411 MusicGroup CEO Kristen Agee Breaks Down the Anatomy of a Songwriting Camp

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Los Angeles based music house, 411 MusicGroup, recently hosted an international creative collaboration series, sharing talents with Glass Music and Universal Music Denmark. The series brought together writers, artists and producers from around the world to Los Angeles for a few sessions.

Participating artists included 411 producer and DJ FTampa (Brazil), Glass Music producers and artist duo Rob X Jenne(Copenhagen), Universal Music Denmark and Glass Music artist Malte Ebert(Copenhagen), Glass Music producers and artist duo Littgloss( Copenhagen), vocalists and songwriters Rebecca Perl,Lauren Vogel and Cara Hart(Los Angeles), songwriter and producer Louis Ryan(London), songwriter and producer Ben Cassorla(Los Angeles), songwriter and artist FarrahFawx(Los Angeles), Glass Music artist RoseeLu, 411 artist and songwriter Nikki Hayes, producer Kurisu(London), artist and songwriter Luke Burr(London) and Los Angeles artist mai.la.

 411 Music CEO Kristen Agee — who also produced a number of the sessions — documented the event for American Songwriter and its readers.

Check out how it all went down, from her perspective.

“We are always looking for ways to grow our catalog and roster through collaboration. I find that focusing on the global music scene gives our writers and producers a more expansive blank canvas for their creative process,” Agree said. “As a publisher, we work in every territory, but creatively we hadn’t done a ton of co-writes in Scandinavia. So, about a year ago, I met Glass Music Denmark and discussed ways in which 411 could promote their artists for synchronization in the territories we cover and how we could utilize the Glass studios in Denmark for writing sessions.

“Through Music Export Denmark I was able to travel to Copenhagen to meet publishers, labels, producers and to scope out the local music scene. We did a lot of listening sessions, and after what we heard, we decided to do an international collaboration series in Los Angeles. We spent the next few months passing ideas back-and-forth with Glass Music, coordinating calendars, scheduling studio time and deciding on a creative focus for each session. The Glass writers producers work in Los Angeles over the course two weeks with 2-6 sessions running each day, with our artists and theirs for 2 weeks. The sessions resulted in a blend of international production and writing styles that cultivated into a unique sound and experience for everyone involved, yielding over 60 songs.  Our next collaborative camp with Glass will be in Denmark in May. The focus is on putting together the best female producers and writers from the US, Mexico, and Scandinavia.”

DAY ONE

Gabe Reali w/ producer Malte

This was my first day of the camp and my first time writing with an artist from Denmark named Malte Ebert. Usually going into a first time session with an artist I won’t prepare too much so I can get a fresh grasp on where their headspace is. Sometimes ahead of an artist session I’ll get a brief or playlist with song references, but then in person they have a completely different vibe. I like this approach because it’s much easier to get an authentic song.

We started the session by everyone getting to know each other and then specifically paid attention, from a songwriter’s perspective, to Malte’s introduction. From that I wrote down some keywords and we just ran with a concept everyone liked and wrote about his eagerness to get away from the hectic life he lives and enjoy life to the fullest.

Mai.la w/ Ole

When we walked in for our first session of the camp, we didn’t really know what to expect. We were booked with Ole Bjørn, a Danish producer, but that’s all we really knew. When we sat down and started sharing music, what we’d been working on, what we were listening to, it was obvious we were going to have a good time. Ole is on the same wave we are, which is surprising considering we’re operating out of completely different locations. It took no time at all for us all to mind meld and make a song about hating small talk and wanting substantial conversation or no conversation, which is probably a reflection of how well we got along. The only negative experience of the session was realizing that we won’t be able to get together again sooner, but we’re looking forward to the next time he’s in LA, or who knows, the next time we’re in Copenhagen. 

Gabe Reali w/ Kurisu Day 1:

We started the session getting to know each other and our co-writer, Adam Sample. We didn’t have an artist in the session with us, so we had free reins! We all kinda worked on bringing our strengths together, Kurisu showed us some cool Rnb tracks so we thought it would be cool for us to write a more topline over that and see where it goes!

Adam and I sat on the couch and worked on melodies while Kurisu continued to beef up the track. This was probably the most “standard” writing session during the camp, pretty similar process to how pitch sessions go. Adam and I recorded separate voice memos and shared our favorite sections with each other and built up the topline from there. I ended up singing the demo and Adam layered in his vocals too. It ended up being a cool boyband NSYNC vibe but could also lend itself super well to Kpop.

DAY TWO

Gabe Reali w/ Malte Day 2:

We took a different approach this day. After playing around with some concepts nothing was screaming out, so we focused on melodies and the vibe of the song/production first. We aimed for a Charlie Puth type drop chorus with baseline and smooth verses for driving with the top down and we definitely accomplished that. Thankfully the producer, Chantry (Disney) is incredible and really nailed the vibe. Once the melody and production structure was there, we then pieced together the lyrics and we all ended up really happy with what came out.

I don’t find myself working in this order often, but sometimes it’s just what you need to get inspired. We all agreed that some lyrics could be tweaked, so if Malte considers putting it out, then we’ll all probably converse remotely to get it tweaked.

Gabe Reali w/ Kurisu Day 2:

This was originally supposed to be a writing session with an artist, but they were sick and couldn’t make it. The co-writer, Kurisu and I danced around a plethora of ideas for a few hours before the news but were really patient with the process. Once we decided where we wanted to take the record for pitch we probably changed the idea a dozen times. The initial idea evolved from ideas we had for the artist coming in, but then we figured why not broaden up the possibilities and just make a good song that could work for an artist under the pop umbrella. We had really good synergy in the studio so it was actually fun to bounce around ideas and concepts whereas sometimes it can be stressful.

Ultimately we ended up with a solid female empowerment pop song that we’ll definitely pitch around. I don’t have a bounce yet, but it’s one of those records I believe in and would be down to put in some extra work on it to give it max potential to find a home. 

DAY THREE

Gabe Reali w/ Malte Day 3:

After working with Malte a few times I now had a pretty good grasp on what he likes musically/lyrically. It was our last day and I really wanted to hit it out of the park, so I came up with a few concepts & hook ideas before the session. There were two producers who were really talented and already had some music tracked out before I got there. I shot out one of the ideas I had come up with and everyone was on board so we ran with it! I’d say everything came together pretty quickly and everyone was super receptive to different ideas. Definitely a dream sessions when everyone is just on the same page and wanting to make the best song possible. Malte had hinted at wanting to develop it more, but we ran out of time to track final vocals so it’s something he’ll have to finish when he’s back home. We also had come up with some lyrical changes after the fact, but definitely will be a work in progress, most excited for this one.

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