Neil Ormandy has had a notable career as a versatile songwriter, producer and musician, and he’s built a successful sync company called SILO Music, which specializes in creating music for TV shows, films, movie trailers and commercials.
On top of this, Ormandy has taken his pop songwriting credits to a new level. He co-wrote the current pop hit, “Say You Won’t Let Go,” for British artist James Arthur. This soulful ballad has become a worldwide hit, reaching Top 10 status in about 30 countries and number one in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. In the U.S., it reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart.
The popularity of “Say You Won’t Let Go” has made Ormandy a success in two, different segments of the music business—pop songwriting and film & TV placement. Currently, he is traveling to several countries for pop co-writing, while simultaneously running SILO Music with his brother & business partner, Jack Ormandy.
Ormandy is originally from Manchester, U.K.; he formed a band called Rushmore with his older brother, Edward (who was lead singer). Rushmore was signed to two, major label deals, including Mercury Records in 2006. The band toured with such artists as Keith Urban, Simply Red, James Morrison and Paolo Nutini.
It was in 2009 that Ormandy moved to Los Angeles, which led him to launching SILO Music, and to his success as a pop songwriter. As a songwriter, Ormandy has secured cuts with Kelly Clarkson, Jamie Cullum, Hey Violet, Barns Courtney, Eric Prydz and Julian Peretta, to name a few.
With SILO Music, he and his brother Jack have built a successful sync company, which has over 100 placements for such TV shows as CSI, CSI-NY, Silicon Valley, Arrow, Gotham, Nikita, Teen Wolf, Suits, 13 Reasons Why, Vampire Diaries and Guilt. Notably, they created the international trailer for the blockbuster movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In addition, SILO has created motion picture trailer cues for Alien Covenant, Fantastic Four, Life, Spotlight, The Accountant, Clash of the Titans, Green Lantern, Knight and Day, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Avengers, Selma and Dead Man Down.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Neil Ormandy. He tells how he got started in the music business, and how he co-wrote the James Arthur hit “Say You Won’t Let Go.” He also discusses his company, SILO Music.
DK: How did you get started as a songwriter and producer?
Neil Ormandy: I started when my dad bought me a second-hand guitar, and I just picked it up and kind of never put it down. I just gravitated towards the guitar, and then I just started writing songs.
DK: What instruments do you play?
Ormandy: I play guitar and keys; I mainly play acoustic guitar. That’s what I wrote the majority of my early songs on.
Here is the video of James Arthur’s hit “Say You Won’t Let Go,” which was
co-written by Neil Ormandy.
DK: I read that early on, you were in a band called Rushmore, and you were signed to label deals. Is that correct?
Ormandy: Yes. I wrote some songs and we formed a band, with my older brother Edward being the lead singer. When I was around 17, we played our demo for Boy George, who wanted to sign us. And then we in the studio with Culture Club and we recorded an EP. But unfortunately, the deal didn’t go through because there were some complications with the contract. That was my first introduction (to the music business). From there, I got a music publishing deal at EMI. I was signed by [music exec] Kenny McGoff, and I was actually his first ever signing—he went on to sign many famous bands in the U.K.
DK: What happened after that?
Ormandy: I was writing demos for probably a year, and then we got a record deal in New York when I was 20. We moved to New York to pursue that deal for a couple months, and then we moved to L.A. for six months where we rehearsed and did a few shows. But then again, with the ups and downs of the industry, that deal fell through because the label ran out of funding. So we actually moved back to the U.K. and had to get jobs again. I continued writing, and then a year-and-a-half later we got new management and then I got a development deal at Island Records. I realized I was kind of a prolific songwriter—I wrote about 60 songs in that period.
I was on Island, and then I got moved over to Mercury Records. Paul Adam A&R-d my project. I played him an acoustic song with a country vibe that I wrote called “Destiny,” and he freaked out over it. So then he said, “this is the direction I want you to go in.” So I started to write a country-based album. I wrote three songs and I was his first big signing at Mercury. I wrote my album in three months and then went into the studio with producer Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Magic Numbers). We recorded the album at The Kinks’ studio in London, which was such an amazing experience.
Then we went on tour—we did seven nights at the Royal Albert Hall with Simply Red, and we did all the festivals in the UK. We basically became a touring act for about two years. At that point in the U.K., we had a big following and we were doing well, but it was very indie-based market, and we didn’t get radio playlist, so it eventually led to that deal falling through.
DK: Was it around this time that you decided to move to Los Angeles?
Ormandy: Yes. By that point, I had gone through two record deals and two publishing deals. So I moved to L.A., and fell into the world of sync. I met a big music supervisor and I started doing a lot of music for different TV shows. I realized that I can write in every genre, because I was doing a lot of quick turnaround sound-alikes for projects that were sent to me. This is where I learned my craft as a songwriter. I started writing and producing in many styles and became very successful in the sync world. This led me to setting up my sync company, SILO Music, where we develop producers and writers.
DK: You recently co-wrote the big hit “Say You Won’t Let Go” for James Arthur. How did you get together with James to write this song?
Ormandy: I collaborate a lot with (hit songwriter) Steve Solomon, who invited me over. He says he’s got this U.K. artist, James Arthur, who’s coming to town and he’d love me to work with him. Obviously, I’d heard of James Arthur from being on X Factor in the U.K. It turned out to be one of those dream sessions, where we came up with the idea and concept very quickly. I think we actually wrote the song in like three hours. He turned up at 1:30 pm and left at 5 pm. It was just one of those dream sessions.
DK: When you wrote that song, did you think it would become a worldwide hit?
Ormandy: I think we all knew it was a good song, It was funny, because Steve and I were discussing it after the session. We thought…Wow, that’s a really great song, but because it’s an acoustic ballad, we didn’t think it would end up becoming the first single from James’ new album. So we didn’t think much more of it. And then obviously we got the call that it was going to be the first single, and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride ever since. It’s been crazy (laughs).
DK: As a songwriter, is your strength writing the melody and lyrics, or creating the track?
Ormandy: My specialty is writing melody and lyrics. I always come up with melodies very quickly. For me, and the process of writing songs in a day, I feel like the better songs are definitely written quicker. The best songs I’ve written, are written within three to four hours. It’s definitely something that becomes more of an emotional art form for me.
DK: Now that you’ve had a big hit with “Say You Won’t Let Go,” are you now co-writing with more pop artists?
Ormandy: Yeah of course. I’m definitely leaning more into the songwriter side of things. I spent a lot of years in sync, which is a part of the industry where a writer and producer can make good money. I’m now at a point in my career where I’m looking to focus on songwriting and build a solid production team. I’ve had a few big cuts before having a hit with “Say You Won’t Let Go.” Obviously, the James Arthur hit tipped me over the edge—my diary is now booked up two or three months ahead. I’ve just been traveling all over the place—I’ve been in the U.K. and Europe for months, and I’ve been getting invited to a lot of high-end writing camps, which is basically where the industry is going now. All of these companies or artists get the top writers and producers from around the world, and put them in one place for a week. You just fly in, write, and then fly out. The camps are a great way to meet people and build relationships. Because normally in a session, you’re there for four or five hours and then you go “Bye,” and you’re on to your own world. If you’re in a camp, you get to live and breathe with these different writers and producers and they end up becoming your good friends.
DK: Are there some other pop cuts that you’re currently working on?
Ormandy: Yeah, there are a lot of things I’m working on and have coming in the pipeline…so watch this space.
DK: Can you tell me more about SILO Music?
Ormandy: What we’ve done with SILO, is try to make a platform which enables writers and producers to have access to the sync world giving them another stream of income. We develop a lot of artist projects and also license a lot of independent music from around the world. We are always looking for prolific artists, songwriters and producers that are versatile that we can develop into this space.
DK: Do you also do movie trailers and commercials too?
Ormandy: Yes, we do movie trailers, TV promos and commercials. We just landed the the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story international trailer which was an amazing accomplishment.