Natalie McCool first came to public attention for winning a national songwriting competition judged by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Since then she has written with Paul McCartney, performed with Boy George and collaborated with Beth Orton.
We’re delighted Natalie is currently working with us to deliver guitar workshops as part of our Here Come the Grrrls programme. Here she shares her top tips on making it happen in music.
“You might not know Natalie McCool quite yet, but it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the internet falls under her spell. We certainly have” – Nylon
1) Collaborate as much as possible with anyone whose music / writing / style you are immediately drawn to. I started performing music in other bands before I started writing my own, and this really helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve recently began to collaborate more than ever before – and it’s great to have more than one project on the go, especially with other artists I really respect and whose music I really like.
2) Get creative when writing songs. I used to write specifically on guitar, which really helped my sense of harmony, but recently I’ve tried out writing just on a laptop with just a bassline as a base – I think this has really opened up my sense of melody as there is more space to play with that’s not occupied by a guitar part. Not only is it more creative but also very interesting.
3) Don’t just settle for a bog-standard lyric. Try and pull out the unexpected – you’d be surprised how easy and fun this is to work on. So you want to say something individual and unique when you write a song – but how do you go about this? Well you can start by filling an A4 page with your thoughts every day, straight after you wake up and straight before you go to sleep – not like a diary, more like your stream of consciousness, and it can consist of anything your mind lands on – just write it down. You’d be amazed at the images and words you come out with – they can be weird, wonderful and powerful.
4) Make opportunities for yourself – Ever wonder why your diary is blank? Or at the opposite end of the scale why you never seem to find time to work on music? The most important thing to learn when you are a musician is that most of the time you have to create your own work. This means doing everything from networking at shows with other musicians whose work / style you feel an affinity with, emailing promoters and venues to ask about getting a show, making the effort to speak to people in the industry and creating some kind of rapport with them – this goes a long way. You can actually make things happen – only if you want to.
5) Be yourself. It’s great to have a set of musical influences, but to make people really stand up and listen you have to have something individual, your own style. Imitation is so boring – and why would you want to be second best at being someone-else when you can be the best at doing your own thing? If you try my points above you’ll get closer to doing what only you know best how to do. And when you find it you will know!
A big thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share her top tips with us.