Inside the first SongHubs New York camp with Mojo Juju [photo diary]
On the heels of the Sounds Australia AUSSIE BBQ debut in Central Park, a select group of Australian songwriters hunkered down for four days of collaboration in a Brooklyn studio for APRA AMCOS’ SongHubs residency, 23-26 June.
The 65th SongHubs session – and first-ever in NYC – was helmed by Grammy-winning producer and songwriter François Tétaz, and along for the ride were venerable producers Damian Taylor (Björk, Arcade Fire, The Killers ) and Clams Casino (fka Twigs, Vince Staples), SummerStage performers Hermitude, San Cisco, and Tkay Maidza, as well as George Sheppard, Urthboy, The Dawn of MAY, and Melbourne’s Mojo Juju.
That’s right, Mojo was back in the studio, cranking out a song a day per the SongHubs format. Her powerful single ‘Native Tongue’ was a finalist in the Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year, it took home the Australian Video of the Year the J Awards, and Mojo was one to watch at SXSW in March.
She took a bunch of snaps and wrote up a diary of her time in New York for The Music Network.
I arrived into New York a day early thinking I would explore the city, take in some sights and catch the Sounds Australia AUSSIE BBQ at SummerStage in Central Park.
As luck would have it, in the very small hours of the morning I received an invitation to join A.B. Originals onstage that afternoon, singing two songs with them for their first ever U.S. show.
The crowd was incredible and it felt like a very special moment to perform with A.B. Original in the birthplace of Hip Hop.
23rd June: Day 1 of SongHubs
Arriving at Figure 8 Studios in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn I was feeling a little nervous. No matter how many songs I’ve written or sessions I’ve been involved in, there’s always a little bit of nervous energy at the start when you’re working with new people in new places, which I think most people probably feel. I like to think it’s a good thing and it just means that you care about what you’re doing.
My first session was with Cleopold and The Dawn of MAY. We were down in the basement studio, a very vibey room with a crazy amount of synths to get the creative juices flowing.
The dark room made for a very moody, epic session.
So far, SO GOOD!
June 24: Day 2 of SongHubs
Today’s team was Jordi Davieson and Joshua Biondillo of San Cisco and Damian Taylor (who is such an incredible producer with a heavyweight back catalogue – I was a little awestruck!). We were in a beautiful studio on the ground level that opened up onto a backyard. A BACKYARD IN BROOKLYN!
The weather here has been very warm so the sun shining into the room definitely had an influence on the session. It all flowed very easily. This is a very fun group to work with and I think we have all the right ingredients together. Also, I think I’m in the zone now. This one had distinct island vibes and I felt very attached to it. I think this might be one for my next record *wink wink*.
June 25: Day 3 of SongHubs
Today I worked with Urthboy and Kito! What a great team. However, I may have exhausted a bit of my creative inspiration over the last two days and things weren’t flowing as freely in this session. I had lots of little hooks and a few lyrics, but felt like I may have hit a little bit of a slump.
However, I pushed through and Urthy & Kito were on fire. The vibes were mellow but very catchy. I think we managed to put down a very good start to a song.
June 26: Day 4
The final day of SongHubs and I’m feeling pretty sad about it. It’s all gone by so quickly and I have had such an incredible time.
Lucky last session was with the very talented Brux and the infamous Clams Casino! I had been hoping for the opportunity to work with both of these guys, so I was pretty chuffed to have the chance even though it was a short session day, ending at 4pm.
Our session was on fire. We wrote a really great song very quickly. Still has some tweaking to go but the bulk and foundations of it are there. It might even be my favourite song I’ve worked in this week. And that’s a hard call to make!
Everyone gathered together at 5pm for a listening party, to hear what we had all done over the week. Sitting around together to listen to each other’s songs brought back that wave of excitement (and a little anxiety) that I felt on day 1. But once we started it we all relaxed a bit and it was such a special way to share together and wrap up our week.
I was and am, so in awe of how extremely talented EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this camp is. It was an amazing week of making music with beautiful people, all in one building together. Everyone’s songs were just jaw dropping.
After the listening party, our curator and Producer Guru Franc Tetaz cooked an amazing BBQ for us (I mean what can’t he do?) and we had a little wrap party at the studio which continued into the night. It was very clear that everyone has bonded and formed some really great friendships on top the creative collaborations.
I must also mention and thank everyone from APRA AMCOS who did such a wonderful job of organising the whole week and all the details. Especially Milly Petriella (Director Member Relations), who made sure we were all looked after so well.
Overall, the camp was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences as a songwriter that I have had. I would highly recommend it to all songwriters and producers.
I had the best time and can’t wait till I can share my new songs with everyone!!!