Collarts scholarship students at International Songwriting Week in Germany

Jesse Hooper (Head of Music Performance at Collarts and 4 x ARIA winning member of the band Killing Heidi) and two of our scholarshop awarded Music Performance students, Maxine Fooks and Paul Dyason, give us the low down on their recent experience at the Popakademie International Songwriting Week in Mannheim, Germany.

First up, here’s how Collarts student Maxine Fooks found the experience in her own words:

Maxine and Paul in a writing session with Berlin-based New Zealand artist Graham Candy

Maxine (2nd from left) and Paul (far right) in a writing session with Berlin-based New Zealand artist Graham Candy

The week we spent in Germany was far beyond what I had expected. The opportunity we had to not only write for, but also with, artists like Graham Candy and Debrah Scarlett, gave us an amazing insight into the dynamics and process of co-writing music.

Each day, we planned our own working hours with our group, which led us into working from early in the morning until late at night. The freedom to write and work in our own time allowed us to make the most of every day, whilst developing relationships with our group of young artists and producers at Popakademie as well as Graham and Debrah.

Having the opportunity to travel to Germany and be immersed in song writing at Popakademie’s International Songwriting Week was a priceless learning experience and has subsequently presented us with great networking opportunities.

Collarts student Paul Dyason was also glowing when recounting his experience to us, here’s what he had to say:

Student Paul Dyason (2nd from right) with some of his collaborators across the week

Student Paul Dyason (2nd from right) with some of his collaborators across the week

Our trip to Germany was a series of eye opening experiences.

As an aspiring songwriter, the opportunity to work with established artists and producers to create songs in a professional environment and have them pitched to publishers was truly invaluable.

I came away from the week with a new approach to writing and with an entirely new network that I am continuing to collaborate with. So many of the tools I learned at International Songwriting Week have translated into my own songwriting and given a new life to my creative process.

Learning to work to a brief and deadline has encouraged my own productivity and the insight into collaborative writing practices is something I can take forward as a songwriter into the industry.

I can’t thank Collarts enough for this opportunity to grow as a composer and musician!


Finally, here’s Jesse Hooper’s version of events…

Jesse Hooper with fellow mentor Herbie Crichlow

Jesse Hooper with fellow mentor Herbie Crichlow

The trip to Germany with students Maxine and Paul was an amazing experience!

The International Songwriting week places young songwriting and music production students in creative and collaboration sessions with established world class recording artists, producers and mentors. To attend, we travelled to Mannheim, Germany, where the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg (University of Popular Music) run the event. During the week, our students worked around the clock in small groups to write, produce and record new works for (and with) popular and emerging artists.

Each artist at the International Songwriting week gave a brief to the students, explaining their genre, taste and style of music they are currently releasing professionally. The student groups would then select an artist to write for and get to work composing, recording and producing tracks with the artists. Artists in attendance included Debrah Scarlett (Norwegian artist signed to Radicalis), Alina (signed to Universal Germany), Graham Candy (Platinum recording artist from NZ), Chris Malinchak (UK #2 chart topping artist with over 30,000,000 views on YouTube) and Benny Benassi (UK #1 chart topping artist).


Jesse, Maxine and Paul on their way to see the band Twelve Foot Ninja — one of their Collarts teacher’s bands who happened to be on tour in Germany at the time

As well as these internationally recognized recording artists, established songwriters and mentors were working with the students behind the scenes including Herbie Crichton, Michelle Leonard and myself! We also participated in the collaborative sessions, bringing our wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to the teams.

This experience of co-writing and producing in this high pressure and professional context was an amazing opportunity for the students, who totally rose to the occasion. They were exposed to genres and artists that were far outside their comfort zone and were pushed to their limits in a collaborative environment with real deadlines and deliverables, which they nailed — I couldn’t be more proud.

At the end of the week a total of 24 tracks were completed by the groups of students — an amazing result!

Paul and Maxine at the listening and feedback session with SONY ATV, artists and mentors.

Paul and Maxine at the listening and feedback session with SONY ATV, artists and mentors.

The songs were presented at a listening session with SONY ATV, artists and mentors all providing feedback and critique.

Living in Germany for the week, while working creatively and professionally in another culture was a unique and hugely beneficial experience for our students that has noticeably fast-tracked their progress as songwriters. 

I can’t wait to take more Collarts students to 2018’s International Songwriting Week!

A special thank you to Jesse, Maxine and Paul for sending through the updates and to everyone at Collarts who works tirelessly behind-the-scenes to create these opportunities for our students.