Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 8

Download JamFeed for free right now and follow Spencer Ludwig to stay up-to-date with all of his latest news, releases, and tour announcements as they happen in real time. The first seven parts to ‘Taking Life by the Horn’ can be found on his artist page.

“What’s up with all of these Throwback Thursday pictures,” I ask Spencer Ludwig during our latest phone call. I’m talking, of course, about the sudden influx of amazing childhood photos that Spencer has been blessing his social media followers with in the past month. He has such a great array of pictures to choose from, it’s as if he knew he was going to be a star the whole time, and was simply preparing for the right moment to unleash them into the world.

“My style of social media and my general personality is to be very transparent,” he responds matter-of-factly. “I want people to feel like they already know me when the music comes out. I don’t want to be a cryptic, mysterious artist. So I called my mom and asked her to be in charge of #tbt, and now she emails me a childhood picture every Wednesday. I don’t really have a choice here, she’s the one picking all of them” (laughs).

A young Spencer Ludwig, courtesy of his mother for #tbt.

As I sit back and contemplate Spencer’s words, I feel somewhat silly for even asking the question. What I should have said instead is, “How come you haven’t been doing this the whole time?” Of course Spencer has an arsenal of adorable childhood pictures for his fans to eat up. After all, the whole point of Taking Life by the Horn is to give the rising solo star an outlet to be exactly what he is: transparent.

Spencer’s approach to music and life is to share; with family, with friends, with fans, with fellow musicians, with the world. He understands a basic principle of living, which is that sharing is learning. Every session that he describes to me is a learning experience for him, and every collaborator he works with is both his teacher and his student. He feeds off the energy of others, opening himself up to collaboration, and thus to growth.

Spencer is just as focused now as he was at the beginning of the summer, when he began his songwriting journey for his Warner Bros. debut solo album. The only difference is, now he knows exactly how to make his music great. After sharing studios with world class musicians for three months — not to mention continually studying his favorite music — Spencer seems to have learned what he wants out of himself.

“I have a low Sly and the Family Stone kind of tone, a gentle and emotional Michael Jackson tone, and a super high Earth, Wind & Fire influenced falsetto now. I’ve started incorporating all three tones into one song, and that came from listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. These different voices come into their music all the time, and it’s very specifically arranged to create different tension and release. The dynamics are all very layered, and you can tell that they put so much effort into trying to make the best music in the world,” Spencer explains passionately about his favorite band.

He is a selfless musical aficionado, always expounding and experimenting. Now he is figuring out how to share his voice with himself, and I am even more excited for his album to come out than I was before. Read on to hear about four more amazing sessions, as Spencer Ludwig’s quest to make a classic continues.

Oh, and here’s another #tbt for good measure.



Collaborator(s): Dan Nigro & Tom Peyton

Location: Dan’s home studio in Los Angeles

“good times writing songs with Dan Nigro & Tom Peyton #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“This one was a very exciting session for a lot of reasons. For one, Dan Nigro co-produced and co-wrote “You’re Not The One” for Sky Ferreira. The first time I ever heard that song I was like, ‘I love this artist because of this song.’ Years later one of my first thoughts was that I wanted to find the guy who wrote it and work with him.

Dan came in with the foundation of an idea for us to build on. He really thought about how to make something that’s going to stand out and be different, but that everybody would still love.

As for Tom Peyton, I had no idea that he was coming over, or that he was even a songwriter. I’ve known him for years as one of the drummers for the band Wallpaper, so when he walked in the house I turned my head like, ‘Tom?’ (laughs) I really connected with Wallpaper while I was on the road with Capital Cities, and I’m still friends with them today.

Tom brought a completely different element to the song. Wallpaper is a hip-hop influenced band, so he brought a swagger that was exactly what it needed in order for us to create something really fresh. It was a great combination of three, which, as I always say, is my favorite number for songwriting. It’s a strong energy when you have three people.”


Collaborator: Maceo Paisley

Location: Billy Mohler’s studio in Los Angeles

“so much fun writing with my good friend @maceopaisley #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“I could talk about Maceo Paisley for hours. He’s one of the coolest, most interesting, thought-provoking, creative people on the planet. He’s a poet, activist, thinker, educator, student, rapper, singer, dancer, sock designer… it just goes on and on. I really encourage everybody to check out his website. He’s a fully realized artist, and I’m sure we will be working together in many different ways throughout my life.

Maceo and I met during the ‘Safe & Sound’ video shoot, which he was a featured dancer for. At the time I was bored on the road and was thinking about how to be more engaged with my social media followers, so I created this thing called Spencer Sock Sunday. How it worked was, if you did a random act of kindness and sent it to me you had the chance to win a pair of really funky socks, which I was known for wearing onstage. I thought that Maceo would be the perfect person to partner with for this giveaway, and it really worked out well. Every winner would be sent a code for his website to pick out a pair of socks. I’ll be re-introducing Spencer Sock Sunday when the album comes out.

Anyways, the track that we worked on together was already done, but I felt one of the sections totally had the space for a rapper. Maceo came through, listened to the beat, and freestyled over it about a dozen times. We felt that one of those times was perfect. He never punched in because we wanted to give you that raw dynamic from start to finish. We really wanted all of the emotion to be felt.”


Collaborator: Charles Jones

Location: Brunswick Studios

“grateful to spend the day writing songs with the awe-inspiring Charles Jones @cmuzic #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Charles Jones is another one of those people who I could talk about forever. I believe that he is either an angel or a saint from Heaven living on Earth. He’s by far one of the most talented piano players I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing, yet alone collaborating with, and he also happens to have a voice straight from God. I met him at The Sayers Club in LA, the same way that I met LP. He was singing ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley and the owner of the club, Jason Scoppa, gave me the nod to jump onstage for a horn solo. Charles and I have been friends ever since.

This session was a great opportunity for me to call somebody who I’ve looked up to since the day that we met. The songs we wrote are all piano-centric, and on another level of musicality. They are majorly inspired by gospel church vibes.

Charles sets the bar for musicality as far as my demos go. When you write a song with somebody who also has the skill level of a virtuoso in jazz and gospel music, your demo automatically sounds like it’s from another planet.”


Collaborator(s): Nick Paul of St. Lucia, Erick “E.D.” Coomes of Lettuce, and EB Sollis

Location: EB’s Studio

“cookin jams with @nicky_paul of @stlucia, @jesuscsuperstar of @lettucemusic & @ebsollis #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“This session was originally supposed to just be myself and EB Sollis, who is a songwriter and producer from New York who now works in LA. I met EB at Coachella last year, and I was really excited to work with him. He texted me right before the session started like, ‘I’m here with my friend Jesus, he really wants to come with me.’ Jesus is the bass player in Lettuce, so of course I wanted him there. Then I thought we might as well bring Nick from St. Lucia too if Jesus is gonna be there.

It turned out to be the perfect fit. The session could not have gone any smoother. It was a ridiculously funky, soulful jam. EB worked on the lyrics, Nick was co-producing and playing keys, Jesus was on the bass, and I was co-producing with Nick and writing the melodies. It was the kind of thing where everybody was high-fiving each other afterwards.

To me this session was really about Jesus. We got funky and dirty and just let him do his thing. I wanted to work around his awesomeness. Jesus has no ego. He’s an amazing bassist, and I’m so happy this session came out the way it did.”

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 7

Download JamFeed for free right now and follow Spencer Ludwig to stay up-to-date with all of his latest news, releases, and tour announcements as they happen in real time. The first six parts to ‘Taking Life by the Horn’ can be found on his artist page.

I couldn’t get off of it. I was recording vocals on it, riding all around the studio. After about 45 minutes I felt like I was born with wheels. I hope I can bring one with me on my first tour!”

Spencer Ludwig is a big fan of the latest transportation craze sweeping the world: the Enduro Board, which he affectionately refers to as “that thing.”  He rode one around while recording songs with members of AWOLNATION (as evidenced by the picture from their writing session below) and I’ve honestly never heard him sound so giddy while explaining something to me.

But long before his infatuation with almost-hovercrafts, Spencer invested his last dime into a far more meaningful toy: his very first trumpet. In fact, it’s the one he still plays. The one that makes frequent appearances in his Instagram photos:

“photo x @b4_flight”

“It’s the first one that I ever had,” Spencer says proudly about the 1970s-era Bach Stradivarius trumpet that he distinctly outfitted with turquoise valve buttons. He wears the original buttons as a ring on his right hand, which his girlfriend designed for him. “I own three horns, and the other two were gifts. I appreciate the others but I’m far less attached to them. When I got my first horn it was kind of like when Harry Potter got his wand,” says Spencer fondly.

The trumpet was purchased during a high school road trip in which Spencer and a friend were checking out colleges on the east coast. He already had a store in mind to buy it from — Dillon Music in Woodbridge, New Jersey — and spent a day traveling there by himself to reach it.

“Dillon is a really famous brass store, and I knew I wanted to go there to buy a trumpet. I got there around 3 pm and they said that I could try out as many horns as I wanted until they closed at 5. The trumpet room was full of trumpets from the floor to the ceiling on three walls and I tried every single one. As I checked each one off, I would put it back on the wall, and finally as they were closing there were two left on the floor. I picked the one that felt right and it’s still my #1 horn to this day,” he explains.

Spencer never did end up applying to any of the colleges he visited, but the trumpet came home to Los Angeles with him. Eventually they would see the world together.

Now in a much more secure position both career-wise and financially, Spencer is still hard at work writing songs for his Warner Bros. Records debut solo album. Never one to refuse a helping hand, he’s also having fun assisting his friend RAC with Songs That Belong, a new SoundCloud account that aims to shed light on up-and-coming talent. When RAC explained the idea to him, Spencer was eager to “be a part of an account that curates great music.” It’s currently on its sixth volume.

“The whole point is to showcase up-and-coming musicians and give them a platform to be heard,” Spencer explains. “If there’s a song that’s not getting a lot of listens but somehow it came into our universe, we can provide a great playlist for it to belong to. I’ve been really open about the idea on social media asking my network to send me new music. If it’s dope I’ll add it to Songs That Belong.”

Perhaps one day a kid who spent all the money in their name on a new instrument will be heard on Songs That Belong. Until then, keep reading to hear about Spencer’s writing sessions with Kenny Carkeet and Isaac Carpenter of AWOLNATION, Sam Barsh, Alex Lilly, and Dysplay.


Collaborator(s): Kenny Carkeet and Isaac Carpenter of AWOLNATION

Location: Jim Kaufman Productions, Los Angeles

“too much fun writing songs with @kennycarkeet and Isaac Carpenter of #awolnation (and Rupert) – #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“AWOLNATION is a band I got to know while I was on the road with Capital Cities. For the most part, you meet other bands at festivals. When you’re on tour you’re just with your camp, but at festivals you get to know other bands personally, especially during the festival season when you continue to run into each other. I don’t remember which festival I met Kenny at, but we developed a great working relationship shortly after. He would frequently ask me to record trumpet parts on songs that he was producing. I encouraged him to keep sending me work because I love staying busy and creative when I’m on the road. I just met Isaac recently. They’re both insanely talented individuals.

We recorded at this very unique studio in LA called Jim Kaufman Productions. Kenny is one of the in-house writers and producers there. It’s your typical three-bedroom house that was converted into a fully functional studio. Each bedroom is a recording room, the dining room is the control room, and the living room is the live room.

Isaac is the drummer for AWOLNATION, and when you’re working with a live drummer you might as well record live drums. When you want to do that at Jim Kaufman there’s a whole elaborate system that goes into play. The production assistant and interns cover up every window and door with these giant pieces of foam, so the whole living room turns into a dead space to record drums. It was amazing to watch. I loved working there.

AWOLNATION is one of the few bands that genuinely doesn’t care at all about typical song form or genre. They just want to make powerful music. It’s really hard to apply the energy from hard rock or metal to pop music, but they do that seamlessly. The song we wrote is the kind of song that will just knock you off your feet, and that’s what I wanted from them. Aaron [Bruno, AWOLNATION’s lead singer] stopped by and gave some opinions so it was like an AWOLNATION family affair. My album is going to have a lot of variety…”


Collaborator: Sam Barsh

Location: Sam Barsh’s studio, downtown Los Angeles

“writing songs with the incomparable @sambarsh #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Sam Barsh and I have been friends for a long time. I met him in the LA jazz/cover-band scene, either playing sets before or after him quite frequently. Eventually, we both ended up getting in the circle of musicians that played at The Sayers Club in Hollywood. That’s where some of the most high level playing is. As an artist, you really try hard to get into that scene.

I always knew that Sam was an incredible piano player, and he recently was recognized by the Grammy’s for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘i‘ and Aloe Blacc’s ‘The Man.’ His work with Aloe Blacc really made me aware of his songwriting talent as well. He’s part of a collective that works in a production house in downtown LA that’s run by DJ Khalil. Anything Khalil gets, Sam plays on it. There’s plaques on every wall over there, it’s a crazy place.

Our session was very chill, we just vibed out. We took the approach of going through a bunch of hip-hop drum breaks, and once we found one that really spoke to us we used that as the inspiration to build on. It’s fine to use a sample like that for the purpose of a demo, because I’m planning on recording all of my songs live anyway. It’s really just to inspire the feel.

We focused on building the instrumental that night. Like I’ve said before, three is my favorite number when it comes to studio sessions, and if I don’t have that third person to communicate with me about lyrical/melodic ideas then I just focus on the strength of the person I’m working with. I ended up taking that track to Siedah Garrett to write the top-line with. She wrote Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror.’ I’m very excited about the song as a whole. Both Sam and Siedah nailed it! It’s very Earth, Wind & Fire meets Sly & The Family Stone.”


Collaborator: Alex Lilly

Location: Alex’s home studio

“so much fun writing songs with @alexlillysan – I’ve been a huge fan of her music since high school. she just released a new song. check it out! #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“I’ve been a fan of Alex Lilly’s since I was about 13-years-old. She’s part of Inara George, Bird and the Bee, Marcel Camargo, and Barbara Gruska friend group (editor’s note: Spencer’s writing sessions with Inara and Marcel, as well as with Barbara were covered in part two of TLBTH). She’s also an instrumentalist in so many bands that I love: Obi Best, Touché, The Living Sisters, The Bird and the Bee. Alex Lilly is a serious bad ass.

I went over to her house to write. Our session was really great. She studied composition at music school so she really understands the fundamentals of composition and is able to use that to her advantage to create more interesting music. Her music is very… intelligent. I’m trying to think of a better word to describe it but that’s really what it is. It’s smart music. She’s so smart about how she shifts harmony and chooses melody. She hears things that I’ve never been able to hear. It’s so exquisite and beautiful. You can tell that she really tries to make her music compelling and interesting.

Because she’s such a brilliant musician, writing with Alex was very easy. We worked on three songs together that are all very clever. We worked with a lot of English idioms. There are lots of little twists and turns to the words and the music. Working with her is like working with a musical rocket scientist or something.”


Collaborator(s): Dysplay

Location: Dysplay’s studio

“always epic writing songs with @dysplaymusic #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Dysplay consists of two guys named Devin Hoffman and Eric Scullin. They went to school together at USC, and my connection to them is through Devin, who I met on the road back when he was the bass player for AWOLNATION. Devin and I connected when we realized that we had lots of mutual friends and shared growing experiences in LA, so when we ran into each other on the road it was like seeing family because he understood where I came from and vice versa. Sometimes when you’re gone from home for months at a time in all these unknown places, seeing somebody from home and being able to relate to them and their experiences is just the best.

Every time I come back to LA I make a point to work with Dysplay. They’re very easy to work with because they’re both extremely talented musicians and producers. They both do lyrics, melody, and production. They’re the whole package. It’s that triad that I love, and that I always refer to. Their chemistry with each other is so on point, it makes working with them that much better. I believe in them as producers and as artists and I think the world will know about them very soon.

Everybody should check out Dysplay’s SoundCloud page. The new stuff they’re getting ready to release is really amazing, and they do it all themselves, which is huge. All of my friends are cooler than me and that’s why this album is going to be great. One of the best parts about this experience for me is being able to reach out to the amazing musicians who have come into my life over the years. It’s so fun to be able to reconnect with everyone through music.”

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 6

Download JamFeed for free right now and follow Spencer Ludwig to stay up-to-date with all of his latest news, releases, and tour announcements as they happen in real time. The first five parts to ‘Taking Life by the Horn’ can be found on his JamFeed artist page.

When I went on vacation to Italy earlier this year, I took a tour of the David in Florence. Creating music is very similar to how the David came about. You start with a giant slab of marble and you need to keep chipping away until you get your very own David.

Spencer Ludwig’s David is still a work in progress, but one that is taking shape even faster than he himself could have anticipated. Just when I thought that his schedule couldn’t possibly be any more hectic, he decided to start chipping away at his marble with both hands.

“I’m doing two sessions a day for the rest of August and September now,” he says. “There’s no room to schedule anybody new. It’s done. I’m gridlocked.”

But even with a new daily routine that includes a session from 11 am to 6 pm, followed by an 8 pm to 3 am session, Spencer understands that part of creating a David is taking the time to appreciate the process, and trying to grasp the importance of the moment in real time.

In part two of Taking Life by the Horn, I had written that he would be playing a trumpet rendition of the National Anthem live at Dodgers Stadium on August 11th. Well, that performance happened, Spencer crushed it, and just as he had promised in the aforementioned piece, his family was standing proudly by his side to witness it. The performance was an increasingly rare moment in the life of Spencer Ludwig in which he was able to walk away from his marble slab, if only for an afternoon, and — to put it simply — appreciate it.

Spencer’s father Allan — pictured below to the right of Spencer — is the big sports fan of the family. However, the two women who accompanied the Ludwig men under the shining LA sun that day at Dodgers Stadium were equally proud, as they watched Spencer’s trademark thick black waves of hair completely engulf his face during the final notes of his passionate performance.

“The best part about yesterday was being able to bring my family on to the field – everything is better when you share it with the ones you love.”

Allan Ludwig, along with Spencer’s mother Mia Valencia, didn’t only raise one musical prodigy. When I asked Spencer about his little sister Savannah (pictured to his left), he gave her the same type of glowing review that he reserves for only the most ingenious of songwriters.

“I am just now learning how to sing, but Savannah was born to sing. Her voice is incredible. She wakes up and sings all day every day, and there’s nothing else in her world that matters,” he says with a glowing, brotherly love.

Savannah, who is 18-years-old, studies musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Hollywood. Spencer admires Savannah for her steadfast dedication to her craft, a dedication that he claims is basically as old as she is. “What I love about her current situation is that when I look at her, I can tell that she hasn’t changed since she was five years old. She’s still singing the same songs with the same love. It’s a beautiful thing.”

The 25-year-old Spencer has a seven-year age difference with Savannah, and he is enjoying being able to relate with her more and more as both of them venture further into adulthood. Comparatively, his relationship with his own voice is also venturing into a more mature, confident, and relatable stage of being.

“I used to try to sing really ‘pretty,’ like with a super soft tone. Now I’m discovering all kinds of tones. I don’t care. I’m having a lot of fun with it and going for a raw, funkier feel. The personality of my voice is revealing itself in the process of song writing. If I want to use any of the first songs that I wrote for the album, I will definitely be re-singing them with all of this in mind,” says Spencer.

His David is taking shape. Every curve, every edge. Read on to hear more.


Week of Monday, July 20 to Sunday, July 26

Collaborator: Shea Taylor

Location: Shea’s Studio in Santa Monica, CA

“grateful to spend a few days writing songs with Shea Taylor #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“I had two days to work with Shea Taylor. I’m used to eight hour sessions, so for him to book me for two days let me know that his team is serious. I found out about him because I was doing this thing that I do where I listen to music I love while looking up who wrote which song, and I found that he wrote ‘Love On Top‘ for Beyonce, which is one of my all-time favorite songs of hers. It’s such an incredibly amazing and classic song.

Shea has a studio right on the main strip of Santa Monica a couple blocks from the water. I walked into the room and told him that I’m a huge fan of his, and that I was so grateful to be in the room with somebody who’s made music that has helped shape me. We ended up writing five ideas on the first day — the ‘getting to know each other’ day. We were just catching a vibe. I’ve been saying that a lot, but it’s true. that’s exactly what we were doing.

We started from scratch on day two and saw one idea all the way through. It’s one of my favorite, absolute best songs. I’m so excited about it! I can’t believe that one of my all-time favorite songs of mine was written with a guy who wrote one of my all-time favorite songs (laughs). It has that R&B/soul influence that I’ve been itching for.

When I work with someone specifically with that (R&B/soul) background it comes out in me even more. There is an interesting marriage between R&B, funk, and whatever I am. But I’m not exactly R&B or funk, so when you combine the two you get an interesting sound out of me. The song I wrote with Shea is going places for sure.”


Collaborators: Jesse Shatkin & Fran Hall

Location: Jesse’s Home Studio

“writings songs with legends Jesse Shatkin & Fran Hall #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Jesse Shatkin is one of the most buzzed about young producers out there. His name is flying around all over the industry because he went from being a DJ in LA to Grammy-nominated producer in a very short amount of time. He co-wrote and co-produced ‘Chandelier‘ by Sia and now it takes a month to schedule a session with him. Before that song blew up he was the in-house engineer for Greg Kurstin.

Jesse personally recommended Fran Hall. She’s a really great lyricist and top-line melody person. I’ve said this before, but three is a great number to write a song. You need a producer, someone to work on lyrics, and then me, who does a little bit of everything. It goes really fast with three people.

I’m able to take on different personalities based on how the song wants me to sing. Sometimes I’m loud, sometimes I’m soft, sometimes I sing low, sometimes I sing high. Different styles of music bring out what’s naturally within me. Jesse and Fran brought out a different aspect of me. They pushed me to do something different, I discovered another tone in my voice that’s really fun to mess with, and we ended up writing a song with one of the coolest choruses I’ve written yet.

My songs are becoming much more dynamic and I’m really discovering the artist that I am. My voice is becoming a character of its own. A couple weeks ago if you would’ve asked me if some of the first songs I wrote would end up on my album I would’ve answered ‘definitely,’ but now it’s just a maybe. The evolution is apparent. I’m losing all fear of judgment and going for what feels good and what’s fun.”


Collaborators: Ross Pryce & Nick Paul of St. Lucia

Location: Nick’s Home Studio

“back for more to write songs with @rosspryce & @nicky_paul of @stlucia #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Working with Ross and Nick was much easier this time around. We already knew how we worked and what we love, and we were ready. I get along so well with those guys as both musicians and as people, and we just have fun together.

They are brilliant people. They’re like mad scientist musicians. They know how to talk about music and play it on such a high level. They’re the kind of guys who will be like, ‘you could do this chord, or this chord, or this chord, or even this chord’ (laughs). It’s so unique. It makes the possibilities infinite.

I want this album to be super eclectic and showcase different sides of me and stimulate people in different ways. The last thing I want is for people to hear one song and say, ‘oh okay, I get this guy because I like that one song and everything else sort of sounds like it.’ No. That is not my aim.

I’m coming from the world of… when you make an album it’s a journey. It’s all about exploration; working with different people and making soul music. I’m trying to make exciting music. It’s not going to be exciting unless it excites me, and I don’t get excited alone. It wouldn’t be fun if I couldn’t share these gifts with other people. We’re making gifts for the world, like, ‘here’s the gift that I made for you with Ross Pryce and Nick Paul.'”


Collaborator: Michael Tighe

Location: Spencer’s Home Studio

“love writing songs with Michael Tighe #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

“Michael Tighe was the original guitar player and songwriter in the Jeff Buckley Band. When it comes to connecting lyrically, he is one of my top connections. Maybe even the top one. The chemistry is unbelievable. He understands my character as an artist. When we write lyrics we talk, laugh, and get it out. We come up with really interesting lyrics really quickly. I’m not putting as much pressure on my lyrics in my LA sessions because I know that I can take them back to Michael in New York. I’ll be doing a whole week of double sessions with him soon.

On that particular day I finished the lyrics to four songs with Michael. We sat down, talked about the concept of each one, and wrote. We just nailed it, one after the next. He doesn’t ever say, ‘this is what the lyrics should be.’ He says, ‘Spencer, can you think of a way to say this?’ And if he needs to see an improvement in a specific lyric, for example, he’ll say, ‘not exactly, it’s more like walking down the street and the sun beats down on your cheeks and then this happens.’ He’s not overbearing or self-imposing at all, he’s open-minded and easy to work with. He just pulls the right lyrics out of me until the song is correct. It’s crazy! (laughs)

After every writing session I write a little something regarding what I loved about working with the artist. It’s like my own personal writer’s diary, or a roster of artists with little biographies of each one. As I move forward, I’m able to go back to this list and look up who to work with based on what I need. It’s a way for me to create really efficient writing sessions. I want to be a songwriting machine.

I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up on the floor of some bathroom at some venue and realize that this was all just a dream… It’s just too crazy. It’s absolutely insane that I get to do this. I’m very grateful and I’m savoring every moment until I wake up.”

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 5

Download JamFeed for free right now and follow Spencer Ludwig to stay up-to-date with all of his latest news, releases, and tour announcements as they happen in real time. The first four parts to ‘Taking Life by the Horn’ can be found on his JamFeed artist page.

Spencer Ludwig has been to Europe before, but not like this.

“It was an amazing feeling knowing that I didn’t have to go home after playing in Serbia with Capital Cities,” says Spencer over the phone, his voice picking up excitement as he thinks about his recent two-week Euro-trip that took him from Spain, to Serbia and then to London, where he would spend a week on his own collaborating with a different songwriter every day, sometimes two times a day. “Now that my priorities have shifted to being a solo artist it really feels like I’ve arrived onto the right path. Being in control of my music, my schedule, and my life again is extremely fulfilling. I get more excited every day that I get to write another song and do me.”

I’ve been speaking with Spencer about his songwriting experience all summer, and he has never sounded more thrilled/relieved/fulfilled/enlightened than he is now. He referred to the feeling as “internally relaxed.” After playing two shows with Capital Cities in Spain — one in Bilbao and one in Barcelona — and one show in Serbia, Spencer headed to London for possibly his best week of songwriting sessions yet.

“Off to Bristol to write songs with Brian Banks at the Elberton Manor Studio #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr 🇬🇧 “

“I knew going into London that it was going to be an insane week, so I tried to spend a lot of time alone before that. I went for walks and just reflected on how incredible it is to be in this moment, traveling and playing music because I want to, not because I have to, and pursuing my dream. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.”

However, it would be foolish to mistake Spencer’s newfound appreciation for the moment as the beginning of him “settling.” He may be enjoying his life a little more (okay, a lot more) than those of us at home, but he’s already thinking about the next step, and yes, I realize that his album isn’t even in the recording process yet.

“I hope that this album opens doors for new opportunities,” says Spencer as he seamlessly switches into businessman mode, something he often does. “I’m really interested in writing for other artists and developing other artists from the ground up. I’ll be a better businessman if I experience being a successful artist first, so I’m using this opportunity to do that.”

“Making my way to the UK to write more songs – first stop Bilbao, Spain #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Once upon a time not too long ago, before dreams of writing songs in the UK’s premier studios, Spencer was just a kid exploring his home city of Los Angeles. He grew up in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of The Valley, which he describes as “flat and friendly.” He was “the kid on the block with the drum-set in the garage” who would bike for miles with his friends, getting to know the ins-and-outs of the city that raised him. As the years went by, he learned about LA through music; the music he saw, played, and taught.

“Music is the reason that I understand so many of the back roads, short cuts, and neighborhoods of LA. I’ve seen every kind of house, every kind of street. I used to go on Craigslist and look for people who needed a trumpet player, write them an email, then go to a random studio. I always said ‘yes’ to every opportunity.”

Fast forward to present day and not much has changed as far as Spencer’s thirst to explore goes. Only now he’s exploring the world, and instead of hoping for trumpet gigs with others he’s exploring his own music. The week he spent in London, which he says reminds him of a “clean New York,” was so amazing that his only regret was leaving. However, in typical Spencer fashion, he’s already planning a return trip in October.

Read on to hear about Spencer’s transformative week in the UK. In his own words.


Week of Monday, July 13 to Sunday, July 19

Collaborator: Brian Banks

Location: Elberton Manor Studios in Bristol, UK

“Writing songs with Brian Banks (and Bruno) at the Elberton Manor Studio in Bristol #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr 🇬🇧 “

“Imagine this: I fly from Serbia to London on Monday, July 13, and then I immediately have to figure out the route to Bristol to work with Brian Banks. It’s a two hour train ride but I have to find the train that takes me to the train first. I’m so exhausted at this point that I feel like I need to treat myself to a first class ticket and relax, so I do that.

The train ride is going great, the stewardess is coming by with complimentary tea and biscuits, and I’m just sitting back reflecting on life and the incredible fact that for the first time ever I’m able to go on my own trip, be my own person, and do my own thing all for my own solo record. In that moment I realize that I’m really living the dream. It’s a cloud nine experience through and through.

Well, I ended up enjoying myself so much that I missed the Bristol stop! Brian texted me asking where I was, and I looked at my phone and realized that I had absolutely no idea. I overshot Bristol by two stops and had to backtrack. We didn’t even start our session until 7 or 8 pm, and I had a session back in London the following day at 2 pm.

Working with Brian was really productive, we already have a great relationship. He’s my girlfriend’s uncle. He’s also a brilliant musician and he’s worked with so many of the people who have influenced me. He played synths on Thriller and worked with Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg on The Color Purple, for example. His studio is inside of his ‘manor,’ which is a fancy English word for ‘mansion.’

Working there was magical. It’s like a 13th century castle made out of giant stones with a tower, a barn with three horses, an apple orchard, and two incredible dogs. There’s secret passages, winding staircases, and artwork everywhere.

Brian is much older than me, but when it comes to music age doesn’t matter. That applies to both the creative and the listening/enjoying process. So I focused on that topic and it was a lot of fun to write about because Brian and I were connecting and the experience of writing with him was relevant to the actual writing. Unfortunately our time was split between two days at odd hours because of my train incident, but we were able to get well into a song. We stayed up until 3 am on Monday, woke up at 6 am on Tuesday, ate breakfast, and wrote again from 7 am until noon. He has a place in LA and he comes to New York all the time, so we’re bound to meet up again soon.”

“Elberton Manor Studios in Bristol, UK #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr 🇬🇧 “


Collaborators: The Invisible Men

Location: Hammersmith, London

“writing songs with @invisiblemenuk in Hammersmith, London #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr #fancy 🇬🇧 “

“I was able to work with the Invisible Men on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. They are the production trio that co-wrote and produced Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” What’s great about them is that the music they make always sounds like their music and nobody else’s. They really push hard to make innovative pop music, and their strength is in creating outstanding instrumentals.

When “Fancy” first came on the radio I was like, ‘what is this track?!’ The instrumental is so compelling. They think about composing in a very clean and big sounding way. They really allow the space to be the music, and they’re so good at the minimalist production style.

Whoever told them about me said that I was in the vein of Prince meets Earth, Wind & Fire, so they put some things together that they thought would fit that vibe. They played me snippets of ideas and let me pick one to build on. I felt like a kid in a candy store with a bunch of No. 1 single options (laughs). It went so well that I picked a couple, and we booked two additional days to work, and we’ve also arranged to spend more time together in LA in August.

The Invisible Men continuously pushed me until they felt like they were hearing something that they hadn’t heard in my demos. Their mission was to get me out of my comfort zone. They pushed me to sing in my lowest register and it ended up sounding so good and different and new that I’ve been incorporating that voice into my writing process again and again since. It was a very similar experience to discovering my falsetto earlier this summer while working with LP.

The style is a very low ‘Sly & The Family Stone’ kind of sound. It’s awkward, it’s like ‘why would you do that?’ But when you figure out how to make it work then you’re like, ‘there’s no reason not to give this a shot!’ Because I’m such a new artist — at least in terms of singing — I haven’t explored all of the dynamics of the instrument that is my voice, so I’m up for anything. Finding out what I can and can’t do is so exciting.”


Collaborator: Greg Alexander

Location: Tileyard Studios, Kings Cross, London

“Both sessions with Greg this time around were late night sessions — on Wednesday and Saturday night — which are always a bit shorter. I didn’t finish the lyrics on the song I wrote with Brian Banks so I decided to be as efficient as possible and work on it with Greg. The goal is to make finished songs, and that is Greg’s specialty — he really knows how to finish a song strongly.

He loved this song, so he helped me fine-tune the melody and finish it over the course of these two sessions. He was the perfect person to do it. Music is always a youthful experience. We’re all doing it because we started loving it around the same age, which is childhood. We’re all connected to that version of ourselves to some degree, so we all kind of meet there when we make music.

They have a really unique food delivery service in London called Deliverancy. It was our saving grace, since we didn’t have time for dinner during these shorter sessions. The menu is super diverse, like Thai, Indian, American gourmet.”


Collaborator: Paul Carter aka Benbrick

Location: Tileyard Studios, Kings Cross, London

“writing songs with the brilliant @benbrick in Kings Cross, London #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr 🇬🇧 “

“I wanted to have my own space to operate in London, so Paul was nice enough to rent out a studio to me Tuesday through Saturday. It was crucial for me to have a little space to review tracks while I was there.

Paul and I are the same age, 25. It’s unique for me to be writing with somebody my own age. Everyone I’ve written with so far has been older, even if it’s by a couple years. It was refreshing to meet someone like Paul in London because we could connect in the same way I do with my high school buddies.

It’s really confusing that Paul (his real first name) and Ben (the first half of his alias) are such normal names, and I still refer to him by both (laughs), but I think it’s a brilliant idea to separate his artist identity from his personal one. He hung out in the lounge during the nights I was writing with Greg, so during food breaks we got a chance to socialize and that was great because when it came time to write we could just jump right into the session.

When you’re working with a friend it’s so easy to make music. You can talk about existential things, sensitive things, or just laugh, and the process doesn’t even seem like work. It’s just play. We were supposed to only work on Thursday, but that’s not what ended up happening. We would start one idea, then one of us would step out and the other one would begin a new idea. So many ideas were flowing that I emailed my manager like, ‘We need to cancel everything tomorrow. Every idea is a hit, we need more time!’ So we canceled Friday, and the same thing happened again. I emailed my manager again on Friday and we canceled my Saturday schedule too.

The energy was so positive and open, we were literally making music out of nothing. You could’ve ripped a piece of paper and Paul would’ve said, ‘record that,’ and a song would be made. For instance, he had a Rhodes piano with the cover of the strings removed and a tambourine laying on top. I hit the keys and the inside of the piano smacked against the strings, which vibrated against the tambourine, and we recorded this incredible weird vibration sound and made a beat out of that. No idea is bad, it’s all about the follow through. Paul’s ability to follow through with the production and songwriting is incredible and unlike anything I’ve seen in person.

We eventually got everything down to three ideas, finished one of them, and halfway finished the other two. I walked away with almost three complete songs with one person, and they’re all different. One is a ballot, one is a straight up dance track, and another one is like… its own genre.

I feel like I will always have a place in London to create now because of Paul. A lot of people in the industry are specialists, but he’s good at everything, plus he’s super humble and chill. He has this little wall in the studio that all the artists sign and I left him with: everything is possible.

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 4

The first three parts of JamFeed’s exclusive series, ‘Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn’, can be found here

If you’ll recall from the last edition of Taking Life by the Horn, Spencer Ludwig was feeling pretty good about his tiresome summer adventure writing songs for his upcoming Warner Bros. debut album:

“I’m working myself to death but I feel really good and healthy. I’ve been telling people this is a peak of my life right now,” he says. “I have more creative freedom than I’ve ever had, and this is the way I’ve always wanted to express myself.”

Unfortunately all men are mortal, a tough lesson that Spencer was reminded of shortly after speaking those very words. “I’m just now getting over a pretty intense virus that had me bed-ridden the past couple days. I worked myself sick, man. Really sick,” he lamented to me exactly a week after the first quote.

But alas, perhaps a bit of bed rest and a three-day stint on antibiotics are exactly what is needed from time-to-time when somebody like Spencer is truly taking life by the horn. One cannot survive off of spirit and passion alone.

On the day that I spoke with him he was roughly four hours away from catching a flight to Spain for a two-week stay in Europe… virus and all. The first week will be spent on a lightning round tour with Capital Cities — just in case anybody had any doubts that Spencer is still performing with the band amidst the creation of his solo album.

“We’re playing two dates in Spain and one in Serbia for the week, then I go from Serbia to London for a week of writing sessions and fly back to Los Angeles the following Sunday. I have a session that Monday,” he says with a strained voice. I can tell that he’s still pretty exhausted, and after hearing news of his upcoming international travels I say something stupid like “that’s dope, I can’t wait to see the pictures,” and proceed to cut the small talk.

The man has work to do, so it’s clearly time to handle business. Here is part four of Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn.

(By the way, I would be remiss to exclude a link to this wonderful New York Times piece on Spencer’s love for cooking, his trusted wooden spoon, and the cookbook that his mother made for him. It’s a short read, check it out.)


Monday, June 29

Collaborator: LP

Location: Spencer’s home studio in LA

“writing songs with one of my all time favorite humans/song writers @iamlpofficial #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “LP is another one of my friends who I was able to reach out to for this solo album opportunity. She was very excited for me and supportive of me. She’s an incredible songwriter with a background writing songs for really big artists. She has an incredible record out right now called Forever For Now, with another one on the way. I met her at The Sayers Club in Los Angeles. It’s a speakeasy… well, it was more so at the time, but now it’s a whole bunch of things.

There was this thing on Thursday nights called Sessions, founded by an LA music legend named Jason Scoppa. He’s really great at seeking out talent and showcasing it. Capital Cities had played there once, and after that I started going back regularly because it’s in the Hollywood neighborhood I lived in back when I lived in Hollywood Hills.

Anyways, they used to do this thing where a house band would play for an hour or two and they would feature a different singer on each different song. I would always look at Jason to see when he nodded, because that meant that it was my time to go on. I would just take his lead for when to bust out with a trumpet solo. LP was one of the singers there, and one night Jason nodded during her song. So we met each other while performing together! I don’t even remember what song it was but we’ve been friends ever since.

LP and I have such a great friendship that we can talk about anything and just let ideas fly. She was running late for our session so I ended up working on a beat before she arrived. But the thing with her is, working with her is so quick. She’s so confident and so good at what she does that we really click. She has a knack for both melody and lyrics. We literally knocked out a full song in three hours because the vibes were just flowing and the beat was strong because I had worked on it beforehand. She makes up a song so freaking quickly, it’s just unbelievable. And she makes it really fun! I believe in everything I work on with LP, and we’re definitely going to do more work together.

Her being late to the session was a blessing in disguise. It gave me the chance to experiment with beat making in a different way. I made the whole song out of trumpet, bass, and drums. For most of my songs I’m thinking about the division of trumpet and vocals and how I should be able to perform what I’m writing live. I decided to think differently about this song, like, “okay, who cares, let me use the trumpet as a tool to create the texture,” and it worked. It sounds more like a hip-hop sample or something, and it’ll be mixed that way too.”


Tuesday, June 30

Collaborators: Sam Sugarman, Matt Powell, and The Belle Brigade’s Ethan Gruska

Location: Brunswick Studios

“good friends make good music! so much fun writing more songs with Sam Sugarman, Matt Powell & Ethan Gruska (of @thebellebrigade) #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Sam, Matt, Ethan and I decided to write another one (editor’s note: Spencer had previously worked with this ensemble of writers earlier this summer). It’s always a good idea to write a new one than to perfect the old one. You’re almost always going to write a better song. It seems like a big task to start fresh versus perfecting something old, but I find that you should almost always write one from scratch because you’ll always get a new little surprise. It’s challenged by the one you wrote previously because the new one has to be better or more innovative in some way.

In this case, there’s no chords. It’s just bass, drums, and vocals. We were feeling a very percussive vibe. It was kind of the opposite of my session with LP the previous day. I was hitting the side of a chair in a latin percussive influenced style, so we recorded that. Then I took a champagne bottle and started playing that in a way that fit with the rest of the beat, and we recorded that too. We threw in some other interesting sounds.

I brought in the trick that I learned from Morgan Kibby (of M83) regarding the lyrical process through use of imagery. I decided to show my friends this new trick and it paid off! We Google image searched the word ‘vacation’ (laughs), and we wrote a bunch of lyrics inspired by the images we found. We ended up with a really sick vacation-influenced song.”

Spencer on his love for percussion, and how it sparked his interest in making music:

“I have always wanted to be a drummer. One of the biggest moments in my life was when my mom made me sell my paintball gun in middle school, because I bought a drum set with the money. That was the moment when I really got into music. I was kind of messing around with saxophone at the time, but when I got that drum set I spent every hour of my free time playing the drums. It was way more fun to practice drums than saxophone because they don’t squeak and sound like a duck. For a 13-year-old kid to be able to just hit stuff and make tons of noise is such a great outlet.

I really enjoy programming drums. I’m very particular about how drums sound, and the velocity of the hi-hats and snares and kicks. I try to program drums to feel and sound live, and I have a good understanding of what I like in a live drummer. The whole point of this record is to make a live-feeling record, so when it comes to the final version I intend on having a mixture of digital and live drums.”


Wednesday, July 1

Collaborator: Anthony Starble

Location: Spencer’s home studio in LA

“great times writing songs with the brilliant @anthonystarble #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Anthony Starble has the potential to be as great as Sam Smith. Seriously. I know that’s a very bold statement, but I just don’t think enough people have heard or know of Anthony Starble. You have to check out his YouTube channel and follow him on Instagram. He posts the craziest videos of him singing in a way that’s like, ‘How is this voice real and on planet Earth?’ He has insane control and a crazy range. He can separate notes with his voice with the same control that a piano player can on the keys. His voice is that in-tune.

I went to Cal Arts with him but I didn’t really know him that well in college. We took an African music class together, but he really started coming into my awareness on social media. He was posting things that I just connected with, and I would be like, ‘Oh, Anthony, the guy I went to school with, I had no idea he’s this good!’ (laughs) So I started paying attention and when he played a show in New York a couple of years ago I went to go see him. I really wanted to help this guy, and started thinking about who I could connect him with that I know.

Anthony is really good at writing power ballads. I’ve been sitting on a very personal piano ballad for awhile, and I thought that he would be the perfect person to finish it. I was 100 percent correct. I’m not really sure that anybody else could’ve understood it the same way. He’s also a master vocalist, specifically in gospel and R&B, so he brought that out in the song and created a monster power ballad that only has piano and vocals. I don’t intend on writing any more songs like it, but I can imagine playing it at a live show the same way: just piano and vocals.


Thursday, July 2

Collaborators: Ethan & Barbara Gruska of The Belle Brigade

Location: Ethan’s home studio in LA

“too much fun writing songs with Ethan & Barbara Gruska of @thebellebrigade #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “I finally got the chance to write with the full Belle Brigade! These two people are two of the most talented people on the planet. They’re the grandchildren of John Williams (the composer behind the scores for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the first three Harry Potters, and countless others), but that’s just a fun fact. They come from a musical family, but they really do have unreal talent themselves.

When I get together with The Belle Brigade it’s just like old friends reunited. I’ve been a fan of Barbara’s for a long time (she’s six years older than Ethan), and Ethan and I have been great friends since middle school. Growing up, we would go see Barbara perform at the same places where I would end up performing at. Barbara has always been in a circle of really cool bands in LA. A lot of my writing sessions this summer are with that circle, which includes Inara George, Marcel Camargo, Alex Lilly, the list goes on and on. In my opinion, it’s one of the most talented songwriting groups in the city.

In the picture for this session we’re doing a clap routine, kind of like how you see kids clapping on the playground. Something about the beat gave me the imagery of kids doing this routine, and Barbara decided to record it. So the whole beat was created with the layered-in after school clap routine. That’s what inspired the song. The playground clap.

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 3

Part 1 and 2 of JamFeed’s exclusive series, ‘Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn’, can be found here and here.

Anybody who knows Spencer Ludwig, or who has read the first two installments of this column, has probably figured out by now that he likes to stay busy. But “busy” has a different connotation to a musician working on his major label debut studio album than it does to somebody working a 9-to-5. Spencer’s craft necessitates that he be an opportunist at all times, that he adapts and realigns his own creative energy at will in order to more perfectly capture the creative energy that the universe throws at him.

In other words, Spencer’s plan to host writing sessions all summer with a different songwriter every day, alternating weeks in Los Angeles and New York, has already been interrupted. He was supposed to fly back to New York after spending Father’s Day in LA, but he extended his trip. “Some really big sessions came up and because of that I ended up adjusting my schedule, and it was a great decision,” he says to me on the phone with an air of certain contentment.

Like I said, Spencer is busy these days, but he’s not trapped by his work. Far from it, in fact. He’s letting his work guide him and lead the way, jumping at opportunities to create in the here-and-now. If those opportunities happen to back up his already beyond hectic writing schedule, then so be it. He’ll just be busier.

“I’m working myself to death but I feel really good and healthy. I’ve been telling people this is a peak of my life right now,” he says. “I have more creative freedom than I’ve ever had, and this is the way I’ve always wanted to express myself.”

Spencer is cherishing his newfound freedom to operate by his own rules, as this summer is the first time in at least four years that he hasn’t had to tour relentlessly with the band that found him and gave him his start in the music industry, Capital Cities.

“Imagine one day you find a kazoo in your garage and decide, ‘I’ll just go out on the corner and start playing kazoo’. Then somebody hears you and goes, ‘you’re really good at that, can you come to our studio and play some kazoo on our songs?’ Next thing you know, you’re playing kazoo on every song. Then all of a sudden you’re on tour for the next four years and even you forgot that there were so many other things you wanted to do,” he analogizes about his experience with Capital Cities.

This summer marks the moment in which all of the work Spencer has put in with Capital Cities begins to manifest itself into a true creative peak. “I had to step away from this sort of freedom in order to really appreciate it, I guess,” he says thoughtfully. “People are really down to work, and there’s this amazing energy that is pulling me and everyone involved in the project forward.”

So yeah, if a consecutive week of LA writing sessions is the best way for Spencer to keep this creative energy flowing, then that’s exactly what he’ll do. Keep reading below to learn more about that energy, and the players involved.


Monday, June 22

Collaborators: Holy Child (Liz Nistico & Louie Diller)

Location: Holy Child’s home studio in Los Angeles

“Writing a duet with the king and queen of #bratpop @holychild #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “What’s interesting about these sessions is that most of them are due to relationships that I’ve made along the way. Of course there are sessions built around these really incredible people I’m being introduced to by the label and by my manager, but Holy Child is a personal one. I met them at SXSW 2013, which was an incredible SXSW for me. It was also the year I met RAC and Penguin Prison, and by ‘met’ I mean that everybody hung out for the whole week!

I went to Cal Arts with their drummer Martin Diller (Louie’s brother). Martin said, ‘Hey Spence, I’m here [at SXSW] do you want to hop on a song?’ I learned the trumpet part on Spotify while I was walking to the gig, which was at the Spotify House (laughs). I jumped on stage and played the horn line, and I’ve been friends with the band ever since.

Liz Nistico and I unintentionally wrote a duet. We were going back and forth with ideas, echoing each other’s melodies, so it only felt natural to proceed to write the song as a duet. I love her voice and loved the idea of making this song a duet. Great energy.

Holy Child are really innovative beat makers. They have a toy piano that’s the size of a chihuahua in their studio, and it sounds exactly like a sketchy little plastic toy piano should. I started playing it while Louie was making the track, and we ended up sampling what I was playing for the foundation of the beat. That’s just who they are. They’re experimental and willing to have fun, and their music is indicative of that. The song we wrote has a very positive and fun summer time vibe, for sure.”


Spencer on Holy Child’s recently released debut album, The Shape of Brat Pop to Come:

“For the people who read this, I hope that they come across that album. It’s really cool and innovative, and it doesn’t sound like anything else out there, it just sounds like Holy Child. It’s probably gonna blow up so… you should get on it first.”


Tuesday, June 23

Collaborators: Aaron Childs & Josh Ocean of Ghost Beach

Location: Brunswick Studios, Los Angeles

“Writing songs with Aaron Childs & Josh Ocean of @ghostbeach #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Josh Ocean is the one in the chair, and Aaron Childs is the guy behind me in the yellow hat. Josh is the singer/songwriter/producer of Ghost Beach, a killin’ band out of New York, and Aaron is also a singer/songwriter/producer, as well as a guitar player.

I met Josh through RAC when me and RAC played a show at the Fonda Theatre in LA and Josh was there. Him and Aaron met each other through a publishing company they’re both working with, so this session was really some ‘small world’ type of thing because I’ve known Aaron since my college days. I went to Cal Arts and he went to USC. Both of these guys are amazing, next level talents.

I used to see Aaron play in college and think to myself, ‘damn, I hope some day I can play music with him’. His music is so similar to what my end goal is, very much a Prince/Michael Jackson vibe. He looks like a freakin’ rock star. He’s like 7 feet tall and 120 pounds — I don’t think those are the exact measurements but not far off! (laughs)

All three of us are very much on the same page musically, and I’m very excited to do more with them. They prepared something that was right on the nose of the sound I was going for. We all collaborated on the top line (the main melody) and the lyrics, so that helped the session move really quickly. I’m just about doing what’s best for the song. In this situation all it needed was melody and lyrics because the instrumental was really strong.”


Wednesday, June 24

Collaborators: Jake Sinclair & Morgan Kibby (aka White Sea) of M83

Location: Jake’s studio in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles

“Writing songs with Jake Sinclair & Morgan Kibby of #M83 / @whiteseamusic #solorecord #writingsessions #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Jake Sinclair has a really nice studio in Silver Lake. It’s a proper studio. He’s very good friends with Morgan Kibby who is the singer/songwriter/keyboardist for M83. Jake was like, ‘you know what? My friend Morgan is an incredible lyricist and songwriter and I think she’d be a great person to bring into the session if you don’t mind’. I was absolutely down.

Three is a great number for songwriting. Everyone has different strengths, and having someone with me who is specifically focused on lyrics helps me because otherwise it’s all on me to write lyrics and I like to bounce ideas off somebody in every aspect, musically and lyrically. It’s the only way you can get new ideas.

This was by far my favorite lyrical session I’ve had yet. It was the first time I wrote lyrics before melody. The instrumental was created early on, then we sat down for about 30 minutes and came up with a concept for having a wild night in Los Angeles; one of those nights that keeps going and going. We came up with a list of phrases with strong imagery and constructed the melody using the words from this two-page list. It was a really great exercise for me, and a trick that I decided to adopt. I have Morgan and Jake to thank for it.

This song is the most vivid, visceral song with the most incredible imagery of probably any song I’ve made. It tells this incredible story with all of these beautiful ways of describing the scene. For example, we were looking up pictures of LA nightlife and we found a painting on Google of a lion that was painted blue, so we brought that into the song and referred to it as a neon lion. We described hanging Christmas lights in between buildings as ‘zig-zagging zebra fire’. Things like that. I was reminded more so than ever of the power of imagery. I always end up writing about personal things, which is fine for the record, but it’s also cool to have some really fun imagery.”


Thursday, June 25

Collaborator: Kuk Harrell

Location: Brunswick Studios, Los Angeles

“Writing songs with the one and only Kuk Harrell #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Getting a session with Kuk Harrell is very difficult because he’s the world’s number one vocal producer. He produces vocals for massive albums, like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Chris Brown, Celine Dion, Usher, everybody. He’s won Grammys.

I found him when I was looking at the background credits for a Beyonce song. I want to write with people who’ve written for Beyonce because I love her music. I was specifically looking up a couple songs and it turns out Kuk co-wrote ‘Single Ladies’ so I was like, ‘I gotta get in with this guy!’

He told me that we could start from scratch if I wanted to, but his strength is top lining (melody), so I was like, ‘oh man, I better have a really strong instrumental for him’. When I wrote a song with the St. Lucia guys we had focused only on the instrumental, and I had been saving it for the right person to collaborate with on the melody. I decided that the instrumental would be perfect for Kuk, and I was right. He was stoked! We created a really strong melody for that song.

Across the board the feedback has been very positive so far, no matter how big or small somebody I’m working with is. It’s a very equal playing field with songwriting because there’s no one person who can write a hit song by themselves. No matter what, it’s going to take both of us, so we’re automatically equal.”


Friday, June 26

Collaborator: Luke O’Malley

Location: Spencer’s home studio in NYC

“Writing more songs with Luke O’Malley #solorecord #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “I flew back to New York on Thursday night so that I could wrap up what Luke and I had started (covered in part one). We took the song to the next level and it’s just a testament to what can and will happen with more time. Every day I’m coming up with a new song, and I pretty much know at the end of the day whether it has the potential to be great or not. I knew that the one I wrote with Luke had that potential, so it was good to get that follow-up session in there.

I have songs I’ve spent eight hours on, and I know when I spend a month on them they will be everything I want them to be and more. Tightening up melody, tightening up lyrics, adding layers, figuring out arrangement, figuring out the texture of the sounds. You’re trying your best to paint the picture of the end goal with each demo, and the clearer you can make that idea, the better chance that song has to be picked for the record.

Trumpet will be on every song on my album. They won’t all necessarily have solos, but trumpet is something that I naturally hear that makes my music unique. I always hear trumpet parts in my head, whether it’s a hook, background part, or solo. There will be lots of trumpet on the record, as there should be. And mostly in ways that will be able to translate in a live playing situation. That’s what I’m really pushing for: the dynamic of trumpet in the record to reflect how it can be performed live.”

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 2

If you missed part 1 of JamFeed’s exclusive series, ‘Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn’, you can catch up here.

It’s Sunday, June 21, and singer/songwriter/trumpeter Spencer Ludwig is spending the day with his family at Dodger Stadium, watching his father’s beloved Los Angeles Dodgers beat up on their NL West rival San Francisco Giants in a game that would eventually end in a 10-2 Dodgers victory.

In a summer that will find Spencer alternating weeks between LA and New York City, working with five different songwriters per week as he preps his forthcoming Warner Bros. debut album, he usually wouldn’t cut his cross-country plane trip this close. After all, he’s fresh off of an incredibly productive week of writing, and he’s supposed to be back in New York by now, spending time with his girlfriend and resting up for the next one.

But Sunday, June 21 is also Father’s Day, hence the reason for Spencer’s prolonged stay in his native LA. Spencer’s father, Allan Ludwig, is a Canadian born of Russian descent, and a “huuuuuge sports fan,” as Spencer puts it. “He’s the kind of guy who will watch one game on mute on the TV and be listening to another one on the radio. He grew up going to Dodger Stadium, so a Father’s Day baseball game seemed pretty perfect.”

These days, Spencer doesn’t get to see his family nearly as much as he wants to, despite staying at home during weeks of LA writing sessions. He leaves for the studio at 9 am and usually doesn’t get back until 2 am. But Allan and the rest of the family can’t knock the hustle; after all, Spencer got it from them. He puts his game face on each and every day, and unlike the ballplayers who he’s watching this Father’s Day, he doesn’t have an entire staff full of coaches, managers, and trainers to motivate him to stay in condition.

No, even though Spencer has the full support of Warner Bros. behind him, the grind necessary to complete this chaotic and jam-packed summer is all on him. Nobody is forcing him to keep such a hectic summer schedule, and it is internal passion, not outside influence, that is driving his mission.

“The outside perspective is probably, ‘Warner is really hooking Spencer up with all of these writers!’ But the schedule of writing with a different person until the end of August wasn’t a suggestion from the label. I decided to do this.”

Spencer’s manager and project manager both help him out with his day-to-day affairs, but when it comes to playing the game he’s his own coach and star player: “I do research on the person I’m working with before every session. I get to know their strengths, and I conduct and lead the session with those in mind. You have to be prepared if you want to be really efficient, and since I’m trying to finish a song that’s supposed to be better than the last one in only an eight-hour time frame, getting the ball rolling in the first few hours is really important.”

Now, because of his supreme preparedness and work ethic, the next time Spencer Ludwig steps foot in Dodger Stadium it will be to perform the National Anthem on August 11, while his whole family watches on from the field.

So yeah, being home without actually spending time with the family is bittersweet, but the Ludwig’s understand. Their boy is in the zone this summer, and he’s trying to create a classic.

I will be writing weekly segments on Spencer Ludwig’s progress, as well as documenting each writing session, from now until the end of August. This column allows Spencer to detail the making of his debut album in his own words and in his own way, as he describes his learning curve on a weekly basis. Hopefully these segments will not only capture the intricacies of creating a major label album, but also the inspiration and collaboration that drives an artist to be great. The experience is about life turning into music, turning back into life, and so on.

Read on to hear in Spencer’s own words how his first full week of songwriting sessions in Los Angeles shaped up. Welcome to Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 2.


Monday, June 15th

Collaborator: Roger Love.

Location: Roger’s studio in Hollywood.

“Life changing vocal lesson with Roger Love #solorecord #preproduction #wbr #comingsoon”

Spencer: “I used to go to school with Roger Love’s kid, so I just reached out to him like, ‘Roger, I know you’re the man. I would really appreciate the guidance.’ He’s been the vocal coach for The Jonas Brothers, Maroon 5, The Beach Boys, The Jacksons, Iggy Pop, Smashing Pumpkins… it just goes on and on. I feel really fortunate that I was able to spend an hour with him, because that hour was pretty life changing. He helped me discover a part of my voice that I wasn’t really using, known as your ‘middle voice’. It’s that point between your comfortable singing range and your high falsetto. He helped me discover it and strengthen it.

He was very hands on, literally. He grabbed my throat and as I sang up my Adam’s apple would go up and then he would push it down with his hands. Keeping your Adam’s apple down as you sing higher gives your voice more strength and clarity. It actually worked, too, because his physical aid kept it down and I was reaching notes that were higher than I’ve ever reached before.

There’s a few obvious differences between writing in LA as opposed to New York, and it starts with driving places. I like that culture of driving from place to place. I do a lot of planning when I’m in the car, and it also allows me to make phone calls, which I don’t have the time for in New York using public transit. Roger gave me a CD of our voice lesson, which was really organized and really clear, and every day after the lesson I was practicing in the car. It’s a great time to practice because I can just belt it out.

Roger wanted me to improve in that one-hour lesson, and I actually did improve. I feel like my voice is getting into really good shape. I feel like a well-oiled machine right now.”


Tuesday, June 16th

Writer(s): Sam Sugarman, Matt Powell, and The Belle Brigade’s Ethan Gruska.

Location: Sam and Matt’s garage studio in LA, “Brunswick Studios.”

“Writing songs with friends Sam Sugarman, Matt Powell & Ethan Gruska of @thebellebrigade #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #wbr #comingsoon #!!!”

Spencer: “Sam Sugarman and Ethan Gruska are high school friends of mine. I met Matt Powell in college, through Sam, because Sam and I used to play in a wedding band that Matt would play bass for sometimes. Now Sam and Matt live in a house together with another one of my high school friends, Chris Hartz, who is the musical director for Childish Gambino and Passion Pit. Ethan lives close.

Sam’s wedding band is the best sounding and hardest working wedding band in all of Los Angeles. It was called Licorice when I was in it, I’m not sure what the name is now, but they have since been signed to West Coast Music, which is the most legit event booking company on the west (Editor’s note: I was able to find a Facebook page for Licorice that hasn’t been in use since early 2012, but nothing since). When I finished high school, I literally begged Sam to let me into the band. He was two grades above me in school, so he had never heard me play trumpet before. I started playing my senior year when he was already gone. It took a little convincing, but he finally let me join.

I credit my stage presence to playing with Licorice. In order for me to prove to Sam that his really awesome wedding band needed a trumpet player, I needed to be more than a trumpet player. That’s where I came up with my wild performance style. I was taking solos over songs by Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Prince; any time there was a bridge I would get up on someone’s table or on the bar for my solo, just being super Ron Burgundy about it. It became something that everybody really came to love. That’s where I learned how to create this dynamic between learning the trumpet parts in the song and improvising to put on a show. And that’s the mentality I had when Capital Cities asked me to play shows with them.

One of the most important things about writing music is chemistry. The first hour of a session sometimes is just talking and getting to know each other’s vibe. But these guys are my best friends from high school, so I just knew that great music would be made if I wrote with them, and I was totally right. The good thing about being in a wedding band is you have to study the best music from all of the best eras. So these guys are coming from a really deep understanding of the music that I love, and that I’m inspired by. I’ll be doing a lot more with them. It doesn’t matter what your credits are, it only matters if you’re able to make good music with somebody, and I’ll be doing a lot more with them.”


Wednesday, June 17th

Writer(s): RAD Stereo and Daphne Willis.

Location: DJ Mr. Best’s home studio in Hollywood Hills.

“Writing rad songs with @radstereo & @daphnewillismusic #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #comingsoon via #wbr #!!!”

Spencer: “RAD Stereo is Ryan Best (DJ Mr. Best) and Dustin Que. They’re known for their remixes, which always chart really high on the hypem charts. They’re two of the coolest, nicest, most open-hearted and genuine dudes out there, who are also extremely talented. I really like them as people, so I just knew that writing music with them would be fun.

I met Daphne Willis a long time ago when I was hired to record trumpet on one of her tracks. She’s from Nashville, and I’ve stayed in touch with her because she’s a really talented writer. She’s signed to Sony/ATV as a writer now, and has recently written stuff with Meghan Trainor. She’s very melodic and a great lyricist. I thought that partnering Daphne with a strong production team like RAD Stereo would result in a really strong pop song, so I brought the two worlds together and everyone got along great.”

Spencer on why the picture for this session is so great, and why all of Spencer’s pictures are great: “I attach a GoPro somewhere and put it on a time lapse, so I’m able to sift through and find a really good action shot. I don’t ever want [my pictures] to be a pose. The viewer should feel like they’re a fly on the wall.”


Thursday, June 18th

Writer(s): Marcel Camargo and The Bird and The Bee’s Inara George.

Location: Spencer’s home studio in LA.

“I turned my mom’s TV room into my LA summer studio starting off by writing songs with Marcel Camargo & Inara George of The Bird and The Bee #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “I’ve known Marcel Camargo since I was 16-years-old. He’s from Sao Paolo, Brazil. He used to play guitar in Ethan Gruska’s sister’s band, and he’s currently Michael Buble’s guitar player. I’ve watched him play with many different bands in LA growing up. He’s one of the most incredible guitar players alive today; prolific, talented, and diverse, plus a next-level arranger.

Inara George is the singer/songwriter of The Bird and The Bee. When their first record came out (self-titled as The Bird and The Bee) I was in high school, and it totally changed my life and my perception of what pop is and could be. It was so innovative and lush with harmony. The song forms were unique and her voice is unbelievably angelic, I was infatuated with the record and with her.

Thanks to Marcel, Inara was able to come. I hit him up first about adding strings, flutes, and horns to my music because I want that level of arrangement on my album. I’m making a really BIG sounding album. You’re going to hear everything. He said, ‘Yeah Spencer, I’d love to do that! Regarding orchestration, here’s an example of an orchestra performing The Bird and The Bee songs sung by Inara George’. I was like, ‘It would be crazy if Inara could come over’, and he was like, ‘that’s a good idea, I’ll ask her’. So he sent her my demos, she said yes, and next thing I know she’s standing in my mom’s living room! That was so cool to me.

We wrote one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. It was such a great experience because I’ve wanted to write a song that will excite the people of Brazil — and of South America, for that matter —  and since Marcel is from Sao Paolo, I said ‘let’s try to write a pop song with Brazilian influence’. The combination of the two made it happen. No matter what happens with that song, whether it’s on the album or not, it will forever be one of the most special songs to me in the world.


Friday, June 19th

Writer: Dennis Herring.

Location: Herring’s home studio in downtown LA, aka DTLA Studios.

“So much fun writing songs with the legendary Dennis Herring #solorecord #LAwritingsessions #comingsoon via #warnerbrosrecords #wbr”

Spencer: “Kenny Carkeet of AWOLNATION has been in my corner for a long time. Every so often he’ll reach out to me and ask, ‘Hey man, I’m working on something for a band, can you put trumpet on it?’ And I always do. One day, when I was on the road with Capital Cities, he said, ‘I’m working on a song with a really big producer named Dennis Herring, it would be great if you could play trumpet on this song’. So I ended up recording trumpet for some song for somebody who Dennis was producing. Kenny was like, ‘I’m so glad you were able to connect with Dennis, he’s a really big deal’. I didn’t even know who he was, but I trust Kenny.

When I was setting up these writing sessions, I remembered that name. It turns out that Dennis Herring is a two-time Grammy winning producer. He’s produced for The Hives, Modest Mouse, Buddy Guy, Counting Crows, The Waves, Twin Shadow, and many more. So I just hit him up like, ‘Hey man, do you remember me? I sent you trumpet stuff, would you like to write?’ I sent him my demos and he said, ‘Let’s do it’.

I pulled up to a giant warehouse in downtown LA like, ‘this is interesting’. It was the coolest house I’ve ever been to in my life. He purchased an entire warehouse building with super high ceilings and divided it. One half is an epic, wide open living space with multiple ‘rooms’, but no walls. And in the center is a giant, humongous tropical palm tree that’s fully grown and covered in lights. This is the part of the warehouse that he lives in. Then there’s one wall that splits the building, and behind that wall is an equally giant space that’s the most next level recording studio. Everything he writes and produces is done there.

I had an amazing day working on a really fun, uptempo, funky track that I’m super excited about. He was writing songs with Katy Perry and Chris Brown earlier in the week, and then it was me. I was like, ‘Dang, I’m glad I called you’ (laughs).”


Check back to jamfeed.com/news every Friday morning from now until the end of the summer to tune in to Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, and make sure to download JamFeed and follow Spencer to stay up-to-date with all of his latest releases and updates.

Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn, Part 1

It’s the afternoon of Thursday, June 4th, and Warner Bros. recording artist Spencer Ludwig is standing in downtown Austin, TX, preparing to kick off the 21st edition of the Summer X Games with a trumpet rendition of the National Anthem.

Warner Bros. recording artist.”

That is the way that Ludwig is officially introduced prior to his X Games performance. Ludwig, who’s donning a simple-yet-sleek getup of black boots, black jeans, white t-shirt, and white leather jacket, has the sun to his back, the U.S. military color guard standing faithfully next to him, a row of tricked out motorcycles behind him, and jets capable of breaking the speed of sound whirring overhead. The stage is his, and the newly signed singer/songwriter/trumpeter is reveling in the moment.

“Photo by Peter Morning from this weekend’s performance of the National Anthem at the #XGames.”

“The feeling I had right before I started playing was, ‘wow, I’m about to have the most insane summer!’ It just felt like this is a moment where I can stop, play this really epic song, and pause everything,” says Ludwig about the X Games performance.

The 24-year-old Los Angeles-born musician of Filipino descent is right to take a moment to breathe, as he is embarking on a singular mission this summer: work with as many songwriters as possible from the beginning of June to the end of August. Ludwig is a workaholic who is deeply in tune with the betterment of his craft, something that I quickly realized while interviewing him for an artist spotlight back in early March.

This summer, he’ll be taking weekends off in order to play shows when possible, spend time with his girlfriend, and get some much-needed rest. Each weekday will consist of a day-long session with a different songwriter, alternating weeks between his native Los Angeles and his new home, New York City. That’s five different writers a week, for three months, with the intent of getting in the studio in September to record his forthcoming Warner Bros. debut solo album.

Although Ludwig is young, he is far from green. He has been playing trumpet for the indie pop band Capital Cities since 2011, and his tenure with the band has taken him and his horn to sold out stadiums and arenas across the world.

Now, as of April, Ludwig is a solo artist standing on his own two feet, and no longer just a trumpet player.

“Today I am proud to announce that I’ve officially signed to Warner Bros. Records as a solo artist! I am so grateful to the label for believing in me and to my family, friends and fans who have supported me and inspired me to pursue this journey. Stay tuned… #signedsealeddelivered #wbr #singtrumpetdance”

“[The X Games] was the first time I had ever been introduced that way. That was really cool. I’m kind of getting used to the whole thing. People are referring to me as singer/songwriter/trumpeter and that’s making me really happy because it’s the truth, and it’s how I want to be identified,” says Ludwig.

Indeed, the lane that Ludwig is attempting to occupy has been empty for quite some time now. “Here’s a guy who’s going to sing and play trumpet, and nobody in the world has anybody on their roster like that. He’s the first singing trumpet player since Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker who’s going to make a mark in pop music. Period,” Ludwig says.

He may be comparing himself to two of the greatest innovators in the history of music, but he is not wrong, and the comparison does not come from a place of ego, but rather from a genuine desire to create timeless music. Besides, whoever said that singing trumpeters need necessarily restrict themselves to the realm of jazz? Ludwig has a different goal in mind, and an idol who’s influence probably surpasses that of Armstrong’s and Baker’s combined:

“I’m trying to create a timeless funk record. ‘Classic’ would be a good word too. To me, it’s about having strong melodies and really strong, great lyrics. I’m taking inspiration from all the music I first loved, and it starts and ends with Michael Jackson… and MJ is in the middle too,” says Ludwig with a laugh.

Although he is far too ambitious to attempt to simply duplicate Thriller, it is the energy of that record — specifically of “P.Y.T.,” Ludwig’s self-proclaimed “bible” — that his debut album needs to capture.

“I push my songs to have that feeling of perfection; not in the sense of music theory perfection, but energy and feeling perfection. ‘P.Y.T.’ feels good, and I’m just trying to understand how in the hell does it feel so good?”

And that, in a nutshell, is the goal of Spencer’s summer.

Indeed, it is the very reason for the sheer number of, and diversity of writers he is working with. As he transitions from being a trumpet player in a band, to a well-rounded solo artist who does it all, Ludwig is finding out who he really is as a musician in the process.

Each writer Ludwig works with this summer will push a different side of his musicality to the forefront, and come recording time in September, he will know what that energy and feeling he is trying to capture is.

I will be writing weekly segments on Spencer Ludwig’s progress, as well as documenting each writing session, from now until the end of August. This column allows Spencer to detail the making of his debut album in his own words and in his own way, as he describes his learning curve on a weekly basis. Hopefully these segments will not only capture the intricacies of creating a major label album, but also the inspiration and collaboration that drives an artist to be great. The experience is about life turning into music, turning back into life, and so on.

Without further ado, I present to you the first installment of Spencer Ludwig: Taking Life by the Horn.


Monday, June 1st

Writers: Nick Paul and Ross Pryce of St. Lucia.

Location: Paul’s apartment in Brooklyn.

“Back at it writing songs with @nicky_paul & @rosspryce of @stlucia #solorecord #writingsessions #singtrumpetdance #wbr”

Spencer: “Nick and Ross are good friends of mine that I met on the road. Both of them have a very, very deep knowledge of jazz. That’s one thing I’m really trying to showcase in my record: sophisticated harmony. It comes from understanding jazz and gospel. Michael Jackson songs are simple, but the harmony is sophisticated. It’s so lush and emotional. Working with jazz musicians can take a pop song to the next level. What you have to be careful of is to make sure that it doesn’t go too far jazz. Nick, Ross and I were really able to experiment with harmony and melody, and what we came up with was super funky and lush.”

“That session was hosted at Nick’s apartment. I’m finding myself exploring NYC and LA in all of these different environments that I’ve never been in before. I’m going to home studios, fancy studios, sometimes I’m in a bedroom, sometimes I’m in a top of the line studio. As far as I’m concerned all we need is a mic, keyboard, and laptop to get the demo done. Different environments and instruments inspire different demos.”


Tuesday, June 2nd

Writer: Luke O’Malley.

Location: Spencer’s apartment in NYC.

“Writing songs with Luke O’Malley! #solorecord #writingsessions #singtrumpetdance #wbr”

Spencer: “Luke O’Malley is an amazing songwriter but his strength is guitar. You probably know of him as the white guy in The Roots. He plays with them off-and-on. He’s worked with Mary J. Blige, Mark Ronson, Aloe Blacc, Andrew Wyatt, just a long line of greats. All these writers have long lists of accomplishments, which is great. It’s just cool. The greatest thing is that everyone I’m working with is a normal person who loves to make music and there’s no ego.”

“It’s like, ‘hey, we’re here to write a song and we want to write your best song. It’s in both of our best interests to write your best song, so let’s make it happen’. It’s not like, ‘I want to write the average song in the middle of your record. No. We’re here today to write your number one song’. And I love that because it challenges every other song that I’ve written. If the goal is to write my number one song every day, then it gives me an album of singles, hopefully.”


Spencer then took Wednesday, June 3rd off to fly to Austin for the X Games, where he performed on Thursday, June 5th.


Friday, June 5th

“Until next time Chicago 📷: @chi_andy

Spencer: “I did a DJ set in Chicago that night at Studio Paris Nightclub with DJ Mr. Best. Sometimes I DJ and play the trumpet and other times I just play the trumpet alongside DJs like Mr. Best. I think that DJ sets are really fun, and it’s a really nice break for me. I’m writing pop songs and DJ sets allow me to have fun and improvise. What I do is improvise trumpet over the music. It’s a nice way to hear some of my favorite music, and also to just let loose. It’s funny because I’m so fixated on melodies when I’m songwriting, and that’s really influencing my style of playing trumpet now because I’m constantly thinking about melodies.”


Monday, June 8th — Wednesday, June 10th

Writer: Gregg Alexander.

Location: Spencer’s apartment in NYC.

“A beautiful ending to a beautiful day writing songs with Gregg Alexander #solorecord #writingsessions #wbr #yougetwhatyougive”

Spencer: “Gregg Alexander is best known for being the front man of a band called New Radicals, who had a huge international hit in 1998 called ‘You Get What You Give‘. He went on to write some really big songs, like ‘Game of Love‘ for Santana and Michelle Branch. The list goes on-and-on.”

“I was working with a much more experienced person who has had a lot of success writing huge, huge hits. And it was an honor to have him in my apartment. We spent three days together. I got to know somebody who’s had an incredible career, who’s brilliant and has a really unique way of writing songs. What was most unique was that after we created the instrumental, we started making up melodies for the songs that we were recording our ideas on an iPad for. After the first ten minutes [Gregg] stopped and was like, ‘let’s go back and listen to everything we came up with’. I’m used to crafting the ideas as I go, but he said that the first ten minutes is the most instinctual, and all the gold is in there. So we spent an hour listening to our ideas and picking out the best ones that we first came up with, and then we organized them in a way that ended up being the top line for our song.”

“The song is great. [Gregg] actually lives in London, and I’ll be there for a week later this summer, so we’re going to try to work together again.”


Thursday, June 11th

Writer: Ben Antelis

Location: Spencer’s apartment in NYC.

“Great day writing songs with Ben Antelis #solorecord #writingsessions #wbr”

Spencer: “I met Ben when I went to see a friend play about a year ago at this place called Rockwood, a small bar/venue on the lower east side of New York. He was drumming, we exchanged information, followed each other on social media, and always kept in touch. We tried to connect but it never really worked out. When this record deal came to me, he sent me a demo like, ‘yeah man, I also write songs. Let me know if you want to do some songwriting’. I thought the demo was pretty cool so I hit him up.”

“Ben is 29, he’s young, and he’s a hustler. In my experience as an instrumentalist, if you link with another instrumentalist who really knows how to play their instrument, then you’re going to make good music together. At the end of the day Ben and I realized that we’re compatible to be good friends… writing a song is a very intimate situation. You get personal and talk about personal experiences. There can’t be any hesitancy there, you can’t have a filter. You have to be willing to talk about what you want to talk about.”


Friday, June 12th

Writer: Penguin Prison

Location: Penguin Prison’s studio in NYC.

“Writing songs with @penguinprison #solorecord #writingsessions #wbr #comingsoon”

Spencer: “I’ve been a huge fan of Penguin Prison’s music for a long time. I got connected with him via RAC. RAC is a big part of my world and I love that guy. After [RAC] introduced us, Penguin Prison has had me onstage a few times to perform [his and RAC’s] song ‘Hollywood‘. I’m a huge fan of that song, as well as PP’s production, songwriting, and voice. His sound is unbelievable and he does everything himself, he’s one of the most well-rounded musicians out there.”

“He has a killer studio with really cool vintage synths. We made a really fun jam. It was very jammy because we’re both able to play many instruments, so once we got the drum groove down we just picked up different instruments and jammed over it. Once we found a really cool vibe we were like, ‘alright, let’s track that!’ I tracked the piano, he was playing guitar, and it kinda felt like we were with a live band. Then I started doing some percussion with my mouth and he was like, ‘track that too!’ So we tracked that too, added some effects to it, and suddenly we had this really cool bouncy, summer-time cruise beat. Then we started singing a bunch of melodies, listened back for the best ones, and started crafting words around the vibe of the song. It was freakin’ awesome and I really hope that song makes the record.”


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