I’ve talked a lot about APRA Songhubs on my social media & wanted to share a little more about what it is so you can understand what I’m talking about - & because I’m still buzzing from the experience.
According to APRA, Songhubs is a “collaborative song-writing retreat presented by APRA AMCOS with the generous support of NZ On Air, Auckland Council, Recorded Music New Zealand and the New Zealand Music Commission.” It’s been running in NZ for three consecutive years & is held in Auckland’s beautiful Roundhead Studios.
The applications opened in February, so I crossed my fingers & put my name on the ballot. This year’s guest writers included Marc Beeson, Heather Morgan & Kate York. All incredible songwriters based in Nashville, TN. Marc's songs have been recorded by the likes of Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum & Garth Brooks, Heather's have been recorded by Keith Urban & Maren Morris & Kate is an Emmy Award winning writer with songs featuring on the TV Shows Nashville & Grey's Anatomy (two of my favourite shows of ALL time).
There were 16 places available, 12 songwriters & 4 producers & apparently my finger crossing did the trick, as I got a call a few months later I was notified that my application was successful.
The night I arrived in Auckland my overthinking kicked in & I was so nervous that I almost didn’t attend the welcome drinks. I was very aware of the fact that I was the youngest & the most Southern of the group & didn’t feel like I belonged or deserved to be there. But after arriving, I quickly discovered that the team wasn’t all that scary at all. The truth is, being given the opportunity to work with artists who you listen to & look up to is all fun & games until you’re waiting to catch the Uber to meet them all.
Each day of the week, groups were written on a chalkboard when we arrived at Roundhead. These groups included a producer, a guest writer, a secondary writer & an artist-writer. The group combined thoughts & ideas to write and record a song that was written for the artist-writer of the day. I was selected as an artist-writer on the first day which put me about a thousand miles outside my comfort zone as I had never, ever been put in a room to co-write before.
I’ll be honest that this first co-write didn’t come naturally to me. I’m used to songwriting being such a private & quiet process in my bedroom (or sometimes bathroom for the good acoustics) so I had to turn my brain inside out in order to participate. But, by the end of the day, we had a song! Learning that I could, in fact, create in this way, comfortable or not, helped my first layer of insecurity disappear.
Every session was so unique & each one helped me to learn something about my writing, myself or gave me the incredible opportunity to watch the ways that other writers work their magic. There’s something really special about the relationship you develop when you’re put in a room to create. There were no egos in the studio & as we each opened up about our personal experiences, I realised that some themes are universal - even if most of the people I wrote with had zero idea where Gore was or why I’d want to live in a town most famous for Trout.
Working with Marc, Kate & Heather was so inspiring. Hearing their stories of life in Nashville, & their own personal music journey, lit a fire somewhere in my brain that I don’t think will be burning out anytime soon.
I got to work with musicians & producers that I might never have otherwise & in my experience, it was the moments when contrasting artistic perspectives met at crossroads that the real magic happened.
On the final night of the event, we all gathered at Roundhead to hear the outcome of the sessions throughout the week. This created a real melting pot of feelings & thoughts. I was so excited to hear everyone’s creations, but insecurities certainly come to the surface when you’re about to sit in a room bursting with talent & listen to tracks you’ve poured your heart into.
I’ll never forget sitting sitting between the glorious hearts of Jamie McDell, Kaylee Bell & Tami Neilson that resulted in the strongest sisterhood vibes I’ve felt since I started working in the music world.
APRA Songhubs was a huge development of both co-writing skills & self confidence, & in order to tell that full story I need to share a few not so wonderful thoughts of the week, so I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the entire journey of the experience.
I’d like to give a special shoutout to the team who put the event together. Greg Haver, Victoria Kelly & Lydia Jenkins - you guys deserve a medal. Thank-you so much for the opportunity & for bringing your lovely smiling faces to the studio everyday.
P.S All photos featured on this blog were taken by the lovely & talented Amanda Ratcliffe, check out more of her work here.
* To hear music from any of the artists or writers mentioned in this post, just click their names.
Hi. I'm a songwriter from the little (but wonderful) Southern New Zealand town of Gore.