Where music stars discuss how they make their music.
Where music stars discuss how they make their music.
Songwriting first dates with Melanie C and Nadia Rose
A stellar collection of musicians and songwriters this week, and who better to lead the discussion than somebody who has sold in excess of 85 million records? Singer, songwriter, presenter, DJ, and Spice Girl Melanie C asks the group candid questions about creativity, including the importance of dynamics in a songwriting team, what is it that informs the sound they want to make, and the thing they really love about making music.
First up Nadia Rose, a rapper from South London who’s been writing bars and performing since her school days. She’s gone on to write for Rihanna and has won a MOBO Award for the music video to huge hit Skwod. She’s also Stormzy’s cousin. Rae Morris is a singer and songwriter who released her debut single aged 20. She’s since shared stages with Lianne La Havas, Bombay Bicycle Club and George Ezra, and has worked with Lucy Rose and Clean Bandit.
And finally, Jin Jin is a platinum-selling musician, songwriter and entrepreneur who grew up around her grandfather’s reggae music store. Since then she has written with the likes of Sigala, Jax Jones, David Guetta, Clean Bandit, Little Mix, Craig David, Tinie Tempah, Raye, and Jess Glynne.
Dark places and bliss with Reuben James and Izzy Bizu
Singer, pianist and producer Reuben James started playing the piano from the age of three, so in terms of the percentages of a life spent in music he’s right at the top. In this episode of Music Life, he asks Izzy Bizu, Scribz Riley and Gracey about the best song they’ve written, what they would change if they could go back in time and alter a piece of work, and the thing that they erase the most during the writing process, be it a lyric, a subject, or a feeling.
Izzy Bizu is a British-Ethiopian singer, songwriter, and BBC Introducing Artist of the Year, who has toured with Coldplay, AlunaGeorge, and Sam Smith.
Scribz Riley is a two-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and artist who’s worked with the likes of Khalid, J Hus, Normani and Yxng Bane. He was also handpicked by Marvel to contribute to the Black Panther soundtrack in collaboration with Kendrick Lamar.
And finally, Gracey is a pop singer and writer who’s worked with the likes of Kylie, Pet Shop Boys and Cher. As her career took off, she lost her voice and needed surgery to fix it, but her career is now back on track.
Getting into trouble with Moonchild Sanelly and Bryte
South African musician and dancer Moonchild Sanelly is joined by Bryte, Cuppy, and Etuk Ubong. Together they discuss if there are there things they can’t say in their music, what sounds and lyrics are inspired by their environment, and how successful women are viewed in the male-dominated industry.
Sanelisiwe Twisha, better known as Moonchild Sanelly, is the ‘future ghetto punk’ star from South Africa, fusing experimental electronic, afro-punk, and edgy-pop with kwaito, hip-hop and jazz. She welcomes a group of musicians at the forefront of their respective genres. First up is Nigerian DJ, producer, and entrepreneur Cuppy. In August 2015, she set off on her first DJ tour, entitled Cuppy Takes Africa, in which she visited Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa.
In-demand trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong, also hailing from Nigeria, draws inspiration from the jazz greats, Afrobeat, highlife and ekombi. He also adds the sounds of water, wind and fire, which is why he calls his sound "earth music".
And finally, Ghanaian musician, singer, and producer Bryte has established himself as one of the most exciting voices in recent times by fusing African afrobeats with UK funky and bassline sounds.
Musical dreams with Ishmael Butler and IAMDDB
Experimental hip-hop artist Ishmael Butler hosts this edition of music life - he's a member of Shabazz Palaces, and was also part of Grammy-winning hip-hop pioneers Digable Planets. He’s also worked with the likes of Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Animal Collective.
He’s joined by IAMDDB, a songwriter and vocalist based in Manchester, UK, who is very much the artist in demand right now. Her performance of the song ‘ause on the music platform Colors has been viewed more than 16 million times, and her 2019 album ‘Swervvvvv.5’ made her a household name in the international community. Bishop Nehru is a young rapper and producer from New York. He has made two albums with elusive rap poet MF Doom, and worked with Dizzy Wright, 9th Wonder and Kaytranada. And KeiyaA is a singer, songwriter and producer from Chicago, now based in New York. She’s previously worked as a session musician for Noname, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and Mick Jenkins, and released her debut album Forever, Ya Girl earlier this year.
Together the group discuss the chemistry in collaborations, first steps in the creative process, and if they’ve ever dreamt an idea.
'I forgot to hit record' with Afrodeutsche and Ellen Allien
This week, we’re celebrating artists that have close ties with the German city of Berlin.
Ellen Allien is a globally renowned DJ, electronic musician, producer and label boss based in Berlin. Her label, B-Pitch Control, has shaped the sound of the city over the last decade, and she’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable with music and a dancefloor. Catnapp is an experiemental, self-taught electronic music artist and sound engineer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who moved to Berlin in 2015. She recently appeared in the Netflix series Unorthodox, and in the future she wants to score music for sci-fi films. Mentrix is a Berlin-based vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Tehran, Iran. Her music blends her experiences of eastern and western culture, and she brings together electronic sounds with traditional Sufi instrumentation. And our host this week is Afrodeutsche, a Russian/British/Ghanaian composer, DJ, producer, and remix artist who’s performed and worked with the likes of Aphex Twin and former Music Life guest Marie Davidson.
They’ll be discussing how the sounds of history make their way into their music, feeling the pressure to create, and the importance of finding inspiration.
The science of soundtracks with Max Richter, Hans Zimmer, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Angélica Negrón
A huge episode of Music Life this week sees one of the most versatile composers working today, Max Richter (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, Ad Astra, Mary Queen of Scots), ask renowned creators of music for film, TV and the stage how they got their starts in the music business, their creative processes, how they convey emotion through their work, and how it’s actually quite difficult to create something simple.
Among those answering these questions is a man who really needs no introduction, Hans Zimmer. He’s scored over 100 films so far, putting his signature sound on everything from James Bond to the Dark Knight Trilogy via Thelma & Louise. There isn’t a film that isn’t vastly improved with Hans’ work behind it. Also with Max is Icelandic composer, cellist and vocalist Hildur Guðnadóttir. She won the Academy Award for best score for the controversial film Joker, and you can also hear her music-less score in the haunting TV series Chernobyl. Puerto Rican composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón completes the line up; she writes music for chamber ensembles, orchestras, film, theatre, robotic instruments, and even toys. This is a meeting of minds that’s not to be missed.