11 January 2023

Young Riverina songwriters learn the power of creative collaboration

| Chris Roe
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APRA AMCOS mentors Chelsea Warner, Katie Wighton and Taka Perry have been sharing their experience with young Riverina songwriters. Photo: Chris Roe.

Aspiring Riverina songwriters have gathered at Wagga’s Civic Theatre this week to make some creative magic under the guidance of industry professionals.

“We have two days and it’s a pretty quick process,” explains mentor Katie Wighton, who is part of the ARIA Award-winning folk band All Our Exes Live in Texas.

“The first day the participants write a song, and the second day we have two producers and they work with them to produce the song.

“So, by the end of the second day, they have a fully written, fully produced song.”

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It’s the second time the APRA AMCOS SongMakers Holiday Sessions have been held in Wagga and Katie has been steering the locals through the process along with fellow artists Taka Perry and Chelsea Warner.

“All of us are songwriters and we were pretty heavily involved in the music industry and so the participants get this great opportunity to have some real-world experience,” Katie says.

“One of the things that we are trying to encourage is collaboration, and even if these participants don’t go ahead and be songwriters around the world, they’re participating in an environment that means they have to meet new people and talk to new people and problem solve and it’s just a great skill set to develop as a young person.”


Songwriters collaborate over two days to create a finished song. Photo: Chris Roe.

Local rapper and aspiring music producer Noah Schmidtke is a returning participant and says he got a lot out of the first sessions in April last year.

“It’s amazing being able to work with people who know what they’re doing,” he says.

“It’s one of the reasons I signed up for a workshop again, as soon as I knew what was happening.

“Being able to work with both other amateur musicians like myself and with professionals, it’s a really good experience that I’m definitely not taking for granted.”

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Fellow songwriter Imogen Rubi agrees that it’s great to work with other creatives to push each other and produce something unique.

“It’s nice to share with someone and have someone either connect to it or be like – oh, I see that kind of differently – because, that’s what this is for, it’s collaboration,” she explains, adding that it’s an organic process that you can’t really prepare for.

“Every time I tried to kind of bring something with me, it’s immediately demolished, disintegrated because we’ve done something else and it’s like, oh, that’s a better idea, actually, so I’m gonna go with that.”

Alex Pietroboni has travelled across from Griffith and says his musical journey has taken him from drums to piano and guitar and now songwriting.

“I’ve never really worked with anyone writing a song, so it’s pretty different and a lot of good stuff’s coming out of it,” he says.

“You’d be playing something on the guitar and someone’s singing something and it’s like – Oh, that’s really cool!”

Katie is looking forward to seeing what the workshops produce and says songwriting can be both artistically and financially rewarding.

“It’s something that APRA AMCOS is really kind of keen on showcasing because it’s something you can do as a musician to really diversify your income stream by letting your little song go out into the world and be its own thing,” she says before becoming philosophical.

“I definitely feel like some of my songs are not mine anymore. They feel like my audience’s song, which is quite lovely if you’ve been performing for a long time and playing the same song.”

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