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Practical Tips For Co-Writing

Chris Quilala

0:32:57 · Songwriting

Chris, Jeffery and Ian from Jesus Culture share some practical tips on co-writing music together. 

A Piece Of A Puzzle

  • For a while leading youth group, Jesus Cultures worship tip was covering a lot of worship songs that they found were personally impacting their own lives. They then felt led to start songwriting more as a way of stewarding their gifts.  
  • “The more songwriting that you do, the more you learn about what to do and what not do you”. Chris Quilala
  • Chris found that the more often he got together with friends while writing, the more input and ideas he would receive. It’s easy to get stuck on a certain idea for a song, and if you’re not willing to be loose with ideas, it can lead you to a dead end.
  • You don’t have to be the perfect lyricst or hook writer, because being willing to lay down your work to receive input or other ideas will help lead you and your song to something really special. 
  • Regardless if you’re co-writing with one person or many people, come prepared with something or have an idea of what you want to write about; even if you’re starting from scratch.

What Is Your “Why?”

  • Chris talks about capturing vision for what it is you want to write about. 
  • Know your “why” behind writing. Not just for the sake of meeting a deadline and doing a project, but knowing, in your heart why you want to write.  
  • Be intentional about who your audience is when writing songs. 
  • Any creative process is messy. You shouldn’t come in with the expectation that it’s going to be perfectly neat, organized and quick. 
  • Even when knowing what you want to write about and work towards, it’s important to have an emotional connection to that vision and message.
  • There’s no pressure to know everything about your song all at once, it’s okay that your creative journey is a step by step process. 
  • It’s easy to leave a song thinking it’s a failure if it didn’t meet the expectations that you set for it. Allow room for imperfections. That’s where the gold comes from.

Stewarding Your Gift

  • Don’t wait to be inspired to write. There’s a stewardship and a need for discipline when writing. 
  • Make a point to set aside time just for writing and creating.


  • “What was the definition of Jesus Culture to you when you guys decided to go with that name?” - Chris shares how Jesus Culture was born out of a youth movement, intentionally doing lots of outreach and serving their city, Sacramento. Banning Liebscher liked the idea of going against the grain and against western cultures idea of church, and sharing the importance of real life encounters with Jesus with the people around them. 
  • “Is there a certain number of writers that you prefer to write with when co-writing?” Chris recommends a group of three as a solid number, he suggests that any less can sometimes feel awkward if no ones talking, more than three, you have to make sure everyone’s getting the opportunity to share and give input, and three also makes a great tie breaker, as Chris and his team go by majority rule. 
  • “Do you do distance writing? Sending over your music ideas to a co-writing partner over facetime, audio files or notes?” Chris shares how he co-wrote “Awaken Me” with Matt Redman over facetime, and how they like to have a certain person within their writing niche who’s well educated with logic pro or some type of production software, so that they’re able to begin creating right there on the spot. He recommends having someone who’s great with lyrics, another person who’s great with melody, so on and so forth. Know your team’s strengths so that you know how to pull on each other.