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QMusic's Retreat For Songwriters Returns To Helliport

Tucked away in the mountains of the Sunshine Coast is the picturesque Heliport Studios where for the second year, eight Industry Connect participants will spend four days co-writing and collaborating on new music with the guidance of industry experts.

Last years’ AMPLIFY Songwriting Retreat participants included musicians with a wide breadth of influences and sounds, from jazz and folk to indie-pop and electronic. Participants included Jo Davie (Jo Davie, Cigány Weaver) Greta Stanley, Jeremy Beamish (The Beamish Brothers), Benny Nelson, Dee Bradbury (Wild Eyed Wonder), Lachy Gleeson (Jbox), May Lyn, and Dylan Lindquist (Soft Nylon, Clawmachine).

So you might be wondering what happens on a songwriting retreat?
Here's the lowdown.

Structure of the Retreat

  • Arrive on Thursday and get familiarised with the studio and fellow artists ahead of a masterclass with special guest producers and songwriters.

  • The following two days will be filled with songwriting sessions which will be overseen by guest producers and songwriters.  

  • On the Saturday night we'll be joined by a guest from a major publisher who will have the opportunity to listen to what's been created over the previous few days and talk about publishing and life as a songwriter along with our other guests.

  • On Sunday we’ll tidy up any loose ends and say our (only for now!) goodbyes.

The special guests at AMPLIFY will be producers and songwriters who are writing and working with both local and international artists who have been streamed well over 100 million times in total.

Anyone who has attended a 2019 Industry Connect workshop is automatically eligible to apply for AMPLIFY. If you're currently releasing music and want to know how you can be making that next step as a songwriter, Amplify is for you.

If you’re considering applying for AMPLIFY or just don’t know what to expect from four days in the studio with a bunch of musicians, then read on to find out how a few of last years group found the co-writing process and their key takeaways.

How has the daily flow of AMPLIFY been?

Jeremy Beamish: The flow of the sessions have always been really smooth from my experience. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m working with other singer-songwriters or with producers or people who are more comfortable with chords or lyrics or melodies, it seems like everyone’s just clicked and respected each others opinions. It’s kind of a no “no” zone so everyone is super receptive and we can cheer each other on when we get good ideas and just move on pretty easily when it’s not our best idea!

Benny Nelson: It’s really good, the first day we had a half day which was really to get to know everyone which is something that I think is really important about songwriting with someone. I think you need to get to know the person as well and be comfortable with each other.

What did you hope to achieve from these sessions? Was there anything you wanted to find out or answer?

Greta Stanley: I guess I came in with an open mind, I wasn’t set out to leave with this, this, and this. I hoped that it would just give me some more tools and better ways to do things, even working with Alex yesterday he gave me some tips for when you’re stuck for finding lyrics and ways to help them come to you. I just came in with an open mind and I think the best things to come out of this so far are the friendships and new things that are going to be handy long term.

Benny Nelson: It’s funny because I don’t think the specific songs is what I’m taking away from this. It’s definitely the experience of co-writing - the song outside the box. I’m learning more on the producing side and co- writing with people of different styles and writing songs in different styles that I’m not comfortable with. There’s so much that can be taken away from it, I think even though it’s a songwriting retreat it’s not specifically the songs that we’re taking back but it’s learning new ways to song-write for future.

What have been your highlights and favorite elements?

Greta Stanley: On the experience as a whole, some of these people are going to be long term friends and people that I now know in the industry. I think we all have a bit of anxiety and it can be hard hard to reach out and talk to new people even though we’re all interested in the same thing but this is a condensed environment where you’re forced to make those friendships and get out of your comfort zone and I think that’s been really great for me

Jeremy Beamish: Definitely will be taking away some of the songs we’ve written because it’s the most co-writing I’ve ever done in such a short period of time and I’m pretty excited about the songs that we’ve come up with. I also think I’ll be taking away some of the skills I’ve picked up during this process such as being able to write with a deadline and keeping the flow of creativity going. It’s definitely a muscle and I’ve got the chance to really use it a lot this weekend.

Dee Bradbury: I think one thing I've really learned about myself is to just to break my own box in terms of songwriting and trying it from a different perspective or a different approach to spark a different type of creativity or something to come from it.

What was your headspace like heading into the experience?

Jo Davie: I was very nervous, because I didn’t really understand how it was going to go and I had met like two of the other artists before, but otherwise I didn’t know anyone and I was just really nervous that I would be put on the spot and have to come up with something straight away. I’m confident in my music and melodies and things, but I get nervous having to write lyrics in front of people so I was worried that I would somehow be put in that position but it hasn’t really been like that. Yesterday we were all working on the lyrics together and it was coming out really easily and today, Alex, the producer was helping a lot and said to not worry about the lyrics, it doesn’t matter if it’s something corny or cheesy or whatever, just get the music right so yeah, it’s been really good.

Dee Bradbury: I came in a little bit unsure, I’ve never really had the opportunity to do some legit serious co-writing so I wasn’t sure how I could handle myself or contribute ideas or how that dynamic would sit and where I would find myself in the balance of everyone else. But it’s been really awesome, everyone here is of the same approach and everyone is super open to ideas and not criticizing but it’s always constructive, like if an idea is mentioned, it’s never ridiculed, which is awesome and very encouraging and helps the creative process I guess.

What would you say to people considering applying for AMPLIFY?

Benny Nelson: I think come in with an open mind and definitely give it a go. I think it doesn’t matter how good of a song you write, if you’re a really good songwriter it doesn’t mean that this won’t be beneficial. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. I think any level of songwriter can take away just as much from something like this.

Designed for successful Industry Connect participants who’ve focused on understanding the industry side of their art. AMPLIFY works as a way to expose artists to co-writing, songwriting tools and creating collaborative ideas. Apply or find out more here.

Apply Now

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