How Mumford and Sons Inspired My Songwriting Process

Songs are like people, each one has its own personality and life. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once stated that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with“. So, in theory, a song is shaped over time by current inspirations its songwriter has.

When it comes to my own songwriting, I love to sit back and watch a song find its own way rather than force it. Relying on intuition from this inspiration. To make the song seem even more natural, I only write on acoustic guitar until both the music and lyrics are complete.

This technique came from an interview with musician Marcus Mumford (lead songwriter of Mumford & Sons), in which he talked about how the band picked their final songs through a process called “The Campfire Test“. Here, Marcus would play the songs one by one acoustically, much like on a wholesome camping trip, with the band picking the best sounding ones. This is because, “bad songs hide behind good production, then when stripped back, they don’t sound that good.

My song ‘Cosmic Joy‘ took around a year to get to this Campfire stage.

It started with two chords going back and forth from one another. A rhythm that flowed up and down the fret giving the sense of being on a mystical voyage. It immediately sparked the vision of Peter Pan flying in the starry night sky, guiding Wendy to the magical world of Neverland.

At the time, I had started a new relationship. Deep in those exciting first days where you’re obsessed with introducing each other to new sides of life. So the music became a soundtrack of new love and these unknown journeys.

Mumford & Sons – Beloved

For the vocal melody, I took further inspiration from Marcus Mumford. I’m a huge fan of the podcast “Song Exploder“. Each episode a musician or band breaks down the creative process behind one of their songs. Marcus Mumford was asked on and had chosen “Beloved“, a song written for his late grandmother. When it came to recording the vocals, he talks about losing objectivity of how hard he sings. He often over-projects due to constantly playing live, singing to the back of the room. Yet, it was only when the producer on the track (Paul Epworth – Adele, U2) advised him to “sing as quietly as he possibly could” that he found the right take. This revolutionary switch changed how the band sounds to this day, resulting in their (IMHO) best album Delta.

The song now feels it can move into production, yet still feels complete without it. It is it’s own person, inspired by the people that it has spent the most time with.

You can hear my Campfire Test version with this quiet singing style of Cosmic Joy below.

Campfire Test of Cosmic Joy

COSMIC JOY

I haven’t known you for long
But you caught me with your song
At a speed that’s never too much and I like it
You whisk me up into space
For a trans-dimensional chase
I tried to catch you up but you already caught me

When I’m here and you’re out there
Talking through the atmosphere
With cosmic joy

Unknown skies grow so cold
As your golden glow takes a hold
Moves on through me so much
Like a rush of blood to the head
Looking out for a crew, staying true as we all go straight through
Singing out in the dark and now I hear an echo

When I’m here and you’re out there
Talking through the atmosphere
With cosmic joy

You and me
We meet cosmically
Taking our time
To see if this
If this is better now
closer now

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s