Griffith University’s Queensland Conservatorium graduate Ant Aggs has travelled the world performing, recording and writing with artists like Xavier Rudd, Toni Childs and Sahara Beck, and is using that experience to break down the mysteries surrounding songwriting.
The Bachelor of Music alumnus wants to know what makes some songwriting collaborations work and others flounder.
He channeled his frustration from the cancellation of many gigs during this year into his research, starting a new company Delicate Black, and creating two new albums.
In a recent Griffith University Remarkable Tales podcast, captured in Ant’s home studio, he gave insights into the creative process of songwriting, and how his master classes and research are trying to capture the special magic of ingredients which make incredible songs.
“I recently talked to Sam Dixon, who is the bass player for Adele and Sia, and their musical directors,” he said.
“I (asked), “What makes a great writing session to you?” And Sam (said), “It’s usually the song appears in the cracks between all the jokes and the fun times, like a song just kind of appears.”
He has now interviewed 10 professional musicians from around the world to try to capture the special, secret ingredients of successful songwriting.
Ant Aggs says it was devastating watching his fellow creatives struggle this year as Covid-19 struck, forcing so many productions and live performances to cancel.
He was filming the part of piano player Glen Harding in Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis movie, when star Tom Hanks contracted Covid.
“That production had so many people working on in all facets, and it just got canned,” he said.
“All those productions just stopped.”
The Elvis movie has now resumed filming for a late 2021 release but while waiting, Ant started creating new music and collaborations.
He rediscovered the eclectic array of musical genres he consolidated at the Con, by channeling the pain and uncertainty that so many feel in these Covid times into his music, releasing two new EP’s, a collaboration with Danny Widdecombe called Face, and his solo CD Black Days.
While both albums use different styles, they captured the sombre mood of the year that was.
“I named it Black Days for two reasons. One, because COVID has been such a difficult period for us. And also the explosion had just happened in Beirut. And one of the songs on that EP is called Beirut and I thought it was so sad,” he said.
“The songs that I chose were from the group of songs that I’d been writing and recording over COVID. I actually had to learn the songs to be able to play them because I recorded them as I wrote them, in a way.”
“I’ve also just started a company which specialises in music for synchronisation,” he said.
“This is what a lot of musicians have done over the last little while since COVID. A lot of people are going, `Well, I can’t perform. How do I get my music out there? Through TV shows, movies, advertisements, YouTube.’ So my new company Delicate Black specialises in music for those applications.”
Hear more of Ant Agg’s story in Remarkable Tales.