S.A.C. Challenge 2015 – Week 1 Blog – Writing for Matt Dusk

by Debra Alexander

Writers across Canada are working on writing a song to pitch for Matt's next album!
Writers across Canada are working on writing a song to pitch for Matt’s next album!

The S.A.C. Songwriting & Blogging Challenge 2015 got underway unofficially a few days before the official launch, with an e-mail welcome to participants and an invitation to join a special Facebook Group. The Challenge blogging community quickly coalesced online, posting greetings, best wishes, encouragement, and brief introductions about themselves and their songwriting. Many posted links to their song samples, while some have had to set up their blogs and song streaming accounts and make their very first posts. Most are dealing with a new onslaught of social media and learning how to balance life, work, and songwriting with new demands on their time. A few industrious writers are even simultaneously enrolled in Pat Pattison’s Berklee songwriting course on Coursera (the focus of a previous year’s SAC Challenge). Returning Challenge veterans welcomed newcomers and reacquainted themselves with friends from previous Challenges, and initiates jumped in fearlessly—or maybe not so much! The walls of comfort zones are tumbling down, and as brave souls inspire others to step out and step up, there’s been a chain-reaction of empathy. Everyone feels the heightening of the raised bar that a legitimate pitch possibility brings.

With the official Monday morning launch on February 9th, 117 participating songwriters were greeted with an inspiring video by artist Matt Dusk, calling on untapped Canadian songwriting talent to help him expand the musical landscape for his new record. Matt cited several reference songs, and much discussion swirled on the Facebook page as Challengers began analyzing the tracks and charting their approach to writing a song Matt would want to place on the record. Tempo, groove, BPM, chord progressions, arrangements, Matt’s vocal range, subject material for lyrics—all are finding their own way into the task, and many new co-writing relationships are being forged as well.

Canadian songwriters from coast to coast, along with some discerning U.S. music-city songwriters, recognize the value of coming together as a community under the umbrella of the annual SAC Challenge Event. We have guitar and keyboard players, producers and lyricists, vocalists and business-savvy music-pros, all reaching out to each other to lend a hand and make creative partnerships. The degree of support is amazing, ranging from offers of phone calls to help with technical, gear-related issues, to invitations to live regional events where writers can connect face-to-face. My fellow Challenge songwriting coach James Linderman has been instructing and encouraging between the lines of the Facebook communiqués, and has generously posted some much appreciated how-to videos on guitar techniques and on timing, tempo, and groove. He keeps us all laughing, and makes even the most challenging Challenge fun!

As participants engage in the creative process for the next 6 weeks, they are asked to write a weekly blog post about their experiences. Already the blog and Facebook posts bear witness to the benefits of taking part in SAC Challenges of years past. Writers have made contacts they never would’ve made, both locally and long-distance; written songs they never would’ve written, recorded songs for an upcoming record, and received a FACTOR grant for songs that came out of a Challenge. I know I speak for the whole community when I say we are grateful to Lily Cheng and The Songwriters Association of Canada, Barb Sedun and SOCAN, and Matt Dusk for this year’s Challenge. We are all excited to be involved in building a wonderful songwriting community as we develop our songwriting craft and embrace each new assignment.

Please post a link to your blog post for Week 1 in the comments section below.  Your song for week 1 will be due at the same time as your song for week 6 is due.

109 thoughts on “S.A.C. Challenge 2015 – Week 1 Blog – Writing for Matt Dusk

  1. Pingback: SAC Challenge – Week 1 of 6 | Robert Campbell

  2. Here’s the link to my blog. Hope it takes you to the right place. I seem to be hopeless in navigating Tumblr. Sigh. Anyway, I do want to say how eloquent this post by Debra is. Really beautifully written, inspirational. Thank you Debra. Although I am starting out lagging behind already, I am wildly inspired and very positive. Just gotta find some time!


    1. Judy, I really appreciate that you read the blog! I know it was rather long, but gosh, I just can’t say enough about how wonderful it is to be surrounded by the songwriting community as we rally around the Challenge. Kinda like a virtual Nashville. Your blog link is working fine! Great Job! 🙂


    1. Mark, That made me laugh out loud! I’m still laughing! I’ve actually read a good chunk of them already from the links that were posted on the Facebook page. Sorry I didn’t get to introduce myself to you last night at the Song Studio. James Linderman had me grabbed with a hand on each of my ears!


  3. RB Marty

    Week one… It is interesting writing from the viewpoint of youth and with a refined voice such as Matt.
    I like songs with a strong hooking melody and ones that musically break some rules.

    This one is about one young guy telling his friend that his friend is chasing the wrong girls and that he needs to look for beauty in what who they are not just physically. Sometimes the right one is just in front of you.
    This song was interesting to compose as all the verses are in D Major while the chorus us in C Major.

    The recording needs refinement and some of the lyrics are bound to change.. I am not a performer and had just finished the flu…

    Not sure how to add a link…
    Soundcloud.com RB Martin Clarke She’s The One -Just Call her Name


  4. Pingback: S.A.C. Songwriting and Blogging Challenge 2015 | dougtaylorband

      1. Hi Ms. Alexander, I just saw your message tonight, thanks for letting me know! Sorry that it didn’t work. I shouldn’t have posted so close to the deadline (last Monday around 11:55am or so). Not sure what happened, I guess last week’s link didn’t work? Oh well, maybe it’s too late now, but this is last week’s song and blog. Thanks https://soundcloud.com/laura-j-burns/measurements-written-and https://laurajburnsloveletterstogod.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/sac-challenge-week-2-song-blog/


  5. This is all so new to me…all I wan to do is write lyrics that make people feel alive. I don’t have a website or an account on dropbox and I never wanted to open a facebook account. THIS is the hard stuff for ME…the writing is easy. I have already finished an incredible song for Matt Dusk for week 1 on the 2015 Challenge. Now I have to figure out how to post it to facebook which is, if I understand correctly, the only place where the mentors will see it, right? http://cleasongs.wordpress.com


  6. I left my blog post in another section (comments below the initial Matt Challenge video) and was just informed of this link from Lily. Sorry if I got lost in the shuffle. I worked most of the weekend on the song and now am ready to do the vocals. Shall I send a rough demo to you Debra Alexander? magnifonic.wordpress.com


    1. Hi Melanie, You’ve got it right now, and I read your blog. (It would be helpful to make that an actual link–but it works!) Please check my response re: your demo in a post I just made to the entire group on the Facebook page, as this is a popular question. I’ll add here that I’m sure EVERY songwriter has felt uneasy about showing a song in the making (as well as fully-produced songs they consider done!), but “workshopping” is an incredible tool, not only for making you the best writer you can be, but for making connections in your songwriting community. Practice baring your soul a little at a time. Ask for specific feedback. There is no substitute for an outside opinion and the eyes and ears of a trusted editor. All the great literary writers had editors, and I’m sure the vast majority of songwriting pros have certain people they turn to when they know they’re just too “inside” a song they’re working on. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


  7. February 13th-2015, A Valentine Riff for Matt Dusk

    Okay, so it’s been a few days since Matt offered the challenge. I’ve researched the bands Mr. Dusk has mentioned, reviewed the chatter on the SAC Blog (and there’s been a lot of it) introductory messages, encouragement to co write, and various other insights (both musical and otherwise) from motivated participants. You can read the rest of the blog here:



  8. Brian Sterling

    Hi everbody! Thank you so much for the invitation. I am so busy @ work I have very little time online. I would love to participate, and feeling overwhelmed. I’ll try my best as I am a little tech challenged. Thanks again. Now how do I post a blog?


  9. Here is my blog posting for week 2. I am sorry to say I am not proud of the performance, but then I don’t profess to be a performer let alone a young girl. But perhaps someone with good ears can hear some hint of quality in this. I could not find someone that I wanted to sing this.. as well I couldn’t finish the back up song that I think would have been more appropriate.

    In anycase



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