UK Songwriting Competition: Portobello’s ‘Momac’ scoops U18 award

Molly McDermott AKA Momac. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Molly McDermott AKA Momac. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Have your say

HAVING worked with the likes of Elton John, Led Zeppelin and Sting, it’s fair to assume they know what they’re talking about.

So if the judges of a nationwide songwriting competition hail a Portobello teenager as the next big thing, you sit up and listen.

There are a lot of songs out there about being cheated on and I wanted to do something more empowering and positive.


Previous winners of the annual UK Songwriting Competition include the platinum-selling Natalie Chua, who went on to land a record deal with Simon Cowell.

And now a bright future lies ahead of 17-year-old Molly McDermott after her song Listen – which she wrote and performed – scooped this year’s top prize in the under 18s category from thousands of entries around the world.

LISTEN: To Momac’s award-winning entry ‘Listen’ here

Edinburgh College student Molly, whose stage name is MOMAC, said: “I entered at the very last minute and initially it was really just a way for me to get some feedback on my songs.

“There are a lot of songs out there about being cheated on and I wanted to do something more empowering and positive.

“So I thought it was interesting to switch it around so the girl leaves the man. It’s about girl power.”

Judges included Shelly Peiken, who has penned songs for The Pretenders and Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears’ musical director Simon Ellis and Sting’s producer Kipper Eldridge.

Also on the panel was Stuart Epps, who has worked with Elton John, Led Zeppelin and Oasis and described Molly as “a very interesting new artist whose work he is looking forward to hearing more of”.

Alan John, founder and director of the contest, said: “This song was chosen by the judges as the winner of this category as it was an unusual song entry, sung by the songwriter, against a sparse and moody background. MOMAC impressed the judges this year with a variety of song entries.

“We think she will have a great future in music ahead of her.”

Molly, who is studying Popular Music, ultimately hopes to become a professional singer songwriter such as her idol, American star Fiona Apple.

Calais Brown, a music lecturer at Edinburgh College, said: “Molly is a natural performer and songwriter.

“She’s got it all and her winning song Listen showcases her talent.”

The former St John’s Primary and Loretto School pupil was 12 when she wrote her first song about people-watching on Portobello beach for a local competition.

And five years later, she is about to record her EP at Music Base in Leith with founder, producer and writer David Whitmey, who has worked with the likes of KT Tunstall.

Mr Whitmey said: “From the moment I met MOMAC, I could see that she had something exceptional – a maturity musically well beyond her 17 years. She’s undoubtedly going places and I can’t wait for people to hear what we are doing in the studio.”

Molly begins a degree in songwriting at the BIMM music college in Brighton in September, which counts James Bay, Tom Odell and George Ezra among its famous alumni.

She has entered a London-based open-mike competition, which is due to be held in the summer. She is also keen to take part in similar events at Glastonbury and T in the Park

The winning song will now be featured on a promotional album that will be sent out to producers, radio stations, publishers and journalists.

Molly has been given international copyright on the song, and will also get a professional website to showcase her work.