Grammy Award-nominee Amy Wadge visited the university to give a masterclass on songwriting and collaboration.
Amy, who co-wrote Ed Sheeran’s massive international hit Thinking Out Loud, talked about the artists she has worked with and gave a revealing insight into how the music business works and why she treats songwriting as a job.
Amy has also worked with LeAnn Rimes, Janelle Monáe and Ms Dynamite in the past, and explains that the relationship between artist and songwriter has to develop quickly.
“I generally get 48 hours with an artist and you are either going to build a relationship that will be extended, or you’re not. With Ed Sheeran I was lucky, because I had that degree of time with him before he broke as an artist. But generally I don’t know that person and have to get to know them very very quickly. You’re discussing very deep life issues and there is a huge amount of trust involved.”
Despite living in Wales, Amy works in London three days a week and dispels any ideas people may have of songwriting in exotic locations or long holidays. For her, it’s very much an industry.
“Absolutely. It’s a job like everyone else’s job, and actually I find it really beneficial that it’s structured. I very much work to a set amount of time. I usually start at 12 and I finish at 6 and I like it that way. I have children, I need to switch off and actually I quite like the pressure of the clock ticking. It is my job and I treat it as such, but it’s a job that I truly love so I’m very very lucky because I don’t feel like I’m working.”
Amy is a solo artist in her own right, with 11 albums in a career spanning more than a decade. So, how difficult is it to stay authentic when you’ve been brought in to work with an artist in a short space of time?
“If I’ve got enough evidence from enough people I won’t get in a room with someone who’s going to give me a hard time. There are easier ways of spending my time and I’d rather be with my kids. As long as you are doing your job as a songwriter and you are working with that person and you’re giving voice to what they want to say you are being authentic. I don’t need to say what I need to say in their song, I need them to say what they need to say, and as long as they get that in the end then I’m authentic, if you get what I mean!”
One lucky USW student, Owen Hackett, had the chance to perform one of his own songs for Amy to critique.
“It was pretty amazing. My parents were annoying me constantly asking what song I was going to choose for the last few days. I chose a song called Secret and I’m glad I did after Amy was talking about how it’s such a liberating feeling getting everything you want to say in three minutes. She said some nice things, but she also said there was an instrumental bit in the song she’d take out and a pre-chorus hook which I could accentuate and use again.”
Amy’s visit coincided with the launch of the new MA Songwriting and Production course which starts in September 2015.