For the last twenty odd years our great friend, Double Ivor Novello winner and Squeeze legend Chris Difford has run an annual invite-only songwriters retreat. Having taken part in a handful of these himself that were organised by EMI or Miles Copeland while he was in (and out) of Squeeze, Chris fine tuned the retreats and began running his own at Huntsham Court in Devon. Karousel Music’s Chris Sheehan met him at one such week at Huntsham and has been going on the retreats (and more recently helping curate and organise them) ever since.
Since 2004 the retreats have moved around various eccentric farms and stately homes all over the place – from the quaint English countryside, over to Europe, and even across the (and in the middle of) the Atlantic on the QM2. (That’s another story).
From Monestevole in the Umbrian Hills of Italy, to Arvon in Devon, the focus is of course on getting some great songs; but unlike many of the retreats run by the majors and song factories out there, these weeks are more about the actual relationships that the invitees forge on the week through writing together. There is a whole pick-and-mix of writers invited: Aged 17-70, some have sold millions; some have yet to release. Some are rising stars; some are getting back into the game. All share one thing in common: a capacity to write great songs and a desire to be part of this wonderful family of songwriters. Many of the acts that have passed through the Karousel Music nights have met through these weeks, and Chris Difford has been a central figure to the ethos at Karousel of sharing ideas, and banding together to grow as writers, artist, performers and creative professionals. We’ve lost count of how many artists and musicians have written or played on each others’ records via these weeks.
We are delighted to be continuing help Chris find the right characters for these remarkable, life changing weeks. Whether it be a talented 18 year old, or an established artist like Cathy Dennis writing songs for Kylie; or Kathryn Williams giving her experience to a young group of writers last year (and even using a couple on her current record) there is always something magic about the affair – a melting pot of legends and legends to be: and with Wizard of Oz himself appearing and vanishing in a puff of middle 8′s, they really are the greatest events!
If you are interested in sponsoring one of these events, or your artist is interested in getting an invite to the next retreat in Summer 2014, shoot us an email and put ‘Chris Difford’s Writing Retreats’ in the header. We’re all about connecting the good souls – and these weeks never fail to do that.
///The Next retreat is June 15-June 21 by invite only. If you’d like to be considered for an invite, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best.