Features August 20, 2019

Inside Ricochet SONGS songwriting camp with Mookhi [photo diary]

Inside Ricochet SONGS songwriting camp with Mookhi [photo diary]
Image Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

Ricochet SONGS (Hip Hop) is special edition of a songwriting camp initiative started by KLP, bringing together female and non-binary rappers, producers and vocalists.

The camp took place at 301 Studios Sydney from Monday 12 – Thursday 15 August, with 20 attendees.

As well as working together to create new music, the camp aimed to help foster a national network of artists in hip hop, who can mentor, support and encourage each other beyond the week and into the future.

Sydney artist Moohki was one of those attendees, and she wrote up a diary of her time at Ricochet SONGS for The Music Network.

Day 1

For a writing camp the brief is simple: get thrown into a studio with talents you’ve most likely never met, and write and record a hit before the end of eight hours.

Having been the only female producer in all the previous writing camps I’ve done, I had no idea what to expect. I was a flurry of anxiety, excitement, apprehension. One thing was for certain – I knew this camp would be different.

We all sat in the main studio, high strung and eager. KLP and Sally said their introductions outlining the purpose behind the camp, protocols and what to expect. Once the groups were announced it was go time.

Session 1:
Artist: Mirrah
Topliner: Janeva
Topliner/Feature: imbi the girl

I have to say that with this combo of personalities, there was no shortage of energy at all. We started with life stories, celebrated the wins, consoled the losses and supported in moments of self-doubt. We were raw, vulnerable but strong and needed a beat to reflect this. I played Mirrah an old loop I started a while back called ‘Silent Time’. She knew it was her’s immediately and started writing to the title with the others. The result was stunning. There were gospel backing vocals (accompanied by preacher hand gestures), uplifting bars and exquisite melodies.

The end of day listening session set a strong tone. Every track surpassed all expectations (and they were really high already). I was so blown away by everyone.

Day 2

There was a different energy today as people were quickly coming out of a place of apprehension and really embracing the free fall of the ‘creative unknown’. It was exciting, and for some, extremely liberating.

Session 2:
Artist: P-UniQue
Topliner: Erin Marshall
Topliner/Feature: Erica (Coda Conduct)

I desperately wanted to write a staunch track this writing camp and let me tell you… We wrote a huge one. P-UniQue had suffered from little sleep the night before and was visibly exhausted (falling asleep during today’s listening session), but you would never pick it with the bars she wrote and performed. One of her lines included “I am your highness” – and she oozed wicked royalty. We got Erin doubling the chorus and Erica’s gang vocals (which I made to sound like a big man). This track was sassy and catchy as hell.

Something different happened at lunch. We were met with a pile of Nike shoe boxes individually named, this was followed by high pitched screams and giggles. Everyone got a sparkling new pair of kicks – the perfect accompaniment to a newfound sense of confidence.

Day 3

Today everyone seemed adventurous, comfortable around the now familiar faces, and up for any challenge.

Session 3:
Artist: Zeadala
Topliner: Erin Marshall

Introductions were brief as we were all excited to start a song. Having worked with Erin the day before, and with Zeadala’s laid back energy, it was easy to get into a good flow. We went down a very very Pharrell direction. Trumpet, guitar and layers and layers of heavy drums. Zeadala sang with high energy, and despite her love for the song, decided it would be better to be pitched for another artist (a common practice in writing camps).

Day 4

Exhaustion definitely started to sink in a little by this point which wasn’t a bad thing. To me it was an indicator of the amount of energy and emotional support every session needed. I tried my hardest to upkeep the role of the facilitator, helping each artist discover their new sound yet stay true to their roots.

Session 4:
Artist: Nardean
Topliner: Tamika Stanton

Nardean started to reference tracks she was listening to. Drake was mentioned so I played a very Drake-esque track I prepared earlier for the camp. She was immediately drawn to it and told us an emotional story. I was touched by the level of vulnerability she shared with us – it was an intimacy I had never experienced before in a camp.

We were met with champagne for the final listening party (a gift from KLP). Everyone was full of so much love, admiration and appreciation for one another. Every one of us worked so hard and truly deserved to be there. Close bonds were made, future sessions were planned – and a celebration was in order. 301 Studios hosted a party in the foyer where we danced to each of our tracks, swapping compliments and shouting lyrics.

This writing camp was definitely different. Being surrounded only by female and non-binary artists allowed for a stronger sense of intimacy and vulnerability. Despite the fact that I only spent 4 days with this crew, I feel that everyone developed a strong connection with one another. I am so grateful for this memorable opportunity and I think it definitely has to happen more as it was truly empowering. Big shout out to KLP and Sally for making this happen, and Michelle Grace Hunder for documenting the experience!

Ricochet’s organisers would like to thank all the artists, labels and publishers who donated to the camp: Studios 301, Hilltop Hoods, Thundamentals, Urthboy, Hermitude, KLP, Elefant Traks, Dew Process, Native Tongue, Warner Music, Nando’s, Yulli’s Brews, PPCA and Nike.

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