Songwriting Camp Recap: September 2022

Last month, our students took part in another rendition of our Songwriting Camp over their mid-trimester break. Combining our 2022 cohorts, the experience was designed to replicate real-life industry experiences. Writing sessions between artists, topliners and producers can happen across the world and you may only have one session to produce a finished product.

Kicking off the two-day camp was upcoming artist and producer (and writing camp veteran), Chelsea Warner, who sat down with our students to discuss her songwriting camp experiences and the challenges of collaborating with fellow artists for the first time.

An important part of the process is establishing goals at the start of the session. Are you looking for your next single? Is this an opportunity for you to be part of another artist’s catalogue? Chelsea explains,

“You should be checking in with yourself [going into a writing session], and saying ‘I want to get a release out of this’ or ‘I want to add a really good, finished song to my Soundcloud playlist.’”

Chelsea offered some tips to our producers on how to quickly structure your session to allow the vocalist and topliner to start crafting the sections of the song.

“The chorus is getting built up with every kind of layer that I want… and then all it takes to structure the song is to subtractively create the other sections from the really thick chorus you’ve built.”

With a mountain of wisdom from Chelsea, our students split off into groups and went straight to work on their collaborations, designating themselves as either the vocalist/artist, topliner or producer in the session.

We sat down with Lance, Natasha and Sergio to hear about their experiences of the camp and what they learnt from other students that they’ll be applying to their own songwriting.

How are you finding the writing camp?

Lance: I’m finding it great! It’s great feeding off other people’s ideas, just great collaborating with people that I haven’t collaborated with before. Josh is an amazing producer and Angus with the guitar and his singing, belting the singing, it’s amazing. I’m loving every part of it, 100%.

Natasha: Oh, it’s been amazing. I’ve actually never done a camp before for songwriting, so yeah, it’s been phenomenal. I’ve loved it.

Sergio: It’s great. This is my first time being just the producer in a writing session, so taking a step away from the whole singing and performing aspect and actually just creating the music. So that’s been really good for me. It’s really fun.

What’s been the highlight of the camp?

Natasha: Definitely watching Sergio produce, I learned so much and then melding vocals with Andy was really, really special.

Sergio: I think seeing the final products of both days, like crafting the sounds and making the palette and everything like that, painting the landscape of the sound, and then seeing the final product and how it all fit together. And especially like getting vocals on it and having the song actually come to life is really fun.

Lance: Definitely seeing the beat produced. What Josh did, when he played that bass on the beat, it was like such a dark sort of sound – that’s what I love the most. Like seeing the process made, seeing his production then seeing Angus add amazing guitar and his vocals during the pre-chorus is amazing.

What were some of the challenges you faced and what did you learn over the camp?

Sergio: How quickly I’ve been getting used to Ableton! At the start of trimester two I switched over from Logic and I thought I was way out of my depth with the amount of creative opportunities you can have with Ableton, but I managed to do fine by just giving it a go, challenging myself and having fun in the process.

Natasha: Probably just to relax. When you’re in a room with a few people collaborating, it’s really special. And I feel like if my brain gets in the way, it’s just it’s not as enjoyable. So I’ve just learned to relax and go with the flow of the process.

Lance: I feel like I’m very introverted, so it’s hard to like feed off other ideas, especially when there’s plenty of ideas just at once. Collaborating and getting one thing to stick – like earlier we’re trying to do it all with a synth or a sample, or even guitar for the intro, so just deciding on one idea and sticking with that has been definitely the most difficult thing.

How has the camp changed your approach to writing?

Natasha: It’s probably just opened my mind a bit more. When I write by myself, I sort of write one particular way, so I’ve been observing and being inspired by watching how other people work, the flow and processes, and sort of being open to bringing some of those aspects into my work as well.

Sergio: I think just like being more open in general. For me, making my own music and making my own style and niche sound is simple in that I only have to listen to myself. Adding that team aspect really helps me see where I am with other musicians. And it really helps like play off each other’s strengths more than anything.

Lance: I’m just looking forward to collaborating more! I love seeing what people can do. Picking apart and seeing what their talents are. What we can work on together, and just having other people in the room.