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Friday, May 3, 2013

Sam Hammond (Swiss Lips)

Swiss Lips have signed a 4 album deal with Sony, been playlisted on Radio 1, appeared on Channel 4's 4Play, supported Blur and Bastille and performed at festivals from Leeds to Japan. Their blend of pop hooks and electro is epitomised in their latest single 'U Got The Power' , out now. Here frontman Sam Hammond shares his songwriting secrets. 

  1. Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? I try to write most days, but somedays nothing happens, I just try to be around a guitar/keyboard incase something appears in my brain.
  2. Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? If I'm stuck I go for a walk and sing outloud like a lunatic, or start doing something else. I find I write my best melodies without trying too hard.
  3. Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? Usually it was always melody first but recently I've been attempting to write lyrics first. I think I'm still learning exactly how important lyrics are.
  4. Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? The melody is always the focal point for me but ultimately it's the relationship it has with the chords that makes it good or not.
  5. How long does it take you to write a song? Sometimes an hour sometimes a month. I'm never fully happy with them, I just abandon them at some point!
  6. Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs?                                                                                                  U GOT THE POWER :This song was co-written by myself and Tim ( keyboard player). The idea had been around for a long time, I'd written the verse, and the outro on acoustic guitar and had a different chorus topline. It was never quite right and I'd kind of abandoned it. Then Tim suggested a different melody for the chorus and we stuck it together and it felt great.                                                                                             CAROLYN: I wrote this about a good friend of mine. She's pretty old and a great story teller. Her stories of her life in the 50's with her husband were really inspiring and this song came together really quickly after hanging around with her one day.                                                                           IN THE WATER: This is one I am really proud of. I wrote the verses pretty quickly then was struggling to write an uplifting chorus for ages. One day I walked to the shop and on the way the whole chorus popped into my head, lyrics and everything. I recorded it on my phone and worked it out when I got home. I've still got the recording on my phone, it's pretty funny to hear me write it with cars and buses flying by.   
  7. Do you have favourite keys to write in? Not really, Just wherever I can sing the melody.
  8. Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? I don't have much of an opinion on it. I know very little theory, I just know things that I've worked out myself over the years but some people who have really studied are great. I don't think you can theorize how something feels very accurately so it's always gonna be a bit of both.
  9. Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? Sometimes yeah, we're not protective over old tunes, we're always sticking old and new together.
  10. Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? We like pop music , we try to write songs that will stick in your head all day. We also like current modern production techniques . So I guess we do, but it's not for money, we haven't got any of that!
  11. Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? Only within the band, and we have a great relationship. I'd like to write with other people too, just haven't had the opportunity yet.
  12. Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Evan Dando, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Frank Ocean, Kurt Vile, Gram Parsons, Kanye West, Ron Sexsmith.. To name a few.
  13. Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? I think only as an afterthought, when I'm in the moment it's tougher. I tend to write best when I'm being reflective.
  14. Do you have any idea where you ideas come from? None whatsoever. 
  15. Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? Probably loads of stuff, come and hang out with me and we'll talk! Never give up!


Click on the following to find Swiss Lips on the web.
This interview was by Ben Williams. Find Ben on TWITTERFACEBOOK .
The next artist to be featured on 'Songwriters talk about Songwriting' will be Josephine, so stay tuned.

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