Studios 301 in conjunction with 120 Publishing recently rolled out a competition, ‘Is It A Banger?’, specifically targeting electronic music makers and writers. As part of the prize you win a chance to record at Studios 301, partake in a collaboration session with electronic hitmaker Chris Arnott, and receive an exclusive introduction to Ministry of Sound Australia’s 120 Publishing.
120 currently represent some of Australia’s biggest electronic artists including Savage, Sam La More, Tom Piper, Chris Arnott, Joel Fletcher, Chardy, SCNDL, Angger Dimas, Seany B, Bass Kleph, as well as looking after the publishing for Vicious Vinyl, Central Station, Toolroom, Sirup and others. As a publisher they create and facilitate writing collaborations and features, as well as find opportunities for placements in film, gaming, TV and more.
To find out more we recently caught up with 120 Publishing General Manager, Karen Hamilton for a quick chat about ‘Is it a banger?’, their catalogue, and what they look for in a songwriter.
Studios 301: Are you excited about the Is it a banger comp with 301?
Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing): Definitely! We spend a ridiculous amount of time searching for new talent who can bring something different to the table and there are some insanely talented unsigned artists out there who just need that first break. Hopefully for a lucky few this will be the break they need. The chance to work with someone as talented as Chris Arnott is a pretty big deal – I don’t think people realise just how in demand he is as both a producer and topliner/vocalist around the world. I can’t wait to hear what comes out of the collaboration. There are also many female producers out there who seem put off by what looks like a male dominated scene so I really hope some of those girls who are reading this submit something for the competition and show us their amazing talent.
Studios 301: What’s the biggest tune that you have in the catalogue?
Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing): It’s hard to say what the biggest tune is because this can change in the blink of an eye with the next chart! Our most recognisable [tune] is probably DON’T HOLD BACK by The Potbelleez which was not only a huge hit but has been used in the Jeep TV campaign for the last couple of years. CHANGES by Faul & Wad vs Pnau (which samples the song Baby by Pnau) was a massive hit in Europe and was used in the Mercedes C-Class TV campaign Worldwide. BIGGIE BOUNCE by Diplo feat Angger Dimas and Travis Porter has so far been our biggest hit in the US – it has also featured in a couple of movies and was used in a TV campaign for Fiat across the US. Our biggest local hits have probably been FREAKS feat. SAVAGE BY Timmy Trumpet & Savage which went 5 x Platinum, and SWING by Joel Fletcher featuring Savage which went 4 x Platinum and won the APRA Award in 2015 for Dance Work Of The Year.
Studios 301: What’s the song/artist that you are most proud to have in the catalogue.
Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing): We are proud of all of our writers and their complete dedication to bettering their craft. Their enthusiasm, no bullshit attitude and talent floors me and I do realise how blessed I am every day to represent such an awesome bunch of people. However we are also really fortunate to represent 2 of the biggest classic dance songs of all time – WHERE LOVE LIVES by Alison Limerick which was written and produced by Lars ‘Lati’ Kronlund, and 1998 by Binary Finary which was written and produced by Matt Laws. So if I have to choose it would definitely be one of those 2 amazing tracks. Both are instantly recognisable around the world and have earned their place as classics that people will still be listening to for years to come. Watching the Armin Only Live clip of 1998 from back in 2008 (10 years after the original was released!) still makes me smile like nothing else can – an amazing song will always defy all barriers of time and genre.
Studios 301: Is dance music the main focus?
Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing): From the outside it probably looks that way but really our writers are all talented across multiple genres – it just so happens that they are also really great at writing or producing dance music. You might be surprised to know that some of our biggest dance writers also write a mean country song and have had success around the world with Pop, RnB, rap and even JPop and KPop. Most of our vocal tracks and toplines start out as an acapella with just piano or guitar so they can actually be interpreted into any genre. A lot of our writers and producers are also multi-instrumentalists and have come from a band background so I still get new rock songs delivered from time to time that I pitch out to other artists.
Studios 301: What do you look for in a potential signing?
Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing): We are always looking for what we call career songwriters – the ones that show talent across multiple genres and who want this to be their ‘day job’ for the rest of their lives, long after the path of their artist career has changed. Some of our writers want to eventually score films, some want to write straight up pop songs, some want to ghost produce. Because this industry can be competitive and sometimes quite brutal it’s really important that a writer can focus on the future and the long haul as overnight success only happens for a small amount of people. What we hope is that everyone we work with will still be with us in 20 years time even if it is working in a completely different genre to where they started.
When we do sign someone we all have to agree that we love the music and feel that we can bring something positive to their career as it is a really hard slog and we have to be as dedicated to it as you are. It is also really important that we all LIKE each other as it’s a bit like a marriage – there are going to be some shitty times and some arguments along the way along with some amazing times and hopefully a heap of success, and liking and respecting each other is the key to a strong team being there for the long haul. However sometimes we aren’t the right people for a particular writer to work with and that’s OK. This is a very personal business so just because we don’t get your music the way you feel we should doesn’t mean you aren’t talented and there isn’t another publisher out there who would do anything for the chance to work with you.
For more on 120 Publishing/ Ministry of Sound Australia
The Potbelleez – Don’t Hold Back
Faul & Wad Ad vs. Pnau – Changes
Joel Fletcher & Savage – Swing
Diplo – Biggie Bounce (feat. Angger Dimas & Travis Porter)
Timmy Trumpet & Savage – Freaks