Our inaugural residential songwriting camp was a big hit!

The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 live showcase

A must see event to inspire musical & creative young people! The top 10 finalists of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition and special VIP guests will perform their original songs at the iconic Tabernacle in Notting Hill, UK. The winners will be announced on the night. Don’t miss out, book your tickets soon!


The inspirational Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 live showcase will be held on Saturday 23rd September 6:45 – 9:45pm at The Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, Notting Hill, London W11 2AY. The Young Songwriter 2023 competition top 10 finalists, Song Academy alumni making waves in the music industry plus VIP guests will be performing their original songs live.

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

We are delighted that the showcase will be compered by TV/Radio star Abbie McCarthy and Song Academy ambassador Zara Musoni. Abbie McCarthy is an award-winning TV/Radio presenter & DJ, you’ll find her hosting BBC Music Introducing in Kent on the airwaves every Saturday night and also bringing great new music & fun interviews to your TV screens on E4 Extra & The Box Network with Fresh This Month. Abbie has been highlighted by the Radio Academy as one of the brightest young stars in radio, recently featuring in their esteemed 30 under 30 list and winning Silver for Best Music Presenter at the ARIAs 2020.

The list of Young Songwriter 2023 young songwriters performing on the 23rd September is shown below.

How to book your tickets

To book your seats at this unique event send an email to contact@songacademy.co.uk. Seats in the tiered seating cost £22.50 and for seats in the gallery are £17.50. All seats have an excellent view of the stage. There is limited availability so we suggest you book soon. E-tickets will be sent out the week before.

About The Young Songwriter 2023 competition

The Song Academy Young Songwriter competition is the leading international songwriting competition for young people aged 8-18. This year attracted around 1,000 high quality entries. Song Academy gives the unheard youth a voice and platform to express themselves and be heard. The standard of finalist songs entered this year was exceptionally high. To select the top 10 songs we listened for inventiveness, creativity & bravery with lyrics & melodies illuminating our imaginations. Young people have a unique way of expressing themselves, they are a new generation experiencing life in the most vivid and visceral way.

SAYS23 Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Amy Wadge, Miranda Cooper, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Plested, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek and Dan Gillespie Sells.

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music and ICMP.

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS23 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

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

Many of our past finalists are now making waves in the industry, including Gayle, Matilda Mann, Oscar Lang, Lexie Carroll, Cassa Jackson, Oscar Welsh, Natalie Shay, Joshua Shea, Tabitha Jade, Tom A. Smith, Gabriel Dryss, Katie Kittermaster, Gilska, Andrea Turk, Cathy Jain, Sebastian Croft, Daniel McCarthy, Eliza Mai, Miriam Nyarko, Wasia Project, Sophie Griffiths, Rosie Sullivan, Melanie Baker, Alien Blaze, Sweet Mylo, James Bakian, Hetta Falzon, Harry Hatcher, Conor Marcus, Clari Freeman-Taylor, Alex Spencer, Sophie DeMasi & Mullally.    

Past Young Songwriter Live Showcase Performers


Young Songwriter 2023 Performers Line-Up

FRANKIE MORLAND
OTTILIE WALLACE
SHOLTO CAMERON
ELISA MCEVOY
ISLA HANNETT
OREGON THIA GERRIT
12 DEERS BAND
KIT BOTTOMLEY
AGNES BULL
ELEANOR ROSE HANSON
MIA WILKS
CHARLIE RYAN
KACIA
MADDIE INSTONE
ELI CROSSLEY
ECHO BAND
SKYE BISHOP
MACY O
ELIZABETH EHINFUN
STUART VEITCH
SHAAN BHASKAR
RUBE
JS STARZ – JESSE NGOMA
ISLA MAE
COLE LAM
TAMARA HENDIN
SOPHIE FERIANI
MATT JONES
ADAM O’CONNOR, ARLO REDMAN
ROE BYRNE

To book your seats at this unique event send an email to contact@songacademy.co.uk.


The Young Songwriter 2024 competition is open for entries from the 1st February until the 31st March 2024. Get your songs ready!

ANNOUNCING THE TOP 10 SONGS OF THE YOUNG SONGWRITER 2023 COMPETITION #SAYS23

PRESS RELEASE


SAYS23 Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Amy Wadge, Calum Scott, Plested, Miranda Cooper, Gracey, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin & Simon Aldred.

Drumroll please! The top 10 songs of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition, in its 13th year, have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted around 1,000 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  62% of entrants were girls, 32% boys, 6% preferred not to say or had a unique gender identification. Entries were from across the entire UK/Ireland (71%) and around the world (29%). The future of music is bright and diverse!

The top 10 songs in each category of The Young Songwriter 2023 competition are SHOWN BELOW. You can listen to all top 10 songs on the Song Academy SoundCloud account!  Plus you can find out more about the top 10 finalists on our blog.

The UK/Ireland winners & runners-up will be announced on Saturday 23rd September 2023 at The Young Songwriter 2023 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  The International winners & runners-up will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 24th September at 2pm GMT. Stay tuned to our social channels to hear the announcements first!

Emily Phillips, songwriter and lead judge of The Young Songwriter 2023 competition said “Another swift year has passed since the last Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition and nearly 1,000 songs for the 2023 entry have been listened to.  This years entries cover an enormous variety of sounds, styles, and lyrical invention. Unrequited love, family relations, social media, self identity and nature are common themes in the lyrics.  The songs vary from a simple guitar or piano accompaniment to full on production. My job is to discern the song beyond the performance and beyond the soundscape, which can be very difficult if the song is wrapped up in an irresistible way, and also hard if the presentation is poor.  There is no doubt that some great songs are inextricably bound to their sound which gives them the identity we gravitate to, so I hope the judges can be forgiven for loving a song partly because it sounds great.

I can only say that the judging process is not an exact science, and that mistakes will and can be made.  In much the same way that the Beatles were turned down by 4 record companies, I  will no doubt have inadvertently overlooked a great song. This may be because, some songs require many listens before you realise their secret magic.  Anyway, I’m trying to say that no writer in the competition should feel disheartened.   A song writer needs to write as many songs as possible, as often times, it’s in the proliferation that greatness comes. I also want to stress that the standard of some of the songwriting is astonishing, there is no match for the hubris of youth! 

Song Academy and the judges encourage all young songwriters to collaborate.  It’s fun, and can be a great way to connect with other like-minded young people.  Collaboration builds confidence and opens up a world of possibilities.  Song Academy is helping to build a community of the next generation of songwriters in the UK and around the world. What a fantastic organisation, I am very proud to be part of it.”

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS23 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy said: “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. We are looking for originality, creativity and musical bravery. We’re a supportive community where young people express themselves freely, get their songs heard and connect to like-minded young people. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.”

The next opportunity for young songwriters aged 11-19 (divided into separate age groups) in the UK/Ireland is our new residential Summer songwriting camp from 9th to 12th August 2023, near Guildford, UK. There are a limited number of places available so please contact us soon.

OFFICIAL SPONSORS of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music and ICMP.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 16-18 YEAR OLDS * TOP 10

A THERAPY SESSION IN NORTH CAROLINA – ISLA MAE

BEAUTY – MATT JONES

HARP – SHAAN BHASKAR

HYMN FOR THE HOMESICK KIDS – TAMARA HENDIN

JUST YOU AND ME – COLE LAM

LAZY – SOPHIE FERIANI

LITTLE GIRL – RUBE

SET ME ON FIRE – ROE BYRNE

TTF – JS STARZ

YOU ARE THE LIGHT – ADAM O’CONNOR AND ARLO REDMAN

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-15 YEAR OLDS * TOP 10

BACKGROUND GIRL – MADDIE INSTONE

CENTRAL LINE TO TOWN – MIA WILKS

DOING IT FOR CLOUT – KACIA

DOORS – CHARLIE RYAN

DRIVING SEAT – ELI CROSSLEY

FOURTEEN – SKYE BISHOP

LOVE RAMPAGE – MACY O

PATHOLOGICAL LIAR – ELIZABETH EHINFUN

PROMISES AND REGRETS – STUART VEITCH

THESE DAYS – ECHO

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 8-12 YEAR OLDS * TOP 10

BRAND NEW – SHOLTO CAMERON

CAT LAWS – AGNES BULL

H.O.P.E – ISLA HANNETT

HOLD ONTO YOUR BRANCHES – 12 DEERS

I AM FREE – OTTILIE WALLACE

I’LL GO ON AN ADVENTURE – ELISA MCEVOY

KING FOR A DAY – FRANKIE MORLAND

KNEBWORTH – KIT BOTTOMLEY

SUNFLOWER – ELEANOR ROSE HANSON

THE FUTURE’S HAPPENING – OREGON THIA GERRIT

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS * TOP 10

BILLBOARD CITY – SUMMER BRENNAN

COINCIDENCE – LINDSAY LIEBRO

FIRE – MIA BENITA

HAND – FREDERIC THESIGER

JELLYMAN – SWAGSOCKS

LAST DAY BEING 17 – VICKY GAO

SO HARD – LINA SKALLI

THAT TINY HOUSE IN MY BRAIN – SOFIA KEMPA

THIN ICE – FELICIA HOLMEN

YOU DON’T KNOW ME – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 8-12 YEAR OLDS * TOP 10

FLY – EYLA STEAD

GOLDEN LIGHT – MISHKA MEHTA

HUMMINGBIRD – LOUIE PHIPPS

MY HOPE – DAVID LEROY SANTOSO

MY TIME MACHINE – CLARA MORGAN

ONE FAMILY – YEN HYI AND NADYEZHDA WONG

RUNNING AWAY – SUN + MOON

SMILE ME A MELODY – ANLI STRYDOM

STEP BACK – LILIA ASHA WHEELER

WROTE THIS SONG FOR YOU – NICKY LAU

NOTES TO THE EDITORS – SONG ACADEMY OVERVIEW

Founded 14 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

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

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

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

Get to know the SAYS23 finalists in the UK/Ireland 8-12 years old category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted nearly 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.  We’ll add more profiles as we receive them.  Stay tuned!

OREGON THIA GERRITS – ‘THE FUTURE’S HAPPENING’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I am excited about the future. I wrote this song around the launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which began a new phase in space exploration. It made me look towards the future and wonder what it holds for humanity. There will always be ups and downs in the world. Even if sometimes things are difficult, people will continue to experience joy, hope and excitement. Hopefully the positive things will make us believe that we can become better and create a happy future for all of us,

What got you into writing songs? Song Academy! My school had a song writing club and I enjoyed the Song Academy sessions so much that I continued to do online song writing classes through the lock down.

What does songwriting mean to you? Song writing lets me express my feelings and sing about topics that mean a lot to me. I hope people can hear and sing my song and feel the same way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love everything. I like thinking about the song, writing the lyrics, composing the tune and singing it! I wish I could play the guitar though!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? It starts with something that happened to me, that makes me think. After a while, it develops into an idea. After brainstorming, I find interesting words that connect into a song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Through Song Academy, I learnt the Soundtrap platform where I sang and recorded my song with Brendan Cleary, who played the guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Chris Hadfield, the Canadian singer and astronaut who sang and played guitar in space.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Don’t think! Just do it! Some of the best songs come from the heart, not from hours of careful technique.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Mia Wilks’ “Central Line to Town” was striking as it starts with a real life recording of the announcement on the Central Line. I really like Skye Bishop’s “Fourteen”. I listened to her other songs and thought her voice and her piano style was very moving and professional.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The competition is a great opportunity for young people to express themselves and have fun while creating something that they will remember for all their lives.

KIDS OF ORION – ’10 RULES’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We found a need in our school and in everyday life and decided to write about it. We wanted to try and help inspire and motivate kids of all ages and give them a guidebook on how to navigate life. I know we’re only young but the song 10 rules covers the things that we feel are important and that will help us to have positive futures

What got you into writing songs? At our school, The Orion Primary School, our teacher Ms McDonald help set up a cool music production club that helps us learn about music production. We learn about the basics of making music using Logic Pro x and also learn about songwriting and song structure and get to make our own music. We all actually produced this song ourselves in our lesson. We find music helps us in everyday life and we have a passion for spreading a message. Music helps us do this.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means we have a way of expressing ourselves when we can’t any other way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Working together and learning about how music is composed. We had fun writing the lyrics and trying to think of the different ideas and things we could write about. So after we made the instrumental, it was fun to bounce our ideas off of each other about what the lyrics should be.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually make the beat first then think about a concept of what we want the song to be about. We decided to write about things that are passionate to our school and make us happy. We also wanted to send a message out too.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. We are very lucky at our school because we have access to a recording studio and radio station and we have music clubs. In our music production club we worked on a system called Logic and Rio from The Apex Project helped us learn how to produce the music, structure the song and compose the lyrics. It was hard deciding on a beat and finalising the piece but we worked together.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Ariana Grande and Beyonce. There are so many great artists that we would love to meet one day.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? You have to have patience and push your creative flare. It helps to have someone like Rio to teach you the process too.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We would love to have seen our other group from The Orion get through to the finals too. The Orion Alltimers. We have listened to many of the tracks they’ve made and like so many of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? That everyone has a chance to be involved and that you do not need to be older to enter.

HALLUNCINATIONS – ‘THE BACKSTAGE GUY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired to write backstage guy from myself and my life when I was younger. Basically there’s a forest with a river running through it near my house and when I was younger I had no friends so I would go to this place after school and listen to songs hour on end and although backstage guy doesn’t feature this place. The song is based around it and it’s over now.

What got you into writing songs? So when I was younger me and my aunty would go on zoom and do ukelele lessons and as soon as I started playing I felt like this was what I am supposed to do and after many covers I decided to write my own song and it wasn’t that good but I didn’t give up I tried again and again picking up on things I have done wrong and improving for my next song. One day I wrote a song and for the first time I really liked it ! So I carried on writing more and here I am today with ‘backstage guy’.

What does songwriting mean to you? Well it means everything to me and it’s the one thing I can do by myself no one bothering me and I find it a lot easier to tell things in my songs than speaking it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When you finally get the catchy chorus you want after many tries.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Well I think deep about what to write a song about how to make it original and then I play some chords on guitar and put my ideas into a catchy melody and when I get something I like I record it and write it down. But it’s not always the first chorus which is at the end as I usually change it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. First I sat in my room with just my my Pen and paper and would write down any melody’s and lyrics which would come to my head and then I would work out parts for people in my band and then we would get together and record it all on garage band and layer some more singing on top then make sure it’s all good and then we have the song. Also these are the people in Hallucinations: Maximus Myatt (me): guitar and vocals, Rupert Owens: bass guitar, Teddy Layzell: drums

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I have a lot of artists I like but my all time favourite is Twenty Øne Piløts as I like there lyrics and theme and I feel they have real depth in there songs and I also like Green day and Shawn Mendes They are all very different but I like listening to many kinds of music to give me inspiration.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? First of all don’t listen to people who say your music is bad because if you do you will loose confidence and not carry on and that future superstar in you will not happen. And even if you don’t like it carry on because it won’t ever get better if you give up on it. In fact that counts for everything, if you don’t carry on and just give up it will never be good and you want it to be good don’t you?

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  I don’t know anyone else who entered but I had a listen and I really like daydreams by Robyn Jones as I can tell the lyrics really mean something and It is relatable to me and I can really feel the emotion.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Before I found out about this I had no where to show my music and when I found out about this competition I was very pleased as I have been wanting an opportunity like this for a long time and getting through to the top 30 just still blows my mind and It made my day so that’s why I like song academy!

ELISA MCEVOY  ‘I’LL GO ON AN ADVENTURE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I like nature and I have always liked writing songs about things I like.

What got you into writing songs? I want to be like my Dad, who writes songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means that I can say stuff in a different way to speaking and express my feelings in my songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The recording was probably my favourite part because I like hearing myself in the headphones.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I hum a melody out loud and then start to think about how it could improve and what it could be about.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote the song in one of my diaries in pencil and changed it until it felt right.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to sing with Sam Ryder.

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 and write what you think feels good.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it give me confidence to share my songs.

MAX MARNHAM – ‘ANY OTHER DAY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? What inspired me to write my finalist song is to encourage people not to give up, and also that to tell people that not everyone is perfect.

What got you into writing songs? What got me into writing songs, is that I use to listen to a lot music (I still do!) and one day I though to myself “ what would it be like if I wrote a song?”

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means to me, a great way to express myself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is the bit where you are starting to make progress.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song by finding a melody on my piano, or find a beat on my computer.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My set up for recording is a Mac book air, a sound card, a recording microphone, a keyboard, a piano, a drum kit, and some more stuff.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artists to collaborate with would probably be The Kooks, MustBeJohn or the Skeggs.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would say to work hard and to not give up.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite entry is hold on to your branches by 12 deers.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? What I like about the Song Academy is the entries are always amazing. It also gives kids a chance to show other side of themselves and their talents.

HENRY MARNHAM – ‘SHY FELLOW’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I think I was going through quite a hard time with being sick and i wanted to do something to distract myself.

What got you into writing songs? Probably the creativity and excitement of it all, and being able to do what ever you want in the song.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means quite a lot as it is a hobby  of mine and I really enjoy it.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I think it is when you layer everything together, and you get that rush of adrenaline when you realise how good it actually is.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually from brainstorming some ideas and trying to find a simple tune, before messing around with some synths and finding the right one.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Pencil, paper, guitar, piano, after jamming, sound card (presonos) and mics Audio box and layout deck.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Probably either Lewis Capaldi or The Neighbourhood.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Creating something out of nothing is cool. Don’t give up.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Sholto, Robyn Jones, Eleanor Rose Hanson

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Freedom

OTTILIE WALLACE – ‘I AM FREE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? There was a karaoke competition at school and I decided I wanted to write my own song for it.

What got you into writing songs? I have been composing and improvising since I first started playing the violin when I was 5 years old. I have written mostly for orchestral instruments and also some choral compositions. I am not sure why I didn’t write a song sooner! I Am Free is my first song.

What does songwriting mean to you? I love creative writing, I love composing and I love music. Songwriting combines all of those things. I really enjoy it!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I don’t think I have a favourite part. Maybe that will happen as I write more songs.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I Am Free is my first song but I have since written more songs. Usually my inspiration is sudden. I think for a song I often think of words first. A phrase will come to me and that sets off more words and then also the tone of the music.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote I Am Free using Sibelius. I was lucky enough to be able to record it at a local recording studio.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I think it would have to be Toto!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I think it is really important to write and create without worrying about whether you are getting it “right” or whether it is good enough. I also think it is important to write music which really makes you feel something.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I’d love to say I’ve listened to all of the other top 30 finalists in all the categories but since they were announced on Friday I have been composing non-stop to meet deadlines and then been back at school! I’m looking forward to listening to them all over the next couple of weeks and imagining what it would be like to collaborate.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It’s a fantastic opportunity to have your music considered by experts and shared with others. It’s very exciting!

ROBYN JONES – ‘DAYDREAMS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My inspiration to write this song came from the fact that there aren’t many ‘popular’ songs about getting lost in your own thoughts/overthinking currently.  So, I wanted to bring attention to an issue that so many people can relate to.

What got you into writing songs? I wanted to challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone by creating something completely original, and writing my own song.

What does songwriting mean to you? To me, songwriting means expressing my feelings and personality through music and lyrics. 

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My personal favourite part of the process is hearing the final product for the first time and realising how far I have come from the simple spark that inspired me to write the song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I like to think of a chord pattern and that brings to my mind a specific situation/experience I have had.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My setup to write the song was simply sitting in my bedroom alone with my guitar, finding a chord pattern, and playing it until it brings out a situation/experience I have had.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? ‘Fall Out Boy’ without question!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Just to give it a go, don’t be too quick to discard an idea and step out of your comfort zone.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite is Backstage Guy by Hallucinations. I had a very fun time listening to it and found it to be very unique and very catchy.  I also liked Hold Onto Your Branches by 12 Deers.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the fact there are 2 age categories meaning I am competing with other entrants who are likely to be on the same or similar level to me, meaning we all get a fair chance.

KIT BOTTOMLEY – ‘KNEBWORTH’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Seeing big bands at big gigs is mind blowing. Last year I’d seen Pearl Jam and Pixies in Hyde Park and then Liam Gallagher and Kasabian at Knebworth. It’s the massive, massive sound and the energy of the crowd. It was trying to put down in song that feeling of being part of something bigger than you. The surge when your favourite song is played in front of you, how connected you are with the crowd and performer. When I want to hear a song about something I write it. It played in my head, the melody and lyrics were there after the Liam gig, I walked home buzzing and had the song there. So it’s really a song about songs.

What got you into writing songs? I’m always singing, when I search up a song that I want to hear, if I can’t find it or that emotional feeling, then I write it. My mum says my first words were sung not spoken so I guess I’ve been doing it all my life. I often hear the melody in everything, we all do it sometimes on a train or in the rain, the beat and the music that is there. It’s taking that and making it bigger.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means for me creating, expressing myself and making something beautiful (maybe not the first time but trying and layering), making something for other people and for yourself. It’s fun and my favourite thing to do. I’m pretty obsessed with making music and writing songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is that it’s fun, it’s my favourite thing to do. Getting a song out of my head, and performing the song. Making something from nothing which is like all art i guess.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start a song with a melody, then a phrase I’ve heard someone say like ‘Sleepyhead maybe it’s time to leave we should go home to bed’ and ‘54321 I’m still waiting for the quiet’ are two other songs I wrote that just were there in my head because I’d heard it said so many times. Also it might be something I’ve been thinking about or a feeling I have. Then I start recording guitar first (or piano or ukulele) it depends where I am, then I’ll get some vocals down, then I’ll play drums on the keyboard behind it. That is when I start to lay down extra things like a pad synth. Or I play the trumpet so sometimes some of that or even some Kalima or shakers or even the dog barking. It’s fun to play with different sounds and to harmonise with myself. Sometimes I just sing into my phone so I don’t lose the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I went busking and saved up to get this equipment and the mac book pro computer was a Christmas/Birthday present from all my family because i was crashing the family macbook air with all the songs. For recording I use Logic pro now, I bought it two years ago because Sound Trap didn’t have all that I needed to record, and I use a Focusrite Scarlett set up. I’d asked around what older people used and that’s what was recommended. I don’t have a very good mic and I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) I’ve lost recordings 😩 I bought the midi keyboard for drums and synth etc. My recording/producing isn’t that good because I’ve done it all myself and I don’t have access to good drums and effects and I’m just learning about mixing and production. I’ve tried different ways to mix my vocals. it takes a long time but it’s fun. I also have a lyric book that I write down stuff that come into my head or funny things people say, or a phrase that I hear. ‘You’ll be sorry tomorrow/it’s you against yourself/too late for tears/clowns and chameleons heading out/can I borrow you for a second/join in if you know it’. So I look in that for inspiration. It’s quite a process and I’ve lost recordings but it’s all fun and often you just know when you’ve got a bit of something gold going on.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with is hard, there are so many but if I’m allowed to pick people who have died then Kurt Cobain. Plus Harry Styles would be fun and of course 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 it! Try your best, make the best version of your song you can, and have fun while you’re making it and singing it. And back up your recordings!!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I like Sophie Feriani’s voice. I really enjoy Lazy. It would be fun to write/sing something with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition because it’s interesting to see what other people around my age are doing. I enjoyed listening to the other songs, they’re all so good.

MILO DELLAL, NIKOLAI GRLICA, ERIK LANGRAN – ‘STRANGER’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Milo: I wanted to write something I could enjoy and would also be good enough to share with others.
It all started with the line “Hey, you’re stranger than me…” which just kept going around my head one morning. So I used that to kick off from. It got me thinking along the lines that: If you’re strange, then don’t feel like you’re the only one. There are always others who don’t fit in. And that’s okay!
Then I just enjoyed playing with strange scenarios, like the idea of swimming through a desert, and an endless road. There was another verse that we didn’t end up using which had images of the running from the devil to a party where you play fandango on a banjo. Extreme and fun to think about. Originally, I thought this song would be a mother’s day present, then the band came over and we played it… and they really liked it, so we worked on it more together. Erik: When Milo told me and Nikolai about the #SAYS competition, I was excited. Milo had an idea for a song called “I hear the darkness” so we stayed break times to try to work on it. Me playing the cello, Nik on the guitar, Milo singing and everyone trying to create a lyric that was not the chorus. One day we asked if our friend Will wanted to help us. He then became our “manager”. After about 3 hours of hard work, we decided I hear the darkness was too complicated. We didn’t know what to do until Milo had a (another) great idea: to try to use his mother’s day song that was already partly written and had a tune. So, he showed us and we all liked it.

What got you into writing songs? Milo: I wrote my first song when I was 4 years old. It was actually a poem by my godmother (a poet) that I started rapping. Then I played around with my godfather on Garageband (not loops, but writing our own tracks with software instruments). He made our song into a music video for her poem which she used on her website and at poetry festivals, so I felt proud. Since then, I’ve written songs in lots of different ways and on different themes (a friend who I imagined running a detective agency at age seven; an R&B song about a kingfisher for my grandmother; and lots more).

What does songwriting mean to you? Milo: Being able to write something that I would like to just sit down and listen to again and again, and then having the right to call that piece my own. Music is also my favourite way to express myself.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Milo: I love hearing the finished product and thinking back to writing it and thinking: look what’s come of that! But of course there’s also that stage in the middle when you think it’s sounding pretty good, but you wonder how you can make it sound better. The beginning is trickier, it’s exciting but also scary… will it work? And where to begin?! But the most exciting is when we all get together as a band and work on it as a group. I get a bit obsessive, we all tease each other, sometimes we cancel out each other’s ideas… and it ends up leading to something better. And we laugh.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Milo: I’m usually just playing around with some chords on the piano or a guitar, and something sounds really good, so I push further to see where it can go. Other times it can start with a lyric that comes to me and feels like it has something going for it, so I see where it can go.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Our music teacher at school suggested that I (Milo) enter a song, but I wanted to do a song with our band instead – we call ourselves N.E.M.isis. At first we were going to do a song that I’d half written called “I Hear the Darkness” – we worked at it for a few sessions during school breaks, then all the band and our manager Will (who’s in our class) came home and we spent ages trying to make it work, but the melody and combining all our instruments felt too complicated and it was over-ambitious for our deadline. So someone suggested that we work on improving this song instead. Phew!
In the end, we combined my voice and other instruments, using LogicProX. I also threw in a little bit of guitar that I recorded when a family friend was riffing with me last Christmas.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Milo: So many I don’t know where to begin! Here are a chosen few: Hazmat Modine; Muddy Waters; Freddy Mercury; Zoonation and DJ Walde; Radiohead; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Ali Farka Touré; Fanfare Ciocarlia; Miles Davis; Dave Brubeck; Dizzy Gillespie; and Ray Charles.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Don’t think: “I want this to win.” Think: “I want to like this song and get joy from it.”

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Olga Fitzpatrick, Hallucinations, Robyn Jones, Robbie Hope, Alexander Yijian Wang, Max Marnham.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives young bands and singers and songwriters a chance to be good and be seen and be public and show off a bit. And it makes adults pay attention to what we are doing.

AGNES BULL – ‘CAT LAWS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Molly, my teacher, has a cat called Billy and a fish called Raisins. I thought about what you can’t have, and used it for a metaphor for human life.

What got you into writing songs? Molly has encouraged me so much;  I also love reading, love how you can put literature to music and use it to express yourself.

What does songwriting mean to you? It lets me express my feelings and notice and explain the world around me.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I like finishing it and reflecting on the end product. It makes me proud to think we’ve made something that other people can listen to.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I come up with an idea that is like the trunk of the tree and the branches come off are different words we could use in the song and I try and weave them all in.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I work with my teacher called Molly. We recorded it in her house and then she produced it once we’ve finished recording the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I’d love to work with the writers of Six the Musical.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Definitely do it. It’s thrilling and so exciting when you get selected.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Oh, that’s so hard to choose! I’d love to work with any of the entrants as it’s all new to me. Working with a choir would be cool.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how there are different categories so it’s fair for everyone that entered. I also like that there is a competition just for younger people, not just teenagers or older people.

ISLA HANNETT – ‘H.O.P.E’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’m a people pleaser and I act differently around  people depending on what I think they want me to be. I’m not sure yet who I am and I’m still figuring it all out. At school I have found it really hard and tiring acting differently around everyone and trying to figure who they want me to be. I wrote this song to tell people and myself that you don’t need to act differently around people to get them to like you you can just be yourself because if they don’t like you then they aren’t worth worrying about.

What got you into writing songs? Just enjoyed exploring with music and have loved both the piano and singing since I was little.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a lot, when I’m struggling with things in my life it’s a way I can process my feelings.  I sit at my piano and just overload, I’ve done this since I can remember.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love creating the melodies as they reflect my feelings and playing around with the production at the end is really satisfying seeing it come together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I always start with just playing my piano and allowing it to flow from there. The spark for me always comes from something that has happened to me that I feel I need to process and take time to think through and seemingly writing music allows me to do that.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. It was very much what I said above, sitting at my piano processing what I was struggling with at school. I wrote the melodies first, followed by the lyrics. I then record them and play around with it, practise it and then record it in soundtrap. Unfortunately I was poorly and full of cold when I recorded HOPE but I didn’t want to miss the deadline.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? JVKE, Benson Boone, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would say to them to definitely give it a go, getting to share your music with people in the music industry who can help you grow is always an amazing thing to do. Try to write about genuine and relatable things because it helps your songs be authentic to you as an artist and allows others to connect to you and your music.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Sunflowers – Elenor Rose Hanson, Wait – Olga Fitzpatrick.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think being able to share my music with people and hear what industry experts think and feel about my music is such a wonderful opportunity to have. Whilst I always enjoy songwriting you also have to think about the technical side of things and this competition helps push me to do better and to develop my musical skills. Plus it’s always lovely hearing that people enjoyed listening to your music and that they think it’s good enough to be in the top 30!

EMILY FINE – ‘THAT’S WHERE I’LL BE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The song was abut my best friend and we have quite a close friendship with each other so  I wanted to write her a song as kind of like a thank you gift.

What got you into writing songs? My guitar and singing teacher Melanie

What does songwriting mean to you? I love songwriting as it can help you express your feelings in ways that normal words cant. You can make it about anything you want and it will always be your songs. When I’m bored I usually make up random melodies and just add words to them and it is very enjoyable.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of songwriting is probably listening to the final product and hearing all of your hard work come into one.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? When I was trying to think of the words for the song for this competition it was a sunny day outside so I started thinking of “you are my sunshine” and we just kept on thinking of words that would kind of fit the theme of the song and added melodies

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Me and Melanie were in a classroom. She played the instruments and I sang the song and she helped me use Garage band to record the song.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I don’t really know because I don’t really even have a favourite artist but I do like some songs by Billie Eilish and some people like that.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? When writing their song they should put a lot of time and thought into it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I like Wait-Olga Fitzpatrick, I’ll go on an adventure-Elisa McEvoy and Just the way it is-Thea Ward

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how it gives kids a chance to write their own songs and get to present it to other people.

BLACK SHEEP BLUES – ‘LONDONERS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? How London works and being a Londoner

What got you into writing songs? Our music teacher.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means we can be creative and express ourselves but also entertain people.

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

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We look for the rhymes and take it from there.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. We used 2 pianos/ bongos and 2 singers.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Freddie Mercury and Queen.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Don’t worry about the other songs and don’t worry about negative things people might say.

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

  What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?​ It’s a great opportunity for young people.

ROBBIE HOPE – ‘ROCKET SHIP’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I come from a very musical family. My mums side of the family all grew up playing in a brass band. My aunties, uncles and cousins still do so although my mum moved out of Cornwall. One of my uncles is the head of the Cornwall Music Trust and has written lots of pieces. During lockdown I began writing some songs with my younger brother and enjoyed doing so. I wanted to have a go at writing a song by myself. Looking around my bedroom, I saw a book on the shelf from when I was younger called ‘Robbie the Rocket’. This gave me the initial idea of writing a song about a rocket ship. The rest of the song followed on from there.

What got you into writing songs? I began learning the guitar about 5 years ago (my dad plays the guitar and he and I both love Oasis) and I wanted to take things to the next level. I’m inspired by song writers like Noel Gallagher and Chris Martin.

What does songwriting mean to you? It is a way of expressing myself and making people think about things that are going on in the world. It’s nice to get down on paper the things that are going around in your head. I love playing music. I’m on my guitar every day and when I’m not playing music I’m usually listening to it. It’s a big part of my life.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love experimenting with chords and putting them in an order that I am happy with. I also like to play with words and am a big fan of a pun!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? My inspiration can come from many places. I once wrote a song with my brother called ‘Miserable Day’ because it was raining and we were stuck indoors. The inspiration for Rocket Ship came from a book so I’m open to all ideas for a new song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My setup is not at all fancy I’m afraid! I was just in my bedroom with my guitar and a notebook. I started with the chords, then the lyrics and finally the melody.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I’d love to collaborate with Noel Gallagher, I just love his music and his style. I’m actually going to see him play in August, I can’t wait!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I’d encourage anyone to have a go. It’s a great way to express yourself. My top tip would be to write about all your experiences as you never know where a good song is hiding! Google is always useful when you’re stuck for a rhyming word too!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite other entries in the competition are Knebworth by Kit Bottomley Music, Daydreams by Robyn Jones and My Song by Georgia Russel. A collaboration with Kit Bottomley Music would be great and of course the name of the song, Knebworth, just makes me dream of playing in front of a crowd.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it is open to any young person and that you don’t have to have any previous experience. It is also a great way to get your music heard.

EVIE MITCHELL – ‘WORDS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’ve had some difficult times in school where the things that people said really affected my confidence and how I felt about myself. I then started to become more aware of the effect that words were also having on others – seeing friends’ faces crumple and shoulders sag when they overheard someone saying something unkind about them, but also how faces would light up when someone gave a kind or encouraging word, and I just wanted to let people see how important words can be and that a bit of thought before speaking could save a lot of unnecessary sadness.

What got you into writing songs? From a young age I would walk to and from school making up little songs, and making up songs and dances at home when friends came round, but it was only really when my music teacher told us to ask someone to give us some chords and then to see if we could come up with a song based on those chords, that I started to think more about a full song and working on it until I was happy.

What does song writing mean to you? Music writing gives me a chance to relax, through playing the piano and being able to express myself through the words. I want the songs that I write to be songs that other people can also relate to and that hearing the words will help them to realise that they are not alone in feeling the way they do. I like to also make sure there is some hope or positivity in my songs.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My Favourite part is coming up with the melody and it’s really cool if  I catch a family member humming it!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song when I have just come home from school and then sit for a while playing the piano. I will play lots of different things, depending on my mood, and then after a while I will use the mood I am in to create something new or work more on a song that I have started.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry?  I started with the 3 chords that were given at random to me and I played around on the piano using those chords until a melody formed. I would sing any old words to begin with to get the flow and rhythm, and then the more I sang the tune and my mood started to come though, some of the final words started to develop. Once I had these key phrases I began to work more on making the song tell a story and mean something. I did as much as I could with the song at home but then was given a birthday present of the day in a recording studio and was able to add different instruments to it and came up with speaking bits at the beginning and the end. My entry was what I achieved at the end of that day.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Probably Ed Sheeran as I think he is probably one the best songwriters there is and has worked with lots of different people, as well as doing his own songs. Also, even though he is so famous and successful, he seems humble and a genuinely kind person who cares about and helps others. If I was to ever be successful, I would want to be like that.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I think it’s about writing from your heart and just giving it a go, even if you aren’t sure. Unless you try, you will never know what you can do and you can always learn something on the way. But most of all just enjoy what you are doing and keep at it!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? I really liked ‘Any other day’, ‘Wait’, ‘My song’ and ‘I’ll go on an adventure’.

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Probably Olga Fitzpatrick or Max Marnham

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it gives everyone an equal opportunity to get their songs heard by songwriting professionals, whether they are just starting out or they have written lots of songs before.

THEA WARD – ‘JUST THE WAY IT IS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Somewhat realistic problems with friendships

What got you into writing songs? My love of music- I sing, compose and play various instruments

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a lot to me as you can express your emotions into music and let other people understand and enjoy what you have written

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is always the lyrics because I used to write scripts and I found it enjoyable

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I could be going somewhere or coming back from school and I think of a tune and I record it and then I build on it when I have the time to

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. It was in the afternoon during February half term and I was just on my laptop and then I thought of a tune

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

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

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Alexander Yijian Wang. In my category has some awesome piano writing in it.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? That you have a chance to show other people your talents and joy for what you do.

ALEXANDER YIJIAN WANG – ‘TRIAL OF TRUST’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? In the nowadays world, no one really can trust each other because people keep on spilling secrets.

What got you into writing songs? I have always loved music and I thought that writing songs would be the true way of expression, via words and tune.

What does songwriting mean to you? Everything. I know that music is my best friend, always there to express the feelings that otherwise I’ll keep inside for ever.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The lyrics. Once you got the tune, just match it with the lyrics matching your theme.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I play some chords on the piano and then notice a tune, and the lyrics come very naturally.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. One of the music staff in my school recorded this song in the hall.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? JVKE as I really like his style of lyrics and especially tune.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Be creative and try to find a new way of music.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I don’t know as I didn’t know anyone else who entered. Although I didn’t get to listen to any of the performances, I would love to collaborate with anyone who is interested.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? There are so many people who offer to go for this competition and just to prove that every voice counts.

OLGA FITZPATRICK – ‘WAIT’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It is about constantly thinking about solutions to other people’s questions and problems, whilst slowly forgetting myself. When I was writing the chorus, my goal for it was to exaggerate the first word of the first 3 lines ‘Wait,Stay,Complain’ to show that it felt like an endless cycle, I felt helpless, I couldn’t escape it.

What got you into writing songs? I always said that writing my feelings into song felt more healing than talking to people. It feels more freeing and like I can really say whatever I want to without directly telling anyone. This is also what makes the songwriting community so special, we can all get together and feel safe to express ourselves.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means a lot to me. In a lot of my songs, I use it as a form of activism and expressive writing. As well as that, I use it as a way of letting my emotions run free. I was always creative, even from a young age, so my art (paintings, songs, acting, dance, instruments, etc) always told a story of various emotions.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I love the part of the song writing process, were I sit or lie down with my guitar, play and sing a section or the full thing, and I feel like my heart pumps energetically, my body just relaxes and my mind can’t think of anything but the sound of my creation. That’s how I feel when I connect with my music.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song when I get a feeling. Whether it’s strong, weak, happy, sad or anything really, I get this lightbulb in my head that lights up and even if I’m in school, I feel like I’m on a mission to get to a guitar, pen and paper. From then, the lyrics come to me. I like to think of it as the words floating over to my heart, my mind, to my hands and then to my voice and guitar/ukulele.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I was on holiday in Innsbruck. I was sat in my brother’s car and I thought about how holidays for other people are about time for themselves, I realised that any free time I got, I was worrying about other people;friends, classmates, etc. Then it hit me, that I’ve forgotten about myself.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Amy Winehouse, Melanie Martinez. They’re both so creative and although it isn’t possible, I would love to collaborate with Amy Winehouse, her music makes me feel like I can look inside of her mind and feel the jazzy blues of her music. I would love to collaborate with Melanie Martinez, because I can relate to so many of her songs. She is so creative and I would love to talk to her, I feel like it would be a conversation full of smiles and creativity.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would tell them: Do not hold yourself back, be ambitious, don’t be afraid to write songs with deep meaning, sing with emotion and to never doubt what you can do, be confident!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Knebworth -Kit Bottomley, this song has an amazing vibe, this kind of vibe is really hard to achieve in songs, so major props to them! The music in the background is so much fun and it makes me want to dance to it! I would also want to collab with Bella, her piano skills are beautiful and I loved her emotion! I would definitely want to collaborate and write songs with her!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives opportunities for children with big dreams. I’m so honoured to be apart of such a down to earth competition. Thank you so much on the behalf of me and all of the other contestants for giving us this opportunity and chance to prove ourselves and express our passion!

ELEANOR ROSE HANSON – ‘SUNFLOWER’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? To be honest, the song just sort of came to me, but the lyrics are lightly based around the war in Ukraine (hence the sunflower) and the people we have since met.

What got you into writing songs?  I’ve wanted to be a singer songwriter since I was three, and I’ve been trying to develo  that as well as I can since then. My sister and I sing in harmony all the time and turning some of this into songs is a fantastic experience.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, writing songs gives me a chance to express my emotions and opinions, and it is a beautiful way to describe them to the world.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process?  I really enjoy recording my songs and watching my ideas come together.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I like to get into a calm environment and find something I’m passionate about, and then let the rest come. I usually start with a tune and then fit the words around it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I just recorded it in my bedroom. I used GarageBand on our iPad. I played ukulele and viola and mandolin on the tracks and recorded vocals myself.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? There are so many inspirational artists I would love to meet and make music with, including Corrine Bailey Rae, Adel, Laufey, Paul McCartney and so many more.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would probably say to keep calm, do the best they can and enjoy!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Hymn for Homesick kids by Tamara Hendin.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think it’s a great experience to write and record songs that you have written and listen to the other songwriters of your age.

12 DEERS – ‘HOLD ONTO YOUR BRANCHES’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We wrote the song to remind people that from time to time everyone of us will find ourselves fearful in life, however, it depends on what you choose to do that defines you. Fear does not have a hold of you and you can always find the light in the darkness.

What got you into writing songs? From a young age we have been writing stories, we love helping people through music. Our school offers songwriting clubs so we signed up.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting helps us get through difficult situations. It has also reminded us that we are all creative beings and that if you put your mind to it, anyone can write a song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Where do we begin? There are too many! Choosing the genre or topic beforehand is probably the most fun. From there on we run into the unknown and discover all the other magical elements of songwriting.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We first talk about our personal issues, what we are going through. Because we are a big songwriting group we experience our own individual issues or stories, then we find ways to interlink all these individual stories. The biggest challenge is making sure every student feels like their idea matters. We are a pretty talented songwriting group so when we work as a team, we find that beautiful middle ground in telling everyone’s story. At the end of the day, all our stories come down to the same aspect which is love, acceptance and paying it forward.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. We sat in the class at our school, our teacher would use Garage Band to record us. She also used her acoustic guitar to accompany our singing. All members of the group have their own songwriting material and have an allocated space in the classroom where they can feel safe and creative.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Rachel Platten, Taylor Swift

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? GO FOR IT! It is all about the experience. It’s a wonderful and exciting competition to be part of and you have nothing to lose. There also aren’t many great platforms out there such as this.

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

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Everyone is really friendly at Song Academy. It is very affordable and easy to enter.

FRANKIE MORLAND – ‘KING FOR A DAY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? During lockdown I wrote many songs, a few of them I liked but my favourite was “King for a Day”. King for a Day was when the Queen was reigning. I thought because the Queen was getting old when King Charles came to take the throne he might let me be King for a Day.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve been writing songs my whole life and I don’t remember much about when I started. But my mum says I used to walk to nursery age 2 with my Ukelele strapped round my neck singing because I wouldn’t take it off!

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting allows me to express my feelings in something that I love and that’s totally my own way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the process is the satisfaction of listening to the song back when you’ve finished.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Anything can spark an idea, it could be something that’s happened at school or something outside. I sometimes write at the piano or on my guitar with my brother Henry playing drums.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My set up was an acoustic piano with some microphones, one for my voice and one for the piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream collaboration would be with AC/DC (but they aren’t around anymore) I love Coldplay.

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! Don’t let anyone stop you, write what you want to write and keep on applying even if you don’t get selected first time as a Finalist.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I’m really enjoying Kevin Jones’ music and would like to collaborate with him as I think we would sound good together.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think it’s a great opportunity for young creative people who are songwriting like me to get feedback and hear what other kids my own age are writing.

SHOLTO – ‘BRAND NEW’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wanted to write a song about people being themselves and being honest with each other.

What got you into writing songs? I started to write songs because I enjoy playing guitar and singing. After listening to other song writers I thought I would try it myself.

What does song writing mean to you? I like song writing because I can express myself and think about my life.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I like it when I listen back to the song and it makes me really happy. 

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start by finding a rhythm on my guitar and I hum to that. Then I think about a theme to write the lyrics of the song.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I write and play my guitar in my front room with my notebook of lyrics and ideas.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would really like to collaborate with Kid Travis.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? It’s a great opportunity to express yourself in your song and you never know what can happen if you give it a go. Do you have any tips for them? Think about yourself or a situation in the world that other people can relate to. Find a quiet space to write and just really think about what you are trying to say.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition?  I like Just The Way it Is by Thea Ward and Sunflower by Eleanor Rose Hanson

Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Eleanor Rose Hanson

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I feel like it’s a great chance to showcase your abilities and talent.

THE CRYSTALS – ‘CRYSTAL CLEAR’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? Our friendship and always sticking together to do things.

What got you into writing songs? Our music teacher.

What does songwriting mean to you? It allows us to express ourselves.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Finally getting it together after working on it for a while.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We find a topic we want to write about.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. School music classroom.

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Take chances and push ahead.

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

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives everyone a chance, it makes young songwriters feel valued and it provides a platform for us to hear what other people are writing.

Get to know the SAYS23 finalists in the International 13-18 years old category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted nearly 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.  We’ll add more profiles as we receive them.  Stay tuned!


RUBY ARCHER – ‘SHIVER’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I use music to channel emotion, and every song I had written prior to Shiver was sad and depressing. My intention was to write a happy song, even though Shiver was written from a sad place; it’s about unrequited love, and the feeling or “shiver” you get being around someone unattainable. I tried something new when I wrote this song by putting a jazzy groove to it. It was interesting to combine the emotion behind the song with musical elements not generally thought of as “sad” as it created a totally new meaning and perspective.

What got you into writing songs? I have been involved in music my whole life as my family is very musical. I sang in choirs, learned orchestral percussion, playing in orchestras and ensembles for a few years. I started piano and vocal lessons with a jazz musician, and it seemed to be a great fit for me. I found my comfortable place as a singer songwriter where piano is core to my song writing process. The main reason I started writing songs was because it helped me to express myself, it gave me a pathway to explore emotional issues that I was experiencing as a young teenager. It also helped me get a better sense of my identity. Over time, I realised I could create something unique with song writing that reflected who I really was, that I didn’t have to be like everyone else to be acceptable.

What does song writing mean to you? No matter what is going on in my life, I feel like I have something to fall back on that will create something beautiful out of something painful. Song writing comes from a hidden place in my subconscious, and I have found it to be a wiser place than my conscious self. I trust in it, so I write intuitively and then once I have written the song, I can reflect on it. It’s like a third person perspective on something I am dealing with, and it can give me a new perspective and good advice. I really trust in the wisdom of my song writing process and it has helped me in my many challenges with my mental health.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part is when it is fresh and raw and it’s just me and the song I’ve written. It’s a really special and private moment before I share my music with anyone else.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I might start a song after being inspired by a melody or chord progression that comes to my mind, or it could be something that I am dealing with in my private life that I need to channel into music. If the two things happen at the same time, then that’s ideal.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote Shiver purely with piano and vocals and recorded it as a solo artist last year. Since then, I formed a band (Ruby and the Groovy Doobies) and we won YouthRock 2022 (a band competition in NSW Australia.) As part of the prize, we got to record 3 tracks at Mainstreet Studios in Wollongong. I included Shiver as it had evolved so much since last year as I had evolved so much as a musician. Shiver now has more of a jazzy feel and incorporates a lot more character from the band members. I have also developed more confidence on the keyboard and used improvisation in the recording to make it feel fresh and interesting. The intention in the recording was to capture a full, and live sound as that is where the band has impacted on my development as a song writer and performer.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Amy Winehouse (sigh) Genesis Owusu, Jacob Collier, Florence + the Machine, Amyl and the Sniffers, Snoop Dog, Tim Minchin, Elton John.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Full sends, no half sends. It’s great to know that there is an international community of young song writers out there and that an organisation such as Song Academy is keen to support that community. I think young song writers should take the opportunity to share their work, put themselves out there, even if you don’t win anything. The whole process of entering a song is just positive as it helps strengthen your confidence and self-belief. It’s great to feel part of a community where we are sharing our art and expression. The world needs as many musical story tellers as it can get! There’s absolutely nothing negative and no reason not to enter the competition.

· What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that top industry people will listen to my songs, that young song writers have the opportunity to be heard and to get feedback and guidance. It would be awesome if this connection could facilitate opportunities for me in the future as I am keen to have a career in music as a singer songwriter, and performer, not only in Australia, but also in the UK.

AVA GRACE – ‘ASHES

What inspired you to write your finalist song? When I was 13-15, I struggled with a fairly severe eating disorder, along with my best friend at the time, who was in and out of mental health facilities for the same thingI wrote this song when I felt like I was nothing; I truly felt as though I had become the ashes. Through prayer and support from my family, I was able to rise out of the flames of this trial and become better than I was before. This song illustrates my pain and heartache, but also the hope and renewal I gained when I decided to change for the better.

What got you into writing songs? As a kid, I listened to a lot of music. I started putting my feelings into songs. I connected with music and wanted to create something that other people could connect to!

What does songwriting mean to you? Music creates connection, words create connection. Writing music creates connection and helps others feel a little less alone and helps them to know that someone else sees them and feels the way they do.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Hearing it all come together for the first time!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually have a word or phrase that I really like and write around that.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I was at a really low point in my life, struggling with an eating disorder, and it took me a lot of prayer and time to write this song. I wrote it over a few weeks, mostly writing in my room at home with a guitar or piano.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift, Jake Scott, Lauren Daigle, The Band Camino, Kelsea Ballerini.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? If you’re thinking about entering this competition, take a chance and ENTER IT!! You never know what opportunities could come from just entering!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I loved “Coincidence” by Lindsay Liebro, I’d love to collaborate with her!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that it’s an international collaboration, it connects and inspires young songwriters across the world.

CLAUDIA MATEOS – ‘BURNIN UP’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The party theme was always present. However, I had a hard time developing something different. It occurred to me to present the two perspectives on a love affair. What they were doing, feeling and thinking. It is an experience that any teenager could have experienced.

What got you into writing songs? I really enjoyed listening to music from a different perspective. Analyzing the structure, instrumental and vocals. As I play a variety of instruments, I thought it would be great to experiment with my own abilities.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting, to me, means freedom of expression. It is a great way to let your thought and ideas out to others who may or may not think the same. It is a way I heal and relieves my tensions from the week.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favourite part of the songwriting process is the production. It amazes me how a small detail can change the projection of a song. It perfects the personality and quality of the work creating pleasure for the listener.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I collect memories by writing them, normally in a peaceful environment. Where and how I am at that moment is very important. Being comfortable with expressing my ideas to others around me is fundamental. I usually start with the 6W Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. This method supports any initial ideas and topics I have.

Describe the setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I worked in a studio. A room with a computer, piano and mic.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? In future songs, I would definitely start creating R&B music. This is why I would love to collaborate with SZA and Dua Lipa. It will be very cool to collaborate with David Guetta!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? It is a great experience where I can meet people with the same aspirations as me, as well as having opportunities to connect with professionals in the music industry. My tips would be to express ideas with personalities, always being yourselves.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would be very excited to collaborate with any of my colleagues since each and every one has something special.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? The supporting and grateful environment, as well as how it is projected to the public and the daily updates.

HARRY TOWBIN – ‘TOXIC’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I had a low point in my life when I had a lot going on and my friend decided the best idea would be to tell me that everyone hates you, and I slowly started realizing that I was in a toxic relationship with this guy. So I made a song that people could relate too using that as inspiration, as well as using other toxic relationships which included a lot of BS.

What got you into writing songs? I always freestyle and improvised to beats, recently I started taking that seriously and decided I wanted to write it down and start expressing myself through writing as well as rapping.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a way to get my thoughts out, it means that I can maybe make a career out of what started as a hobby.

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? When my ideas start flowing and I take a second to look at my lyrics and I just say “noice”.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We start with a simple beat and then I start freestyling to see if I can get anything good out, then we find a topic and I freestyle more and I see what comes out of that.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. It was a studio set up with my producer Paul Sedkowski. We used a DAW called Cubase, and MIDI instruments for the backing track.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? A guy named Ren who’s been blowing up recently thanks to his song “Hi Ren”.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do it if you wanna see how your songwriting compares to other artists to see where you’re at, but don’t compare yourself to them but find what level you’re at and put your best in it.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I don’t have a favorite but if I had to choose it would either be either Claudia M’s the message or Rock Bottom by Claudia M. At the same time though, I like Esperanza and Keisha’s style. So if I could I would like to collaborate with all of them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? It gives me a chance to show what I got. And it gives me a little competition to see what I need to improve on.

SOUTH – ‘WHITE LIE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I’m not entirely sure if our world’s flawed view on mental illness, especially depression, can be called an ‘inspiration’, but that’s what my song talks about. There are 2 common beliefs about depression: The first one is that it’s something to be ignored and that the person that suffers from this dreadful condition has to feel guilty for daring to have it. The second one is that it’s not a real illness, and it’s nothing a quick fix can’t solve. I could go on about reasons for which I wrote this song paragraphs on end, but the main idea is simple: “White Lie” is meant to spread the message that mental health matters more than people like to admit it does.

What got you into writing songs? Since I was little I’ve always been surrounded by music, and for as long as I can remember, whenever I saw people smile after listening to a song, or whenever I’d feel deeply moved by a song, I’d think to myself ‘I wish I could write something like that’.

What does songwriting mean to you? I’d say it’s the only way through which I can clearly express myself so that others can understand what I’m saying; it’s my way to share a story or an emotion I have with the rest of the world.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I think that sometimes the most enjoyable part of the song writing process is the process itself. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching a thought turn into a full song and then getting to listen to the final piece you created – No matter how much I write, it never stops being exciting!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I’m the type of person that avoids sitting down and forcing myself to write, over the years, I’ve noticed that nothing good comes out of it. Song ideas or the ‘spark’ to write a song comes as it pleases, sometimes for no specific reason at all and other times because certain events in my life just ‘create’ it.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I don’t really have a setup, all I used was a piano (to figure out the tonality of the piece and its chords), a laptop (to write the lyrics and the instrumental), and my phone (to record the vocals). 

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? It’s hard to name only one since there are many artists, bands, and classical composers that have inspired me throughout my life and whom I’d be honoured to even just meet, but if I had to say only one name it’d have to be Måneskin. Their music just speaks to me: It’s bold, it’s recognizable and it stands out in comparison to the songs of many other artists and bands nowadays.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I’d definitely tell them to go for it – You have nothing to lose yet so much to gain. Sharing your music with others, whether it’s through a competition or not, means you’ve already finished the hardest part about writing a song; publishing it. When it comes to tips, I believe the best tip I can give to anybody that wants to enter the competition is to not stress themselves about the production quality. At the end of the day, a good song is a good song even without all of the studio effects and the backing vocals.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? While I enjoyed listening to all entries from this year’s competition, if I had to pick my favourite one I’d pick “Her” by Mara Fischer; for me, lyrics are the centrepiece of good songs and I believe her lyrics are well thought out and written, additionally, the melody is just so beautiful, I can’t stop listening to it. As for choosing an artist to collaborate with, there are so many good entrants this year that I simply wouldn’t know who to pick!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like the fact that it’s actually only about the quality of your song, not about the production or how good of a voice you have. I also appreciate the countless opportunities they offered to their contestants including aiding them with the songwriting process and offering them constructive feedback regarding their music. 

UNA ROULSTON – ‘THIS’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My thirteenth and fourteenth birthdays.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve loved music in all forms since I started choir at five.

What does songwriting mean to you? This is my first song, so get back to me with that question in a few years!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Thinking up the tune.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? A few lines came into my head.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I composed it with my ukulele, then tried out Musescore (a free download) for score notation.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Beach Bunny or Mitski.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Hey, it’s worth a try even if you’ve never written a song before.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I’ve only just heard the news so I haven’t had a chance to listen yet!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I really appreciated the chance to get detailed feedback on how I could make this song – and future songs – better.

PEDRO GIOMO NETO – ‘CYAN’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? So, Cyan is actually the last song I wrote for my third album “Paranoia”. I was finishing up the album on an evening in August and I picked up my guitar just to jam around. I was actually playing Kilby Girl by the Backseat lovers when I came up with the main riff for the song, and from there it just flowed magically. 20 minutes later and the whole song was written! I tried to convey in the song a similar situation to the one I was facing at the time, with the feeling of not belonging anywhere, feeling lonely and left out, a victim of your own thoughts and the struggle to live life as it is, but still with some hope remaining inside.

What got you into writing songs? I fell in love with music at a very young age, due to growing up in a household that listened to music 24/7. When I was 5, I entered a music conservatory in Brazil and started learning classic piano, and this really helped me shape what I wanted to do in life, which is music. Throughout the years, a growing desire to write my own songs and perform them led to me releasing my debut album in December 2020 called “Mistakes”. Inspired by my heroes as a kid such as Queen, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd and Metallica, I wanted to create something meaningful and that spoke to the hearts of people, and that’s what inspired me the most to become the musician I am today.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting is the pathway to conveying messages and feelings that cannot be expressed by words alone. It is a way to produce artistic pieces which will connect to different people and cause an impact on them.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? From my experience, the most fulfilling part of my songwriting process is when you do a first run-through of the song. That’s when I usually feel the biggest spark and decide on whether I love the song or not. It is my favourite part because it really helps me think of a final product and also helps me see the potential of the songs I write.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? For me it usually starts with me messing around with the guitar until I find something that sounds alright, and this leads to me developing it and trying to find a melody to accompany it. Once I start humming the melody while playing, there’s a point where I just think of some lyrics to accompany it on the spot and that’s how the spark usually appears. If I see something is promising then I finish it and record it. If not, I may just make a voice note of it in case I want to revisit it in the future :)

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Well, for Cyan, I used my classic setup I’ve gathered through the years to record everything. I have an old condenser which I really love recording with, a nice semiacoustic guitar, a telecaster for some of the leads and an electric bass that I borrowed from a friend to get the songs done. I usually write my drum parts on the drum kit and try to replicate it with midi. For the electronics, I have a Focusrite interface I’ve been using for a while and a small guitar amp, which I used to get the kind of “feedback” sound of the guitar from, and worked perfectly for me!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Although I am a diehard fan of Metallica, my dream artist to collaborate with would definitely be Mac Demarco. There are a lot of similarities in the song making process that I believe would make a collaboration extremely nice and fulfilling.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? It really is worth the try! I found out about the competition through a former teacher who has really helped my career grow, and I decided to shoot my shot. My tips for them is to really choose the song which you think is your best one and make sure it’s nicely recorded. Having a nicely recorded song can really make a difference when weighing in all the factors, and can help you get further!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favourite other entry for this year is definitely “Blessing” by John Dionisio. The way the song flows and the lyrics of it really touched me, and I am so happy that it made it to the 30 finalists! I would love to collaborate with John, and I feel like something great could come from it.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? My favourite aspect of it is how every person who sent an entry had the chance to be on the spotlight at least for a little bit in the Song Academy socials. I feel like this is very important for the development of other young artists like myself and can serve as an incentive to keep going and continue producing music.

VICKY GAO – ‘LAST DAY BEING 17’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I began envisioning my song “last day being 17” when my childhood best friend turned 18. At the time, I was still 17 and had about a year left before I turned 18, so I wrote the song with the expectation of the perspective I anticipated having when I did turn 18. The song is an ode to the dual nature of reminiscing and feeling uncertain about getting older, particularly at the milestone of leaving the known boundaries of childhood.

What got you into writing songs? Ironically, I started writing songs during one of the most hectic times of my life—junior year of high school. It was and is a creative outlet that allows for me to process things going on in my life and in the world and pushes me to reflect authentically and profoundly.

What does songwriting mean to you? For me, songwriting is a mode of communication and human expression that invites others to share in exploring fundamental human experiences and emotion.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite aspect of the songwriting process is developing a story or evolving a message through lyrics. I often keep a running list of potential lyrics and experiment with ideas thoroughly before fully settling on lyrics for a song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? A lot of my songs are initially inspired by a controlling metaphor upon which I’ll develop a story. These metaphors are usually from strokes of inspiration late at night or when I’m thinking about how I feel about a certain situation or experience.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote the lyrics and chords of “last day being 17” with my piano at home over the course of about a week. At that point, I had no plans to release it or even share it with people other than my close friends. However, a couple of months later I had the opportunity to collaborate with a local producer (goodbyealex) to record and produce my song and ended up releasing it on all streaming platforms.

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would say to take a chance and enter into the competition! I had no expectations for how I would do going into it, but it is such a great opportunity to not only get your own music out there but also to discover and get in touch with other songwriters around the world.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? “Coincidence” by Lindsay Liebro is so catchy and fun to listen to! I’d love to collaborate with her.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I really like how open it is to anyone who is interested no matter their experience or skill level. I also really appreciate the accessibility to an international community of young songwriters!

SOFIA KEMPA – ‘THAT TINY HOUSE IN MY BRAIN’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was looking for writing prompts online, and I came across the prompt: Write about something from someone else’s experience. I’d never done that before, so I thought I’d give it a try. Of course, I still wanted to write something with meaning behind it, something that people could possibly relate to. So, I wrote about what it might be like for someone to be trapped in a relationship. Whether it be romantic, platonic, parental, anything.  I was inspired by this idea, to write about someone practically living inside your head, and how you’re unable to get them out.

What got you into writing songs? In freshman year I was in a relationship, and Valentine’s day was coming up. So along with the gifts I got my partner, I wrote three songs for them.  They were the first songs I ever fully wrote and produced, so the quality and lyrics weren’t the best. But I remember being so happy hearing the finished product for the first time. So I chased after that feeling, again and again, song after song.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is something special. Your spirit is spread out in ink. Your thoughts, feelings, and person are merged with your paper. And then sharing it with others – which is incredibly difficult to do, you might as well expose all your deepest secrets to the world.  That’s what songwriting feels like to me.  Every song I write feels like I’m letting everyone see my innermost secrets, the hidden things I like to keep in the corner of my mind. Although it sounds scary, there’s also bliss in it. Knowing people understand who you are is one of the best feelings to me. 

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? I can name a few. Like when I come up with a line that perfectly represents what I wish to say. Or when I’m producing a backing track and I create a sound that makes me so joyful, I can’t help but smile with pride that outweighs me. And when I finally hear the finished product, the pure happiness that courses through my veins feels so fulfilling. 

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Most of the time, I wait for a spark to happen, because I don’t like forcing words out. But, if I really want to write, I’ll look for a prompt online or ask one of my friends if they have anything they’d want to write about.  I play a few chords, sing random words and melodies, and then it all comes together naturally.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. For writing, I had my notes app. For production, I had my computer, Garageband, my guitars, MIDI keyboard, headphones, and an interface for my guitar.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Leith Ross. Hands down. Leith ross. I’m absolutely obsessed with their lyrics, musicality, sound, vocals, everything. Leith is the one artist who truly inspires me, and I aspire to make music that makes people feel the way their music makes me feel. If I ever got the chance to work with Leith Ross, I would probably pass out before I’d get the chance to say anything. 

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I’d tell them to do their best, and to trust themselves. Whatever they submit for judging, they should just be proud that they were brave enough to enter their art.  I’d also tell them to enter other contests, which’ll give them more opportunities if they win.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really loved “Slip Away” by Scarlett Elise and “Cyan” by Pedro Giomo. I was so intrigued by their sounds, it would be so cool if I got the chance to work with them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think the main thing I love about this competition is that it’s international! It provides opportunities for young artists all around the world, not just in one fixed place.

LINA SKALLI – ‘SO HARD’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? To be frank, my inspiration came from wanting to turn these emotions and “ugly” feelings into something I could be proud of, something pretty that might help me make sense of my emotions along the way. I felt betrayed and isolated at the time and couldn’t help but tie a connection to the relationships around me. Finally, I chose to write a song describing just how real but also petty, and a little bit over the top an average teenage girl could be.

What got you into writing songs? Song writing is like therapy made easy. I get to pour everything that weighs on me out and put in melodies. I’ve always had such a deep and heavy passion for all kinds of music that making my own has become my therapy. Every step of the way has taught me more about myself.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting, to me, means taking control of my rabid thoughts in a way. It’s like taking ownership of all the craziness you feel is out of your control. I love writing my songs because when in the process, I realise that despite my honestly, my words remain relatable and that brings me closure in a way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is definitely when I find the rawest and most honest and even sometimes embarrassing thing to say, but proceed to give it a cute melody. I love the irony of it all and the universe I create in my mind along the way. I just love how wide and tangible the world of music is.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? To write a song, I usually start my identifying what mood or atmosphere I am feeling to dig for a vibe. Once I’ve done that I decide to look at all the things that are currently weighing me down which could come from the past, future, or present. I think of a nostalgic memory or so and picture a story. To put it in short, I romanticise an experience of mine and write it down from the perspective of someone I would never introduce to my friends. Someone absolutely delusional, straight out of a movie.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I used the studio which collaborates with our school and is run by a professional writer/producer who mentors me, where I go to once a week in order to develop my songwriting skills. In there we’ve got the basic equipment such as a sound proof room, a mic, and a computer where we write down ideas.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? A dream artist to collaborate with would be Melanie Martinez or Lana del Rey as they shaped who I was from early childhood, my taste rapidly shifted to rap and r&b so Frank Ocean would be my most current dream collab, but they remain massively significant in my life.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would tell them to just go for it! You can only gain from the experience and there isn’t much to lose either. As long as you’ve submitted work you’re proud of and that depicts who you want to be seen as a songwriter, you’ve already surpassed yourself.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I would love collaborating with Harry Towbin one day as his song has originality and I love that in an artist! I also never collaborated with any male or rapper in general in music and just think it would make such a fun experience.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love that this competition allows for such a big opportunity. I’m very grateful to have even gotten into quarterfinals and genuinely feel so pleased to be part of the whole process. I think it’s just so nice to have such an inclusive and open occasion for this wide range of ages to shine and gain confidence along the way.

CLAIRE KETELHOHN – ‘DECEMBER’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? The song December came from a place of mourning. It was initially about the loss of the magic that holidays always seem to have when you’re a kid, but at its core it’s mourning the loss of childhood itself. I wrote it all in one day in the middle of December when I realized I couldn’t get myself to be as happy as I thought I should be.

What got you into writing songs? Coincidentally, I also started playing guitar in a December, specifically December 2019. After obsessively listening to Everything You’ve Come to Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets, I decided I had to learn guitar. Something in that album just picked me up and shook me. My sister gave me her old guitar and taught me some basic chords. The following spring I wrote my first song. It was seven minutes long and all over the place, but I’ve been able to scrap it for parts since then. It was just something that happened; I never questioned it. It felt as natural as learning to walk.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is more of a journal than I’ve ever had. I’ve never been able to commit myself to the constant entries a diary warrants––regardless of how many times I’ve tried––but songwriting managed to become a daily activity. It’s documentation and expression, as well a portal to somewhere else when I need it to be.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When the idea first hits and it really hits you, and you can’t stop writing words––that sort of frenzy is definitely the best part.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Each song is a unique case. The spark can start from a feeling, from a melody, or from a chord. Often, for me, it starts from a phrase; a sentence or two I want to build something around.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I kept my setup for this song quite minimal: just me and my guitar for the writing, then the addition of a Blue Yeti USB microphone and my mac for the recording.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Most of my dream musicians to collaborate with are dead, I’m afraid. If I could bring them back, I think it’d be Jeff Buckley or Leonard Cohen. Of those still with us, I have to say Stevie Nicks, though I don’t know if I’d be able to get any real songwriting done, since I’d be too busy telling her what an honor it is to work with her.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? My advice is two-fold. First, don’t write anything with the sole intention of winning––write something because you mean it. Second, don’t let nerves or self-doubt get in the way of sending in your song; It’s an amazing opportunity to be heard and you shouldn’t let yourself by held from that, even by your own fears.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Are you gonna love me? by Noah Robertson has a lovely sound but manages to keep a certain edge in a cool way. The start of HAND by Frederic Thesinger is something I find so enticing melodically. Still my favorite is probably Oak tree by Jayden Pope; it feels like something I could grow old to in a way I really love. I think I could make something really good with any of these songwriters; all three have the kind of sound I like and an ability for production that I lack and would benefit from. I think we could all elevate what we’re doing with some collaboration.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like how open its doors are. With the lack of bias towards the recording quality of each song, I feel it broadens its scope to a lot of really good songwriters that could otherwise be overlooked simply because they have less resources.

SEASIDE FEELS – ‘WAITING IN LINE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? We usually start with some lyrics, in this case the chorus which we thought was catchy, and built around that.

What got you into writing songs? It’s just something we’ve always done together.  It’s fun and helps us process things.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is very important to us, as a form of self expression.  We play a lot of gigs in our home town, Dubai, and find that audiences want to hear original music, not endless covers.  So songwriting means we get more bookings too!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? The initial idea and playing with different melodies for the chorus.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually in the evening when we are getting ready for bed, an idea sparks.  Much to our parents’ annoyance!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. We write in a very low tech way, with a note pad and acoustic guitar, basically. As it develops into a viable song, we record it on a phone, just so we have the components. Eventually it comes together and we record it on the Ableton Live home studio.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? The Paper Kites write some really beautiful songs, we’d love to work 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 it!  There is something very special about receiving encouragement and support from experts in their field. Song writing can be quite a lonely experience and to have that feedback is hugely valuable. Choose your best song and enter that,  produce the best version of it you can.  Rather than half a dozen all recorded quickly on your phone.  Put time and effort into the production.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with?  Honestly we are in awe of all of the entries and acts.  It would be a great laugh to hang with them and write and perform together!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? We like that it is well run, we know exactly what is asked of us and we feel it has gravitas.

SUMMER BRENNAN – ‘BILLBOARD CITY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wanted to write a song about overcoming insecurities and anxieties concerning what other people thought of me.

What got you into writing songs? I attended a songwriting camp in 2019, and during Covid I channelled all my time and energy into it.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting allows me to be my authentic self and express my feeling and thoughts in a creative way.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite part is when you are deep in the story and invested in that emotion and how the song develops from it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I find that spark through an emotional experience or sitting in my room fiddling with my keyboard.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I used my keyboard to develop and write the song, then took it to a friend who is a producer to help me record it.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Taylor Swift. She is the most talented writer of my generation.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Don’t try to be anyone else; stay authentic to who you are is much better than trying to mimic another artist.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Cyan by Pedro Giomo is a really cool song. Loved the production too.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that it’s open to all ages and countries. Song Academy offers lots of support to upcoming songwriters. I really appreciate the community it cultivates.

JESSI JOY VILLA – ‘AIR’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wanted others to understand how important poetry is to me and how connected I feel writing it. I wanted to tell people that it’s not as simple as writing some words down and hoping that it rhymes. It’s more about understanding your emotions and reflecting on how you acted based on those emotions or situations for that matter. 

What got you into writing spoken poetry? What got me into poetry was because I wanted to express the importance of poetry and how it has helped me through life. Poetry is my voice because since I’m premature, my voice is very low and people can barely hear me when I speak, so poetry became a way for me to be heard but without the strain of having to project my voice. 

What does poetry/songwriting mean to you? Writing poetry means the world to me. It was away from me to escape since I didn’t have many friends or sometimes any at all. I was bullied quite a lot so it was a way to empower myself and tell myself that… one day you will be heard and be an inspiration for other people that struggle with being understood.

What is your favorite part of the spoken poetry process? My favorite part about this process was when I heard my own voice on the recording, thanks to Paul Sedkowski, my producer. It was powerful to me because I finally realized that you don’t have to change yourself to be heard. For a long time I thought that I would never be understood or listened to but once I heard my own voice I realized Even if a crowd doesn’t give you the time of day, there will always be that one person that relates to you and understands your struggle.

How do you usually start a spoken poem? How do you find that spark? I usually find the spark by mentally walking through my life and seeing if I can write something that future me would look back on and say “Look at what you wrote a year ago, and look at where you are now. You’re a fighter and you’re loved, good job:”

Describe your setup that you use to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote my poetry then I went to the studio,  put music in the background of it, to I wrote a poem then I went to the studio and we started adding music and sounds until I came to the Final cut. 

Who would you be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Halsey! Even though a lot of songwriters dig deep into the emotions when they’re writing music, I feel like she really touches my heart when I hear her music. 

What would you say to someone aged 8 to 18 who was thinking about entering the Song Academy young songwriter competition next year? The only tip I would give is: Write what makes you feel happy and right what makes you feel unique, don’t please other people because in the end you are the person that has to live with that piece of writing for the rest of your life whether you regret it or not.

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the others entries would you like to collaborate with? One of my favorite entries is from Esperanza G. “Feel Good” because it’s very positive and upbeat. Another one that I really liked is Keisha S. “Sumpin” because I like the harmony of the song. But the one I would like to collaborate with is Esperanza G. because I really like that it’s very positive and uplifting and helps others feel good with you. 

What do you like about the Song Academy young songwriter competition? I like that it gives us a chance to really challenge us to be the best writers and best versions of ourselves that we can be.

ANDREI SERBAN – ‘(I LIKE YOUR) GREEN EYES BABY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My inspiration came from the fact that I want to be heard, I want to be a pleasure for the listener and I want everybody to know me and my music.

What got you into writing songs? My desire to discover and create new things, not just listening to a song, more like finding my own style.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means a way of expressing myself and giving my emotions to people and making them vibe to my music.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I really enjoy the process of an idea, starting from scratch and writing the song bit by bit makes me stay stuck on the piano making the whole thing.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start writing a song on piano and as I go through it and thinking more at some point the good idea strikes.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I used my piano, my voice, my microphone and a music software which I learnt from youtube.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would really like to collaborate with Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars. These are my favorite musicians.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? A piece of advice I’ll give them will be to write the best song they can write, show it to everyone, post it and never give up on their dreams no matter how hard the road is.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? The problem is that I don’t know how I can listen to the other songs but I’m sure I might find someone to collaborate with.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I believe that this competition is a great opportunity to be seen and maybe get into people’s attention. Who knows? I really think it’s great.

SCARLETT ELISE – ‘SLIP AWAY’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote Slip Away when I was about to leave for college, and I was feeling a sense of urgency to find out if the guy I liked felt the same way about me. It often seemed like he liked me back, but I wasn’t certain, and I felt as if I needed a definite answer before I could move on and leave for college.

What got you into writing songs? I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing songs. I used to record little melodies into my iPod and write lyrics in my notes app and in journals, and I would perform them for my family. More recently, I’ve been writing songs way more frequently because I’ve found that if I can put my feelings and heartbreak into words and melodies, it’s much easier to understand and cope with.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting means so much to me, because it’s my method of understanding my own complicated feelings and it’s my way of coping with the world. I also love sharing my thoughts and feelings through song, as I feel like it can unite people and allow them to realize that they’re not alone. I don’t know what I would do without songwriting. It’s been a wonderful gift from the Lord.

What is your favorite part of the song writing process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is right when you finish writing the first verse and chorus, and you feel such a sense of satisfaction and release. That point of the song is when you know if it’s going to be a good song or not, and it’s such a wonderful feeling when you step back and listen to it again, realizing that you just captured exactly what you were feeling and you finally feel as if your thoughts have been untangled!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song when I’m feeling overwhelmed by a certain feeling or confused by my own thoughts, and I’ll sit down at the piano and begin playing around with chord progressions until I find something that matches what I’m feeling and the lyrics begin to flow!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry: I originally wrote the song on piano, then my friend helped me by embellishing the chord progression on his guitar. Then, we went to a recording studio at the home of the talented Zach Luper, and after hours and hours of recording, we had the finished product!

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Jenna Raine or Lily Williams or Haley Joelle!! They’re all so very talented!!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would definitely recommend entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition, because it’s a great opportunity to get your music heard by an encouraging community of young songwriters who have very similar goals to your own!! Plus, it doesn’t feel like your regular competition because the contestants as well as those in charge of the competition are very kind and encouraging throughout the entire process!

What are your favorite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist) would you like to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Ava Grace who wrote the amazing song, Ashes!! She is so very talented and has a beautiful voice and meaningful lyrics! Everyone did such a lovely job though, and it’s so inspiring to witness so many young people writing music!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love the fact that this competition is looking for the quality of the songwriting rather than just the production quality or the instrumentation. I also love how encouraging everyone has been to each other throughout the course of the competition so far!

MIA BENITA – ‘FIRE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It was a first love heartbreak

What got you into writing songs? Because I love to express my thoughts and ideas in song

What does songwriting mean to you? At my tender age of 14 I think it’s a BIG chunk of my life

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? All of it, from first lines in a notepad or voice recorder to finalizing the song in studio

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I think that it begins with my moments in life, be it sadness and it’s reason for being or happiness with it’s butterflies and joy

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Was going through the heartbreak and had to find a way to express myself and in a almost therapeutic flow it voiced my pain at the time…music and song are powerful tools in finding your voice of expression

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Wow!…tough one, so many…I guess I’d have to mention 4 – Alicia Keys, Sia, H.E.R. and Raye

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I’d say…if you like expressing yourself through song – just do it. Tips: Don’t fear emotional output, write from the heart, write it for you

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? That’s really difficult to answer…but all I can say is that everyone that has made it this far would be an interesting contender for a collab, there’s so much incredible talent :)

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I think that it’s an absolutely amazing opportunity that they give young songwriters to put their works on a large communications platform and gives them the opportunity to be heard. Great job #SAYS23.

JAKE MURDOCH – ‘BEE-SIDE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My passion is SDG’s and Bees are in real danger at the moment.

What got you into writing songs? In the beginning I co-wrote my first song with a producer and then gained the confidence to write on my own. The greatest honour in the world is to have co written a yet to be released song with the co founder and main songwriter Mr Andrew Farriss from the band INXS.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting gives me the ability to express my emotions and things that I am passionate about.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? I enjoy thinking of the story of the song and what I am going to write about.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I start a song by finding a good melody on the guitar and then make the lyrics.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. Because I am passionate about saving the bees and have the knowledge of what is happening to them it was easy to write the lyrics. During the recording process the producer and I changed some of the chorus around and some words in the verses to make them better.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I already have written with my dream co writer and hope to continue writing with Andrew. We are regularly in touch and he is just an absolute genius musician and songwriter. Oh and he is the most humble and nicest man as well.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Go for it. The support for young people is incredible. My tips would be is stay true to yourself. Be yourself!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I wouldn’t mind collaborating with someone from a different country than me as that would be very exciting and perhaps use multilingual. I sing in 3 different languages now so a forth would be exciting for me.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition?  I like the opportunity it gives young people and the encouragement is awesome.

LINDSAY LIEBRO – ‘COINCIDENCE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was inspired by my own delusions :)

What got you into writing songs? I grew up looking up to Taylor Swift, so by the time I was in 2nd grade, I wrote my first song and haven’t looked back since!

What does songwriting mean to you? It means absolutely everything to me. Without it, I don’t know how I would process my emotions or be able to explore different perspectives through song.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? My favorite part is sharing it with other people and seeing how it connects to them. It is such an honor to be able to have that shared experience with others and to make people feel those emotions.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? So one fun thing about me is that there is always something for me to be delusional about, so I basically never run out of ideas. Usually, I’ll grab my guitar, start playing a progression, and go with whatever lyric ideas come out of my mouth first.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote the first verse and chorus of “Coincidence” in my bedroom. When my label said they liked it and that it should be my next single, I finished the rest in an hour. Then I worked remotely with a producer to create the track, and I recorded vocals with the awesome Lauren DeMichiei in Pittsburgh.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Mother Taylor (Swift) <3333

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 that even if you are just thinking about it, go for it! Write from the heart and have fun with it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? I really loved “Billboard City” by Summer Brennan! I’d love to collab with her!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I really like how it brings musicians from all over the world together!

SWAGSOCKS – ‘JELLYMAN’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? It is a feministic song about a guy that we call Jellyman. He is a popular guy and even if he behaves really badly all the girls love him. We were inspired by some guys in our school and how they are ”getting away” with anything and still the girls love them.

What got you into writing songs? We started playing the violine at 5 years of age, we LOVE all sorts of music, singing and dancing and have been in several musicals ( Annie, Sound of music etc). We have always wanted to have our own popgroup so we started our popgroup ” Swagsocks ” a year ago, downloaded Logic and started composing and learning the software through youtube clips. We have realised that it is so easy and fun writing music and so far we have released four songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means EVERYTHING! This is what we want to do when we grow up. We love composing together, recording, mixing and completing a full song.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? When you realise that the song is ”coming together” that it is actually becoming a full pop song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? We usually start with a chord on the piano or a sample from splice, we then present it to eachother and get an approval from eachother to continue. We do a lot together.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Bruno Mars, the Beegees ( if they were active), Jamirquai, Stevie Wonder.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Make sure to listen to your recording several times, ask friends what they think before you master it. Do you have all the important parts in the song? Is the sound ”fresh” and innovative?

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? We really like ” I like your green eyes baby” by Andrei Serban. It is a fun, catchy and up-tempo beat. We love fun songs that you can dance to and that has some funk to them.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? That any person can take part in the competition in the world and that people from different cultures can meet through the music they create.

NOAH ROBERTSON – ‘ARE YOU GONNA LOVE ME’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? My song ‘Are you gonna love me’ is a song about future love. It’s really about how the scenario might play out in years to come.

What got you into writing songs? Listening to music from my favourite musicians and playing music inspires me to writing songs.

What does songwriting mean to you? I love listening to lyrics and their meanings. It’s sometime like a puzzle, finding the best pieces and fitting them into the idea to create a great story through music.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? Song writing for me always starts with my guitar and a melody. I love writing and composing music and then wrapping lyrics around it.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Sometimes the spark just comes from the music component and I go from there. The lyrics are sometimes what is happening at the present time, sometimes it’s creating possible scenarios about the future and sometimes it’s just an idea or concept inspired by life or others around me.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My set up is just my guitar and notebook. Once I had the melody and lyrics I moved to my pedal board, plugged in my amp and worked on the solo.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), John Mayer and Paul McCartney. That would be mind blowing!

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I say…Just do it! Write it – share it!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Roe Byrne – Set me on fire.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I love how the competition values young people and their creations.

FRÉDÉRIC THESIGER – ‘HAND’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I was with my friend when I wrote this song. He was going through a tough time in his life (in terms of relationships) and I knew I had to help. So I proposed writing a song. He had never written before and yet, like magic, in 15 minutes we wrote one of my favourite songs to date.

What got you into writing songs? I’ve wanted to be a songwriter since I could speak! However, the true moment of realisation for me is when I first heard Elvis Presley at 6 years of age. I was truly blown away by what exceptional music can achieve, and that passion has only gotten stronger since.

What does songwriting mean to you? It means everything to me. Truly. I can’t go through any good, bad or confusing times without writing a song about it. It’s how I’ve always functioned. Apparently I was writing songs as a three year old!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favourite part of the song writing process is coming up with a lyric or a melody that you really love, when you achieve the difficult task of expressing the contents of your soul in a way which feels almost completely perfect…no other feeling could surmount that, at least not for me.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? When I’m ready to write a song I can feel it. I like to think I’m in tune (pun intended) with my creative self. When I feel ready to write a song, I will let myself slip into the mood of it and begin writing. You will only achieve your best work if you listen closely to what your body tells you.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. My setup was rather simple. I bought a microphone (Shure SM7b) and built my own acoustic booth, for the vocals. For the guitar I went to my school’s music department and recorded the guitar with a microphone and a laptop. Only the drums were recorded ‘professionally’. It is definately possible to make a really great home-studio sound with the right equipment and by using my production knowledge I managed to smooth out any flaws in the audio. 

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? There are so many musicians and bands that I respect so much but to work with Jacob Collier would be the biggest honour of all. Having gone to one of his concerts, I can certainly confirm that Jacob Collier is quite simply a genius. I would love to learn how he explores the language of music in such an unbelievably unique and astounding way. I would, it must be said, also love to work with the lyrical genius that is Kendrick Lamar, one day.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? There is no such thing as being born as a great musician, you’re born with the drive to become great. So work hard, accept failures and most importantly listen to feedback, it’s all about improving yourself. If you can refine and exercise that creative muscle and get more comfortable with your artistic self, then nothing can stop you.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Whilst there were so many great entries, I felt Ruby Archer’s on ‘Shiver’ had really great vocals and some really interesting production, I really enjoyed that entry. I also enjoyed Summer Brennan’s entry too, once again som really brilliant vocals are displayed in that song. Finally, I very much appreciated Sofia Kempa’s production value in ‘That tiny house in my brain’. Needless to say, I would love to collaborate with all these artists, working with musicians is likely the best way to develop and grow as a musician.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? Giving an opportunity for young and up-and-coming artists is truly admirable, having these competitions is very helpful to allow musicians to evolve, as well as be given a chance to get the recognition they deserve. I appreciate the ‘Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition’ a lot for that very reason.

JOSH DIONISIO – ‘BLESSING’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? For this song, I believe I just wanted to encapsulate that powerful, yet somewhat indescribable feeling of having an immense adoration and love for someone. One that feels distinctive from anything one has ever felt before. Often, we feel incredible amounts of gratitude to receive blessings in our life and simultaneously, a duty to make the most of it and cherish it with all of our hearts. In similarity, it doesn’t matter what it takes or how long it takes to make that person a significant part of your life because you are sure this individual is tailored and meant to be in your life. A person that you know you want to cherish and keep. Therefore, regardless of anything you need to get through, it will be worth it all in the end. My Mum has also always repeated the principle that ‘patience is a virtue’ ever since I was little. So once I got the initial lines of the chorus — “I don’t mind waiting if I have to, cause they say patience is a virtue”, I knew I had something special to work with.

What got you into writing songs? I remember writing my first song when I was about 9 years old. It was for fun and I didn’t really think much of it. Then about a year or two later I started writing again just because of how enamoured I felt being able to put all my thoughts and feelings into a tune that could be sung. Then ever since it’s been a part of every single one of my days and is something I genuinely cannot live without anymore. Not to mention, Ed Sheeran also played an integral role when it came to finding out my love for songwriting.

What does songwriting mean to you? In continuation to my answer to the previous question, to me, songwriting is something I simply cannot live without and really, is an abundance of many beautiful things. For me, I view songwriting as a place I could consider a second home. A place where I can be my truest and most vulnerable self. My form of therapy. A friend who has no judgment, who listens and allows me to speak and sing with coherence and true emotion. Songwriting allows me to connect with people I may not even know. It gives me the opportunity to appreciate every little thing in this grand life of ours. It allows me to appreciate the art that words, alongside even the smallest set of chords can create and make people feel through their speakers or headphones, wherever, whenever, and whoever they may be. Songwriting is my muse. My safety. One of my favourite things in the world.

What is your favourite part of the songwriting process? Every single part of it. Without a doubt. The first part is just as important as the last. Just like the first lyric and the last; and the first verse and final chorus. All of it. I adore. The freedom of being able to put the rawest of thoughts and feelings into a piece of paper or notepad to form the most captivating phrases and sentences I find powerful beyond measure.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually, I pick up my guitar, play a tune, and put down whatever it is I feel at that very moment. Inspired by Ed Sheeran, I write songs every single day. Honouring his ‘dirty tap water’ analogy, there will be days and songs that don’t sound or feel as good when writing (hence, the dirty water), but with consistency, continuation, and perseverance, clean water will soon flow from the dirty water tap and that is how you know you’ve got something special. But you’ve got to be willing to take the steps in writing those songs that don’t satisfy you as much first. Which is something I’m still working on. It’s a daily venture for improvement. All in all, It makes everything more worthwhile once even that ounce of clean water/spark/good song occurs. It’s a magnificent feeling and it only keeps me going.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I was in my bedroom sat on my bed, with my guitar, laptop, and my voice recorder on with my notepad out.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? Without a doubt, Ed Sheeran. He is the biggest reason I do what I do. He has inspired me in multitudes and sanctioned me the realisation that this is my passion and what I love to do most. In my opinion, the greatest songwriter in the world. It would have to be Ed Sheeran, and I cannot wait to meet him.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Have faith in yourself. Send your song in, don’t fear anything. You never really know. Regardless of the results, keep writing and always keep going. Always. Every song deserves to be heard. Every artist deserves to be heard. Be you. You’ve got it.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Some of my favourites: October – Joey Wilbur, Everything I’ll Miss – Sofia Kempa, Heartbreak? – Faith Louise, Fourteen – Skye Bishop, Self-Esteem – Joe Goodall. Quite frankly, the opportunity to collaborate with any one of these talented artists and individuals would be a privilege and honour. Collaboration is one of the most beautiful aspects of this industry and music as a whole. Sometimes even, the more the merrier. This, may it be one, or two, three, or all of the artists I mentioned above or more; like I said, it would be an absolute privilege and honour to have any of the opportunities given to collaborate.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I appreciate the invaluable opportunity it gives the youth like me, a chance to be heard and a chance to breathe even a bit of the illustrious dream of being that artist one has always dreamed of. To be heard, to be seen, to be appreciated. At least for me. The priceless opportunity the Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition has given me is one I will never take for granted.

RAE – ‘PUPPY LOVE’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I really took inspiration from the idea of an innocent, young love; a feeling of “us against the world.” I love to write and tell the stories of people I’ve never met. By simply imagining this situation, I kept getting more ideas and was able to turn it into a beautiful love story!

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs at 12 years old when I started playing the ukulele! Learning an instrument made writing songs so much easier and songwriting just started to click. I l really loved music and wanted to take part in making it through whatever way possible. Since then, I’ve not only worked to better myself in that skill, but I’ve grown to love it even more!

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It’s such a great creative outlet and I love being able to make something that is my own! I also love to share those creations by collaborating and showcasing with others. I really enjoy the individuality of each person’s writing and hearing what they have to say. It’s a special experience that connects both the writer and the listener and I think it’s so cool that people with different experiences can relate to each other through lyrics and music!

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? My favorite part of the songwriting process is writing the lyrics for a chorus. I love to tie the verses together and come up with a common theme for a song!

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? I usually start a song with a chorus! Sometimes, ideas will just come to me randomly, so I’ll write them down and use them for later. Other times, I like to take inspiration from movies and books!

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I originally wrote the song on my guitar. I ended up producing it with the Focusrite Scarlet Studio interface and microphone set, Yamaha keyboard, and Logic X Pro.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? I would love to collaborate with Noah Kahan! He’s such a fantastic writer and I love his sound.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? I would tell them to go for it!! It’s always so good to get feedback on your songs and put yourself out there. Enter every competition or contest you can to challenge yourself, better yourself, and learn more about your craft!

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? Tamara Hendin’s “Hymn for the homesick kids” is one of my favorites!! Her writing is so beautiful and it fits so wonderfully with the chords she chose for that song. I feel like our writing styles are similar and I would love to collaborate with her! I would also love to collaborate with Summer Brennan. “Billboard City” is so catchy and high energy!

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that the Young Songwriter competition mainly focuses on the lyrics and composition of a song, rather than how well it’s produced. That is a very unique yet refreshing trait for a competition to have because it opens up opportunities and feedback for everyone!!

JOEY WILBUR – ‘OCTOBER’

What inspired you to write your finalist song? I wrote this song about a relationship that started in the month of October. To me, October represents a change in the seasons. The leaves turn colors, and it’s beautiful for a while, but eventually the leaves turn brown and fall off the tree. This represents how change can be both good and bad. The first verse of this song represents the beauty of October, and how I was willing to sacrifice everything in order for the relationship to work, the second verse represents the leaves turning brown, and the days getting shorter, which is the start of the impending end. The last verse represents when winter finally hits, and the beauty is completely gone.

What got you into writing songs? I started writing songs when I was about 10 years old. Me and a friend of mine had decided we were going to start a band. I began writing songs for it. None of them were very good, as anyone’s first song might be, just regurgitations of things that I had heard on the radio, but it was something I quickly grew to love and enjoy.

What does songwriting mean to you? Songwriting has become a huge part of my life. Whenever something significant happens in my life, writing songs has become a way to process the craziness of life. It has become a form of therapy for me. I have a deep appreciation for all songwriters, because it is often very difficult to share our deepest emotions that are put into the lyrics of our music. For me, I often find that I have trouble articulating exactly what I feel, so songwriting offers a way for me to say the things that words can’t.

What is your favourite part of the song writing process? This is a difficult question for me. I would have to say that my favorite part varies from song to song, and the music, melody, lyrics, and production all have significant impacts on the final production of the song. If I had to pick one, it would probably be the lyrics. I enjoy listening to songs that have deep meanings behind them, where you have to listen multiple times to truly understand the message of the song.

How do you usually start a song? How do you find that spark? Usually it will hit me out of nowhere. Either someone says something that sparks inspiration, or I find inspiration while deep in thought. After that I will write it down in my notes app, and begin writing about it when I get to my guitar. All of my songs start out on an acoustic guitar.

Describe your setup that you used to write your #SAYS23 entry. I wrote, recorded, and produced all of October in my basement studio using a focusrite audio interface, a microphone, and a rubber bridge acoustic guitar that I got from a small shop in LA. The rubber bridge deafens the tone, which is kind of symbolic of the relationship dying.

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with? My dream artist to collaborate with would probably be Ed Sheeran. His music has had a lasting impact on the way I write my songs, and he wrote the first song I ever learned how to play on guitar “Thinking Out Loud” with Amy Wadge, who is a part of the judging panel for this competition, so the fact that she might be hearing my songs is kind of a starstruck moment for me. Other artists I enjoy are Jeremy Zucker, Lizzy McAlpine, Phoebe Bridgers, and The 1975.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Just do it. I submitted a few of my songs last year not expecting much from it, and ended up winning. This competition really focuses on the lyrics aspect of the songwriting, which I like. If you are thinking of submitting something, submit the songs that are the most personal to you; that’s what people want to hear.

What are your favourite other entries from this year’s competition? Who out of the other entrants (it doesn’t have to be a finalist!) would you like to collaborate with? My favorite entry this year would probably be “Coincidence” by Lidsay Liebro. I like the production and the instrumentation of the track along with the lyrics. She has a really cool sound that I really like.

What do you like about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition? I like that this competition offers a unique opportunity for your songs to be heard. There aren’t that many competitions for just songwriting, so I really like that this competition offers that to kids all over the world

ANNOUNCING THE TOP 30 SONGS OF THE YOUNG SONGWRITER 2023 COMPETITION #SAYS23

PRESS RELEASE


SAYS23 Star Judges include Fraser T Smith, Amy Wadge, Calum Scott, Plested, Miranda Cooper, GRACEY, Eg White, Jimmy Napes, Emily Phillips, Hannah V, Sodajerker, Sacha Skarbek, Dan Gillespie Sells, Janet Devlin & Simon Aldred.

Drumroll please! The top 30 songs of the hotly contested Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition, in its 13th year, have now been revealed. This year’s competition attracted around 1,000 high quality entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song.  62% of entrants were girls, 32% boys, 6% preferred not to say or had a unique gender identification. Entries were from across the entire UK/Ireland (71%) and around the world (29%).  The future of music is bright and diverse!

Emily Phillips, songwriter and lead judge of The Young Songwriter 2023 competition said “Another swift year has passed since the last Song Academy Young Songwriter Competition and nearly 1,000 songs for the 2023 entry have been listened to.  This years entries cover an enormous variety of sounds, styles, and lyrical invention. Unrequited love, family relations, social media, self identity and nature are common themes in the lyrics.  The songs vary from a simple guitar or piano accompaniment to full on production. My job is to discern the song beyond the performance and beyond the soundscape, which can be very difficult if the song is wrapped up in an irresistible way, and also hard if the presentation is poor.  There is no doubt that some great songs are inextricably bound to their sound which gives them the identity we gravitate to, so I hope the judges can be forgiven for loving a song partly because it sounds great.

I can only say that the judging process is not an exact science, and that mistakes will and can be made.  In much the same way that the Beatles were turned down by 4 record companies, I  will no doubt have inadvertently overlooked a great song. This may be because, some songs require many listens before you realise their secret magic.  Anyway, I’m trying to say that no writer in the competition should feel disheartened.   A song writer needs to write as many songs as possible, as often times, it’s in the proliferation that greatness comes. I also want to stress that the standard of some of the songwriting is astonishing, there is no match for the hubris of youth! 

Song Academy and the judges encourage all young songwriters to collaborate.  It’s fun, and can be a great way to connect with other like-minded young people.  Collaboration builds confidence and opens up a world of possibilities.  Song Academy is helping to build a community of the next generation of songwriters in the UK and around the world. What a fantastic organisation, I am very proud to be part of it.”

Listen to the top 30 songs on the Song Academy SoundCloud account!  Plus the top 30 songs and young songwriters are SHOWN BELOW. The International 8-12 year olds category will wait until the top 10 announcements as they had fewer entries.

The top 10 finalists of all categories will be announced on the 12th May.  The top 3 finalists will be announced on the 13th June. The UK/Ireland winners will be announced on Saturday 23rd September 2023 at The Young Songwriter 2023 live showcase held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London.  The International winners will be announced at the online showcase on Sunday 24th September at 2pm GMT. Stay tuned to our social channels to hear the announcements first!

Fraser T Smith (songwriter, producer and SAYS23 judge) said “With so much going on in the world, it’s never been more vital for young people to be able to channel their energy and emotions into something positive, which is what The Young Songwriter competition encourages and facilitates through songwriting. Every young person has something to say, a story to tell, or a message to share – that’s why Song Academy is so important to our community.”

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy said: “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. We are looking for originality, creativity and musical bravery. We’re a supportive community where young people express themselves freely, get their songs heard and connect to like-minded young people. The benefits from this unique community are far reaching, especially the positive boost to mental health.”

The next opportunity for young songwriters aged 11-18 in the UK/Ireland is our new residential Summer songwriting camp from 9th to 12th August 2023, near Guildford, UK. There are a limited number of places available so please contact us soon.

Next opportunities for schools are for Song Academy to run songwriting workshops for Leavers (academic years 6 and 13) to write a song about their time at school & looking ahead to the future. In addition to the positive experience of writing a song together encapsulating their time at school & thoughts of the future, we can create a backing track and full track for schools to use for promotions and Leavers to have as a memento!

Official sponsors of The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2023 competition are YouTube Music, Yamaha, Soundtrap, Focusrite, PRS for Music and ICMP.

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 16-18 YEAR OLDS * TOP 30

A HUNDRED YEARS – LILY CLARKE

A THERAPY SESSION IN NORTH CAROLINA – ISLA MAE

ARE YOU OKAY? – MAGGIE WAKELING

BEAUTY – MATT JONES

CRYSTAL CHANDELIERS – AMITY MILLER

DEAREST ONE – SEAN TRELFORD

HARP – SHAAN BHASKAR

HEARTBREAK? – FAITH LOUISE

HOMETOWN – ROSE MOLYNEUX & OWEN FRANCIS BLACK

HYMN FOR THE HOMESICK KIDS – TAMARA HENDIN

I’M NOT ALONE – THOMAS WIGLEY

IT’S NOT TOO LATE – RALPH BISHOP

JUST YOU AND ME – COLE LAM

LAZY – SOPHIE FERIANI

LITTLE GIRL – RUBE

MILESAWAY – CHINKZ

PEOPLE MADE FROM STARS – SASHA FORD

SELF ESTEEM – JOE GOODALL

SET ME ON FIRE – ROE BYRNE

SPARE ROOM – LILLY MAE CHANDLER

STARRY – RAINE HARLA

TESCO – EVE COLE

TTF – JS STARZ

UNTITLED – MANGSAM SENEHANG

VILLAIN ERA – EVA DONOGHUE

WATCHING – SIRINE

WHAT YOU’D WANT – ABBIE GORDON

WHO AM I TO TELL – ERIN O’SULLIVAN & OLLIE

WILD OUT AT SEA – ELIZA LOVISE

YOU ARE THE LIGHT – ADAM O’CONNOR, ARLO REDMAN

CATEGORY:  UK/IRELAND, 13-15 YEAR OLDS * TOP 30

ANOTHER TIME – IOLA CAMPBELL

BACKGROUND GIRL – MADDIE INSTONE

BE WHO YOU WANNA BE – LOIS BROOKS

BY YOUR SIDE – ARNAV MERVE, RAVI KAMATH, ARJUN RAMANI

CENTRAL LINE TO TOWN – MIA WILKS

DOING IT FOR CLOUT – KACIA

DOORS – CHARLIE RYAN

DRIVING SEAT – ELI CROSSLEY

FINE TOTALLY  – ROWAN ADDY

FOURTEEN – SKYE BISHOP

FRAUD – DANIEL MACKIN

HONEYSIDE – TITO WILEY

IF YOU WERE… – MAYONNAISE

INSIDE AND OUT – NEVAEH

JOHNNY SOMEONE – WOODY COLLINS

LAST TRAIN TO THE COAST – JOSEPH DAVIS

LITTLE GIRL – EMILY GASKELL

LOST IN THOUGHTS – MAYA MARTIN

LOVE RAMPAGE – MACY O

OCTOBER BOY – BAILEY BRITT

ONE OF A KIND – SAMUEL KHANNA

PATHOLOGICAL LIAR – ELIZABETH EHINFUN

PROMISES AND REGRETS – STUART VEITCH

PURPLE – LUCY HANSON

SILVER BIRCH – JEANNE MARIE MARAIS

TAKE ME HOME – SHANELLE RUDRIGO

THE LETTER – BRADÁN PEACOCK

THERE’S THIS PLACE – JOHNNY BEAU

THESE DAYS – ECHO

WALKING IN THE RAIN – BEN GUTHRIE

CATEGORY: UK/IRELAND 8-12 YEAR OLDS * TOP 30

10 RULES – KIDS OF ORION

ANY OTHER DAY – MAX MARNHAM

BACKSTAGE GUY – HALLUCINATIONS

BRAND NEW – SHOLTO

CAT LAWS – AGNES BULL

CRYSTAL CLEAR – CRYSTALS

DAYDREAMS – ROBYN JONES

GROWING UP IS EASY – FLORENCE

H.O.P.E – ISLA HANNETT

HOLD ONTO YOUR BRANCHES – 12 DEERS

I AM FREE – OTTILIE WALLACE

I’LL GO ON AN ADVENTURE – ELISA MCEVOY

JUST THE WAY IT IS – THEA WARD

KING FOR A DAY – FRANKIE MORLAND

KNEBWORTH – KIT BOTTOMLEY

LONDONERS – BLACK SHEEP BLUES

MONDAY – LIZZIE

MY SONG – GEORGIA RUSSELL

REACH FOR THE STARS – WILLIAM TYNDALE PRIMARY SCHOOL

ROCKET SHIP – ROBBIE HOPE

SHY FELLOW – HENRY MARNHAM

STRANGER – MILO DELLAL, NIKOLAI GRLICA, ERIK LANGRAN

SUNFLOWER – ELEANOR ROSE HANSON

THAT’S WHERE I’LL BE – EMILY FINE

THE FUTURE’S HAPPENING – OREGON

TRIAL OF TRUST – ALEXANDER YIJIAN WANG

UNFORGIVABE – REBECCA ALESHA AND MADELINE

WAIT – OLGA FITZPATRICK

WHAT A DAY – FINN CRABTREE

WORDS – EVIE MITCHELL

CATEGORY:  INTERNATIONAL, 13-18 YEAR OLDS * TOP 30

(I LIKE YOUR) GREEN EYES BABY – ANDREI SERBAN

AIR – JESSI JOY VILLA

ARE YOU GONNA LOVE ME? NOAH ROBERTSON

ASHES – AVA GRACE

BEE-SIDE – JAKE MURDOCH

BILLBOARD CITY – SUMMER BRENNAN

BLESSING – JOSH DIONISIO

BURNIN UP – CLAUDIA MATEOS

COINCIDENCE – LINDSAY LIEBRO

CYAN – PEDRO GIOMO

DECEMBER – CLAIRE KETELHOHN

FIRE – MIA BENITA

HAND – FREDERIC THESIGER

JELLYMAN – SWAGSOCKS

KEEP MOVING – MIA MASSY AND FAYE JOHNSON

LAST DAY BEING 17 – VICKY GAO

OAK TREE – JAYDEN POPE

OCTOBER – JOEY WILBUR

PUPPY LOVE – RAE

SHIVER – RUBY ARCHER

SLIP AWAY – SCARLETT ELISE

SO HARD – LINA SKALLI

START AND END – XINTIAN (DIANA) JI

THAT TINY HOUSE IN MY BRAIN – SOFIA KEMPA

THIN ICE – FELICIA HOLMEN

THIS – UNA ROULSTON

TOXIC – HARRY TOWBIN

WAITING IN LINE – SEASIDE FEELS

WHITE LIE – SOUTH

YOU DON’T KNOW ME – MALAIKA WAINWRIGHT

NOTES TO THE EDITORS – SONG ACADEMY OVERVIEW

Founded 14 years ago, Song Academy is dedicated to the future of music and the wellbeing of young people aged 8-18. Our mission is to help children from all backgrounds find their voice and find their tribe, through writing their own original songs at a formative time of their life. We nurture young writers, artists, musicians, producers and creative thinkers, empowering young people to achieve their full potential and shape their future.

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

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

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

Sparking ideas for new songs

At Song Academy we use interesting songwriting briefs for our aspiring young songwriters to spark ideas for new songs.  Here are some ideas for starting new songs both starting with lyrics and starting with music.

 

Ideas for starting lyrically

  • Start from thinking about what’s important to you – certain people, social movements, events, activities, feelings etc.
  • Start from words/phrases that you hear a lot. Write a song inspired by a word or phrase that a lot of people say in everyday life – but not many people have sung about.  Perhaps something that your parents/ grandparents/teachers always say to you or words/phrases that your friends say/you hear on TV shows or social media.
  • Start from a title – Select 5 things in your bedroom i.e bed, chair, window, guitar, books – and then turn them into interesting song titles. For example: Bed – Safe Haven, Chair – Where I’ll Stay, Guitar – Broken Strings, Books – Read All About It.
  • Start from a quote – Find a quote you like. For example: “It is never too late to be what you might have been”, “an obstacle is often a stepping stone”, “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”, “your only limitation is your imagination”.
  • Write a song inspired by the question “What if?”  This could be a “What if?” about your own life, thinking forwards to the future or asking a “What if” about a significant decision you have made. It could also be simply imagining another world, a dream coming true.  Think about your interests, what would you have fun writing about? Or is there something you would be fascinated to imagine and describe?  Think about historical events that have had a massive impact on the world (9/11, WW2). What could the world look like if these events had not occurred?
  • Song to self idea for a song. Write a song to yourself in a different stage of your life. This can be you talking to yourself in the past or the future. Decide whether you want to write the song in letter form, conversational (as if you are talking to someone else) or in the third person narrative (a story). Think about what you would love to say to yourself as a child and an adult, would there be any warnings you would like to give? Or reassurances? Do you want to give yourself some advice? Think about something that has had a profound impact on you or shaped you in some way. This can be positive or negative. What would you say to yourself? You could free write around this if you are stuck.

Ideas for starting musically

  • Start from a bassline – Listen to ‘Uptown funk’ by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.  The bass line can be the hookiest part of the song in some occasions – think about the simplicity that is needed, the importance of rhythm (the bass and drums work so closely together in bands to achieve the best sound). The bassline has also rhythmic and harmonic importance it helps the listener feel the beat/pulse and add a groove/funk/atmosphere to the song.
  • Start from a chord progression – Choose a key for your song and choose one of the three chord progressions, perhaps start with the key of C, E, F or G. Play your chords and improvise different melodies for your lyrics. Try these three main chord progressions:
    • I, IV, V (Which is C, F, G when played in the key of C Major)
    • I, V, VI, IV (C, G, Am, F in C Major)
    • I, VI, II, V (C, Am, Dm, G in C Major)

Have fun writing your songs!  It’s also a great idea to collaborate with musical & creative friends to develop your songs.

We’re looking forward to listening to your songs in The Young Songwriter 2023 competition!  The entry period is the 1st February to 31st March 2023.

Click here for all information on The Young Songwriter 2023 competition.

Christmas songwriting workshops – why do parents love their children writing their own songs with us?

Calling all young people who love music, singing & writing lyrics!  Join our songwriting workshops during the Christmas holidays.  It’s a perfect opportunity, in a condensed time frame, to write an original song with professional songwriters.  Groups for beginner to advanced young songwriters aged 8-18.  Get creative & express yourself!

Our holiday songwriting workshops are a perfect opportunity, in a condensed time frame, to write an original song with professional songwriters. Participants will develop their lyrical & musical skills with new ideas and techniques.  They will develop their confidence and ability to express themselves…as well as meeting other like-minded young creatives and having a lot of fun!

Small groups for beginners and those already writing their own songs and wanting some inspiration/guidance.

Here are some of the reasons why parents love their children taking part in our songwriting workshops.

  • My child already loves writing her own songs in her bedroom and really benefits from the guidance and inspiration from Song Academy to make her songs the best they can be.
  • My child loves singing and loved the challenge to develop her skills and write her own songs to sing.
  • My child has been a fantastic singer, but his voice is starting to break and writing his own songs filled the void of not singing as much.
  • My child is learning a musical instrument but isn’t that motivated to practice her grade pieces. Writing her own songs and accompanying herself brings her instrument to life and it’s played a lot more.
  • My child loves music and really enjoyed the freedom of writing her own lyrics and making up melodies.  She now writes songs the whole time.
  • My child was super shy and writing her own songs in a supportive & nurturing environment has given her a boost of confidence and she’s proud of what she has to say through her songs.

More information and how to book a place.

How to Write Your First Song?

Never written a song before? Here are some easy steps to get started!

STEP 1 Create a strong concept for your song & engaging title

First work out what style of song you’d like to write. Listen to some songs in different genres to get a feel of what style of song and topics you want to speak up about. Check out our suggestions of songs to inspire you

One of the key components, and biggest challenges, of songwriting is trying to express common, relatable feelings in an original and interesting way. The more inventive you can be when describing your feelings or experiences (for example, the pressures and joys of growing up and living in our society), the better.

Try these two ways of starting a song:
1. Select 5 things in your bedroom i.e bed, chair, window, guitar, books – and then turn them into interesting song titles. For example: Bed – Safe Haven, Chair – Where I’ll Stay, Guitar – Broken Strings, Books – Read All About It
2. Find a quote you like. For example: “It is never too late to be what you might have been”, “an obstacle is often a stepping stone”, “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”, “your only limitation is your imagination”.

STEP 2 Start writing!

Thinking of your object or quote, focus your senses on it and write freely for 10 minutes non-stop. Anything goes. Use all 7 senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, organic (awareness of inner bodily functions, eg, heartbeat) and kinesthetic (your sense of relation to the world around you. For example, when the train you’re on is standing still and the one next to it moves, your kinethetic sense goes crazy!)

After your 10 minute writing exercise, think more about the lyrics you’ve written and write some rhyming couplets. Remember that lyrics have a rhythm and using different rhyming schemes can help to shape your lyrics and make your songs more engaging. Here are two rhyming schemes for you to start with:
A-A-B-B
lines 1 and 2 rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 share a different rhyme.
OR
A-B-A-B
lines 1 and 3 share a rhyme, and lines 2 and 4 share a different rhyme.

Choose the one that works best for you and the song that you are writing.

Below are some examples of well known songs that use both rhyming schemes:
‘Happy’ Pharrell Williams (Chorus) in AABB form.
A Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)
A Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I’m happy)
B Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I’m happy)
B Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

‘Anyone’ by Justin Bieber (Verse 1) in ABAB form.
A Dance with me under the diamonds
B See me like breath in the cold
A Sleep with me here in the silence
B Come kiss me, silver and gold

Once your rhyming couplets have been written, you can now count the syllables in each line. If you count the syllables whilst tapping your foot (creating a tempo) you will notice that you are naturally creating a rhythm. This can be extremely helpful when working out your melody and figuring out how long your lines are going to be. From here you can improvise melodies over the lyrics singing to the rhythm you have created. The song now can start taking shape before you have even come up with the chords!

Think about creating some metaphors with the words that are connected to your song to give your song a unique twist. Write a list of 5 interesting adjectives, then write a list of 5 interesting nouns. Think about each combination and write some sentences. Write a list of 5 interesting nouns and then 5 interesting verbs. Think about each combination and write some sentences. Write a list of 5 interesting nouns and then 5 interesting nouns. Think about each combination and write some sentences. You get the idea!

Once you have loads of lyrical ideas, organise them into the different sections of your song to build your song’s story. Try using the suggested song structure below starting with the lyrics for your chorus (the ones which paint a picture of the main message of your song).

Suggested Song Structure for your song:
Verse 1 — Introduces the song’s message and sets the scene
— 4 lines
A
A
B
B
or
A
B
A
B
Pre Chorus — Link between the verse and chorus
— Builds up both melodically and lyrically
— 2 lines
A
A
or
A
B
Chorus — Main message of the song
— Catchiest part and most memorable part of the song (normally includes a ‘hook’)
— Most dynamic part of the song
— 4 lines
A
A
B
B
or
A
B
A
B
Verse 2 — Continuing the explanation of the song
— Solidifying the message and introducing new imagery
— Lyrics change, melody stays the same as verse 1, possibly with a few small changes to keep it interesting
— 4 lines
A
A
B
B
or
A
B
A
B
Bridge or Middle Eight — A contrasting section that brings the song to a new level and adds depth
— Rhythmically and melodically the song changes
— Looking at the message from a different view point
— Can build up tension leading up to the climax of the song
— 4/8 lines
A
A
B
B
or
A
B
A
B
Chorus — Repeat (can add hooks to the outro of it)
Outro — The closing passage. It can be instrumental or vocal

Check out our examples of song structure including rhyming scheme and chord movements at the end of this blog post.

STEP 3 Create a chord progression and add a melody

There are three main chord progressions for songs in popular music. First, a bit of background about chords. A chord is a collection of notes played at the same time. The most simple chord is made up of 3 notes (called a triad). Every chord is built from a scale, and each scale has 7 separate notes (for example, in the key of C major there are C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Each note of a scale has a chord built from it and the order of these chords is referred to in the Roman numerals I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. The sequence of chords is the same in any major scale. I is major (‘happy’ sounding), II is minor (‘sad’ sounding), III is minor, IV is major, V is major, VI is minor and VII is diminished. A triad is made up of the I, III and V notes. These are called the primary chords as there are all major (for example, in the key of C major C, E, G).
The three main chord progressions are:
1. I, IV, V (Which is C, F, G when played in the key of C Major)
2. I, V, VI, IV (C, G, Am, F in C Major)
3. I, VI, II, V (C, Am, Dm, G in C Major)

Choose a key for your song and choose one of the three chord progressions, perhaps start with the key of C, E, F or G. Play your chords and improvise different melodies for your lyrics.

It works well to have different chord progressions for your verses, chorus and bridge. Here’s an example of the different chord movements between sections for ‘Castle On The Hill’ by Ed Sheeran.
Verse 1: Standard 4 chord progression to lay the foundations and set the scene
D – G – Bm – A (I – IV – VI – V)
Pre-Chorus: Change in movement, going to chord IV here creates a lift in the song and allows tension to build towards to chorus
G – A – D – G (IV – V – I – IV)
Chorus: With tension, comes release and the song feels like it needs to resolve from the pre-chorus leading into the chorus. The pre chorus ends on chord IV and the chorus starts on chord I which in musical terms is a plagal cadence which gives us the resolve we need.
D – G – Bm – A (I – IV – VI – V)
Verse 2:
D – G – Bm – A (I – IV – VI – V)
Middle 8: Chord progressions moves to minor first which helps convey the change in perspective in the song
Bm – G – D – A (VI – IV – I – V)
Soundtrap is a perfect tool for creating your song. Add instrumental parts and beats and sing in your melodies and harmonies!

Examples of song structure including rhyming scheme and chord movements

DYNAMITE by BTS

Chords that run throughout are Bm/Em/A/D (VI, II, V, I) which proves that great songs can be written with the same 4 chords running through the song.
Verse 1 — Introduces the song’s message and sets the scene
— 4 lines
A Shoes on, get up in the morn, cup of milk, let’s rock and roll
A King Kong, kick the drum, rolling on like a Rolling Stone
B Sing song when I’m walking home, jump up to the top, LeBron
B Ding dong, call me on my phone, ice tea and a game of ping pong

Pre Chorus — Link between the verse and chorus
— Builds up both melodically and lyrically
— 2 lines (In this case the pre is in 4 lines)
A This is getting heavy, can you hear the bass boom? I’m ready (woo hoo)
A Life is sweet as honey, yeah, this beat cha-ching like money, huh
B Disco overload, I’m into that, I’m good to go
B I’m diamond, you know I glow up, hey, so let’s go

Chorus — Main message of the song
— Catchiest part and most memorable part of the song (normally includes a ‘hook’)
— Most dynamic part of the song
— 4 lines
A ‘Cause I-I-I’m in the stars tonight
A So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight (hey)
B Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
B So I’ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh

Verse 2 — Continuing the explanation of the song
— Solidifying the message and introducing new imagery
— Lyrics change, melody stays the same as verse 1, possibly with a few small changes to keep it interesting
— 4 lines
A Bring a friend, join the crowd, whoever wanna come along
B Word up, talk the talk, just move like we off the wall
A Day or night, the sky’s alight, so we dance to the break of dawn
B Ladies and gentlemen, I got the medicine, so you should keep ya eyes on the ball, huh

Bridge or Middle Eight — A contrasting section that brings the song to a new level and adds depth
— Rhythmically and melodically the song changes
— Looking at the message from a different view point
— Can build up tension leading up to the climax of the song
— 4/8 lines
In this instance BTS use this section as a post – chorus to reinforce the message of their song. This is very popular thing to do particularly in the most commercial sounding songs. Another example of a song using this technique is ‘Shape of you’ Ed Sheeran when he repeats: ‘Come on be my baby, come on’.
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
B Light it up like dynamite
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
A Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
B Light it up like dynamite

Chorus — Repeat (can add hooks to the outro of it)
Outro — The closing passage. It can be instrumental or vocal
As you can see from the example above, each section can have a different rhyme scheme so don’t feel like you need to be restricted to one.

BONES by MAREN MORRIS

Verse 1 — Introduces the song’s message and sets the scene
— 4 lines
Verse chords: G – D – Bm – A (IV – I – VI – V) (songs don’t always have to start with the first root chord!)
A We’re in the homestretch
B Of the hard times
A We took a hard left
B But we’re alright

Pre Chorus — Link between the verse and chorus  Pre-chorus chords: G – D – Bm – A (IV – I – VI – V)
— Builds up both melodically and lyrically
— 2 lines (In this case the pre is in 4 lines)
A Yeah, life sure can try to put love through it,
A But we built this right, so nothing’s ever gonna move it

Chorus — Main message of the song
— Catchiest part and most memorable part of the song (normally includes a ‘hook’)
— Most dynamic part of the song
— 4 lines
Chorus chords D/F# – G – A – Bm (I – IV – V – VI) The chorus resolves to the root chord giving the song a perfect cadence

A When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
A Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
B Let it rain
B ’cause you and I remain the same
C When there ain’t a crack in the foundation (Introduces a new rhyme)
C Baby, I know any storm we’re facing
D Will blow right over while we stay put
D The house don’t fall when the bones are good

Verse 2 — Continuing the explanation of the song
— Solidifying the message and introducing new imagery
— Lyrics change, melody stays the same as verse 1, possibly with a few small changes to keep it interesting
— 4 lines
Verse chords: G – D – Bm – A (IV – I – VI – V)
A Call it dumb luck,
B But baby, you and I
A Can’t even mess it up,
B Though we both try

Bridge or Middle Eight — A contrasting section that brings the song to a new level and adds depth
— Rhythmically and melodically the song changes
— Looking at the message from a different view point
— Can build up tension leading up to the climax of the song
— 4/8 lines
Chorus chords D/F# – G – A – Bm (I – IV – V – VI)
In this instance Maren Morris repeats the chorus but varies the dynamics of the music to give the song a little twist. This is also common in pop music.
A Bones are good, the rest, the rest don’t matter (baby, it don’t really matter)
A Paint could peel, the glass could shatter (oh, the glass, oh, the glass could shatter)
A Bones are good, the rest, the rest don’t matter (ooh)
A Paint could peel, the glass, the glass could shatter (yeah)

Chorus — Repeat (can add hooks to the outro of it)
Outro — The closing passage. It can be instrumental or vocal

Now enter your songs into The Young Songwriter 2023 competition! 

We can help you can your songs ready – we offer a song feedback service and you can join our Spring Term 2023 clubs and Holiday workshops.

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