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ivors2BASCA, in association with PRS for Music, is celebrating the 62nd Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday 18th May 2017.

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British and Irish songwriting and composing, for works released in the UK within the award year.

The Call for Entries in the following categories for works released in 2016 is now open:

Best Song Musically and Lyrically
Best Contemporary Song
Album Award
Best Original Film Score
Best Television Soundtrack

Anyone can enter an eligible work and the deadline for entries is Monday 6th February 2017.

The Rules and Guidelines for Entry and the Entry Form can be requested from Cindy Truong – cindy@basca.org.uk

sadasDamon Albarn, OBE, has a list of accolades so long that a lifetime achievement award seems an entirely justifiable honour. Yet Damon, still in his 40s, is far from finished with his achievements. As a singer-songwriter; multi-instrumentalist; record producer; philanthropist and co-founder of Honest Jon’s record label, he is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most influential and consistently interesting musicians. We look back at his career that has spanned almost 30 years with over 30 million record sales worldwide.

Aged 10, Albarn and his family moved from east London to Colchester, Essex, where he would be classically trained in piano and violin. He tells us that his love of music continued to grow thanks to “Ray Davies, David Bowie and The Beatles, along with Music Hall and the English song tradition.”

“I am obsessive with keyboards and synths. I remember going to the Colchester music shop near the castle and annoying the shit out of the staff by playing all the different keyboards.”

 

While at Stanway School he met Graham Coxon, and the rest is history. Albarn and Coxon would later go on to form Blur in 1988 with Alex James and Dave Rowntree. It didn’t take long for them to make their mark on the world.  After spearheading the Britpop invasion in the early 90s, Blur went on to have mainstream success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Never one to stick to convention, Albarn surprised music fans by creating ‘virtual band’ Gorillaz with Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett. In 2001, their first album sold over seven million records, an indicator of the success that was to come, and the band would earn Albarn yet more praise and awards across the globe.
He has rarely been out of the public eye yet has constantly surprised fans and critics alike. Rather than releasing a post-Blur solo album, as most would expect, he has instead been a prolific collaborator.

On more than one occasion, his projects have included forming ‘supergroups’ of alt rock’s most influential musicians. A collaboration with Paul Simonon, Tony Allen and Simon Tong in 2007 resulted in The Good, The Bad and The Queen, while 2012’s eponymously named album Rocket Juice & The Moon saw Albarn and Tony Allen team up with Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 2014, more than a decade after Blur began their hiatus, Albarn would finally release his first solo album – the Mercury Prize-shortlisted Everyday Robots. Supergroups aside, what has he been doing all that time?

 

All aboard 'The Africa Express'.

It seems that Albarn’s eagerness for collaboration is also deeply rooted in an inherent need to champion unknown talent. Coupled with a passion for African music, this outlook would ultimately take him a long way out of the alt rock sphere.

It began in 2002 when he visited Mali. Inspired by the local music, he created Mali Music – an album recorded in collaboration with a host of Malian musicians including Afel Bocoum and Toumani Diabaté.
Albarn’s next African collaboration involved a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to record with a group of producers and local musicians. Over five days in July the group recorded Kinshasa One Two (2011), with all album profits going towards Oxfam’s work in the Congo.
He later returned to Mali to make the album Africa Express presents… Maison des Jeunes, which was released to critical acclaim in 2013. The album was recorded in Bamako, Mali over the course of a week.
Spearheaded by Albarn, the project involved Malian performers working in collaboration with Brian Eno, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, Metronomy’s Olugbenga Adelekan and Django Django’s David Maclean among others.

 

While planning a residency for Manchester International Festival, Albarn decided to turn his composition talents to opera. His first full-length opera composition Monkey: Journey to the West premiered at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, in 2007. Created in collaboration with Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz) and Chen Shi Zheng, the opera was performed entirely in Mandarin with a 25-member orchestra featuring traditional Western and Chinese instruments.

He went on to create his second opera Dr Dee in collaboration with Rufus Norris. Premiering at Manchester International Festival in 2011, the opera was based on the life of John Dee, medical and scientific advisor to Elizabeth I. While each of his operas are far from ‘traditional’, Albarn is well aware of the challenging differences between scoring a live stage production and writing a three-minute song. “You’re always forced to try different things – I still make terrible mistakes and errors – and then the next one I have the chance to redeem myself.”

 

In 2010, Gorillaz’s track White Flag, a “call for peace”, featured a performance from the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music (SNOAM). This collaboration, which now seems especially poignant, lead to SNOAM and their conductor Issam Rafea joining Gorillaz on their world tour.

Later, when the situation in Syria changed, Albarn watched from a distance feeling “helpless” as he witnessed his fellow musicians being forced to leave their war-torn country. This year, Africa Express has reunited Albarn, Rafea and former and current members of SNOAM who previously worked with Albarn. Their ensemble, Africa Express presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, is lined up to play a series of concerts and festivals including an opening performance at Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage and a headline show at the Royal Festival Hall.
Despite the crisis still happening in Syria, Albarn says that these performances promise to be a “joyous” experience.
“[I’m] excited to be able to somehow share that with people, giving some kind of alternative to the prism of the news, which is entirely a negative thing.”df

 

With such a varied and complex back catalogue – not to mention his film soundtrack work including Ravenous, Ordinary Decent Criminal, 101 Reykjavik and Broken – you might expect him to have a more spontaneous way of working. But Albarn has his feet firmly on the ground and adopts a surprisingly pragmatic approach. ”I treat it like a job and try and work 5 days a week”, he says.

It’s an approach that has clearly paid dividends. In February 2016, the African nation of Mali gave Albarn the status of ‘local king’ for his ongoing contribution to African music.

While BASCA can’t bestow him a crown, we can certainly recognise his contribution to the music world. Albarn now joins some of the UK’s most esteemed writers – including Sting, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townsend and Paul Weller – as a recipient of the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award.

 

BASCA presented Albarn with the award at the 61st Ivor Novello Awards in May this year – 20 years after winning his first Ivor Novello Songwriter of the Year award (shared with Noel Gallagher).
Happily, it seems his Ivors carry some real affection in the sea of awards adorning his mantelpiece.
“Amazingly I’ve got three Ivors now and they’re the only awards that I know where they are – at my house in Cornwall. And now I’ve got this one I can put it on a slightly higher plinth. Thank you so much.”

 

Written by Debs Wild

Wayne Hector winner of 'The International Achievement Award' at the 61st Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House in London , on Thursday 19 May 2016. Photo by Mark Allan

If you’ve listened to mainstream radio in the past 20 years, then you’re sure to have heard his handiwork. Hector’s songs have notched up 380 million record sales so far – including 30 No 1 singles across the world.

His chart-topping hits started with Flava by Peter Andre, then Flying Without Wings for Westlife and Beat Again by JLS, with many more in between. In recent years, Hector’s work includes I Hate This Part by The Pussycat Dolls, The Wanted’s Glad You Came, Starships by Nicki Minaj, Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself by Jess Glynne, and countless hits for One Direction.

He has collaborated with an impressive variety of A-list artists including Donna Summer; Olly Murs; Emeli Sandé, James Blunt, Blue and Jason Derulo.

With such a distinguished career it comes as no surprise that he was honoured with an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in May this year.

So where did it all begin?

As a youngster, Hector had an eclectic music taste that was influenced in part by his dad’s passion for reggae and his mum’s love of country. His favourite acts were Bread, John Denver and British New Romantics Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Adam and the Ants. His favourite song was Dolly Parton’s Jolene.

“There wasn’t any particular direction in what I liked, I was all over the place and still am,” he says. “What I noticed about Jolene was that it celebrated vulnerability. I think there’s always space to say, ‘I’m vulnerable,’ and that your happiness is sometimes dependent on somebody else leaving you the hell alone. I still think that’s the most amazing song for that reason.”

Hector’s first attempt at songwriting was at the age of nine when, alongside his sister, he put together a “silly kind of song” for Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding day. Despite its amateur nature, his friends were impressed, and it sparked a passion for writing. “In English class at school I was always interested in turn of phrase; how people describe things that should be mundane but come to life when well-written,” he adds.

When he was 16, Hector started writing a song called Forever. It went on to become his first Top 10 hit in 1996 with the band Damage. The success led to Hector writing Flava for Peter Andre which made Hector the man to call if you wanted a hit. One of the acts that came calling was Irish boy band Westlife. Alongside long-time collaborator Steve Mac, Hector is described as the “creative force” behind Westlife, a band who went on to sell 50m records worldwide.

Wayne_Hector_pic

For Hector, inspiration can come from anywhere: having a great artist in the room, a unique tone of voice, a set of chords or a sentence. “I’m inspired by hearing the way people say something,” Hector explains.

“There’s only a certain amount of things you can say about life but there’s an infinite variety of ways you can phrase it. I love the first few lines of Ed Sheeran’s Lego House; pick up the pieces and build a Lego house, if things go wrong we can knock it down. It’s such a brilliant visual. When I hear something like that I challenge myself to find a visual that’s just as good.”

 

As well as trying to find an interesting turn of phrase, Hector’s songwriting tips include working back from the chorus. “If you start at the chorus, you know what you’re talking about and can write out from there,” he says. He also stresses the importance of hard work. “I work harder now than I did when I started. The more work you put in, the more chance you’ve got of getting something out of it and the more you learn during that process.”

For Hector, that means four- to six-hour writing sessions twice a day, five days a week. He writes around 400 songs a year, 30-40 of which get released. Does he ever get writer’s block? “Yeah, of course,” he answers. “I just stop for a few weeks, call my manager and say cancel everything, whatever it takes until the ideas start coming on their own again.”

When he isn’t songwriting, Hector is also patron of Urban Development – a music education organization where he helps teach young creatives. His advice for writers looking to break into the industry is to attach themselves to up-and-coming artists.

“Finding new artists is a much easier process than sending tapes to A&R execs who are already listening to all the people they’ve got,” he explains. “Listening to a bunch of people that aren’t signed to them yet can be quite difficult. Find an artist you believe in that you can tie yourself to, let them sing your songs and put them up on YouTube.”

Money management is also a big part of what he teaches. “The most common mistake is the belief that if you start having a couple of hits, that’s going to continue,” he says. “Most people have one or two hits in their entire career. So money that you make from those first few songs should be invested into a home. If you are lucky and the success continues and you can pay off your home, that gets rid of the biggest problem you’re ever going to have.”

Many of Hector’s biggest hits were surprisingly quick to write. Sessions for I Hate This Part and Flying Without Wings are among his favourite. He remembers: “With I Hate This Part, it was 1am and we’d gotten to the end of the session. I was playing a melody and we programmed in a beat. We got up to leave and [fellow writer] Lucas [Secon] said, ‘I hate this part when we we’re walking out the door but have a great idea that’s unfinished.’”

Struck by Lucas’s words, Hector decided it was destined to be a song title and started to put it into the context of a relationship. “About half an hour in we’d written the song, and then in another half an hour we’d laid it down, then spent about three hours head banging in the studio because we were all so excited about the song.”

He adds, “When the song writes itself it’s because it makes complete sense and you don’t even have to think about it.”

He recalls the creation of mega-hit Flying Without Wings. He first sang the line ‘I’m flying without wings’ while stepping out for a breather from a hip hop session in LA. “I didn’t know what it meant but I liked it,” he says. “I left the few bits of idea that I had on my answer machine. Then went home to England, and played it to Steve [Mac] who absolutely loved it”.

Back in the studio, Hector and Mac got working on the detail. They asked themselves, “What could make someone feel such elation that they’re ‘flying without wings’?”

“So we wrote it about our wives and our friends and all the things in life that make us happy.”

These days, the answer machine has been upgraded to an app called Recorder Plus that enables users to record a session but also tap in a time-marker on the bits they really like. It’s an invention that Hector sees as a godsend.

“It may not sound like a big deal, but when you’ve got 25 one-hour recordings of vocal ideas it’s really horrible to have to listen through the whole thing to find the part you like.”

Wayne Hector, winner of 'International Achievement Award' at the 61st Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House in London , on Thursday 19 May 2016. Photo by Mark Allan

While Mac is certainly his longest running writing partner, Hector also frequently collaborates with Steve Robson and production trio TMS. His approach to working with others hasn’t changed much, and leaving his ego at the door is the one rule he’s always stuck by.

The key to Hector’s success in the US has been his ability to build long-term relationships. These connections are thanks in part to him keeping his feet firmly on the ground (and his ego out of the room). He stresses the importance of “mutual respect with everyone you come into contact with”.

Most people I know in the US I’ve known since they were A&Rs,” he adds. “Now they are the Managing Directors of the company. Today’s tea boy is tomorrow’s director.”

Hector’s upcoming projects include exciting new Columbia signing Samm Henshaw – who he co-publishes with BMG. He’s also working on albums from Kodaline, Olly Murs, James Blunt, and a “really well known band” he’s keeping under wraps.

Out of the studio, Hector is also heavily involved in industry campaigns for the better treatment of songwriters. He tells us he is frustrated with the number of performing artists who take publishing income, but haven’t actually contributed to the writing process.

“My one big issue is when management push their artists to take publishing on songs they haven’t written,” he says. “Artists make a lot of money on their merchandise, touring, all the rest of it, and songwriters don’t have any of that.”

While Hector admits that “not everybody does it” he feels there are enough people ‘cutting in’ for it to be a problem. “Especially for young writers who are desperate to get their songs out there,” he explains. “There has to be an understanding from management that it’s a moral wrong.”

Written by Rhian Jones

The Inimitable Peter Gabriel takes time out to answer our questions.

Last December, Peter Gamichele turriani_ IMG_4254.fbriel was among 12 music industry heroes to be honoured with a Gold Badge Award.

No stranger to award ceremonies, Gabriel is undeniably a great songwriter, producer and artist, but it’s his support for his f : ellow musicians that makes him, as writer Mark Sutherland put it, “a Badge winner worth his weight in Gold”.

Gabriel’s support for established and up-and-coming musicians alike shines through in every guise he assumes. Whether he’s championing world music through WOMAD festival and his Real World label or launching his online music service We7 to help struggling musicians thrive in a digital world, there’s no denying his impact and influence on the music industry.

We were fortunate enough to grab some time with Gabriel after the Awards ceremony for a short interview:

WOMAD has been entertaining audiences for 35 years now, what was the inspiration behind it? York Tillyer_MG_5961

It was really hard to find a place where you could see many great artists. It was 1980. The few festivals that existed did not feature many of the artists that we were getting excited about. It was a simple idea – to create a festival out of all the brilliant music and art made all over the world. Stuff made outside of the mainstream – music that wasn’t getting on the radio and was even harder to find in record stores.

You’ve been composing for nearly SO years now; do you have any tips on how overcome writer’s block?

Yes. Take a long off-peak train journey. It’s always worked for me and for quite a few others, to whom I have recommended it My theory is that it activates some parts of the brain through peripheral visual stimulation – i.e. lots of trees, houses and bushes rushing past you.

Much is talked about your flamboyant stage presence in the early days of Genesis. Now that listeners have such easy access to almost every song recorded, how would you advise new artists to stand out from the crowd?

I would recommend that any serious musician dress up as a flower – there are so many beautiful flowers to choose from.

With your albums 1, 2, 3 and 4, then So and Us, you seemed to skirt between massive hit writer and contentious songwriter. For every Sledgehammer there was a We Do What We’re Told (Mi/gram’s 37). Was this by design?

I have always loved experimental stuff -hymns, soul, blues and great pop. So when I’m writing, I just follow my nose when anything smells good.peter gabriel

Given the shift in the way music is consumed with the arrival of streaming platforms, what do you see as the next big developments in technology and how will these affect the next generation of songwriters and composers?

I love the idea of having everything available,  anywhere, all the time. However, currently 50 years of negotiations for fair payment on behalf of the musicians are being ero

ded in favour of the streaming services and record companies. The musician Jack Conte was so fed up with not being paid fairly he created his own site Patreon, which enables fans to support new artists at a time when they most need it. We need more initiatives like that.

I would argue that, in a big data digital world, it’s relatively easy to track everything that is being streamed – in most cases it is done anyway, as a matter of course. And, fro

ATTENDING THE 2007 ANNUAL IVOR NOVELLO AWARDS, HELD AT THE GROSVENOR HOUSE, LONDON. 24 MAY 2007. PICTURE TONI NEWTON/LFI

ATTENDING THE 2007 ANNUAL IVOR NOVELLO AWARDS, HELD AT THE GROSVENOR HOUSE, LONDON. 24 MAY 2007. PICTURE TONI NEWTON/LFI

m that data, micropayments could be made according to what is actually listened to, rather than according to who has the most clout, money or the best lawyers. Hybrids involving collaboration, curation and re­purposing should create lots of cool new stuff.

You continue to tour and create new music. Can you give us an indication of what your next musical project will be?

I am writing a lot of new songs at the moment and working on some ideas for a new type of musical performance.

At the Gold Badge Awards you made reference to a festival of songwriting. Can you tell us more, and can BASCA be involved or support in some way?

I’d love to see a festival that is based around songwriting, where you might see Joni Mitchell, Richard Sherman Qungle Book, Mary Poppins etc.),Trent Reznor; Dolly Parton, Jay Z and alt-J all discussing and playing examples of their work. Songwriters are not so different as the critics would have you believe. We have been discussing whether we could piggyback something on the weekend after WOMAD. We might see if there is enough demand and then make it happen if we get a good response. I’d like to call it ‘Hum Festival’. If we can find a way to make it work, it would be great to collaborate with BASCA.

 

This article was featured in Issue 47 of The Works magazine.

The Ivors Composite Logo 300dpi RGB ONLINE ONLY

BASCA, in association with PRS for Music, announce the nominations for the 61st Ivor Novello Awards. The Ivors will take place on Thursday 19th May at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British and Irish songwriting and composing. They are presented by BASCA [British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors] and are judged by the UK songwriting and composing community. They have been sponsored by PRS for Music since 1974.

“The Ivors were created to celebrate the best in British and Irish songwriting and composing.  As we move into our 61st year BASCA is delighted that these nominations reflect the health and diversity of UK music and include a raft of first-time nominees alongside past winners.  Congratulations to everyone represented here today.” Stephen McNeff, BASCA Chairman

The 2016 nominations are for works released in the UK during 2015 and recognise the songwriters and composers of these works, along with their UK music publisher.

Best Song Musically and Lyrically

Bloodstream
Written by Piers Aggett, Kesi Dryden, Amir Izadkhah, Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid, Leon Rolle and Ed Sheeran
Performed by Ed Sheeran and Rudimental
Published in the UK by Ed Sheeran Limited – Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Polar Patrol Publishing

Bros
Written by Ellen Rowsell
Performed by Wolf Alice
Published in the UK by Kobalt Music Publishing

Wasn’t Expecting That
Written & Performed by Jamie Lawson
Published in the UK by Imagem Music

Best Contemporary Song

All My Friends
Written by James Carter, Oliver Lee, Cass Lowe and Chance The Rapper
Performed by Snakehips ft Tinashe & Chance The Rapper
Published in the UK by Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Cargo
Written by FRED and Roots Manuva
Performed by Roots Manuva
Published in the UK by Promised Land Music – Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Just Isn’t Music Ltd

Shutdown
Written by Ragz Originale and Skepta
Performed by Skepta
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

PRS for Music Most Performed Work

Hold Back The River
Written by Iain Archer and James Bay
Performed by James Bay
Published in the UK by Kobalt Music Publishing and Spirit B-Unique Music

Hold My Hand
Written by Janée ‘Jin Jin’ Bennett, Jess Glynne and Jack Patterson

Jack Patterson

Jack Patterson

Performed by Jess Glynne
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing, BMG UK – Black Butter Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing

King
Written by Michael Goldsworthy, Mark Ralph, Oliver Thornton and Emre Turkmen
Performed by Years & Years
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Album Award

Darling Arithmetic
Written by Conor O’Brien
Performed by Villagers
Published in the UK by Domino Publishing Company

Conor O'Brien - Villagers

Conor O’Brien – Villagers

In Colour
Written & Performed by Jamie xx
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

Matador
Written & Performed by Gaz Coombes
Published in the UK by Kobalt Music Publishing

Best Original Film Score­­­­­­­­­­­­

Ex_Machina
Composed by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

Pan
Composed by John Powell
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

The Duke of Burgundy
Composed by Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira
Published in the UK by BMG UK and Universal Music Publishing

Best Television Soundtrack

And Then There Were None
Composed by Stuart Earl
Published in the UK by Imagem FTV

From Darkness
Composed by Edmund Butt
Published in the UK by Du Vinage Publishing

London Spy
Composed by Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes
Published in the UK by Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Kobalt Music Publishing

 

On the 19th May, BASCA will also present awards to songwriters and composers in recognition of their contribution to British Music. These awards will be:

International Achievement
Lifetime Achievement
Outstanding Song Collection
PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music
PRS for Music Special International Award
The Ivors Classical Music Award
The Ivors Inspiration Award

BASCA will also present the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year for 2015.

The 61st Ivor Novello Awards take place on Thursday 19th May from 11.30am to 4.30pm at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

For more information please visit The Ivors website

 

The Ivors Composite Logo 72dpi RGB ONLINE ONLYBASCA, in association with PRS for Music, is celebrating the 61st Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday 19th May 2016.

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British and Irish songwriting and composing, for works released in the UK within the award year.

The call for entries in the following categories for works released in 2015 is now open:

  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically
  • Best Contemporary Song
  • Album Award
  • Best Original Film Score
  • Best Television Soundtrack

Anyone can enter an eligible work and the deadline for entries is Friday 5 February 2016.

To download the entry form along with rules and guidelines, please click here

Ed Sheeran with the 'Songwriter of the Year' Award at the 60th Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House in London on Thursday, May 21, 2015. Photo by Mark Allan

Ed Sheeran with the ‘Songwriter of the Year’ Award at the 60th Ivor Novello Awards at the Grosvenor House in London on Thursday, May 21, 2015. Photo by Mark Allan

ANNIE LENNOX_2014-PR#2At the 2015 Ivor Novello Awards, Annie Lennox was award the BASCA fellowship award.  Mark Sutherland spoke with her about her journey to become one of the greatest songwriters of her generation

 

Like so many things, it began with The Beatles. As a primary school student, young Annie Lennox would spend every possible moment with her ear glued to her battery-powered transistor radio, marveling at the sounds seeping from it.

Her home in Aberdeen might have been a long way from Liverpool, let alone the bright lights of London, yet she felt a powerful connection with the Fab Four and the other young artists forging the thrilling new music that would transform the British landscape and, ultimately, the world.

“They were all young, brilliant, artistic guys,” Lennox says. “They were right at the epicenter of this whole vibrant shift post-war. I didn’t understand the bigger cultural picture, it was just music to me, but I loved it. I imbibed it. But I would never have dreamed in a million years that I would become a songwriter one day…”

Fifty-odd years later, however, and Annie Lennox is not just a songwriter. Not even “just” one of the greatest songwriters of her generation. In fact, she’s also joined her childhood heroes in one of music’s most exclusive clubs. As only the 19th person – and first woman – to be awarded a BASCA fellowship, she now rubs shoulders with the likes of Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber, John Barry and yes, Sir Paul McCartney.

Unsurprisingly, her induction – at the 60th Ivor Novello Awards – was a joyous affair. Hailed by fellow fellow Sir Elton John as “one of the finest singers this country has ever produced”, an almost overcome Lennox declared gleefully: “With this, the glass ceiling is broken!”

“It’s extraordinary,” she beams, as she chats with The Works ahead of the ceremony. “It’s so strange it doesn’t sound real. I’m not worthy.”

But in truth, over her 35 year-plus career, Lennox has proved herself more than worthy. She has sold tens of millions of records, both as a solo star and as a member of The Eurythmics and, before that, The Tourists. And she has written some of the most memorable pop songs of that era, including such classics as Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Who’s That Girl?, There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back), Walking On Broken Glass, Into The West and Why.

Nor is she any stranger to awards. At school, she was never a prize-winner (bar the occasional one for music) but her career has seen her scoop an Oscar, a Golden Globe, four Grammys, four Ivors and no fewer than eight BRIT Awards. She may remain slightly dubious about seeing music as a competition (although she concedes “Of course, one would rather be in the winning camp…”), but she believes the recognition bestowed on songwriters by the Ivors has never been more needed.

“We’re living in an age of celebrity,” she sighs. “You can be renowned and regaled for just standing there in a dress with a hairdo. My initial impulse towards becoming an artist had nothing whatsoever to do with that. Celebrity *has nothing to do with* your talent, your skill, your ability, your insightfulness or your ability to create. The impulse to be an artist and touch people’s souls and hearts and minds is a whole other thing – if you take that away, it’s totally throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
So fame was not on the agenda as the young Lennox dreamed of making music. The urge to write songs began, in her words, as a “small impulse”, a tiny “spark” that, over the years, she has learned to chase and nurture until it bursts into flame. And, in the early days, cut off from the emerging music business in Aberdeen, and with few female singer-songwriter role models apart from Carole King and Joni Mitchell, she had to chase harder than most. At school, her careers officer informed her that songwriting and performing was “not a proper job”.

Nonetheless, she secured a place at the Royal Academy Of Music in London, studying flute and piano.

“It was my passport out,” she muses. “It felt like an opportunity to pursue music, but I quickly realised that it didn’t suit me. I spent a good two years before I dropped out just feeling lost and not quite knowing what I should do with myself.”

Lennox was working as a waitress – although not in a cocktail bar – when she finally found her direction. A friend brought a young musician called Dave Stewart in to the restaurant where she was working, the pair hit it off and the course of Lennox’s life – and, indeed, pop history – was changed.

During her Ivors acceptance speech, Lennox described that moment as “catalytic” as she dedicated “a massive chunk” of her award to Stewart. Lennox didn’t write much in their first band The Tourists but once she and Stewart formed Eurythmics in 1980, one of the decade’s most successful songwriting partnerships was born.

“Artists can be very self-critical,” says Lennox. “But if you’re working with a great collaborator, you bounce off each other. So much depends on perspective so when you have a great collaborator they will be like, ‘No, that’s a great idea’. You run with that confidence or [otherwise] you might be very quick to kick it out. If you’re cooking, you’re working with ingredients. But with music, it’s invisible. You feel it but you can’t see it, smell it, taste it or touch it. It’s a very spiritual thing.”

Consequently, Lennox – who went on to write her solo work by herself – is not one of those songwriters that has a set process for writing. Most of her songs have been written at a keyboard and start with a small element – be it melody, chords or lyrics – that she can’t let go, and which is tweaked and teased for hours/days/weeks until finally the song emerges.

“Everyone’s always looking for this formula and I don’t think it’s to be had,” she says, “Because the great songs are serendipitous. They are like chemistry, it’s mercurial.”

She has also, over the years, found that a certain mood helps.

“Most of the moods that have accompanied me through most of my life [of songwriting] were not coming from a happy place,” she says, wryly.

Consequently, a now happy and fulfilled Lennox insists her own songwriting days must be talked about “in the past tense”. She hasn’t made an album of original material since 2007’s Songs Of Mass Destruction. But, given all the great songs she’s penned in the past, will she really never go back?

“I don’t know,” she says. “Songwriting *has been* a deep, deep passion for me. I needed it because I was tuned into it. I was deeply committed to that whole way of life. But there’s a lot of sacrifice in it, as a woman specifically. It’s a hardcore lifestyle and it’s not for everybody. A lot of young men and women haven’t made it because it is hardcore. I’m not necessarily talking about songwriting, but the whole nine yards: writing, recording, touring, making videos, being a public person… it can destroy you.”

Lennox says she decided to quit Eurythmics “beast” because of such pressures and, similarly, has now stepped away from songwriting. She continues to make music – last year’s Nostalgia album illustrated what a brilliant interpreter of other people’s songs she has become – and is one of music’s leading philanthropists, a tireless campaigner for AIDS charities and many other causes. She could never write another note, and this jolly good BASCA fellow will still be able to look back on one of the most remarkable pop careers of the last 40 years. Even if that music-obsessed schoolkid with the transistor radio would never have believed it.

“I need to feel I have a purpose in life that’s more than just having a job,” she concludes. “I’ve been so privileged. I was passionate about songwriting as a life that I needed to follow. And that sweet dream, if you like, really did come true.”

 

 

Tin pan alleyDon’t Bin Tin Pan Alley!

BASCA, along with the PRS, Music Publishers Association, PPL, The MU, Music Heritage UK, UK Music and The Arts Council, has signed the petition to save London’s Denmark Street, commonly known as London’s Tin Pan Alley.

Denmark Street has a long history dating back to the 1690s. For over 100 years it has been a mecca for musicians of all genres.

The music publishers have been there since 1911 when Lawrence Wright, the first music publisher, moved in to number 19. He subsequently founded the musicians’ journal Melody Maker in 1926. The New Musical Express was founded at No. 5 in 1952 and remained there until 1964.

The Rolling Stones recorded at Regent Sounds Studio at No. 4 and popular musicians often socialised around the Gioconda café at No. 9, including David Bowie and the Small Faces. The Sex Pistols lived above No. 6, and recorded their first demos there.

Since it opened in 1994, The 12 Bar Club has promoted early shows from hundreds of successful songwriters and performers including  Adele, Martha Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, KT Tunstall, Damien Rice, Regina Spektor, The Libertines and Jeff Buckley. Due to the redevelopment of the area The 12 Bar Club was forced to close in January 2015 and has since moved to new premises on North London’s Holloway Road.

Many historic venues in the Soho area have already been forced to close in recent times, such as The Astoria and Madame Jojos. To lose Denmark Street and all its cultural history would be a sad day indeed.

Sign the petition and help save Tin Pan Alley.

 

 

BASCAsmall

BASCA, in association with PRS for Music,  has announced its nominations for The Ivors 2015.

The 2015 nominations are for works released in the UK during 2014 and recognise the songwriters and composers of works, along with their UK music publisher. The Awards will take place on May 21st.

 

Best Song Musically and Lyrically

Above The Clouds Of Pompeii
Written by Andrew Davie
Performed by Bear’s Den
Published in the UK by Communion Publishing

I Forget Where We Were
Written and Performed by Ben Howard
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

Take Me To Church
Written by Andrew Hozier-Byrne
Performed by Hozier
Published in the UK by Sony/ATV Music Publishing – The Evolving Music Company

Best Contemporary Song

Every Other Freckle
Written by Thomas Green, Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton
Performed by alt-J
Published in the UK by Kobalt Music Publishing

Rather Be
Written by James Napier and Jack Patterson
Performed by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing – Salli Isaak Songs / Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Two Weeks
Written by Tahliah Debrett Barnett and Emile Haynie
Performed by FKA Twigs
Published in the UK by BMG Chrysalis / Universal Music Publishing

PRS for Music Most Performed Work

Budapest
Written by George Ezra Barnett and Joel Pott
Performed by George Ezra
Published in the UK by BMG Chrysalis

Rather Be
Written by James Napier and Jack Patterson
Performed by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing – Salli Isaak Songs / Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Stay With Me
Written by James Napier, William Phillips and Sam Smith
Performed by Sam Smith
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing – Salli Isaak Songs – Method Paperwork / Naughty Words Ltd – Stellar Songs Ltd – Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Album Award

Present Tense
Written by Thomas Fleming, Ben Little, Christopher Talbot and Hayden Thorpe
Performed by Wild Beasts
Published in the UK by Domino Publishing Company

Royal Blood
Written by Michael Kerr and Ben Thatcher
Performed by Royal Blood
Published in the UK Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

So Long, See You Tomorrow
Written by Jack Steadman
Performed by Bombay Bicycle Club
Published in the UK by Imagem Music

Best Original Film Score­­­­­­­­­­­­

‘71
Composed by David Holmes
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

Mr. Turner
Composed by Gary Yershon
Published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing

The Boxtrolls
Composed by Dario Marianelli
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

Best Television Soundtrack

The Honourable Woman
Composed by Natalie Holt and Martin Phipps
Published in the UK by Imagem FTV / Du Vinage Publishing

The Mill – Series 2
Composed by Samuel Sim
Published in the UK by Du Vinage Publishing / Sony/ATV Music Publishing

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Beyond the Pale
Composed by Edmund Butt
Published in the UK by Bucks Music Group / Imagem FTV

BASCA Chairman, Simon Darlow says: “BASCA is delighted that in their 60th year The Ivors nominations continue to reflect the health and diversity of British and Irish songwriting and composing.  These awards were created to raise the profile of our best creative talent and today’s nominations, which include a host of fresh new writers, demonstrate that The Ivors continue to achieve this.  Congratulations to everyone represented here today.”

BASCA will also present awards to songwriters and composers in recognition of their contribution to British Music. These awards will be:

Lifetime Achievement
Outstanding Song Collection
PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music
PRS for Music Special International Award
Songwriter of the Year
The Ivors Classical Music Award
The Ivors Inspiration Award
The Ivors Special Anniversary Award

BASCA will also announce its 18th BASCA Fellowship as part of the 60th Ivor Novello Awards.  

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British and Irish songwriting and composing. They are presented by BASCA [British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors] and are judged by the UK songwriting and composing community. They have been sponsored by
PRS for Music since 1974.

GaryOIvor Novello Awards Chairman, Gary Osborne was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s iPM programme regarding a rule change in the award judging process.

Listen to the interview HERE

It starts at 8:25 minutes into the programme.

  • “We have introduced a bar for the first time so you have to have written 15% of the song before you’re considered to be one of the principal writers of that song.”

iPM on BBC Radio 4 is presented by Eddie Mair and Jennifer Tracey. The interview was first broadcast on 22 November 2014.

 

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