(Not very) French Songwriter, Topliner. Writing lyrics in proper English, might agree to write in French. MA Songwriting at ICMP, London. Credits include Phil Gould (Level 42), Jeff Ludovicus, Gaëlle Buswel etc.
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Interview with Allison Esther Mareek
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was very proud to write the lyrics to the song Dimanche by Jeff Ludovicus because this song represented a sensitive subject for someone who's not very good with expressing their feelings. And it was my job to find a way to express what they felt through my words for this song (that I truly love).
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm preparing the release of a song I wrote lyrics to for Phil Gould (founding member of Level 42) and I'm preparing the tracks to a future folk duo's album.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both, because I find qualities to be reckon with in both worlds.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will do my very best and I will not leave any stone unturned in order to give you the song your are looking to sing.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: It's simply the thing I love most to do. There is no better feeling to me than to see the face of an artist listening to their song when I manage to truly transcribe their feeling/story/what they wanted to say.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That lyrics matter less than music (full disclosure: they don't!!) ;-)
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What story are you looking to tell through your work? What's the message you are trying to share?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Make sure you have the right feeling and the right start to a relationship with the writer/composer you choose.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My Martin CEO-7 first and foremost. A notebook A pen My computer And if I can cheat and count the pen and notebook as one, I'd add my audio interface and my favorite mic.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been a songwriter for the past 10 years but I have been cutting tracks for other artists for the past 6 years. I'm hoping to be able to keep writing and composing for as many different artists as possible, to never stop exploring my craft as there are so many things to learn. I'm also very interested in the musical theatre world and would love to someday be able to work as lyricist on a production. Until that happens, I'm learning and working on a production of my own.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm a storyteller. My area of comfort is when I relate events that have happened in real life and can research as many details as possible to fuel my writing ideas.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I'd love to work with Lizzy Mc Alpine as I think her writing is very different from mine and I would have a lot to take from such a session. Then there's the dream colab of working with Sting someday even if only to sit back quietly and observe his songwriting process.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Go deep into the person you're writing for's story. It takes building a true relationship with the artist for the writer to be able to truly give life to their feelings through words and music.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on a lot of different genres but given that my own songs tend to revolve around a singer-sonwriter/folk kind of vibe I would say this is the area I'm most confortable with.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Lyrics writing.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I have a very peculiar style of songwriting in the fact that storytelling is a very important side of the work and I try to convey this in every song I write. I think the listener needs to feel dragged into a story in order to be truly "hooked" with a song and I strive to make this easy to feel through my choice of words, rhymes and song structures. The emotion conveyed by the lyrics has always been just as important to me, if not more important, than the emotion brought on by the musical side of a track.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to have an initial meeting with the artist I'm writing for, preferably in person when possible but I also work on Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom etc. The idea behind this/those meetings is to have a good sense of the artist's intention for the song and to try and nail their story and the emotions behind it. I would also then typically do a certain amount of research before getting into the writing part if and when needed. Once I have a sufficient part of the song ready to be sent for review, I like to exchange with the artist and/or his/her team to decide together whether this is the right direction for the lyrics. I also of course regularly work on a brief as I have been trained to do during my MA in Songwriting at ICMP, London.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work from home with a Focusrite Scarlett audio interface (18i8) and Logic Pro X allowing me to do live takes of both instrument(s) and vocals when needed. I record everything in my JZ mic Vintage 67 and my Audio Technica AT2020 and I'm also using a Novation Launchkey 37 for all software instrument needs.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Sting is my role model as a lyricist and songwriter. I also study a lot of Bob Dylan's work and I'm very inspired by the writing style of Jason Isbell. There are many many others of course and I'd be happy to tell you more about my different influences on a meeting.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I'm mostly employed to write English lyrics for different artists' projects although I have on occasion been working as a translator/adaptor from French lyrics to English lyrics and vice-versa. I also regularly provide finished tracks for artists (both music and lyrics). I usually write lyrics and/or music to a specific brief or idea sent by the artist or production team and provide them with a recorded demo including guide vocals and pointers on lyrics placement.