Get to know the SAYS21 finalists in the 8-12 year old International category

This year’s Song Academy Young Songwriter competition attracted over 1,000 entries from aspiring young songwriters aged 8-18 across the world, both experienced young songwriters and those who’ve written their first song. The judges were extremely impressed with the originality, creativity & musical bravery of the songs.  We interviewed each of the finalists to get to know them and learn more about how they write songs.

Alexis Roley – Graffiti On the Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antea Turk – Dream

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

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

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

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

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

Who would be your dream artist/writer/band to collaborate with?  BENE, the singer from New Zealand.  My favourite song is “Glitter” because it is a fun song.

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Just send your songs so it will be heard by other people, we never know if it will end up winning or not, at least we have tried. Tips: try to record in voice notes whenever or wherever you have an inspiration for a song.

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

Ava Rosenberg – Crazy Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I think a person should not question their song, be confident and enjoy the experience.

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

Benjamin Magro – Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I say go for it and do your best. Wait for the moment when you get inspired, when you get the spark and enjoy doing it. Don’t hassle too much about the competition, and don’t rush yourself. You need to find the right time. When I wrote my song I wasn’t thinking of the competition. I did it for myself.

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

Evangeline Durupt – Colourful

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

What got you into writing songs?  My mom.

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I would say keep going with your idea for a song there’s no right or wrong way to make music.

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

Luna Kup – Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? I would say to enter the songs which you personally like the most, but still show who you are and your voice and your songwriting.

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

Lynette Lee Lyn Xi – So Young 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  I would say it’s a great idea because we could let the world hear our beautiful voices and songs. Do not be afraid, just be brave!

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

Smile – Singing Butterflies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tamara Yasin Who Am I 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them?  Just believe in yourself and don’t give up on your dreams.

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

Venice and Belle Herrera – My friend in Miami

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say to someone aged 8-18 who is thinking about entering the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition next year? Do you have any tips for them? If you are hesitating, just do it and see what happens. Don’t feel bad if you’re not shortlisted, because there are hundreds of entries and the competition is amazing. But listen to the finalists and see if you can find inspiration from them. But also, don’t try and sound like anyone else, just do you!

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

 

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