Cam and Co-Writer Tyler Johnson Kept ‘Mayday’ From Sinking

Songwriting may be a labor of love, but when it comes to "Mayday," love isn't exactly the word Cam and co-writer Tyler Johnson would use to describe it. 

Written by Lauren Laffer
Cam and Co-Writer Tyler Johnson Kept ‘Mayday’ From Sinking

For most country artists, every song on their record is a labor of love. For Cam and her co-writer Tyler Johnson, love isn’t exactly the word they’d use to describe the process of creating her latest single, “Mayday.”

“’Mayday’ is basically a great example of how much we have learned as songwriters because we started ‘Mayday’ when we first started writing together like five years ago and we thought we had nailed it,” the California native told Sounds Like Nashville and other media outlets during her No.1 party for “Burning House.” “We were like, ‘this is the best song we ever wrote!’”

Unfortunately for the pair, producer Jeff Bhasker didn’t agree.

“We took it in to Jeff Bhasker and Ty actually showed him because Ty was working for him at the time. Jeff just ripped it a new one and ripped us a new one in a professional way, but said, ‘this is not good enough. You need to do this, this and that,’ and we were just heartbroken.”

Thankfully, the team was determined to make it right.

“It’s one of the most defining parts of our career so far to have to pick your ego up off the ground. I believe I have to learn how to have it and this is one of those times,” she explained. “Either I have to keep going and I’m gonna get better or I’m gonna quit and we both decided for some crazy reason that we were gonna keep after it. We spent a few more years on it and we kind of hate the process of it. Like, we hated the song.”

After many, many rewrites and edits, Cam and Johnson finally had the song lyrics to where they wanted them. Next was the production of the song, an area where they were at a loss.

“We sorted out the song and got the songwriting right and then got to production and couldn’t figure that out,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t sort how it starts, when the vocals come in, when the drums come in, the tempo and to keep interest in the whole song. It just always felt like such a limp noodle feel.”

Much like the songwriting process, production took a few tries until they figured out the direction to take the song. “Then all of a sudden, after we recorded the pedal steel and put that as the intro and kinda sorted out these little factors, it finally sank in,” he added.

Because of the ups and downs, the friends joke that they have a love-hate relationship with “Mayday” and would have to celebrate in an unusual way. “We always have this joke that we’re gonna buy something super random if it makes any money because we kinda hate the song,” Johnson said with a laugh. “We’re really, really proud of it. I mean, it was always one of those songs where the lyrics and certain things would just connect to enough people and we were convinced, like that opening line would always just zing people enough, just enough that we were convinced that we have to finish this. Some days, we would call it in and be like, ‘What do you think about not, like just getting rid of the song?’ We were like never working on it again. And we didn’t and we followed through.”

Despite the song’s most epic journey, Cam couldn’t be prouder of the result.

“Something that I think the two of us have is that when we love something, like the idea of the song and where we know it’s going, we do not give up on it,” she concluded. “We don’t care how many times we have to get after it or how many layers of things you have to add to it, we are gonna get it eventually. By God, we did! We love it now.”

“Mayday” is the second single from Cam’s debut album, Untamed.