When we received the news that BIMM Manchester Songwriting student, Lei Jennings, would be working with A-list songwriter, Mark Hadfield, we were thrilled!
Mark – a Manchester native himself, has collaborated with an extensive list of pop heavyweights over his 25-year career – including recent partnerships with Rita Ora, Sia and Iggy Azalea. He previously worked as part of the A&R team at Warner Brothers & Sony ATV, is perhaps best known for co-writing Ne-Yo’s smash R&B hit ‘Let Me Love You’ (until you learn to love yourself). The track, which was co-written with Stargate, Sia, Ne-Yo and Mike Di Scala, topped the UK charts on its release and reached No.6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, selling 2.5 million copies worldwide.
Now the songwriting maverick is looking to set the world alight once more with a new generation of highly talented fellow songwriters, known collectively as ‘Fix Up’. Mark has kept his new creative team locked away in the studio to develop tracks under his watchful eye. He’s very excited about what the future holds and so are we. Lei, who is about to enter his final year at BIMM Manchester was invited to audition and is now a fully-fledged member of the Fix Up team – an opportunity that most aspiring writers could only dream of. Lei explains:
“I was auditioned for around six months and put through my paces. I didn’t realise the hard work it would take – it’s been twelve hour days sometimes, four days a week, writing things a hundred times over. Being able to work to set briefs and be a good team player has been vital.”
Being a part of Mark’s A-list team of writers has also had a profound effect on Lei’s songwriting style.
“Fix Up is a team and a family, and working with other songwriters has definitely improved my writing. I’ve picked up new skills and learnt from experienced writers/ producers, including writing to a brief for an artist with a deadline,” he added.
So, what’s it like to work with the man himself? We quizzed Lei on his working relationship with Mark and how the prolific songwriter has pushed him to produce his best work.
“Mark is a very laid-back person. He will tell you if something isn’t right but also give you advice on how to fix it. He expects you to be developing and always working on your craft,” he explained.
On the subject of studying at BIMM Manchester, Lei opened up about the opportunities he’s had while studying here, including a meeting with famed Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, who had some sound advice for his aspiring counterpart.
“He [Hozier] took the time out of his soundcheck to hang- out with us and just chat. We had the opportunity to ask questions, and I remember he said to me “whatever opportunity you are given, if it doesn’t feel like you are being true to your art, then don’t do it,” he quipped.
Lei also closed the ‘BIMM Manchester End of Term Gig’; you can see the highlights from their amazing show, here [http://www.bimm.co.uk/tv/the-256-peform-life-at-gorilla-manchester/].