To start our new guest blog we asked our writer Nina Schofield to talk about her recent writing trip to LA!
Being a songwriter can be an exhilarating, nerve wracking and sometimes euphoric job. One of the best aspects for me is the opportunity to travel to new places and work with new people. Creating something from scratch with someone who you’ve only just met results in a strange unbreakable bond that’s physically evident in the song you’ve just written. I can think of no other profession where that kind of magic is possible.
Recently I went to Los Angeles with the help of Billy at 23rd Precinct (my publisher) and Andy the chairman of Notting Hill Music who is stationed out in LA. Los Angeles adds a whole other layer of magic to the music industry for me. It is indeed the city of dreams. I like to be thoroughly prepared before going to meet and work with someone new, so the prospect of so many writing sessions over a three week period in LA required a good few weeks of my time gathering inspiration and ideas. If you scrolled through the voice notes on my phone now you’d find about 10 ideas listed as ‘LA melody’ or ‘LA lyric’. As it happened, the sessions I ended up having resulted in completely fresh ideas unrelated to my voice notes. But I felt confident and excited walking into each session and I know that was helped by my preparation. Plus now I have loads of unused ideas that can be used in future sessions!
LA is a strange beast as every street corner brings a new part of the city and a different feel. Notting Hill is stationed on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood – I used Airbnb to stay about a 20 minute walk away and fell in love with the area. It can be leafy, suburban and quiet in the residential streets (perfect for getting away from it all) but walk two streets north and suddenly you find yourself in the buzzy, quirky areas you so often see in the movies! Not only that but the streets are quite literally alive with celebrities, television shows and general oddness that is unique to LA. One morning I walked out of my apartment and Bebe Rexha was on my road walking her dog…another afternoon myself and the wonderful Steve DuBerry (a songwriter I’ll tell you about in a little bit) were enjoying a break in a bar when Sharon Osbourne walked in. I can think of nowhere else in the world where such opportunities present themselves so often. I also got stopped by a woman dressed as an egg filming for something…but that’s another story for another time!!
So West Hollywood was my new home, and Notting Hill on Sunset Blvd became my new work station. This is where I met and wrote with Steve DuBerry (my fellow Englishman) for the very first time. Steve is a fabulous producer and writer – having written and worked with the likes of Tina Turner and The Jacksons – he definitely knows a thing or two about a hit song. I was intent on writing something for my artist project with Steve and we instantly clicked. A mutual love for sci-fi and virtual reality led to some amazing conversations and established a great wavelength for us to vibe from.
From that point I was inspired and switched on 24/7 – I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted after coming home from a trip as I was from this one! Lucky for me one of my best friends is a writer and artist living out in LA – we wrote a really cool song together that we ended up recording the first demo for in the back of a car on the way home from Disneyland. So we made time for fun, but still got some solid work done – killing two birds with one stone 😉
One of my favourite moments was meeting my skype writing partner David Davis for the first time ever in the flesh. He reminded me of how unusual and unbelievable the opportunities in LA are and encouraged me to return as soon as possible. We sat at his piano and played each other music and spoke about the ups and downs of life as a musician.
My final session at Notting Hill was with Morgan Brown and Connor Musarra – two extremely passionate and interesting guys who pushed me to find the best of the best ideas. I really enjoyed my time with them and cannot wait to hear the results from our writing together. I love how every day is completely different from session to session – writing music never gets old.
Some things I would recommend to those heading out to LA who need a few days of regular sightseeing include The Getty Centre (what a view), Universal and Disney (adults playground) and dining out at some of the many amazing restaurants; Weho being a particular heaven for the gluten intolerant like myself. Check out Hugo’s, Baby Blues BBQ , Taste on Melrose and Evo’s Kitchen to name a few. Remember – An amazing song idea might come to you over a fabulous meal regaling your day’s adventures at the theme parks – inspiration is everywhere!
The music industry is extremely tough – there are zero guarantees – but there are some incredibly supportive and cool people out there who still believe in raw talent, and if you have something to give, they can help push you in the right direction.