Breathe New Life into Your Covers

Tips to boost your creative chops when covering songs and making them your own.

We asked some singers we like on Instagram with some dynamite covers what their secret was! Here are some tips they shared:

Relax and improvise!

Jasmine @abstrakjaz — So I’ve been doing ‘Killing Me Softly’ a LOT because it’s really a crowd pleaser, but it got to be so often that it made me bored as hell. I’m naturally a jammer so I really like to improvise. I was just casually singing the song one day and I just started playing different chords, and then when I got to the chorus I was like ‘ooh this chord would be really nice with this melody!’ And it was! And I just played around with that and (being a busker I get instant feedback) people seemed to be really into it too. Playing it in a fresh way gave me new life when I sang it, and I loved it again. Now I always play it like that and it’s my version. Then one time I was playing ‘Shape of You’ in the subway station and then I had the inspiration to break into ‘No diggity’. It worked really well and it’s now pretty much the favorite mashup that I do. So in the first case I was just bored, but really relaxed and going with the flow. And in the second case I was on autopilot until I really forced myself to focus and be present – and I got inspired.

Distance yourself from the original

Amy Dmitra @amydimitramusic— With all covers, I try to listen to the orignal song a maximum of three times. Without knowing the ins and outs, there’s so much room for interpretation. When trying to do a new cover, I sit at my keyboard and I listen to the song in my headphones and work out the chords. Once I’ve done that, I take no more reference from the original. I improvise on the piano, add strings or bass to the instrumental, etc. I record the vocal melody and then add harmonies in wherever I think it fits. I add backing, I add some a capella bits – I really try to approach the song as if it’s an original, and just try to add as much texture as i can. Once I’ve recorded the entire cover, I’ll listen to the original again. Then I can see if there’s any aspects I’d want to add or anything I’d want to change more, making it more unique. The overall aim is always just to go with the music and not be completely ‘covering’ a song, but rather be transforming it!

Re-imagine the song

Marcella Werre @marcellawerre — All of my music producer friends are also great mentors who I am so blessed to have in my life. They’re always reminding me (since I am currently a cover artist for the most part), of the importance of making covers my own whenever I want to release one. Some of the ways I make covers my own are by: brainstorming with my producers about re-imagining the cover’s instrumental structure, changing keys so the song fits my range, and changing or adding new harmonies or vocalizations that were not in the original. Yes, when it comes to cover songs, people click on your cover because they liked the original, but covers are also a great way to practice showcasing your unique voice and musical creativity by putting your own spin on a song.

Cover the songs that speak to you

Kiki Eva @kikievamusic — I try to find songs I relate to based on the lyrics — some songs you just relate to more than others. I do often manage to bring my own life experience and feelings into the cover just through feeling energy of the song, for example how the melody or chords or production makes me feel as well. I also really like to take time and pre-record my versions, because I find that it’s easier to come up with new ideas and put my own spin on them — which is my aim with my covers. I think covering songs is a great way to showcase your creativity, and I enjoy covers that are different from the original.

Celebrate your creativity!

Jennifer Reichenberg @reichenbergmusic — When I hear a song I like, I always try to think of how I could play in my own way. Like my cover of ‘bird set free’ from Sia — it’s quite different from the original and I like that.

More about our contributors: 

Amy Dimitra

Hey! I’m Amy Dimitra, I’m a guitarist, pianist and a singer! I’m from Greece/England, but currently living in Hong Kong. Right now, I do covers on my Instagram page @amydimitramusic. I’m also trying to explore having more fun with it, so I’ve started doing mashups as well! My music on Instagram has been going on for about 4 months now, and I’ve grown to 2.2k. I have been so lucky and so grateful for what my followers have done, the original artist almost always sees my post and on one occasion, massive bands, like 5 Seconds of Summer, reposted it! My end goal is of course to be able to write unique, original music, so I’m forever working towards that!


Jasmine (Abstrak Jaz). I was born in Montreal, and I grew up there too. I’ve been studying music and singing all my life. Eventually, I moved away to go travel around the world. Taught myself guitar, and started playing for people and busking while I traveled. Now I’ve been settled in Berlin for the last three years. I recorded my first album here, called Dreams|Reality, and now I’m working on the second one! Stay up to date with my music and releases by following me on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube.


My name is KikiEva and I am an 18 year old pop/rnb singer songwriter from the UK. I have been singing since I was four years old and writing songs since I was 6. I write all of my own music and I also produce a large amount of my own music. I wrote my first single Made in Miami and it was produced by my brother. The song is literally about going to Miami and getting over a heartbreak; it’s about feeling like you have gained a new perspective- that you don’t need this person because you see what the world has to offer. Made in Miami was released in April of this year and is available to stream on YouTube and SoundCloud now! YouTube | Instagram | TikTok | Soundcloud

Marcella Werre

Marcella Werre is a 19 year old singer, lyricist, and music video director from Antelope Valley, California. She attends California State University Fullerton. Marcella has always had a passion for music and a wild imagination to match. She takes every chance she gets to hone her skills in singing, songwriting, performing, and filming music videos for her projects. Marcella is always open to new artistic connections and she can’t wait to see where her music career will take her next.

Jennifer Reichenberg

Hi, my name is Jennifer Reichenberg and I’m 18 years old. I live in Sweden and I love everything about music. I love making my own music, doing covers and overall music! Check it out for yourself on my Instagram @reichenbergmusic!

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