June 3, 2014

Musical Notes from the Petta Fiesta Songwriting Camp 2014

The Petta Fiesta Songwriting Camp was set in the beautiful grounds of the annual Petta Fiesta Festival just outside Pettaugh, in the picturesque Suffolk countryside.
I was very fortunate to be part of the Camp facilitated by Claire Courdeaux, Jane Dyball, myself ( Jan Pulsford) and Andy Corrigan.
6 young aspiring songwriters, all with dreams and a life of musical adventures already unfurling, pitched tents for two intensive days of exploring creativity in all aspects of songwriting.
Fern Teather

They came via the Petta Fiesta Songwriting Competition held at the Cult Cafe in Ipswich and will be performing at the Fiesta 4th, 5th 6th July as part of a bill headlined by the wonderful Kathryn Williams and a host of interesting musicians. Lots of fun in store with a wild west theme!

So what did we do?
We prised the songwriters out of their comfort zone.
Got them to write ...
without hiding behind their instruments.
Got them to write ...
in pairs.
Got them to write ... 
lyrics first then melody.
Got them to write ...
with rhythm from a drum loop.
Got them to write ... 
without their instruments until they were ready to accompany the melody not dictate the melody.

It was different and a little uncomfortable at first but it worked and from a bag of stones, pebbles and shells from the Suffolk coast came original and interesting lyrics.

Inspiration locally sourced and turned into three distinct songs with well honed lyrics, melody and rhythm.

We were so lucky to have special guests join us both in person and via phone and Skype for Q and A sessions.

Julian Marshall spent part of the first day giving useful insights into the songwriting process.
We were joined by two top A+R guys on the phone who gave the group a dose of reality along with an overview of how to get noticed as an artist and songwriter. 'Work hard and write lots' seemed to be the overriding message.
'There are no easy ways in, no short cuts. If you're good we'll find you - keep doing it'.
The day ended with an old fashioned campfire singalong and then into the tents.

On day 2 Andy Hill came to visit and help with knocking the three songs intoshape, helping with harmony and a lifetime of experience and success.

Kathryn Williams graced us with her presence on Skype and inspired everyone with her stories of writing and performing.

Top top line writer Miranda Cooper gave a fascinating view of working with Xenomania. Her enthusiasm and love for what she did came across. You could see why Brian Higgins called her "one of the most gifted female songwriters in the world!" How lucky were we?

Jane Dyball from the MCPS spoke about the business side of music - the part that it's often too easy to forget about but can cause problems later. 'Best get it sorted now.' Once the songwriters had decided and noted the percentages on their collaborations they got to record the songs with Andy Corrigan and Paul Nicholas engineering in one of the barns on the Petta Fiesta estate.
We then discussed Social Media and ways of promoting both live shows and songs. 

In the early evening there was a performance for friends and family of the three newly written songs. From their quality it was obvious the 6 had benefited greatly from the camp.

An extremely full on couple of days of inspiration! I look forward to the Petta Fiesta and seeing where the six songwriters are in a year's time. The music business is a roller coaster ride like no other and I wish them well on their journey.

Also look forward to seeing you late on Saturday night at the Petta Fiesta July 6th for some aMBieNT MuSiC WoRLD with projections to relax you under the stars.

Claire will be performing on Sunday with her band Aartwork for a Petta Fiesta Ceilidh! Come and join us!

Lastly a BIG thank you to Jane and Andy for their support of young talent by hosting the camp and festival. What a great opportunity - for everyone!