Switzerland gets serious about songs as music creatives gather for songwriting camp

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It is the Eurovision foundation country who has struggled in recent years to send successful acts. But now Switzerland appears to be focusing on making their upcoming national final the best it can be. German-Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung recently reported on a Swiss songwriting camp held earlier this year to create entries for ESC 2018 – Entscheidungsshow 2018.

The reformulated Swiss national final has moved the emphasis to songs over singers. While songs can be entered with suggested singers attached, the selection panel will primarily consider the quality of songs then match the six or seven shortlisted songs with the most suitable singers.

This inspired the creation of the very first Swiss songwriting camp for Eurovision. The event was run and funded by SUISA, the Swiss music rights management organisation.

Twenty-five songwriters — 13 of whom were Swiss — gathered at Powerplay Studios, near Zürich. Like most songwriting camps, they worked together in smaller groups, jamming together, playing with lyrics, trying out different sounds.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung described the writing process, music creatives from Switzerland came together with their Swiss and British counterparts. Ken Berglund (studio work with The Fooo Conspiracy), Angie Ott (The Voice of Switzerland runner-up) and Susanna Cork (Blanche’s backing vocalist at ESC 2017) are described working together on a song.

The camp was masterminded by Zürich musician Pele Loriano, who has some Eurovision experience. He was the music director for Rykka at Eurovision 2016, and wrote Levina’s album track “Love Me All the Time”. Loriano has previously participated in songwriting camps and praised their ability to bring different people together.

He told NZZ, “One of the advantages of a songwriting camp is that there are musicians who would not usually work together. This increases the chance that a team will create a special chemistry that favours inspiration. The great thing about teamwork is that you get ideas that you would not otherwise have come to.”

All up, 18 songs were written over the two-day camp. Sixteen of them ended up being among the 670 entries received by German-Swiss broadcaster SRF. And all going well for the camp attendees, at least one of those songs will be among the finalists competing in the grand final of ESC 2018 – Entschiedungsshow grand final on February 4.

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Photo: Pele Loriano