Big exposure for young songwriters

Mentored by international touring artist Jackie Bristow, six young songwriters — five Queenstown-based and one from Dunedin — are releasing their debut EP in Parliament, in Wellington, today.

The release, in association with Youthtown, also marks the official launch of Bristow’s Central Lakes songwriting programme, SongCatcher, which she hopes will go nationwide some day.

The songwriters, who’ve each contributed one song, are sisters Taylah, 12, and Addisyn Miller, 9, Ivy McKenzie, 12, Mala Januskiewicz, 16, Saige Galloway, 12, and Dunedin- and formerly Wānaka-based Freya Jeffery.

Singer/songwriter Bristow, who splits her time between Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States, and Queenstown/Wānaka, has been teaching young local song writers since 2020, initially at the suggestion of Queenstown-based arts patron Bill Moran.

‘‘I grew up in Southland and Gore, doing covers, but I was never encouraged into songwriting.’’

Teaching songwriting’s now become a passion, she says.

‘‘I’m exposing it to kids at a super-young age.

‘‘But it’s very good for wellbeing, it’s tapping into their emotions and they’re getting to get things off their chest.

‘‘The songs they are writing are bottling the essence of what it means to be young, right now, in a fast-moving world.’’

For this EP, the vocals were recorded in Queenstown and the tracks were produced in Nashville.

‘‘They’ve got a world-class production,’’ says Bristow, who tapped big-name friends Mark Punch, Nash Chambers and Matt Fell.

‘‘The girls get to see the potential of themselves and what you can do with your art, in songwriting.’’

Though written for others their age, Bristow believes ‘‘these gorgeous pop songs have genuine crossover appeal for adults, too’’.

‘‘The most important thing was they wanted to write songs, but some of them are really finding their voices, and there’s some great singers there.

‘‘I have been teaching singing to some of them, too.’’

For this EP, Bristow also credits Auckland-based Youthtown, which aims to empower children and young people, and for which she’s a brand ambassador, and Central Lakes Arts Support Scheme.

‘‘There’ll be a Volume 2 — we’ve already got the songs written for it.’’

SongCatcher/Youthtown EP Volume 1, released November 21, available on iTunes and Spotify

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