Q&A with Jonny Lattimer
The songwriter on visiting a Youth Music project and the importance of young people’s music-making.
Jonny Lattimer is a songwriter and producer who’s worked with artists including Ellie Goulding (with whom he co-wrote the UK top five single ‘Starry Eyed’), Tom Odell and Rag’n’Bone Man.
He recently made a couple of special guest appearances at Youth Music projects to share his expertise. We caught up with Jonny after his visit to the Grit School project run by School Ground Sounds in south London.
Hi Jonny! Tell us a bit about yourself and your career in music…
“I’m a songwriter and producer specialising in co-writing with artists. I write music and lyrics with artists in all styles of music and generally try to help them create the songs they want to write!
“I started off playing in various projects of my own and then someone suggested I try writing for other artists. It suits me perfectly because I like lots of different styles of music and I get to do that and always meet new people.
“I was lucky that one of the first people I ever co-wrote with was Ellie Goulding which really gave me a good springboard for my career.”
What made you want to support Youth Music?
“Most professional musicians like me have had access to music projects at a young age, whether that was at school or in the community. It’s a chance to meet like-minded people, play together, collaborate, share what you’ve been working on and hear what other people are doing. That’s how you get inspired and what drives you to want to get better, as well as the benefit of the social side of it.
“I think anyone who is interested in making music should be given the opportunity to experience that, but sadly it’s not something that all schools and communities are able to offer. Youth Music fills that gap by funding great projects around the country and I was really keen to get involved with that.”
How was your visit to the Grit School project and what happened in the session?
“The Grit School is a short course in south London for 16-25 year olds who want to develop their own artist projects and try to take them to the next level.
“I went in to run a songwriting workshop, talk about my creative process and give the group some things to think about when they’re writing. We divided the young people into two groups and they collaborated with each other inside the groups to create something together.
“It was fun for them to experience what it’s like to write for someone else’s voice, for example, and think about how to work together to take the best ideas forward.”
What did you think of the music that came out of the session?
“I was impressed! They were a really talented bunch – some singers, some rappers and some instrumentalists, and despite having quite different influences in their own music they were great at finding some common ground and getting stuck in.
“Although the workshop wasn’t long enough to finish whole songs, it did generate some great ideas, some of which the groups are continuing to work on together.
“But the important thing is getting into the habit of the creative process and not being afraid to share your ideas with people – and I was pleased that everyone wanted to get involved.”
What was the best question you got asked – and how did you answer?
“A question I get asked a lot is how I get inspiration and find new ideas for songs to write. I always say that I try not to think about it too much! It’s easy to over-think it and question everything you do.
“And although it’s important to be able to edit your ideas enough to know when you need to improve something, you need to give yourself the space to see where your mind takes you. Just start – whether that’s some chords, melody, concept or whatever and go on a journey with it!
“Collaborating with other people also helps a lot, you can bounce off each other and it stops you getting stuck as much.”
What would you say to anyone else considering supporting Youth Music – whether it’s by taking part in Give a Gig, donating towards our work, or lending their expertise like you did?
“I think it’s so important that young people get the chance to explore their passion for music. All I can think of is how important it was for me and that’s enough to make me want to pass that on.
“I would definitely urge people to support Youth Music and help make these opportunities available.”