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Artists Need to Build a Community to Survive

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Many years ago sat in my bedroom back in Chorley, Lancashire I sat down with a magazine strewn across my bed with the headline 'The Quiet American' staring back at me. It was the early days of Starsailor and our song Good Souls had caused some minor ripples but we were still a way off securing a deal and a future in music. We needed another one so I sat down to write.

The resulting song Lullaby lead to a gig at the legendary The Social. A club owned by Heavenly Records that my brother Andrew frequented (he later went to work at Heavenly). NME journalist James Oldham attended the gig and gave us a glowing review which lead to a succession of label A&Rs attending shows and even visiting our modest Warrington lock up to see what all the fuss was about.

It was the early days of the internet and we were anything but new media savvy. It's a very different story for bands now. The labels wouldn't need to make any long trips North because they could click on a Youtube link. In some cases they wouldn't even need to A&R a debut album because it would already be recorded to a high standard in a band member's bedroom. Fast forward 10 years and I am sat in a studio in West London called Kensaltown. I have been placed with a writer named Sacha Skarbek. Somewhat reluctantly I must add. Not because of Sacha who is great but because after 10 years as the main songwriter in Starsailor I was taken aback that those in charge at the time would think I needed 'help' with writing songs.

Thankfully we got on great and those sessions lead to writing with Sacha along with Ilse De Lange and Christina Perri. The little start I needed to begin a career as a writer outside of my own music a move I had considered for some time. Also during this time Sacha reconnected with an old school friend Phillipa Philippa Smith. She was in the process of developing a film along with acclaimed Swedish director Ulf Johansson. More famous for award winning music videos and adverts but keen to make the leap into feature films. They had a film script based on the novel by Chuck Palahnuik (author of Fight Club) called (what else!) 'Lullaby'. From the outset they believed that music should be important to the film and set about finding the right people to write the songs. Which is when Philippa got in touch with Sacha.

We quickly put together a demo for the song Roadkill Jesus and with Ulf suitably impressed we got the gig.

We were provided with song titles, music brief and images by the production company and the work commenced. Writing Lullaby was a challenge. Knowing the passion of Chuck's fans we knew we had to get the balance right. Sacha set about plastering the walls with images sent by Ulf designed to inspire the mood of the film. Many of the young pop stars who frequent Sacha's studio were a little scared of these gothic images until he explained the reasoning!

It was a great experience to write Lullaby. One of the hardest things as a writer is seeking out new inspirations for songs and with Lullaby it was all there in this brilliant dark satirical novel film script It's also a good example of where my life in music is now.

As a band signed to a major label we were very well looked after (particularly early on). My career focus was 100% the band. Now I'm constantly leaping from project to project meeting and working with inspiring people along the way. It seems to be how a lot of newer artists operate these days too with Ed Sheeran being a good example with the many collaborations he has done. It can only be a good thing that artists are recognising the need to build a community in music to help each other out rather than the old competition that existed.