Elshay is part of the Song Academy team.  We asked him some questions to help aspiring young songwriters on their songwriting journey.

How old were you when you wrote your first song? I first started writing raps before I ever wrote a song.  My older brother is a rapper so that was my first introduction to writing.  I must have been around thirteen or fourteen.

What was your first song about? I remember writing about superheroes quite a lot and exaggerated fictional stories.

Who inspired you to start songwriting? As I mentioned before, my brother used to rap and he had a group at school who I looked up to. Also when I first went to college to learn to sing, I had a singing teacher (Geniyo) who wrote amazing ballads on the piano which really inspired me to start writing choruses and pop songs.

What’s your favourite song you’ve ever written? I don’t really have a favourite song, as I see them as chapters in my life, but, there is a song called ‘The greatest’ I hope to release later this year, which is quite special to me.

How easy did you find it to get your music heard? I found it very difficult at first to know which was the best way to release and promote my music as there wasn’t the streaming services available when I started. I gigged for a while with a band and put some things on YouYube but didn’t have much of a following. Now I feel is a really special time to release music with the power of social media.

What’s your biggest regret as a young songwriter? My biggest regret as a young songwriter was thinking too much rather then just doing. I feel sometimes as writers we try to control everything and are sensitive to criticism. You need to be able to let the music go and allow it to be judged. It is not our job to judge, that is the listeners job and they are entitled to that. It is the songwriters job to create and give it to the world.

What are your top tips for aspiring songwriters? My top tips for aspiring songwriters are. 1. Don’t be too self critical, just write! 2. Collaborate as much as you can 3. Learn to play an instrument (another big regret of mine) 4. Experiment with different sounds and genres, you may surprise yourself.

How do you write songs? I started writing to beats and instrumentals off YouTube as I couldn’t play an instrument too well. I still do this sometimes to get the creativity flowing. I also like to work with producers and writers as its great to bounce ideas off each other.  Other times I put a mic on in a room and just mumble and record anything that come out my mouth, mumbles, groans, noises. I then try and pick the best melodies and put lyrics to these.

What do you especially like about The Young Songwriter competition?  I feel the Young Songwriter competition is one of the most exciting things to be involved with. To be able to see and hear these young minds exploring their creative possibilities is truly inspiring. One of my favourite quotes is “when all the experts are struggling, throw and amateur in”.

Are you aged 8-18?  Have you written your own songs?  Then enter The Young Songwriter 2019 competition!