Miss 600 are a duo consisting of Hannah Garner and David Amar. In the last year Miss 600 have performed at The Royal Albert Hall in front of 5000 people, supported the legendary 10CC at Ludlow Castle, and performed with a nine piece band on the Galtres Festival main stage. They are firm favourites of BBC Radio 2, appearing on the Terry Wogan and Chris Evans shows and featuring regularly on the playlist. Their debut single 'Twist' was on the A-list for a staggering seven weeks. Here multi-instrumentalist David Amar shares his songwriting secrets.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? There is no daily routine for me, but everytime I pick up the guitar I find some inspiration. Lyrics can be a bit harder to come by and generally I write only when I have lots of ideas.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? I use the recorder on my phone a lot for melody and chord ideas and scribble down interesting phrases or words in a book. This can usually spark something creative and prevents me from forgetting potentially good ideas!
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? Both but sometimes neither: I often work around chord progressions I mess around with on the guitar or riffs I think sound cool.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? For a lot of people it is since this is what people sing and hum to, however some songs are often remembered by other aspects such as the drum part in We Will Rock You or the riff in Smoke on the Water. Lyricists or singers may take away something different from a song than for example a drummer or guitarist so it is arguable whether melody is most important. It is probably down to individual opinions.
- How long does it take you to write a song? I wrote a song (lyrics and music) once in about 25 minutes but often it takes days as songs need to be crafted unless there is a high dose of inspiration at that moment!
- .Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs? Working with my Miss 600 band mate Hannah Garner, the first song we wrote together is called 'Make or Break' and is a track on our debut album 'Buying Time'. We both had words written down for various sections of this song but I dreamt the melody and chorus idea and remember waking up and running around trying to find a pen/paper and a recorder so I would not forget it! The lyrics in the chorus purposely make use of ambiguous metaphorical language as we wanted people to take different emotions and ideas away when they heard this song. Another song I particularly loved working on is a song with a singer called Tammy Cartwright. Tammy is a prolific songwriter and sang with the dance band Darude a few years back. She had all the words written for a song entitled 'What to do With Life' and when I saw these words written down I immediately thought of a chord progression. We had recorded a rough version of this song including drum parts, melody and chords within an hour. Finally, I will include our debut single 'Twist'. This song initiated out of a riff idea and from the clarinet riff, we ended up with an idea for the entire piece. This song is particularly special to us because we have performed it in some crazy places such as on Sir Terry Wogan’s Show, live at the Albert Hall, Strictly Come Dancing in Poland and even McDonalds in Berlin!!
- What songs that other people have written do you particularly admire? There are so many great songs that I could select but I will name a few for varying reasons: 'Every Breath You Take' by The Police. There is so much depth and feel to this song and even subtle parts such as the piano in the bridge or the ride cymbal nearer the end capture my imagination. 'Harvest Moon' by Neil Young. Again, there is so much depth to this song. The whole folky/country feel makes this song feel like it’s from a different world. The lyrics are beautiful as well. 'Africa' by Toto. This song reminds me of a great trip I had one time (not incidentally to Africa!). I love every aspect to this song. The rhythm part is fantastic and I have always loved the melody of the chorus. 'Easy Lover' by Phil Collins: I love the simplicity but potency of the lyrics in the song. 'True Colours' performed by Cyndi Lauper and written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. This was my favourite song as a child and still to this day it is one of my favourites. 'Somebody Else’s Guy' by Jocelyn Brown. The bassline is one of my favourites but the lyrics and vocal delivery are out of this world! 'Open Letter to a Landlord' by Living Colour is a less well known song but the lyrics throughout the song are so full of passion and emotion and delivered with such skill by the singer Corey Glover I actually find it hard to listen to this song when I’m driving as I find myself distracted and engrossed in the music
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? This depends on the person although I think knowledge of music or instruments in general can help. Since I can play the guitar, bass and drums, I tend to imagine a song in its entirety as I’m creating it although I never think in terms of scales or rudiments. I think if an idea sounds good and feels good, it doesn’t matter too much about in depth technical knowledge. However, knowledge or awareness of aspects such as chord progression can help since it is usually easier to link parts of songs together with such ideas in mind.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? Yes. Songs need to be crafted and apart from the few occasions I have written something immediately satisfying, I mostly revisit ideas to try and improve them.
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? I never do this knowingly however I think I, like most composers or musicians, will be influenced to some degree by what I listen to. This could be current songs on the radio or old classics in my playlist.
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? Yes. Since I am part of a duo, this has happened quite often! Co-writing can help bring about new ideas and also change the course or feel of a song/idea, often for the better.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? Lennon and McCartney, Sting, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Metallica and for modern day, I admire Beyconce and Bruno Mars.
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? I think extreme emotions definitely help to inspire me.
- Do you have any idea where you ideas come from? Life experience, previous songs, listening to the radio, poetry and dreams!
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? I think if people are passionate about song writing or music they should pursue it. I think good language and communication skills helps: I know English A-level has definitely helped me! Also, instrument knowledge is always a good thing. Guitars can be as good a source of inspiration to write songs as much as words can be.
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