In this talk, we heard from Allan Eshuijs, songwriting wiz-kid and prolific creator of copious hit songs (Cascada – Evacuate The Dancefloor, Lost Frequencies – Crazy). Speaking at this year’s Wired Music Event in the Apex Lounge, Allan shed some light on the process behind writing a hit and some of his methods.
Remember that hit song that was on endless repeat in 2009: “Evacuate The Dancefloor”? Yeah, that was Allan.
Q: Is there any secret for finding the perfect hook?
Allan: “You’ll run into the hook if you keep creating. And then you need to decide ‘this is it.’ Of course, I would love to have the hook first – but I don’t always. Or sometimes I think it’s the hook but it’s not. I’m not married to anything until I think ‘this is it.’ “What is a good hook? It’s like asking what is a good song. I don’t know! Who decided what a hit is. Sometimes an idea isn’t good and isn’t bad, it’s just an idea. But then as soon as you write something before that or after it that’s gonna decide how good the idea is. It’s all about contrast.”
Q: Where does one start when writing a hit?
Allan: “Melody for me is key. Melody is everything because sometimes you’ll relate to a melody that’s in a different language that you don’t understand, so how do you explain that? The emotion is in the melody – it’s in the contrast between and the tension between the chords and the melody”
Q: How do you create a story when songwriting?
Allan: “I just start singing. Other times I’ll start with a topic. When I wrote send her my love with lost frequencies, I had an experience where I had to get off a relationship – and that’s where it gets very personal all of a sudden. If I have a title that I want to keep and I’m jamming to a beat, I know that as soon as the chorus hits I’m gonna wanna put that title in there somewhere. I knew “Send her my love” had to be there. And from there a work backward. And the song grew out of that. Every day is another day though – sometimes you’ll write a song and it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s okay.”
Q: Anything to keep in mind when writing?
Allan: “You want to deliver the chorus within a certain timeframe to make it commercial. Otherwise, you’re just dabbling along and it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Q: Final things to keep in mind?
Allan: “It’s all about contrast.”