By Thiago ‘Trosso’
The last two years of my life have been of inexplicable personal and professional growth. Having moved from Brazil to experience the London music scene, the city had been my home for three years and many reasons were leading me to begin studying my favourite part of music: songwriting. The Songwriting Masters course at ICMP gave me great knowledge on songwriting craft, but also encouraged an understanding and acceptance of many challenging aspects of myself, my history, and my creative processes.
For the major repertoire project of the MA, we students had been given the opportunity to create a research driven, musical body of work about any topic of our choice. During my studies, I had come across brilliant family related songs and projects, like ex-student Luke Tom’s album about the loss of his sister, so I knew I wanted to write an album about my own family as it was something I hadn’t done before. What I didn’t expect was the immense impact that the research, combined with co-writing, would have on me, exposing me to the therapeutical applications of songwriting.
Under the guidance of my then supervisor, Luke Toms, the research expanded and contracted into the music therapy and spiritual fields. Already during the early weeks I watched the first drafts of protective, gratifying songs destined to be a nice gesture in a confined space of time, turn into timeless, universal pieces about delicate relatable experiences and positive inquiry. Reading about Felicity Baker’s work on Therapeutic Songwriting opened my mind for therapeutic alternatives to be made conscious; by engaging with vulnerability and honesty in a cowriting session, we can benefit from the self discovery and healing properties of therapy. Digging deeper into family dynamics and different ramifications of psychology, I found the basis for many interesting ideas that evidence this connection, one of them being the Empty Chair method from Gestalt Therapy. The ‘empty chair’ method involves talking to someone as if they were there, sitting in front of you, a popular technique that, no matter consciously or unconsciously, many songwriters have used.
By gathering all this information I developed a pattern of approach to the songwriting therapy sessions. For the first 5 songs of the project (a song for myself, dad, mom, and two brothers), I had the help of brilliant fellow songwriters and alternative therapists, Sennen Timcke, Katherine Moynihan, Luce Barka and Ana França, to discover many layers of myself; finding memories of joy and sorrow, moments of growth and trauma, things left unsaid for a feeling of maintaining a good relationship; and assist in transforming these discoveries into kind words and songs that would be able to pass along the good intentions on revisiting unpleasant matters.
The toughest, but most important part of the project, was actually sharing the songs with my family. Many times I would be frozen for hours thinking on the many ways this could go wrong but, again, the research and my colleagues were telling me it was the right move, and the results couldn’t be more positive. This project opened up an intertwined conversational pathway so far unseen between us. Not only were they surprised by the content of the songs, they were intrigued by the honesty, replying with poems, songs, and hours of talk about previously untouched subjects. This pathway then generated the second half of the project: songs about their reaction and my perception of it, this time with the help of Roos Meijer, David Boyden, Eduardo Gonçalves, Júlio Hey, and my very own dad Jorge Antonio Jorge, whose response to my songs was a poem that became a song itself.
After this intense four months of heavy emotional work and deep reflection, I was presented with much more than a ten song album about my family, but with a new approach to life. I learned that we can make a difference on being more caring, loving, and tolerant, starting from within. There is no need to try embracing the whole world to spread good intentions, understanding yourself and sharing that with the ones closest to you will go a long way.
About Thiago ‘Trosso’
Thiago “Trosso” is a Songwriter/Producer born in Brazil and based in London. Having been a part of the Ska/Punk/Reggae scene in his home country since 2003, he moved to the UK to expand his boundaries. Having recently concluded a Master’s course in songwriting at ICMP London, and after joining British bands, he has cowritten songs with numerous artists around the world and keeps being active on the live scene having toured over 13 countries in 4 different continents. Thiago combines his musical eclecticism with multi-instrumentalist skills to produce unique sounding songs and arrangements, and is currently working on building a portfolio as a solo artist and songwriter. You can follow him on Instagram or visit the Brother’s Room website.