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International guests and local participants announced for SongHubs Auckland 2020

Story Published Wednesday 29 January 2020

Swedish songwriters have been dominating the international pop music charts for decades. What started with Abba and Ace of Base became a deeply ingrained writing culture that transformed pop music.

Swedish pop sounds effortless but it’s actually the result of a deliberate writing process, cultivated by Denniz PoP and later developed by his protégé Max Martin, who has written or co-written 22 Billboard No.1 singles, and countless more international hits.

One aspect of Sweden’s incredible success in the international pop music realm has been governmental support for music in the school curriculum. Sweden is one of only three countries in the world to export more music than it imports and is the world’s most successful exporter of chart music, in relation to its GDP.

SongHubs Auckland 2020 is excited to be bringing a group of four Swedish songwriters to New Zealand to share their knowledge and collaborate with our local writers: Sara Hjellström (aka Shy Martin), Nirob Islam (aka Shy Nodi), Julia Karlsson, and Anton Rundberg.

SHY Martin (Sara Hjellström) first established herself as a songwriter with Mike Perry's The Ocean –a track she wrote with longtime Swedish songwriting partner, SHY Nodi. The track won Spotify Sweden's ‘Most Streamed Song of the Year’ with a groundbreaking 550 million+ streams.

Her songwriting catalog has generated over 2.5 billion streams on Spotify alone and includes First Time by Kygo ft. Ellie Goulding, (Not) The One by Bebe Rexha, All We Know by The Chainsmokers, and I Wanna Know by NOTD (ft.Bea Miller).

Sara is a member a member of Spotify CEO/Founder Daniel Ek and songwriter/producer Max Martin's coveted 'Equalizer Project', a group aiming to combat gender inequality in the music industry.

Nirob Islam, also known as SHY Nodi, is a Swedish artist and songwriter. He broke through in early 2016 with the hit song The Ocean (co-written with SHY Martin) which topped the charts in Sweden and reached the Top 20 in Australia, Denmark, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

Nirob studied at the Swedish songwriting and music business school Musikmakarna in Örnsköldsvik. At Music Makers he met Sara Hjellström (Shy Martin) with whom he formed the songwriting duo "SHY".

Nodi and Martin won the Grand Prize for International Success at the 2017 Denniz Pop Awards which in previous years has been awarded to Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and Wolf Cousins, among others.

Stockholm based topliner Julia Karlsson broke through internationally with Galantis’ Runaway (You & I) which also features her vocals, co-written with her writing / production partner Anton Rundberg. Released in October 2014 the song immediately topped the Viral 50 Global on Spotify, has been streamed more than 450 million times on Spotify alone and was one of the most played songs on Radio globally in 2014/2015.

Together they also co-wrote Alan Walker’s On My Way feat Farruko & Sabrina Carpenter, which has gathered more than 750 million streams across all platforms to date. Other songs the duo have co-written include singles for Carly Rae Jepsen (Party for One) which was listed on Billboard’s Best Songs of 2018, and MNEK (Tongue). In 2015 Julia Karlsson and Anton Rundberg won the esteemed Denniz Pop Award for best songwriter/producer.

These four pop wunderkinds will be joined at Roundhead Studio for a week by 14 New Zealand songwriters, 2 Australian songwriters, and 5 New Zealand producers. They will spend five days rotating through different songwriting groups and studios, writing one song per day, and forming new musical friendships and collaborative possibilities.

The participants, selected by curator Greg Haver, range widely in genre, age, gender, and background, but the hope is that they each spark new perspectives and approaches in their fellow collaborators.

The 16 songwriter participants are (from A-Z):

The 5 producer participants are:

"It’s been an honour to curate the APRA NZ SongHubs writing camps since their inception and to see the development of collaborative songwriting in Aotearoa during that time, this is borne out in the incredible range of diverse artists, producers and writers represented by his years applicants" Haver says.

"It’s now time to pass on the curation to others, so this will be my final year. I’ll be staying involved behind the scenes as there's exciting plans for the programme and as it’s so important for the development of young musicians. Thanks to the incredible team at APRA, to Ant Healey for his ongoing support and of course to the wonderful Victoria Kelly who's the heart and soul of SongHubs. Finally thank you to all the international writers and participants who make each year truly special and one of the most rewarding times during my years in music."

SongHubs is a week long collaborative song-writing retreat held at Roundhead Studios, presented by APRA AMCOS with the generous support of NZ On Air, Auckland Council, Recorded Music New Zealand and the New Zealand Music Commission. SongHubs brings internationally acclaimed songwriters to Auckland to collaborate with a mixture of our best and brightest songwriters, artists and producers.

The aim is finish the week with a bunch of newly formed songs which have the potential to be finished and crafted into something each songwriter would be proud to release. But the emphasis is equally on the friendships and collaborative relationships that are formed, the possibility of diversifying approaches to songwriting, and inspiring and upskilling all participants across the week

Ultimately the program's aims are:

  • To establish New Zealand as a centre of music creating excellence;
  • To provide career pathways for high calibre New Zealand songwriters and composers; and
  • To maximise the potential of international collaborations in accessing new markets for New Zealand songwriters and composers