How to write a hit song

Image of 4 youths with gutiars
Image of a woman wearing a navy blue sweater
4 young people huddling

We caught up with multi-platinum singer-songwriter and OCAD U alum Simon Wilcox. While studying Drawing & Painting at OCAD U in 1996, she joined gothic Toronto rock group Exovedate before going out on her own as a solo singer and songwriter. 

She’s co-written songs for artists like Nick Jonas, 5 Seconds of Summer, Three Days Grace, The Trews and Fifth Harmony. Simon also came back to OCAD U to get her BFA. 

How did your studies at OCAD U help your current work?
Many of my teachers were encouraging of my work as a musician and writer. The curriculum helped me refine my vocabulary around art, artists and the creative process. Morris Wolfe, who taught Documentary Film Studies and German Film Studies, really helped me “see the whole elephant”. Even in low art, in my case popular music, I think about the cultural context within which my work exists. 

What was the moment like when you decided, yup I’m going to be a professional artist?
It was never a choice for me. I’ll still be doing this when I’m completely irrelevant. Irrelephant. Apparently, I’ve decided to make elephant jokes today.

Simon has co-written hit songs for Nick Jonas such as Jealous and Chainsaw

You’ve co-written songs for huge stars — Three Days Grace, 5 Seconds of Summer and Nick Jonas. What’s your creative process like?
It’s different every time. Sometimes we start with a concept, or a chord progression… sometimes someone will come in with a snippet of something. Often the idea is sparked by discussion. 

Simon Wilcox with band 5 Seconds of Summer and John Feldmann (Goldfinger)

Do you know a song will be a hit as soon as you write it?
Definitely not. I can tell if it’s good, but at times I have trouble putting my brushes down. I can only hear how it could be improved. 
What are you working on now?
I’m in Miami writing with Enrique Iglesias. I’m in my hotel room. It’s very quiet. 

Simon Wilcox with Nick Jonas 

Is Nick Jonas as cute in real life?
Hahahaha. He’s very handsome and looks just like he does in magazines. My favourite things about Nick are that he’s gentlemanly, kind and profoundly creative.

Inline Image Template