Interview | SATCH

Our alumnus and tutor tells all on his musical journey and making of his debut album, 'Present in the Post'


Our Songwriting Tutor and Masters in Songwriting alumnus SATCH released his debut album, 'Present in the Post' to widespread acclaim in 2023. 

The record is a bold collection of songs, detailing SATCH's journey of transition. Alongside a huge gig at London Pride, headlining the first ever Trans-led stage, there has been plenty of creativity going on. 

We caught up with SATCH to learn more about his creativity, making of the album and essential advice for aspiring songwriters...

How did you start your songwriting journey? 

There are always two answers - making up songs when I was a little kid. Being brought up in the church, worship music was all around me. Then when I was a teenager, I was trying to work stuff out in terms of being trans, and that part of my life - creativity - stopped for a while.

Then I was about 18/19, when I just felt less alone hearing other people's songs, I started writing from there.

I believe all songwriters are people who haven't been able to express themselves in some other area of their life, they find songwriting as a way to do that.

When you hear a song where someone articulates your pain in a way that you couldn't do yourself, it's like they sonically reached out and held your hand for three and a half minutes. It makes you feel less alone, I just completely fell in love with trying to do that for other people."

Have certain artists inspired you? 

At that point in the beginning, it was just the raw kind of singer songwriters, people like John Mayer or James Morrison, no one massively wild, people who would have three chords and the truth and be able to articulate their emotions in songs to show that kind of vulnerability and connection.

My tastes have evolved massively since, I identify as a songwriter first, everything else second. All of my music I call genre-queer as I dress the songs however they identify rather than thinking I am a genre-based musician. 

Art reflects the artists, we’re all so many different things, it's great to resist being put in boxes in life and musically too. 

Where were you brought up? 

I'm from a small conservative town called Worthing on the south coast. It's ten miles geographically from Brighton, a million miles politically. I started playing open mics in Worthing, it went well, I found something that I was good at, I ran away to Brighton to pursue music, then London afterwards. 

I initially studied in Brighton, then moved to Berlin, signed a publishing deal there - I knew I wanted to write about my transition, so I did the Masters to give myself deadlines and force myself to focus on writing time rather than gigging and rehearsing. 


Where did the album come from? 

It stemmed from the last 34 years of life - but my final research project on the Masters, I knew what it was going to be - I just wanted to go and spend time songwriting for this album, I always knew this was going to be an autobiographical album about my transition, but I didn't know what it was going to look like until I started studying.

Was there a breakthrough moment with your own songwriting? 

Each song is an incremental moment, you evolve as you go. Our job as songwriters is to get better all the time so it stands to reason that you might not like a previous record, as you know there are so many things you'd do differently since you've learned more. 

Moving people emotionally has always been my goal, I would see stuff that moved me, then put that into a song and pass it on. 

How important were the open mic events in honing your skills? 

When you're from a small town, I'm 34 now so over 15 years ago, just going to play an open mic was huge. My hands would be shaking, voice breaking - but eventually the love of writing and forming connections outweighed the fear. You do cut your teeth that way.

If you capture the attention of a crowd in a pub who aren't there for the music, if you can captivate these kinds of people, then it's a brilliant training ground."

I still get nervous now - but if I was to play a really small intimate show now - in front of 20 people in an art gallery, that's far scarier than headlining a gig in front of a few thousand people.

But in some ways, being nervous is a good thing. If you aren't, then maybe you don't even really care any more. 


How have you found navigating the business side of the industry? 

I’m a good networker, it's just drinking and talking - but I do have a team, I was lucky enough to get a publisher fairly quickly which has opened all sorts of doors, I write for other people too - I love that, songwriting for others. That leads to various other opportunities. I'm good at it in that sense, but in an ideal world, I'd prefer to focus on being creative - there's so much business work involved in an album or gig. I wouldn't be able to do it without having a team in place. 

How did you get a publishing deal?

I wasn't knocking on doors to get it. For me, I was in Berlin, I was playing my original songs in the bar of a music hotel. The publisher was just sat at the bar, heard me and approached the person who was running the event to ask for my details, then got in touch. 

There was a level of respect there from the start - it's a great foundation to begin a solid working relationship. 

How did you make the album? 

I made it with my long-time collaborator Will, I met him at university on Brighton beach. We have stuck together ever since, he collaborates with me on all my solo music projects. He's a multi-instrumentalist and we've just learned to speak each other's musical language. I'll give him my creative ideas and he'll help me build them. 

I also have a regular producer who I met via a co-writer in Nashville, Itamar Lapidot, who now works at ICMP teaching production - it was a real serendipitous thing to meet, I told him about the project, it just worked with him - the three of us are the creative force behind the album. 

We made it over a long period of time due to the pandemic and writing about something so raw and personal had its challenges too. I needed breaks in between writing sessions. We worked in Tileyard, Queen’s Park and home studios too. 


The material is so personal - was this a real challenge to work with? 

It's the most challenging material I’ve ever worked on or could possibly ever work on in terms of emotional labour.

It was a commitment to making something fully autobiographical in order to share my story and the vulnerability that requires does take its toll for sure."

Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters? 

I've read so many books on creativity, I teach about it, there are so many great resources out there for people to explore. Maybe that's the best advice, go and explore your creativity and focus on evolving. Creating everyday is a good way of approaching your music too, it's like exercising a muscle in some ways. 

The more you do it, the fitter you are to do more - just showing up for yourself is a good way of approaching it. 

What does the rest of 2024 have in store? ​

In 2023, the album took up so much time and energy in terms of business - I wanted to dedicate some time to being creative. I probably should be promoting the album more than I am but I needed to write some songs! That's why I insist on writing for other people too, particularly if I'm in a phase of my solo stuff when it's all about the business. 

We headlined the first ever Trans Stage at Pride in London and that was a huge moment for me - we played a bunch of Pride Festivals, I hope to do even more in 2024, share the album and make some new music. I'm ready for new material - a year of creativity and sharing that with people as much as possible. 

Pride was a personal highlight for me - from writing songs in my bedroom trying to work out who I was to headlining the first ever Trans-led Stage, telling them my story and having them sing back, having that visibility, it was a huge highlight in so many ways.

Follow SATCH on social media for more news on forthcoming music and live performances. 

Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

Listen to the new album via Spotify below: 

All photographs of SATCH in this article are © of Rachel Hardwick

Write songs that last for generations

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Songwriting courses
by ICMP staff writer
January 18, 2024
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