Berlin’s 2023 Songwriting Camp with Fink
A couple of weeks ago we hosted our Songwriting Camp with Fink, aka Finn Greenall, Songwriter and Producer who has lead many of our previous songwriting camps! 16 vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters and producers from BIMM Institute Berlin were selected to take part in an intensive, but unforgettable Songwriting Camp. BIMM Institute Berlin Alumni Ngoc Anh Nguyen also supported the students with guidance during the songwriting process.
We caught up with four of the students who took part in the camp and talked to them about their experience. Hear what Claudio Spagnoli (Producer), Kaheke van de Pas (Vocalist), Angelique Jacquet (Instrumentalist) and Gustav Mehler (Topline Writer) have to say!
What did you most enjoy about the Songwriting Camp?
Claudio: The vibe that you could feel every day in the studios and the widespread commitment of working hard and within a short time frame to fulfil a greater purpose.
All of the students taking part in the camp were absolutely amazing producers, songwriters, instrumentalists and vocalists – Fink, a world class artist, songwriter and music producer, who managed us all for the entire duration of the camp, set the bar really high and he truly engaged and inspired us to write songs that, if pitched to the right artists, would wreck the charts.
Kaheke: Although I basically enjoyed everything, what I really liked was getting to work with a different group each day. And having a different brief each day.
Gustav: I mostly enjoyed the last day when everyone had gotten into it. It was really fun to write hooky sticky pop with great musicians! Also, I still enjoy the inspiration boost, I’m writing a song a day since the camp!
Angelique: I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to collaborate with other BIMM students and alumni from different subjects and years, whom I otherwise may not have gotten a chance to work with because our paths rarely cross. It was also amazing to have Fink as a mentor. He was incredibly supportive and encouraging and gave us the most insightful feedback. I really appreciated how he talked so casually about these amounts of money that I can barely even comprehend, as being entirely achievable to us as songwriters.
What was the process like of writing the songs – could you talk about the songwriting process a little bit and how the songs came about?
Claudio: Every day you would enter a room with three other people that in most cases you hadn’t even ever talked to before. 3 days, 4 rooms a day equal 12 rooms – and I am sure each one of these latter had a different approach on how to write a song together and fulfilling the day’s requirements.
As a producer, my role is to make everyone feel comfortable and to get the best and most authentic performances from everyone in the room, so every day I started out by having a round of short self-presentations where we could introduce to each other and share our own personalities, both concerning each one’s persona and aim in the music industry and life’s background and experiences.
Then we would find some creative common ground to start with and divide each other’s role according to our best skills – nevertheless there were no fixed roles, as everyone had multiple skills to showcase, the tasks were divided according to what would best suit the timeframe we had and the style of the song. The choruses were always the most important part and determined the main direction that the song was going to take; once we figured out what we wanted to have as a chorus the rest of the song would come by in a far smoother way.
After completing the recording stage, the final touches to the production and a general quick mix to enhance every aspect of the piece, the songs were ready – and so were we, excited to listen back to a hard day’s work in a room full of energy.
Kaheke: The songwriting process was different every day. Usually, we started with a concept first, make a story. What do we want to tell? Sometimes we started with the music first. Or other days we started with lyrics, or we split up to all write something and show each other. All the processes were different, which was really cool to see.
Gustav: In my case I usually like to discuss a little what vibe we’re going for, then find chords that are suitable, and then find the best hooks. Loads of just spit firing ideas until a good one comes out! Then lyrics. However, the process is a bit different for everyone so it’s probably most important to just be open-minded and patient – and listen to everyone.
Angelique: For each day of the camp, we had a different brief to work on with a different team from the previous day. Day 1 we picked an artist from a giant roster called the Who’s Looking List. It had a basic gist of what the artist was looking for, and maybe a little about how they work (open to co-writes, only looking for hooks, etc.). Day 2 was about songs that have reached a billion hits, that are actually fairly simple if you sit and think about them. For this, two teams had the piano as a base instrument, and two had guitars. The last day was ‘credible pop’, which I think personally had the most room for interpretation and produced the most diverse results across the teams. For the songwriting process, we always started with an instrumental hook or chord progression, and then topped it up with lyrics. This is, of course, after listening to the reference track 20 million times and sharing personal stories and old lyrics we had sitting in our notes apps that we thought could be a good fit for the vibe. Fink would come in through the day to check in and help us out.
“Some of the best songs from a BIMM Songwriting Camp were written here today”
– Fink, Head of Songwriting at BIMM Berlin
Are you planning to release any of the songs from the camp in the future?
Claudio: We heard through the grapevine that a very good percentage of the songs we wrote during the camp might have the chance, to secure a 1-year publishing deal with an external, third-party American company. This is one of those potential opportunities that makes it hard for me to close my eyes in bed at night, at least until next week when the names of the aforementioned songs will be announced.
Kaheke: I think 2 of the songs I was involved in have the potential to be released, that I’m very proud of. It also depends on what the rest of the group want as it is as much my song as it is theirs. So hopefully we can work something out and we will see if any of them get released.
Gustav: No, but it would be fun if someone else releases a song I co-wrote! I think the best option would be to get a cut through a publisher though. The song from the last day will definitely be released I think, if not by some random artist, then by someone in the group I was working with.
Angelique: I think we’re all currently sitting on the songs as demos to see if any of the artists we wrote for would be interested in using them. Should that not work out, I’m pretty sure all of us are proud enough of the work we created to want to release it on our own at some point.
We are looking forward to hearing the songs that our students have been working on and to our next Songwriting Camp! Find out more about Songwriting at BIMM Institute Berlin here.