daphne willis

Nashville Day Two: The Co-Writes

First off, I just need to tell you that I am listening to the first mixes of the 3 songs I recorded with Bobby Campbell and I AM FLOORED. Just floored. I'm on the floor. These tracks are marvelous. 

More on that later..!

DAY TWO of this Nashville whirl wind consisted of back to back co-writes with local artists. Not just any artists, artists who are killin' it in Nashville. Let me pre-face this with I have never co-written with anyone in the 6 (?) years I've been doing this. I guess that's not entirely true.. my pal Matt Minchew and I did write a pretty sweet song over 2 bottles of red wine one night in Astoria. We also decided we should video the entire process and those videos will forever remain private on Youtube. So, other than THAT, sure I've written one song with a friend which was about 4 or 5 years ago and up until this point, it's just been me fueling off of any creativity I can find. My songwriting has absolutely grown and developed in ways I never thought were possible. I owe a lot of that discipline and growth to my Fiverr gigs and challenging myself everyday to write an original song or jingle that I was proud to deliver. I never realized how magical a co-writing session could be and how much one could learn from it. To some degree, a co-writing session is more productive because there are no stops or road blocks creatively. You can say a dumb line just to get it out of your system and unknowingly trigger something really inspiring to your partner and instead of being critical of yourself and possibly shutting down the whole process, you have a sound board that is in constant motion. Even one of the artists I wrote with in Nashville said she rarely writes on her own anymore. I found that shocking and intriguing. There must be something to this madness! 

So let's get right into it!

Louisa Wendorff, singer-songwriter

My first co-write happened with an artist named Louisa Wendorff. You might have heard of her from this mashup that Taylor Swift retweeted. No big deal, right? So basic. (except not at all) Needless to say I was SUPER NERVOUS for this experience. I know I can write songs but there were so many other things at stake! Will she like my writing? Will we click as songwriters? Am I going to make an ass of myself? Will I have anything to say? All of these and more just circulating in my head of utter doom. We met at her friend's apartment, which was a gorgeous place to write; great view, rainy gloom (best weather for songwriting) and all the natural light a girl could ask for. As soon as she came down to meet us (Ben from Fiverr was with me) I instantly felt her warmth and kindness and had a really good feeling about this session. She grabbed some coffee and we went upstairs to start the session. She opened up the conversation with asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I'm feeling or going through right now in my life. Oh, what a loaded question. I started talking and to even my surprise it got very emotional and fast. I couldn't believe I started crying and even said something along the lines of 'of course I'm wearing cat eyes and crying in front of you.' Hilaaarriioouusss. She was super sweet and encouraged this and said she was going through something very similar so that was nice to connect like that. From there the inspiration hit. She had a melody and an idea in mind about how we're only human (I don't want to give away the exact title!) and we just started going at it. It was really cool to watch her in her element and the way we both were able to connect on what the song should say. If we'd ever get stuck, we'd figure out what it is we want to say and let go of the rhyming we needed to maintain. Once we had a better idea, we just fed off of each other and created some killer lyrics. Ones that really hit you in the face, it was awesome. When we finished the song we both looked at each other and were like.... oh shit... This is reallllyyy good!! I figured that was a good time to confess this was my very first co-write and how nervous I was, ya know, since at least we got a good song out of it! We then took obligatory selfies and went on our way. I really am so impressed with the song and writing with her and honing in on her aesthetic was a truly wonderful experience. I really love her style and her writing because she doesn't just write any mindless thing and repeat for the whole song. Her writing has a lot of substance and I will always stand behind that. We actually joked and agreed that it's SUPER hard to write one of those brainless pop songs, it was funny. So, Louisa if you happen to read this, thank you for that wonderful experience and hope out paths cross again one day. It was truly a pleasure writing with you. 

Daphne Willis (middle) and Justin Halpin (far right)

The next session happened at Sony/ATV building where Daphne just signed a 2 year publishing contract with, which is badass-ery if you ask me. After writing with her, I can understand why. She is a force to be reckoned with from her songwriting skills down to her killer voice. I'm going to LINK HER here because you need to hear this lady. So yes, this session was with Daphne Willis and another killer singer songwriter named Justin Halpin. This session was SO DIFFERENT from the one with Louisa and in a just as fantastic way. We dove right into this one with a chorus I had brought with me. (I googled how to co-write and it told me to be prepared and in bring in material so that's what I did. Yes, I just admitted that.) I played them the chorus and we messed with that sound and vibe for a little and kept riffing off each other. Justin was on the piano and Daphne on the guitar to get a more well rounded perspective of where the song could go. They have been writing together for about 8 months and I could tell they were very comfortable with each other and flowed really nicely together. Sometimes I just watched it happen as they developed ideas and just observed. They were so fast and so good and just kept spitting whatever came to their minds. When I would become brave enough to interject, they were very open and encouraged to hear my ideas. My ideas would inspire them in a different way and then a new seed would be planted. It was really magical to watch and take part in. Daphne is so quick on her feet in both songwriting and finding that strong melody. In all honesty, her voice could sing anything and I would want to listen, but what's awesome about her is she's a writer with substance. The songwriting itself was very collaborative and I love how Justin just knew melodically where the song needed to go. He had great direction, which inspired the best possible writing out of everyone. The first song came out so different than I would have ever imagined and in a great way. The song took on it's own life with these other influences around it and I was so happy with the outcome.

Once that song was finished, I figured everyone wanted to go home. This was essentially a favor to me and an experience, but no, no they both were game to write another one. That made me feel really good because I assumed they didn't hate the experience that much for them to want to stay! Maybe they even liked it! Song number two started with Justin fiddling with a progression on the piano. I started humming around, creating a melody, and realized another chorus that I brought with me worked realllyyyy nicelllyyy with what was happening. So I started to sing those lyrics out loud hoping someone would dig it and sure enough they did. From there, we started going at it and Daphne really hit this one out of the park. She really is such a songwriting force and I am so grateful to have been in that room with her. There's no fear with her, she just goes. I love how both songs came out, but the second one really killed it for me. Everyone was really happy with the experience and both them are just so kind. We exchanged numbers and hopefully I'll be writing again with Daphne when she's in LA at the end of October. I seriously couldn't have asked for a better scenario for my first go at co-writing with people who are in the Nashville scene. 

That concluded Day 2 in Nashville. I met with Louisa at 10:30am and my session with Daphne and Justin ended around 6pm. Looonng day of writing and so worth every single second. The rest of the night I got to spend with my family carousing around downtown Nashville... drinking one too many martinis... as one does ;)

Day 3 is STUDIO DAY. MY FAVORITE KIND OF DAY. You'll hear more on that in the next blog :)

Until then!

-Lonna Marie