something you enjoy. If you run into a roadblock, don’t be discouraged. Take a break from the song if you need to and return with fresh ears. Listen to lots and lots of music!

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Theo Katzman

Songwriter? Tom Odell

Song? ‘What Did You Mean (When You Said Love)’

Album? Invitation to Her’s

Chord? Dbmaj7

Gig you’ve been to? ELO at the Hollywood Bowl

Lyric? “Love is a beautiful thing

And on your hand I see that there’s a ring

And I would understand if I had put that ring upon your hand

But it was not me, it seems

How could that be a thing of beauty?”

Genre? Shoegaze

Catchphrase? “That is NOT my job!”

Fruit? Strawberry

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn? Piano is my main instrument. Would love to become a better drummer

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks? Cartoon voices

What are you non-musical hobbies? A little bit of video games and spending time with my girlfriend haha

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds? Being loved and finding good friendships

What do you like about Song Academy? How much effort they put into teaching kids about songwriting! People don’t realize how healthy songwriting is as an art form to practice. I love seeing kids learn to write music, I really wish we had more things like it over here in the states.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re thrilled that Cassa Jackson has joined our Young Ambassadors Board! Cassa is a twenty two year-old London based singer-songwriter signed to Marshall Arts booking agency (Pink, Elton John).  In 2019 she supported Jocelyn Brown three nights running at the Camden Jazz Cafe and ‘The Jacksons’ on their 50th anniversary tour in Spain.  We caught up with Cassa about how she got into songwriting, her advice for aspiring young songwriters and so much more.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  I’ve always absolutely loved music and used to love the lyrics in songs and would write the lyrics to my favourite songs down in a little notebook! I got into writing music at school. I had a friend who wanted to be a DJ and we wrote lots of songs together for fun and then one day we decided to enter it into Songacademy and that’s when I realised people actually liked the songs I wrote and that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  I love how a simple idea comes to life and how with each verse your initial vision comes together to create something amazing that people can sing along to!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I always start with the lyrics which is quite unusual I think but I always want my songs to really mean something. Normally I write songs for myself as a cathartic experience which helps me get things off my mind and gives me an outlet for what I’m feeling – free therapy, it’s brilliant!

What achievement are you most proud of?  I’m most proud of supporting ‘The Jacksons’ on their 50th anniversary tour in Spain. They’re such legends of music and so supportive to young artists like myself. The best moment was when Tito Jackson told me I was a brilliant songwriter, I couldn’t believe it!

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  I think ‘Wild West’ is my best work in terms of lyrical songwriting – it’s a song about social media and the destructive effect it has on people. It’s a lament for the girl I used to be before I had the pressure of social media.   However, my song ‘New Horizons’ is arguably one of my best because it’s so uplifting and makes people sing along instantly, which is a sign of a good song!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Julia Michaels, she’s incredible and ever since I heard her song ‘Issues’ and heard how honest and raw she is and how clever she is with her phrasing it’s always been a dream of mine to work with her.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  Definitely not, I’m learning with every song I write and that’s the beauty of songwriting. I’ve come a very long way from my first song and yet I’m excited to keep perfecting my craft and find songs that will last the test of time.

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?  It sometimes help to write a poem first as that gets to into the practice of expressing your thoughts onto paper and then just listen to as much music as you can and you’ll start to realise what type of music you like and what you want to make yourself.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Dua Lipa

Songwriter? Julia Michaels

Song? If I ain’t got you

Album? Songs about Jane (Maroon 5)

Chord? B major

Gig you’ve been to? Adele at the 02

Lyric? It’s been a year now, think I’ve figured out how, how to live without you without it ripping my heart out

Genre? Pop

Catchphrase? Nobody puts baby in the corner.

Fruit? Banana or watermelon

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?
Piano. I’d love to learn guitar or something more rogue like Trumpet maybe.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  I can speak french and Spanish!

What are you non-musical hobbies?  I love playing tennis, a sociable competitive sport.

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  What matters most is probably friends at school and being loved. Having fun should be what matters most and enjoying everyday life.

What do you like about Song Academy?  I am Song Academy’s biggest fan, genuinely, it gives young people the opportunity and confidence in themselves to showcase their talents. But the main thing I love is the focus on songwriting, there’s so many singing talent shows out there but songwriting is what really makes people stand out – lots of people can sing, but songwriting takes that extra bit thought and passion.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re delighted that Katie Kittermaster has joined our Young Ambassadors Board! Katie is a super talented singer/songwriter from Kent who’s opened for some amazing artists including Olly Murs, Jools Holland and Ronan Keating and has toured with Keith Duffy, Brian Mcfadden and Lucy Spraggan!  We caught up with Katie about how she started songwriting and so much more.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?   Sounds corny but I think I have always knew that I wanted to sing. My earliest memory was at a school nativity play when I was 4 and I sang a solo in a fairy outfit! I sang throughout my childhood and had sporadic lessons here and there (as we moved around quite a lot during school days). We moved to Dubai for 3 years and it was there that I had the opportunity to perform publicly. I was asked to sing on national TV (it was organised through the school I was attending) – it was like the UK’s version of This Morning. I sang Skinny Love by Birdy. From this I was approached by the organisers of Global Gift Gala, hosted by Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin, to open their event in Dubai. That was the moment I knew that this is what I wanted to do! I was 14 at the time.  I wrote my first song when I had my heart broken (probably an exaggeration!) at 15. Until then I had not been able to even start to write – I had no idea how to begin. I am dyslexic and cannot really read music, I’ve taught myself to play the guitar and the piano. I use both instruments to write but would like to improve (may be now we are all self – isolating, I can dedicate some time to practice).

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  It’s not something I have thought about before but recently I have been collaborating with other writers and producers and I have really enjoyed that; it’s definitely something I am keen to do more of. If I was to pinpoint one moment of the process that gives me the most pleasure is the first time I play my new song once I have finished it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  I take inspiration from the things going on in my life, things I see, people I meet. For me, there is no set process (unless I am writing with others and therefore we are writing on demand!). I write alone most of the time. I haven’t had so much time recently as I have been pretty much on tour since I left school. However, with the COVID19 situation that we have found ourselves in, I have had a lot more time to be creative. I don’t think there is a magic formula to writing, but if I have an idea or hook I am very happy to lock myself away until I have finished. I love to write and my favourite songs haven’t taken much time at all – T-shirt, which was one of my early songs took me about 10 minutes to write.

What achievement are you most proud of?  That’s a hard one. I feel very lucky to have been touring since school, initially with Brian MacFadden and Keith Duffy (Boyzlife) and then with Lucy Spraggan. I was on my 2nd tour with Boyzlife when the COVID19 virus hit. Singing to 2K+ people a night with the boys and singing on stage with them was incredible. But I think my proudest moment (and it may seem small to others) was selling out my first headline show. I was worried that nobody would come but it sold out in a few days!!!! Sadly it is now postponed until further notice.

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  Although I wrote it when I was 15, I still think T-shirt is one of my best songs. So many people say that they can relate to it. I feel my writing is developling and maturing I guess but lyrics are the most important thing to me. I want to be a storyteller. I have written over 30 songs but have only released 5 as I have been so busy touring. The time will come soon I hope.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  Cliche perhaps but 100% Ed Sheeran.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  I am definitely still learning. Each time I have a writing session, I learn from others and about myself, I have performed over 100 times since I left school and this has taught me so much – not just about performing and stagecraft but also about writing and what songs work live. Sometimes you may believe that you have a great song if you get the chance to perform it over and over then you can change it up to make it even better. I am not the sort of person to set milestones; that could be an error. But I just want to keep performing live, I want to collaborate more and I am hoping to have a headline tour in 2021.

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?  Try and write something every day. However small.  Keep a notebook/phone with you as if you are like me you will think of a hook/line/lyric at the weirdest times.  Gig as much as possible so that you can test out your songs.  Believe in yourself, grow a thick skin and keep going.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Maisie Peters

Songwriter?  Ed Sheeran

Song?  Naive (Kooks)

Album?  Harry Styles – Fine Line

Chord?  C Flat Minor

Gig you’ve been to?  Reading Festival

Lyric?  You feel like home to me

Genre?  Indie/Pop

Catchphrase?  Cut off your split ends and I’m not just talking about your hair

Fruit? Raspberry

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?  Guitar – Guitar!

What are you non-musical hobbies?
Friends, baking, skiing

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  Wellbeing – Happiness – Friendship/relationships – Grades

What do you like about Song Academy?
Love that Song Academy supports unsigned artists and young artists and encourages them to experiment with their creativity.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re super excited that Gus Harrower has joined our Young Ambassadors Board.  Gus is a brilliant singer songwriter from Scotland and won The Young Songwriter 2016 competition and has gone on from strength to strength.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first? I used to be involved with musical theatre so I was always into performing and was especially interested in the music side. I’ve also been playing piano from an early age but didn’t start actually writing music until I was around 13/14. I had my first gig but was going to be performing a set full of covers so wanted an original song in there too.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? I can take ages to write a song. Ideas that I had months ago will reappear in my voice memos or pop back into my head at random times but my favourite part of the writing process is when you can see a song, or these ideas become a bigger thing. Its like when you’re baking a cake and you start with the mixture but it doesn’t really look like a cake until it’s baked and all it needs is decorated. If that even makes sense.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It can start in different ways. Sometimes it starts with a lyric (with or without music) or sometimes with a chord structure. It can really depend. I’ll occasionally start a song with a title too, that can be fun. For me, I don’t think I know a song is good until it’s all finished and I can hear it in it’s entirety.

What achievement are you most proud of? I’m proud of getting recognised for my songwriting. Of course, winning the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition back in 2016 was incredible and getting to perform my song at Wembley Arena was mental and something I won’t forget. Recently, I was a finalist in BBC Radio Scotlands singer/songwriter award which was also a fantastic experience.

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why? Ooh this is a tough one. One of my favourite songs of mine is one called ‘Where We Were’ and I just think lyrically its the strongest. I released that on a self-produced EP a couple of years ago alongside a track called ‘Rosie’ which again is a song close to my heart.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Gary Barlow

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone? I’m always learning! Even by listening to new music, going to see a gig etc. all of that plays into what you write and if I was to say ‘I have mastered it’ I’d be so wrong. And I’d hope someone would tell me that!

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? Songwriting is just like writing a poem or a story. There’s no right way to do it so don’t be scared to dive in and get started. And to be people already writing, I think the most important thing is to be honest, to yourself and to the music. For a while I tried to force music onto a page and I didn’t get anywhere with it.

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Bon Iver

Songwriter? Justin Currie

Song? Vincent by Don McLean.

Album? 22, A Million

Chord? Anything with a major 7th and added 9th.

Gig you’ve been to? Take That

Lyric? “Tell her something in my heart.  Needs her more than even clowns need the laughter of the crowd” from Tell Her This by Del Amitri

Genre? Pop

Catchphrase? “S’all Good man”

Fruit? Apples

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn? I want to learn the drums.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks? I can make a snake with my hands. Not that impressive.

What are you non-musical hobbies? I like watching films, playing video games, and I went bouldering once so I’ll class that as a hobby!

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds? Being happy, creative and confident.

What do you like about Song Academy? It’s a unique platform to showcase young songwriters and gives them a chance to meet and collaborate with other musicians.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!

We’re thrilled that Miriam Nyarko has joined our Young Ambassadors Board!  She’s not only a fabulous singer/songwriter but also an impressive actress and dancer.  We got to talk to her about how she got into music, her tips for aspiring young songwriters, and so much more.

What got you into music? Did you immediately start writing it or were you a fan for a bit first?  I started singing in church at around 4 years old it wasn’t till 7 I starting getting lessons and then at 11/12 I started to get an interest in writing song (that weren’t very good) LOL x

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process?  Releasing thoughts in my head and just seeing what I can create. It’s freedom of … song ;)

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark?  It differs a lot of the time!! Depending on the vibe of the song or my inspiration a lot of the time I’ll find my melody and then just freestyle ; singing to my music or write based on current circumstances and peace it together. Chorus MOSTLY comes first !!

What achievement are you most proud of?  Performing an original at the Royal Albert Hall has to be one of my favourite moments!

Which of your songs do you think is your best work and why?  Either the song I wrote for my friend who passed away because I had a lot of emotion to feed off and it made the situation easier to deal with. Or my single that I released this year call ‘Step By Step’.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  That’s a hard question because I have so many. But probably. Tori Kelly, John Legend or H.E.R.

Do you feel like you’ve mastered your craft or are you still learning? If you’re still learning, what’s your next milestone?  I feel like you can get to a place where you’re content with how you write and a way that always works but I don’t think you ever stop learning. I definitely have a lot more to learn and I definitely wanna release more music.

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 wait for the perfect topic or perfect melody, the only way you can get better is if you start! Never stop writing because sometimes you’ll have a brilliant idea and other times you might have writers block which is okay. Be inspired by the things around you and stay true to your style!

Favourites round! Don’t think about it, just say what first comes to mind. Who/what is your favourite:

Artist? Tori Kelly

Songwriter?  Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Elton John, So many!!

Song?  I can’t choose!!

Album?  Inspired by true events – Tori Kelly

Chord?  F sharp minor … no explanation

Gig you’ve been to?  Does Beyoncé’s tour count as a gig?

Lyric?  Again I cannot choose.

Genre?  RnB

Catchphrase?  Everything Happens For A Reason

Fruit?  Fun fact I am allergic to A LOT of fruit.  But I eat grapes !!

What’s your instrument of choice? Is there an instrument you would like to learn?  Piano is my go to. And I’m currently learning guitar so I guess I want to continue learning that.

Do you have any hidden talents or party tricks?  My ankle is double jointed … it’s hard to explain.

What are you non-musical hobbies?  I’m also an actress for the bbc and I love to dance!

What do you think matters most to 8-18 year olds?  I think that varies because everybody’s lives and circumstances are different but I feel like it’s very easy to care about what people think about you in this generation and well … you just shouldn’t.

What do you like about Song Academy?  How it’s inspires kids to be themselves and opens many doors and opportunities for young songwriters.

Aged 8-18? Written your own original songs?
Then enter The Young Songwriter 2020 competition before the 31st March 2020!