BIMM Brighton students were treated to a Masterclass to remember recently when BIMM London alumnus and songwriter extraordinaire Ed Drewett visited the college for a Q&A session and performance.
Singer-songwriter Ed has had enormous success both writing for, and performing with, some of the world’s biggest artists. As a songwriter, his writing credits include One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’, The Wanted’s ‘All Time Low’ and ‘Glad You Came’, and Olly Murs’ ‘Dear Darlin’. As a singer, he’s featured on ‘I Need You Tonight’ and ‘Never Be a Right Time’ with Professor Green, and performed at festivals including V and Wireless.
The session was hosted by Jake Shillingford – BIMM’s Group Head of Artist Development and founder and frontman of 90s alternative band My Life Story – who asked Ed how he got started as a professional songwriter. Ed mentioned that he signed to Virgin in 2009 and was immediately put in a room with other writers, which he found strange at first, but soon realised that if you have other ears in the room, you’re more likely to come up with something great.
He mentioned that his line of work is usually very demanding and he sometimes works six or seven-day weeks, both during the day and into the evenings:
“Some people write from past experiences, but when I’m writing a song a day, 5 days a week, plus evening sessions, most of my stories end up fabricated.”
Ed told the audience that writing for specific clients is harder than you think:
“If you’re writing for someone, it has to be right for them. You need to tailor that song to them. But write a song you like the sound of. Write a pretty melody over some good chords with a not too difficult lyric. It can be that simple.”
He also mentioned the pressure he faces to ‘conform’ as a professional songwriter, saying he doesn’t want to do that and would prefer to push boundaries:
“When you’re writing for other artists, you get told: be creative, but don’t be too creative, don’t go too crazy with it, don’t have too much fun. That’s the constant war between creatives and the music business, but we both need each other.”
Ed also stressed the importance of making sure you get a song right before you start playing around with the production of it:
“I did a week’s writing in Nashville. They record the song idea on an audio note and send it to a producer who then plays around with it. If you do it like that, you can write a whole song in ten minutes. That’s how it should be done everywhere.”
When asked if he had any tips for BIMM Songwriting students, Ed mentioned the following:
- Be stubborn and trust that what you’re writing is good. Stick to your guns, and if you enjoy your song, there’s a bigger chance that the masses will love it too.
- Stock up on concepts, as it’s so much easier to start writing a song if you have some thoughts to hand for when you need them. And make sure you think outside the box!
- Getting a cut is extremely difficult, so start working on a project right at the end when they’re searching for a single. If the song you’ve written is ready to go, it will get released. If you become involved too early, there’s a chance that the artist’s style and voice will change your song so much during the writing process that you might never get a cut.
Ed has worked with some major names in the past and told the story of when he wrote a song with Craig David which will never see the light of day. He said it’s one of his favourite tunes because it starts with a medieval gospel vibe, but it’s just not right for anything at the moment.
During the question and answer session, one BIMM student asked how he knows when a song is finished. Ed says he tries not to overthink it:
“If it makes me feel good and nothing is jumping out at me as particularly wrong, then I’m good with it. The song’s done.”
Another student asked the question on everyone’s lips to the ‘Best Song Ever’ songwriter: Who is Georgia Rose?… to which Ed replied:
“No one. It just sounded nice!”
Ed’s currently working on a new track with DJ and producer Jonas Blue, but has said he’d love to write a musical in the future:
“My lyrical wonkiness could suit musicals I guess. But it’s a completely different industry, and it’s super-hard to get into.”
We’d like to send a huge thank you to Ed for visiting BIMM Brighton and providing us with such a great overview of life as a professional songwriter. We can’t wait to hear what the future holds and we’ll be sure to keep an ear out for his Jonas Blue track.
If you’re interested in applying to study Songwriting at BIMM and gaining access to amazing Masterclasses like this one, call the BIMM Admissions Team today on 0844 2 646 666 or email [email protected]