Monday, August 17, 2015

Songwriter Interview: Pam Sheyne

Pam Sheyne
The following is an interview with Pam Sheyne (pronounced “Shane”), co-writer of “Wonderland”, “The Extra Mile” and “One” from Pokémon 2000.

Where are you from, and how did you get into writing music?
    I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and relocated to the UK when I was seventeen years old. I started out singing and playing guitar in a hotel band in London then eventually moved into doing session work and touring. I toured as a backup singer for the Pet Shop Boys in 1991 which was an amazing experience but a real cross roads for me as I didn’t want to continue being on the road. In 1992 I decided to concentrate on writing songs full-time and got my first publishing deal. (My husband Nigel Rush was my first publisher which is how we met). I wanted to be an artist but I started having success with songwriting first and realised that it was more suited to me. I am most definitely at home being in the studio writing and producing.

What were some things you worked on before Pokémon 2000? 
I love collaborating and particularly enjoy working with a producer and artist in the room. In the mid-90’s I teamed up with Eliot Kennedy (Spice Girls/Bryan Adams/Take That) and we co-wrote/produced for Rebbie Jackson (Michael’s big sister). She came to London to work with us after we recorded “Yours Faithfully” for her in LA. My first big success in the UK was with an artist called Billie Piper and a song called “She Wants You” which went to No. 3 in the charts and from there I went on to work with a bunch of acts like Louise who was in girl band Eternal, Norwegian girl duo M2M and Haley Westenra from my home country New Zealand. I started doing more regular writing trips to LA, New York, Nashville and Stockholm to broaden my network and eventually moved to LA in 2008.

How did you get involved with writing songs for the movie?
It was on a writing trip to LA that I had a meeting with Darren Higman at Atlantic Records for the first time. Darren mentioned he was looking for songs for the upcoming movie soundtrack and he asked me if I wanted to write something for it. When I went back to London I called writer/producer Matt Rowe as we had been working together on a few projects. Darren sent us the visuals to write for one spot in the movie.

What was your experience with Pokémon prior to this?
I had never watched Pokémon before and had only seen the huge impact it had on kids and how popular it was all over the world. 

What was the writing process like?
Matt and I wrote “Wonderland” and “One” specifically for the film and soundtrack. I remember us sitting in the studio with a blank page and watching the film without music for the first time with these cute little characters all falling down these tunnels and thinking, “I love working to picture, this is going to be a blast!”

How did “The Extra Mile” get written?
“The Extra Mile” was written with Tina Arena and Andrew Frampton originally for the Sydney Olympic Games as Tina was asked to sing a song at the opening ceremony. She didn't end up singing the song at the games but Laura recorded it for her Italian and Spanish albums and then it additionally made the Pokémon Soundtrack album.

Were the songs intended to be used in the movie, or just inspired by it?
“Wonderland” was written for a specific scene in the movie and “One” was just written for the soundtrack.  “Wonderland” was not used in the film itself however because there were publishing clearance issues.

Two of the songs (“Wonderland” and “One”) have Spanish versions. Were you involved in either of those?
My husband and I flew to New York to produce the vocal with Angela Via at the Sony Studios (it was actually originally intended for Dream Street, but was changed at the last minute). We then flew down to LA to produce the Spanish version with the translator Jorge Piloto, and then flew back to New York to mix full length versions of English and Spanish versions. Vocals for “One” were produced by David Foster-he added to Matt’s production and produced the Spanish vocals (translated by Claudia Brandt) with Denisse Lara at 143 Studios near LA.

Was an Italian version of “The Extra Mile” ever considered? Also, what was recording that song like?
There was talk about doing an Italian version but they wanted it to be only English language songs on the record for some reason. Nigel, Ben Robbins and I flew to Milan to produce Laura Pausini’s vocals. It was such a pleasure to work with her and she was very detail-oriented and such a trooper- we spent hours getting the pronunciation right. The mix was done at RG Jones in Wimbledon in the UK.

What else have you written?
I co-wrote “Genie in a Bottle” for Christina Aguilera, “He Loves You Not” for Dream, “Irresistible” for Jessica Simpson, “When It Happens To You” for Corinne Bailey Rae, “You Get Me” for Seal, “Old Blue Jeans” for Miley Cyrus (as Hannah Montana) and “For Love Alone” for Cece Winans. Others include songs by Demi Lovato, the Backstreet Boys, and Lindsay Lohan.

You recently spent some time in Europe teaching music composition. What was that like?
I was asked to mentor at a songwriting retreat with and for my friend Martin Sutton (The Songwriting Academy which is based in London) at the end of May this year. Martin has been doing this for a few years now and on this occasion we were four mentors and 32 songwriters. We didn’t teach composition as such but did masterclasses on the craft of songwriting and lent our experience on the business side of it. It was a week-long camp in co-writing sessions with the songwriters each day and because we were all staying in the same place we also got to socialise and hang out so it was a lot of fun. I have also been mentoring a lot of artists from South Africa and some have travelled to LA to work with me over the past couple of years. I am looking at doing more of this in the future as I enjoy working with young artists and teaching them some tricks in writing songs. Watch this space!

Where can folks find your web site, and do you have any social media that you post on?
My website is, and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Special thanks go to Pam’s husband Nigel Rush for helping verify information for this article.