On 15 August, in Brighton, Chas Palmer-Williams will be hosting a WriteStars masterclass in writing lyrics. Here he is with his Old English Sheepdog pup, Wilma, and here’s a little bit about him …
Inteview with Chas Palmer-Williams … May 2014
How did you get into songwriting?
I have been writing lyrics since I was about 14. I got into song writing when I joined my first band, Lightyear. It was amazing that we could start a practice session with nothing and finish with a complete song!
Were you always a songwriter?
I think I have always had it in me, but I believe that anyone can write a song. I can remember writing lyrics in all of my lessons as a child. They discovered that I was dyslexic at 16 years old, so I didn’t have much chance at school. I remember writing lyrics on the back of report cards. I think that, as much as I try different paths, song writing is always there.
Do you find Brighton an inspirational place to work?
I love Brighton. When I lived elsewhere, every time I played down here the shows were so much fun. The city supports all the arts so much more than my home town of Derby. Derby would inspire me to write very different songs than Brighton does. Humans are the best inspiration for writing and there seem to be a few down here!
What is your style of writing – and how do you go about setting down a song?
Well, I would say my style is observational. My family are originally from Windnes. We didn’t have loads of money so the entertainment would be talking about people. The things people do can be very strange but also beautiful. I flash from hating people one minute to seeing a small act of kindness that can spark a whole new song. In this day and age of social media bombardment all it takes is to sit on a bench and actually pay attention for a while.
As a great man once said “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
Can anyone come to your workshop on 15 August?
Yes, anyone and everyone is welcome. Complete beginners to seasoned writers looking to exchange ideas. It will be a very welcoming atmosphere. One of the most rewarding things I can think of is being honest and writing lyrics you truly mean – but also it can scary. It can also be an amazing type of therapy. Many times I have read old lyrics and realised some things very interesting about myself. Lyric writing will always be there for you.
Can, say, a poet come along and translate their skills into lyric writing?
Yes they can. Lyric writing and poetry can go hand in hand. If we add music then this changes things. We need to think about syllable rhythms, flow and style. It can end up a bit of a words vs melody type affair that needs to be worked on, [but] everybody is different.
A bit about your new album?
My album is called The Ballads Of Douglas E.Fairbanks. I used a pre-order, crowd-funded format to meet production costs and I’m very happy to say I’m at 106%. I have started recording with some amazing session players and a brilliant producer called Pete Frasier.
It is quite a lyrical album.
But the most important thing about lyrics is, you have to be honest.
If you like, you can pre-order the album here:
And finally, do people need to be ‘musical’ or play an instrument to come to your workshop?
Nope. I think the general idea is that there is a sort of mysticism to lyric and song writing. There truly isn’t. I would like to make it much more accessible.
We’re really looking forward to Chas’s workshop – it’s our first in songwriting, and we hope to run more.
If you’d like to find out more about the workshop, or book a place, – we’re on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call for a chat on 020 3078 7825.
For more information and details of the £100 ‘Chapter One, Brighton’ writing competition and the £250 ‘Summer Write’ short story competition, visit www.writestars.co.uk.
Also, if you’d like to enter our free draw to win lunch with author Isabelle Goddard, who will be running her masterclass on writing historical fiction at the Old Ship in Brighton on 15 June – just answer this question:
What year did Victoria become Queen?
Answers to email@example.com, or by post to WriteStars Ltd, 43 Berkeley Square, London W1J 5FJ by 15 June.