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Song of the Year | The A-B-C of Songwriting with Pat Chow

13 Feb

The search for WA’s best songs has kicked off with the launch of this year’s Song of the Year Competition! We’re excited to continue working alongside Act-Belong-Commit (A-B-C) this year to share and help songwriters put the Act-Belong-Commit guidelines in action!

As we continue to increase awareness of mental health issues within our music community, it’s crucial we develop and share strategies to combat these issues on an individual, day-to-day level. The message to act – do something, belong – do something with someone, and commit – do something meaningful,  is simple and can be embraced whatever your lifestyle and passions may be. Not only does the message address an issue so relevant in our community, but acting, belonging and committing are naturally embodied in the process of creating, performing and enjoying music.

In last year’s competition, we introduced the bonus Act-Belong-Commit song category to encourage songwriters to be aware of their mental and physical wellness, reflect on how elements of the message have affected their lives, and share this encouraging message with music lovers. The category welcomes songs that touch on any aspect of the message from talking about the importance of community and connectedness; mental wellbeing; the journey of striving for these things or the enjoyment in having attained them.

Taking out the very first Act-Belong-Commit category win last year was story-telling indie rock act, Pat Chow, with their song Are You Okay?. As the melody worms it’s way into your head, the lyrics proudly declare to the listener:

And the world might try to bring you down,
but you’re gonna show them how you found,
a way to make it work.
You’re gonna do yourself proud

With entries to the 2020 Act-Belong-Commit song category now open, we chatted to Pat Chow’s songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Protasiewicz to get some advice on how to explore mental health and provide support in your songwriting. Here are some tips and tricks from Ben to help get your song ready for the Act-Belong-Commit category!

I wrote ‘Are You Okay?’ for a friend that was going through a quarter-life crisis at the same time as I was. It was written with the intention of reaching out and offering an ear to listen and some support through the time.

Reflect: Think of a time you needed support and what sort of support you received. Or think of the kind of support you needed. Try to offer this in a song.

Be Honest: This does not require dark confessions, or for you to solve the mysteries of life’s ups and downs. Just be honest with yourself.

Define some strengths: Life gets hard and things do suck from time to time. You can’t just ignore it. Find some silver linings and build on those to get through this. A positive attitude always prevails.

There is something for everyone: Everyone’s feelings are valid. And so is every sound. Maybe someone needs to hear that 45bpm doom track about battling depression to connect.

Make sure to check out Pat Chow’s winning song ‘Are You Okay?’, and more about their upcoming shows, music and adventures on their Facebook Page and Instagram. You can find out more about the Act-Belong-Commit category and applications to this year’s Song of the Year Competition HERE. If you’d like to learn more about the Act-Belong-Commit message and strategies, you can head to the website HERE.

Happy songwriting!

Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The ArtsGovernment of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Lottery West, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.