Sophie Daniels Professor of Songwriting


Learn from SAYS19 judge, Sophie Daniels

From childhood to university, Sophie studied classical music, literature, and musical theatre. Her adult career in music began with songwriting and performing in band projects and musicals. She pursued a dual profession from the start of her employment, combining music teaching and performing with a job at the BBC. She then progressed through roles at major record labels whilst writing and performing as a singer-songwriter.

Sophie also works as a co-writer on singer-songwriter projects in London, mainly folk, country, and pop, whilst developing her independent record label and co-writing in Nashville. During her career, she has taught at Italia Conti and ICMP (now head of songwriting at ICMP).  She has worked for The BBC, Sony Music UK and Syco. Her songwriting graduates range from Daughter and Denai Moore to Rise To Remain.

We asked Sophie some questions to help aspiring young songwriters on their songwriting journey

How old were you when you wrote your first song?
8 years old.

What was your first song about?
It was kind of political. I remember trying to create an analogy about state control and worrying whether we could be controlled by the state poisoning our toothpaste! I also wrote some love songs which were all contrived around imaginary plots with imaginary boyfriends (mainly based on George Michael).  The first one I wrote that I was pleased with was a song for a play that I also wrote with some friends. It was called ‘Moving In A Dream’.

Who inspired you to start songwriting?
Abba first, then around 7-8 years old I got into George and Ira Gershwin and sat and learned to play and sing all their songs from a piano song book.

What’s your favourite song you’ve ever written?
A song called ‘I Can Love You From Here’ which I am recording in Nashville this spring. It is written for my daughter Liberty who died in 2011 and it is part of a recording project for the All Party Parliamentary Group working in Westminster for Baby Loss Awareness. It will be released for the APPG in October 2019.

How easy did you find it to get your music heard?
I’ve worked on lots of different kinds of songs for different projects. Some are more difficult than others but it is never easy.

What’s your biggest regret as a young songwriter?
Not following my own ideas and interests with a more determined focus. Or put another way, listening to advice from A&R men. Always make the music you want to make even when you are told that it is out of fashion. Fashion comes and goes, whilst your connection with your musical identity must last you your lifetime.

What are your top tips for aspiring songwriters?
Think through your big picture motivations like – Why are you writing this song? What is it really about and what do you really want to say? Who are you talking to? If you can think through your motivations as a writer in some detail, then the smaller decisions, (like which word goes where), tend to make themselves.

What do you especially like about The Young Songwriter competition?
The passion that everyone involved in this competition shows for sharing the joy of songwriting with a younger generation.

Are you aged 8-18?  Have you written your own songs?  Then enter The Young Songwriter 2019 competition!