Home Entertainment Thom Southern’s Songwriting Survival Kit – Songwriting Magazine

Thom Southern’s Songwriting Survival Kit – Songwriting Magazine

Thom Southern’s Songwriting Survival Kit – Songwriting Magazine
Thom Southern's Songwriting Survival Kit

Thom Southern’s Songwriting Survival Kit: “If the music doesn’t hit as a voice be aware performed on one instrument, it isn’t going to be a superb music.”

Uncover a artistic arsenal that features classic guitars, coastal dwelling and visible inspiration taken from YouTube, motion pictures and TV exhibits

Belfast’s singer-songwriter Thom Southern caught our ear final 12 months along with his poignant alt-folk ballad, Love Hz – ending up as No. 10 in our songs of 2023. Now returning with explosive new single Hey What’s Happenin?, launched below his indie label Mighty Good Later, the fuzzy guitars and pressing drums present his wilder facet. Co-written and produced with musician Stevie Scullion, the music captures a carefree spirit that may transport you again to days spent jamming with associates at school follow rooms.

Following on from tasks akin to Southern and MMODE, Southern’s solo profession began in earnest in 2021. His debut album, PLAZA, got here out the next 12 months and earned him a NI Music Prize nomination. Hey What’s Happenin? is the primary of a number of singles deliberate for this 12 months. Simply as charmed by this ebullient rocker as we had been the sentimental Love Hz, we had been eager to study all about Southern’s important writing package…

Learn extra Songwriting Survival Kits


I’ve received a number of acoustic guitars and beforehand had about 5 Jazzmaster electrics (I bought most of them throughout COVID… devastating). The acoustics I largely use are my Martin D-28, my Massive Child Taylor, which seems wonderful now, purchased model new it’s about 20 years previous as we speak, and my Gibson J45. Nowadays I completely adore my J45 although.

I purchased it model new a few years in the past however I believe lately it’s simply ventured into that age after a tonne of enjoying the place it’s beginning to really feel ‘classic’. The texture of the again of the neck is beginning to be extra worn and the physique simply sounds so fantastically heat. I largely write all my songs in commonplace or DADGAD tuning, however detuned about two or three octaves decrease to get a brilliant saggy sound with lots of low finish depth. I really like when the underside notes rattle…

Anyway this guitar tuned on this means is doing wonders for my writing in the meanwhile. I believe the guitar detuned like this makes every part sound ‘cool’ on a regular basis so even the only vocal melodies or lyrics I write excessive of it at all times keep in the identical temper constantly.

Thom Southern

Thom Southern: “My lyrics all have lots of me and my life expertise in them however they’re normally aided by fictional characters, concepts or tales influenced by the sentiments that TV and movie give me.”


Attempting to not sound like a bore however I prefer to keep away from my cellular lots nowadays by turning it off and hiding it in the back of a cabinet after I can and I hardly ever take it out with me after I go for a stroll or run. It’s too straightforward to begin happening social apps which, aside from laughing at humorous movies of comedians or canines, I discover all of it very distracting and kills my creativity.

That stated, I actually love utilizing voice notes to get my concepts down, whether or not it’s simply me buzzing a melody I heard in my sleep in the course of the evening or me enjoying on my acoustic/singing, so after I begin writing one thing cool out of the blue I instantly go and seize it earlier than I neglect what I wrote. The compression on the microphone sounds superior too in case you get it sitting in the correct place.

For manufacturing functions as properly I normally attempt to have the music mapped out enjoying it dwell on a voice be aware with the right bpm/drum beat enjoying out of my studio audio system with Logic Professional. I hold recording new voice notes like this till I’m pleased with the association and tempo earlier than beginning to do any correct recording, even after I’m writing with or producing different folks that is normally how I begin. For me personally, if the music doesn’t hit as a voice be aware performed on one instrument, it isn’t going to be a superb music, primarily with vocal-fronted songs anyway.


I couldn’t do something I’m doing the previous few years with out my laptop computer as a result of I produce all my solo challenge’s music from my residence studio with a easy setup. For a very long time in earlier tasks I wrote most of my songs within the rehearsal room enjoying with drummers after which my label would ship me into a complicated studio with a producer who would press all of the buttons. That was an unbelievable expertise and I’m so glad I received to do it, however these days I do completely every part from my residence studio with my laptop computer, an audio interface and one or two microphones.

Subscribe to Songwriting Magazine

On a few events, I’ve been in my buddy Stevie Scullion’s studio writing however he’s received the identical arrange as me so it’s all fairly fluid when it comes to how we work. As soon as I believe I’ve received one thing good written I take it to my laptop computer’s notepad and actually hone down the lyrics and construction of the music.

Most of my productions revolve round drums and bass so Logic Professional is completely key to creating the songs sound and, very often, I write higher lyrics or melody concepts feeding off the brand new rhythm part. I’ve tried Professional Instruments earlier than however for me creatively, I simply discover Logic Professional so fast – particularly for getting the music proper when you’re feeling impressed. A number of my lyric or vocal melody concepts come from drums or percussion, so having the laptop computer close by after I’m writing is absolutely necessary.

Subscribe to one of many world’s solely publications devoted to the craft of writing music and lyrics, and luxuriate in unique advantages

Thom Southern

Thom Southern: “A number of my lyric or vocal melody concepts come from drums or percussion.”


I grew up with my mother and father at all times dwelling very central in several cities and I continued to take action for a very long time after I moved out. Solely lately within the final couple of years I’ve been dwelling on the North East Coast of Eire, proper beside the ocean and a ravishing forest the place I’m going strolling on a regular basis. I actually can’t think about myself dwelling some other means.

I do love the power of metropolis life however solely in small doses now. My thoughts is far quieter dwelling near nature and respiration actually wonderful clear air on a regular basis. I believe I’ve grown a lot as an individual since being right here and because of this, I really feel my writing is absolutely coming collectively. It’s most likely simply life and work expertise as properly, however I do assume dwelling right here has centered me extra and I’ve change into extra aware.


Anybody who is aware of me properly or has written/recorded music intimately with me, whether or not it’s been in excessive finish recording studios, small price range studios or residence studio setups, is aware of that until I’m modifying one thing I by no means take a look at Logic Professional/Professional Instruments whereas I’m placing down concepts or mixing… all I watch is YouTube movies.

Completely every part I’ve labored on has been made whereas I’m getting impressed by one thing visible on YouTube. The movies I watch at all times change from music to music as properly. For instance, a music I lately completed up the writing and recording for (my subsequent launch within the coming months) the one factor I watched on YouTube for days on finish had been Black Insurgent Bike Membership music movies and their dwell gigs, or at one time I believe I watched a Quentin Tarantino film trailer on repeat, I believe it was The Hateful Eight. It completely focuses me contained in the sound/style of what I’m making in that second.

TV programmes and films are an enormous affect on my writing too. I believe I watch no less than one nice film each evening of the week. Paul Newman and Scorsese motion pictures are an enormous affect on my writing temper in the meanwhile, and what I’ll be releasing within the coming months. My lyrics all have lots of me and my life expertise in them however they’re normally aided by fictional characters, concepts or tales influenced by the sentiments that TV and movie give me.


I really like all types of music, from The White Stripes to Aphex Twin, Nick Drake to The Smashing Pumpkins, or 9 Inch Nails to Harold Budd/Brian Eno. It’s form of a blessing and a curse, however I’ve a little bit of an issue with unintentionally sounding like what I’m listening to on the time (or no less than I believe I do), so I actually have to limit myself to a few artists at one time.

For instance, in the meanwhile I’m listening to lots of Suicide, Neu, Eyedress and The Spirit Of The Beehive, and my writing circulate feels actually good so I’ll keep on with that for some time till I want to maneuver on to one thing else. Whether or not I sound something like them to the listener once they hear my new music, it doesn’t matter to me, however the vibe and temper of these particular artists is giving my work the power I have to really feel impressed and get the songs completed.

Thom Southern’s new single Hey What’s Happenin? is out now ON Mighty Good Chief and there’s heaps extra music on the best way. Discover out all the newest by way of his Instagram web page instagram.com/thomsouthern__


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here