Ultimate Writer and Producer Relationships

Find out more about some of the most successful songwriter/producer partnerships...



ICMP recently announced the launch of our new BA Songwriting and Production and BA Songwriting and Artist Development degrees. 

The new programmes join our flagship BA Songwriting degree to offer students a comprehensive understanding of songwriting practice in the contemporary music industry. 

Shane Beales, Programme Leader for ICMP's Songwriting Undergraduate courses, said:

These new courses are creative siblings and designed to sit alongside each other in the same way as artist Billie Eilish and her producer/songwriter brother Finneas worked together on their hit material."

To celebrate the courses and keep this in mind, we've explored some of the greatest and most inspiring songwriter/producer partnerships to ever do it.

Check out some of our favourites below...

Billie Eilish | Finneas 

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas are the inspiration behind our new courses and one of the most successful producer/writer partnerships in recent music history. 

Raised in a creative household (their parents - Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell - are both actors), the siblings began writing and recording when they were in their teens. 

In November 2015, the track 'Ocean Eyes' was released by Billie, written and produced by Finneas. This song proved to be their breakthrough moment, picking up huge numbers of SoundCloud listens and kick starting what has become a staggeringly successful career. 

All of the tracks featured on Billie's albums like 2019's 'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?' and 2021's 'Happier Than Ever', are co-written by the brother and sister duo while Finneas produces. Their industry accolades and achievements have been huge with Grammy Awards, Golden Globes, Brit Awards and a song written for the hit film, 'Barbie' (listen 'What Was I Made For?').

The Beatles | George Martin 

The Beatles are behind the blueprint of contemporary pop music so it's unsurprising that they were one of the first bands to forge a unique and intensely collaborative relationship with their producer, George Martin. 

The late, great music-maker produced 13 Beatles albums and more than 20 of their singles, almost everything the iconic group worked on. 

Known as 'the fifth Beatle', their success was even more astounding considering the partnership lasted for less than 10 years before they split. 

Their collaborations resulted in popular, critically-acclaimed records with innovative sounds, such as the 1967 album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' - the first rock album to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Stormzy and Dave | Fraser T Smith

Brit Awards, Glastonbury headline sets, huge selling records… Stormzy and Dave are two artists who have drawn up their own inspired take on contemporary songwriting.  

Fraser T Smith is an ICMP alumnus (Fraser learned guitar with our tutors way back when in) who has worked with both artists to deliver their vision in the studio. 

Over the years, he's collaborated with Adele, Gorillaz, Florence and the Machine and Britney Spears. But it's with Black artists such as Stormzy, Dave and Kano where his studio magic has been best heard.

Commenting on how he builds creative relationships, Fraser said:

I’m very sensitive to make sure that the essence of what the artist wants to say and where they're from culturally is maintained. But I don't have a one-size fits all setup here."

"There are many big producers who do. Rick Rubin, for example, doesn't use reverb, and then Adele comes in and she wants swimming pools worth of reverb on her vocal. Sometimes those rules can work, but I'm not that kind of producer."

Cleo Sol | Inflo 


As a solo artist and vocalist with super-group Sault, Cleo Sol is an elusive, yet prolific star. To date, she's released four solo albums, and featured across Sault's 11 records, all of which have been made with her producer, husband and father of her child, Inflo. 

Her approach to music-making is to let her vocals and songwriting prowess do much of the talking - with two new albums 'Heaven' and 'Gold', arriving just two weeks apart in September with little to no fanfare.

Speaking with Inflo as part of a very rare interview with Dazed, Cleo talked about the joy of making her debut album, 'Rose in the Dark'.

"I've promised myself to always keep it 100; it gives me peace being honest and knowing that others relate and we're all sort of on these similar journeys with different lives; [it's] fascinating to me. Making music with you [Inflo] is a dream come true; I'm so grateful we're on this cool journey together doing up life." 

Tony Visconti | David Bowie

David Bowie was undoubtedly one of the UK's most inventive pop stars and has an extensive and inspiring discography to match. 

Bowie's albums 'Diamond Dogs' (1974), 'Young Americans' (1975), 'Low' (1977), 'Heroes' (1977), 'Lodger' (1979), 'Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)' (1980), 'Heathen' (2002), 'Reality' (2003), 'The Next Day' (2013), and his final album, 'Blackstar' (2016) are all among his best and produced in collaboration with Tony Visconti. 

The pair met during the sixties and, even though Tony did not produce everything Bowie released, sustained a fruitful and much celebrated creative relationship that lasted for 50 years. They initially worked on 'Space Oddity' in 1969 with their partnership culminating in 'Blackstar', a record that was released two days before Bowie's death in 2016.

Speaking in an interview with Mojo, Tony said:

There was a lot of gravity about him [Bowie] in his final years, he was a deep thinker. But when he recorded Blackstar, when he knew that his time could be limited, it didn’t stop his sense of humour in any way."

Tirzah | Mica Levi


Tirzah and Mica Levi make for an extremely talented if perhaps unlikely musical success story.

Tirzah is classically-trained singer songwriter while Mica is a one-time lo-fi DIY musician, turned Hollywood screen composer. 

For the last ten years plus, the pair have been collaborating and evolving their sound ever since their first release, the 'I'm Not Dancing' EP from 2012. Fast forward to 2024 and this creative relationship has taken in three, critically acclaimed albums - 2018's 'Devotion', 2021's 'Colourgrade', and latest record, 'Trip9love'.

Mica has invested time and energies into creating eccentric, spiky film scores - most notably for films including 'Jackie' and 'Under the Skin'  but they have come back together for Tirzah's music. 

According to Resident Advisor's glowing review, the most record "is easily one of the greatest accomplishments in the small but impressive Tirzah catalogue".

Kae Tempest | Dan Carey 

Rapper, poet, novelist and artist Kae Tempest's musical adventures have been varied yet with one constant at their side - producer Dan Carey. 

Dan is an MPG Award winning producer based out of a studio in Streatham and brains behind the Speedy Wunderground label. When he's not sourcing great new talent to work with, he's the multi-instrumentalist and co-writer behind Kae's myriad albums. 

His sonic fingerprints can be found all over 'Everybody Down' and 'Let Them Eat Chaos' releases. 

Speaking to MusicWeek about the partnership, Kae said: 

[After three albums] we are so close and so fluent that I feel able to express through him what my desires are for the sounds. He's the genius at the controls, but I just felt a bit more able to sing a melody line and say, 'Something like that'. It's my happiest place to be in his studio, it's where I feel at my best.”

Primal Scream | Andrew Weatherall 

The acid house revolution is synonymous with Primal Scream's 1991 album, 'Screamadelica'. While the record defined the ecstasy of rave culture and had the Scottish rock band's name attached to it, the music is known more for being the work of DJ and musical genius Andrew Weatherall. 

Prior to embracing dance music, Primal Scream were known as an indie guitar band with a penchant for wearing leather trousers and being fans of the Byrds. It was only when they met Weatherall and he led the production that their music took off. 

Having never previously produced, Weatherall's approach was to destroy and rebuild. 

'Loaded' was the first track he worked on where he remixed Primal Scream's previous track, 'I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have', added a drum loop and a sample from the Peter Fonda's cult classic, 'The Wild Angels'

Rick Rubin | Beastie Boys

From the hard rock of System of a Down to the hip hop of Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, US producer Rick Rubin's studio skills are the stuff of legend, especially his Malibu recording studio Shangri-La. 

He is perhaps best known for his work in the world of hip hop and helping the artists and scene achieve global popularity. Rubin worked with Jazzy Jay in the early eighties before partnering with LL Cool J.

But it was his collaboration with the Beastie Boys that changed the game for the scene.His work on their groundbreaking debut 'Licensed To Ill', a heady combination of rap, metal and punk rock that was the first hip-hop record to top the Billboard charts. The band and producer eventually fell out over royalty disagreements but it paved the way for both to enjoy illustrious careers. 

Mike D, quoted by Musicradar from the Broken Record podcast, said: "What Rick did was pretty incredible." 

"He took our weird rap songs, and he made them sound clean and big and polished - and ready for the radio. They were more like real anthems, and less like a joke."

Billie Eilish and Finnes | Facebook

Tirzah Photo by Clare Shilland

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
January 17, 2024
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