Chaz Cardigan discusses the genesis of a song — either when writing alone or with collaborators. Plus he shares his own personal songwriting tools, how to find the right songwriting partners, as well as exploring the social and human intricacies of music creation in collaboration.
About Chaz Cardigan:
Kentucky-born songwriter and producer Chaz Cardigan honed his skills in Louisville bars, and writing with fellow artists before eventually releasing his debut Chaz Cardigan project
I in 2017. His reputation as a powerful songwriter and an electric live performer led him to sign a deal with Capitol Records, releasing back-to-back eps,
Holograma. However, his major label release and debut tour collided at the start at the pandemic, so Chaz spent 2020 creating an entirely new album about the experience of living in America at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.
His energized production and observant lyrics as a queer artist from middle America have resonated with a growing community that spans Patreon, Discord, TikTok, and streaming services. That momentum ultimately fostered a new partnership with the record label Nvak Collective.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Explore your creativity with no limitations and let yourself play in the sandbox.
Creativity is an essential way to communicate and be seen. Everyone has a story; make sure to do your part to create a safe space for sharing stories.
Leave your ego at the door and always serve the song first. If you don’t like someone’s suggestion, at least try it out, and then suggest additional ways to make it better.
The best co-writes happen when you’ve established trust with a co-writer. Relationships are what will help carry you through this business.
The right collaborators will push you to become better at your craft.
Keep the momentum going by not getting stuck on self-editing. It helps to go into each songwriting session with specific goals about what you hope to achieve.
You have to make the song believable for the artist who will be singing and performing it. Is it honest?
Write a song about an experience where you felt powerless or alone in a situation. List the setting (time and place of the experience), the characters (the people involved, if any), and five keywords that describe your feelings during that experience. Use these notes to guide your writing process as you share this experience in story form and then in song form.
Find someone that you’d like to collaborate with but haven’t yet, then reach out to them. Set up a time to meet for coffee or talk on a video call to get to know each other. If it feels like you get along, set up a time between 3-6 hours long for a co-writing session either virtually or in-person.
Following Chaz’s example, write a verse that has a vague topic (i.e. love, loneliness, joy) but include as many
specificreferences that you can think of that would help others relate to the song (i.e. the name of a city, a specific time of year, brand names, cultural references or key descriptive words)