During Covid-19 SoCo delivered Music For The Mind, an online weekly songwriting programme for service users of Southfield, a specialist mental health inpatient service, as part of our Southampton City Council funded Community Learning programme. Participants explored various lyric writing techniques and activities and, following the easing of restrictions, recorded their original compositions at Hightown Studios.
Tell me about your musical background and interests
When I was about 14 or 15 I found Drum’n’Bass and fell in love with it. I just love the heavy bass lines. I just remember going to a Drum’n’Bass rave and there was a guy on the mic and I thought, you know what, I’d love to do that, and that was sort of the turning point for me.
I started writing lyrics when I was 15. The older I got the more focused my lyrics became and they started being about me and my life or the lives of others. I started off writing for Drum’n’Bass and wanted to be a Drum’n’Bass MC and did an open mic at a club in Basingstoke. The guy who runs it asked me if I wanted to headline the next show. So I was quite happy about that but unfortunately alcohol got in the way – I was quite drunk and had to leave. I think I really found hip hop at around the same time too.
What activities did you take part in and how did they impact you musically and personally?
First off, I found Jim really accommodating – he seemed like a really nice guy. We had zoom meetings every week going over different techniques of writing and some other activities. It changed the way I looked at things and I think I have improved – more like the use of language. You can be more abstract with your lyrics is what I got from that. It was good to give me another way of looking at things. It’s given me the opportunity to go in a different direction and I’ve written quite a bit lately. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s opinions on things, especially when they know what they’re doing.
It was good to get in the studio and to see how it worked – the production side of it. It was really nice getting in the booth and getting a proper mic – the whole process really. It definitely supported my confidence. Performing on the mic in front of people, even though I’ve done it years ago, it’s quite different. When you’ve been in hospital for 3 years it knocks it out of you but getting in the studio, yeah, it’s amazing! Very empowering. I got in the booth and they’d give me a bit of feedback and then I’d get back in the booth. Getting in the studio and just hearing positive feedback from people that’s what really did it for me.
I just love music, listening to it, making it. Getting stuff off my chest is good you know. It feels like a release of negativity. I can put it out in a song rather than sit and deal with it. Music definitely helps when it’s been a struggle.
“From the very beginning Louis was engaged, enthusiastic and keen to show me the lyrics he’d previously written and what they meant to him. I’d noticed that there was a real lack of confidence not only with his creative work but with social interactions with me and we spoke a lot about how lyric writing could help to improve his wellbeing. As the sessions went on his confidence notably progressed and he started instigating more and leading topics and areas of discussion. When he took part in the recording session at the studio he was really buzzing and focused on learning specific recording techniques and the whole process. It lifted his confidence and gave him the ability to look at his own talent and his own music and to understand what he needed to do at that time to make it the best it could be.” – Jim Chorley, Community Music Practitioner, SoCo Music Project
What do you want to do next?
I write lyrics pretty much every day and I’ll be going down to a friend’s studio in Portsmouth after the lockdown to record. I wanna do open mic nights and eventually do some gigs. That’s the foundation because I wanna be traveling the world sharing my music with people.
“Louis was really keen to get involved with SoCo due to his passion and talent for music. The programme facilitated this passion brilliantly, providing him with the confidence that his work was of an excellent standard as well as guiding him to consider different techniques for songwriting. Jim was really adaptable to the direction that Louis wanted to take. Having the opportunity to record his own work in the studio was a real high. Taking away a high-quality recording I think really improved his self-esteem and showcased his talent to the rest of the unit.” – Lydia Lansdowne, Occupational Therapist, Southfield
Hear Louis’ track, recorded at Hightown Studios, below: