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FINNEAS and Ashe Talk Confidence and Collaboration in the Music Industry

17/04/2024

FINNEAS and Ashe Talk Confidence and Collaboration in the Music Industry Days before his sister Billie Eilishs new album announcement, producer and songwriter FINNEAS joined singer-songwriter Ashe BM '15 onstage for Berklees Career Jam keynote panel.

By

Andrea Recalde

April 16, 2024

Left to right: Songwriting Department Assistant Chair Jonathan Perkins, FINNEAS, Ashe BM 15, and Paul Wachter shared the Berklee Performance Center stage during this years Career Jam keynote panel discussion.

Image by Kelly Davidson

Fresh off an Oscar win for Best Original Song with his sister, Billie Eilish, and days before the announcement of Eilish's new album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, songwriter and producer FINNEAS took the stage at this year's Career Jam, Berklee's annual career festival, for a conversation with two long-time collaborators. Joining him onstage were singer-songwriter Ashe BM '15, whose breakout hit Moral of the Story (coproduced by FINNEAS) was featured prominently in the Netflix film To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You; and businessman Paul Wachter, founder and CEO of Main Street Advisors, who helped make the crucial connection that brought FINNEAS and Billie Eilish into the Barbie soundtrack, which led to this year's Academy Award.

Listen to Moral of the Story by Ashe, cowritten and coproduced by FINNEAS.

Each panelist readily acknowledged their Berklee connections and affections. Ashe spoke consistently to the crowd about her Berklee experience ( CWP, anybody? Yeah! You can't say that anywhere but here, she joked at one point), and she explained how her classes in big band and orchestra writing influenced her approach to songwriting. FINNEAS recalled learning music techniques in high school from watching videos on Berklee's YouTube channel. And Wachter, a member of Berklee's Board of Trustees and founder of the school's Wachter Fellowship program, talked about the uncommon energy and sense of community he finds whenever he comes to campus.

In a conversation moderated by Jonathan Perkins, assistant chair of the Songwriting Department, the panelists discussed the value of confidence and authenticity, the crucial role of collaboration in music-making and business, and the realities of life in the music industry. FINNEAS also offered insight into his approach to producing the new Billie Eilish album alongside his sister.

Collaboration in Art and Business

Left to right: Paul Wachter, FINNEAS, and Ashe at Career Jam 2024

Image by Kelly Davidson

Collaboration was this year's Career Jam theme, and it especially shined through in the panel's conversation. FINNEAS discussed how the collaborative dynamic with his sister Billie has evolved over the years. He noted that when they made her first album (When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?), he sat in a chair at his computer and she sat on his bed with a microphone; then on the second album (Happier than Ever), she sat on a couch and he was at the desk; and finally, working on her upcoming third album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, their collaboration was more like the two of us at the desk, like copilots on an airplane.

I made a point to teach her over the last two records how to do all her vocal engineering, he said, describing his sister's extremely meticulous process of selecting the perfect vocal takes for her songs. She is an incredible vocalist, and I am but a puppet if Im comping with her.

FINNEAS went on to talk about his role as a producer and a songwriter in other scenarios, saying, I try to fill the empty space, you know? Sometimes, you get in the room with an artist, and they fill like 99 percent of it. And thats awesome. . . . And sometimes you get in the room and somebody, even if theyre incredibly talented and they can sit and write songs on their own, and that day theyre just like, I want a lot of help.' Thats the other thing. Its different day to day.

Ashe was able to speak about her own years of producing and cowriting music with FINNEAS. Weve done a lot together, she said, and then turned to speak to him directly about one specific instance: I was working on my first album [Ashlyn], and I wrote the bones of Till Forever Falls Apart' . . . I texted you and asked just to ask you if you wanted to be a part of it, and you rewrote the second verse, which she said, self-deprecatingly, became the best lyrics of the song. The song became the album's opening track, and we got to do all this amazing promo together [for the song]. You just hang with your buddy. It was so good. From a professional standpoint, collaboration is essential to everyone in this industry, but as the panelists showed, it can also be an excellent opportunity to meet people and spend time with friends.

Watch the music video for Till Forever Falls Apart by Ashe and FINNEAS:

Of course, collaboration takes many different forms throughout the industry. Wachter, whose professional network includes numerous Hollywood creatives, described hearing about the Barbie movie soundtrack as it was coming together, and realizing that Billie Eilish and FINNEAS would be a perfect fit. It seemed to me that they were missing a song like that [What Was I Made For]. They needed . . . a serious, great song. They had a lot of dance numbers. Im not a musician like they are, but I know enough to say, Okay, I know who this is perfect for.' And that is collaboration, he said. Im not writing a song, but Im at least out there in the world thinking about the people I work with and what opportunity that Im hearing about or that Im seeing is right for a certain person.

If youre songwriters, or performers, or producers, or business people, whatever you are, youre going to meet people who are potential collaborators and partners for you, said Wachter about the importance of choosing the right p
LINK: https://www.berklee.edu/berklee-now/news/finneas-and-ashe-talk-confide...
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