Music News

Pro7ect’s Songwriters Survival Kit

What’s in your songwriter’s survival kit? Do you require an assortment of tools, oddities, or instruments to help you tap into the magic? Do you need to be wearing a particular jumper, bracelet, or lucky pair of socks? Or does your muse flow straight from life at any time of the day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing? In this month’s Session Notes blog, ‘Songwriters Survival Kit’, Pro7ect Songwriting Retreats founder and songwriter Lisa Fitzgibbon digs into these practical needs and superstitious practises.

These past few months I’ve been lugging my Songwriting Survival Kit around Australia and Asia. It’s an interesting challenge packing all the tools you need to support your practice into the smallest bag possible. And even more of a challenge to carry it with you wherever you go - boat, plane, train, or trek. I’m used to writing in locations other than my home studio, and can be pretty minimal with my kit, but long-hall travel and the financially restrictions of excess luggage has reduced my songwriting survival kit in a whole new way.

I’ve made a list of the essential things in my own Songwriters Survival Kit. I’ve divided my list into two categories… essentials, and luxuries. I’ve also asked some of my writer/producer friends and comrades what in their Songwriting Survival Kits.


1. Acoustic Guitar – Taylor if I’m touring and writing in the UK, Takamine if I’m travelling abroad and not gigging. My Taka is my ‘campfire’ guitar. I love it, and have written many songs on it, but I travel with it when I’m not recording or gigging (it’s electrics aren’t great and it’s a bit buzzy), so it doesn’t give me anxiety if it has to go in the plane hold or sit in a tent in a cold field for a week. My lovely Taylor comes on tour and to the studio with me.

2. Audio voice notes – either a Dictaphone or my iPhone voice notes, to capture all the ideas and sounds that I find in any moment.

3. Music-free zone – I can write with the sounds of the sea, the wind, nature, even traffic in the background if I have to. Birdsong can be nice, and the sound of the rain can be inspiring. I can never write when there is a radio, TV or any music playing. It’s too distracting and makes it impossible to focus.

4. Blank page – My writing room is full of songbooks that I’ve collected and been gifted over the decades. I love a blank page. There’s something about the space that excites me, and the written word, without lines to keep it ordered, feels more inspiring.

5. Tea – white with a ¼ teaspoon of honey if you will.


6. My MacBook Pro – I do a lot of writing in the box now-days and use Logic to get these idea demo’s up to speed before I record or share them with my band or send them to other collaborators.

7. A View to sing to – I know many songwriters that prefer a blank wall or a simple picture in their writing space. I love a great view so I can look out and engage with nature whilst I’m wigging out on a song idea. I used to take myself away for solo writing retreats to the Isle of Man. The room I used has a window that looked over Snaefell Mountain and I found the all-weather sky to be a real inspiration, especially to the bleaker songs in my repertoire. My home studio looks down over the Slad Valley in the Cotswolds, and this view is the inspiration for my latest project ‘Down in the Valley – songs of landscape and legend”

8. Collaborators – I enjoy the benefits of collaborative songwriting more and more. I’ve spent over 20 years writing songs about how I feel… alone. There is something so liberating about collaborative songwriting, especially for more social songwriters, like me. This is the main reason why I setup Pro7ect residential songwriting retreats at Rockfield Studios. It gives me, and many other songwriters, the opportunity to meet and work with other writer/producers in a supported residential environment. It’s an investment in my craft, my learning, and my growing community of amazing songwriters from around the world. You can join us this July:

I asked some of my friends and comrades what’s in their Songwriters Survival Kit.

Andrew Levy, Co-founder of pioneering acid jazz band The Brand New Heavies is a bassist, writer, producer and Pro7ect Headline Producer:

When asked about his songwriting process, Andrew says "I always try to do as little arranging as possible and really, really focus on the lyrics. When you’re in an acid-jazz/funk/sort-of-dance band, you want to do your riffs and focus on the groove of the bassline, and I’ve got to stop myself. If a song’s really going to travel, you’ve got to pull back and make sure that the song is the star, as well as the lyrics and the singer.”

And what’s in your Songwriters Survival Kit Andrew?

1. My Shazam playlist for inspiration

2. Ice cold Sparkling water in the day, and a single shot of tequila when we are working in the evenings.

3. My Fender Jazz bass

4. A good night’s sleep pre session

Will Cox is a Songwriter, Musician, Storyteller, Poet and Pro7ect alumnus. His anticipated Debut Album ‘A Darkling Shore’ is a neo-classical homage to a number of musical styles, from hard rock to blues, soul to punk, pastoral folk to classical romanticism. The album was a consequence of Will attending the Pro7ect Songwriting retreat and many artists he met at Pro7ect feature on his album.

What’s in your Songwriting Survival Kit Will?
1. coffee/tea/booze (depending on time of day)

2. cigarettes

3. notepad, or phone.

4. An instrument

5. A persistent, nagging feeling, (normally existential angst.)

Bev Lee Harling, singer, songwriter, violinist, composer and Pro7ect alumnus is a prolific artist who is currently touring her solo autobiographical music theatre show, ‘Ploughing the Sea Salt’, drawing on her recently discovered rich heritage of centuries old, fishing family roots in Hastings. The narrative, drawn from the suds of the Old Town Wash House, told through the eyes of the overlooked women, seeks to rewrite their stories of boats lost at sea and local life, back into our current consciousness through original and traditional folk song.

Bev shares her Songwriters Survival Kit secret ingredients with us:

“When I’m songwriting I need…

1. Solitude

2. Tea

3. Space to walk

4. Access to soup making facilities…. I need space in between the music creation to create in a different way.

Whether you’re a prolific or an occasional songwriter, it’s handy to have your Songwriters Survival Kit ready for when the mood takes you. These tools will help your confidence, workflow and inspiration… and goodness knows we need as much of those three things as we can get.

Good luck on your creative adventures and we hope to see you at a Pro7ect Songwriting retreat some time soon.

About Pro7ect:

Pro7ect is the UK’s premier residential songwriting retreat, based at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Pro7ect offers artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers the unique opportunity to work with internationally respected music producers at our events.

Apply today for the next Residential Songwriting Retreat at the iconic Rockfield Studios: (limited places available) at:

Our next events:

Residential: 16th – 20th July 2024 - £1795

Fee includes four nights’ accommodation (twin share), three writing days and all meals, studios, and equipment.

Masterclass: 20th July 2023: 10am - 5pm - £225.

The price includes studio, equipment, producer fees and lunch.
Applicants do not need to have any previous songwriting experience to attend the Masterclasses.

To find out more visit