Collaborative songwriting: Aurelia talks the good, the bad and the ugly
Aurelia may be well known for her stunning indie-pop leanings on critically acclaimed debut single ‘Are We Losing’ and new single ‘Chest’, but she better known for her songwriting chops.
Over the last few years the Brisbane artist has scored numerous US Billboard top 10 releases, cracked the triple j Hottest 100, received multiple American Blues Music Awards nominations and a nod from the Grammy board – but it wasn’t all firing collaborations and accolades.
As Aurelia tells TIO, during one trip to LA she learned exactly how she doesn’t like to collaborate
She had ventured to LA for a few songwriting sessions and to hunt out production possibilities for her solo project, when a friend of her former manager’s connected her with David Guetta’s team.
“I got called in for a session on some David Guetta tracks,” she says. “I showed up, got taken to a room, introduced to the engineer and they said, ‘see you in eight hours’.”
Guetta’s team had prepared 50 or 60 instrumentals on a drive and told Aurelia to flick through them and pick out what she wanted to work on.
“They literally meant ‘write something, record it and we will come back and get whatever you did – and most likely cut it together with six or seven or eight other ideas of random people you don’t know’.”
“[…] For me it just felt really disconnected and lifeless. The whole production line thing… I knew I would never do that again. It taught me about what kind of writer I wanted to be, and I am so grateful for that.”
Aurelia says that while she’s aware of how productive this approach to songwriting can be, she feels compelled to keep her music as vulnerable as possible.
“Some of my best friends that I love and respect are incredible in these exact situations, and they love it! But for me personally it just isn’t my wheelhouse.
“Generally the creative focus is more outcome based in terms of how something will perform on the charts. That’s awesome for what it is; but I only know how to write from a life experience (mine or someone else’s) perspective, and I feel almost compelled by something inside me to keep doing that. Music keeps me honest and fearless and vulnerable. I only know how to do things that are fundamentally based on essence.”
Aurelia’s experience with contemporary American blues artist Javina Magness couldn’t be more different
Aurelia was introduced to Magness via producer Dave Darling (Meredith Brooks, Nikki Sixx, Tom Waits, Jack Johnson).
“He said [Magness] doesn’t usually collaborate and it’s a bit touchy! So we were terrified.”
Aurelia and her main writing partner Thrones were sent the instrumental track Magness was working on and the pair wrote the song in the car ride to the studio. Unbeknownst to them however, Magness wasn’t aware the track had been sent to Aurelia, let alone that they were set to collaborate.
“When we arrived we walked in Janiva Magness was there, just looking at us,” remembers Aurelia. “Dave had tricked her into the session.
“Dave asked if we heard the track, we confessed we’d made a start on it (without knowing anything about the artist). ‘Sing it’, she said. So we did.
“She cried. We all cried. And in an instant we were family.”
That song was ‘Standing’, one of two tracks Aurelia wrote on her first original album (alongside ‘When You Were My King’), and the song formed the foundation for a musical what was produced about her life.
Watch Javina Magness track the song ‘Standing’ in the studio below
Since ‘Standing’ and ‘When You Were My King’, Aurelia has penned another six tracks with Janiva Magness, including two on her Grammy Award-nominated LP Love Wins Again.
“Who knew that a few years later we’d both be crying on FaceTime together about getting nominated for a Grammy for her album Love Wins Again,” says Aurelia. “That was a real full circle moment for me. As excited as I was for the nomination myself, I was overwhelmed with what that meant for her; she deserves that nod more than anyone.”
Listen to Aurelia’s latest single ‘Chest’ below:
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.