Songwriting Session is a column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Tia Scola shares what she has learned as a songwriter.
Tia Scola has always been passionate about music. From the moment she began speaking as a young child, Tia would sing and make up songs as her mother captured the footage on a VHS tape from their yard in New Jersey.
“I used to take over my dad’s cassette tapes in my karaoke machine. That’s how I recorded my first songs,” she recalls with a laugh. “There was definitely more advanced technology than that but that’s just what I had so that’s what I did.”
In high school Tia’s passion for singing and writing songs only grew, prompting her mother to suggest she continue it professionally. One summer she attended a songwriting camp at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. where she learned of the songwriting program at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. She applied and was accepted, saying her acceptance was the “first statement of validity” she had about a career in music.
Now a student at Belmont, Tia has lived in Music City for nearly two years where she spends her days co-writing and interning at various management companies and publishers as she tries to navigate all aspects of the music industry.
“Since I’ve been here it’s been the most absolute amazing journey,” she gushes.
One recent evening Tia found herself on stage in a writers round beside hit songwriters like Billy Montana, Dan Couch and Erik Dylan. Having come a long way from hosting her own songwriters showcase at her high school, Tia held her own as she debuted new songs she wrote with friends and paid close attention to the greats who played before her.
“They’re all really talented writers in their own way and lyrically is what is most impressive about all of their writing to me. It just makes me strive to have better lyrics,” she says. “It was such a rush. It reminded me how much I love performing.”
Tia didn’t begin co-writing until she moved to Nashville and remembers being nervous during her first co-write, not knowing what to expect. As she explains, it’s a great way to meet people and it’s always more fun to write a song with someone else than writing it by yourself.
“I do have a few people that I write with all the time but I am trying to find that circle where it just clicks for everyone, every time,” she adds. “I’ve only been here for a short while so I’ve been grateful to be able to write with people [but] I never want to lose the ability and the love of writing very raw and my own thoughts in my room. I book co-writes four times a week but then those other days I’ll just write by myself.”
Tia says when writing a song she’s strongest with coming up with a melody. So, each song she’ll usually start with a melody in mind before she figures out the lyrics. Her song, “Dead Roots,” came together for a class assignment. She was paired with a classmate, Derek Scott, who had the idea dead roots. The term had her immediately think of moving away from home and leaving everything behind while he envisioned it more as the end of a relationship. The song soon evolved into a universal theme where every listener could relate.
“I think it’s something that resonates with a lot of people because if you’re in that relationship, whether it be a bad friendship, a bad intimate relationship, or even your family, it’s hard to leave all of that behind and just move on,” she explains. “We combined both of our stories; me leaving my town that was holding me back and no longer fertile and he had a relationship that didn’t end well. I think that’s the song that most defines me as an artist.”
Currently, Tia is working on a project with producer David LaBruyere (John Mayer). She makes her demos available on Soundcloud where her equal love of Kelsea Ballerini and Jason Isbell are apparent. Recently, one of her previous projects, Worktapes by Tia, found its way to former X-Factor contestant Alyssa Mezzatesta. Loving what she heard, Alyssa recorded three of Tia’s songs including “The One,” “Over You” and “Learnin’ Lonely.” While Tia credits being honest in her songwriting as a reason why some relate to her music, she says the best advice she has received is to write every song like it’s the song.
“Like it’s the song that’s going to make or break you,” she explains. “If you leave a room and you don’t really believe in the song then you did not do your job that day. I think that if I leave the room every day and I love that song and I can go back a few days from now and still be proud of that song, then I did my job as a songwriter. My songwriting teacher, Drew Ramsey, said write every song like it’s going to be the one that puts you on the map.”
Living proof that hard work and determination always pays off, Tia Scola is one songwriter to keep on your radar.
Tia will perform on June 7 at Neighbors at 8 p.m. and Aug. 3 at The Listening Room in Nashville. To hear more of Tia’s music, visit her on Soundcloud