What made you decide to become a soloist?
I think I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do deep down. That vision hasn’t really gone away from my childhood to today. Initially, I started writing songs as a side project alongside my Master’s Degree at York which was in Composition. I used to write very contemporary pieces with orchestral instruments so writing Indie Pop-Rock songs gave me something different to focus on. A couple of tracks got picked up by BBC Introducing York and North Yorkshire and that was the first time I felt so sure about wanting to pursue songwriting as a career. By the end of my degree, I knew I wanted to be a solo artist above anything else.
Introduce us you and your musical history?
So I am a solo artist currently based in Chesterfield and I studied both a BA (Music) and Master’s Degree (Composition) at the University of York. I trained as a soprano throughout my BA singing Classical and Operatic pieces, and also played Double Bass in University of York Symphony Orchestra. I initially started to learn electric guitar before I took singing lessons so I’ve crossed over music genres for quite some time. Crossover does get some stick from a minority of classical fans who have more snobbish and pretentious attitudes towards it. I’m all for both the classical and “popular” music worlds to merge; it definitely introduced me to more classical music.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Sometimes I’m asked to put a quote that sums me up which can be quite tricky! Mostly because I really don’t want to be pretentious about it. I don’t know if it’s partly due to being exposed to so much pretentiousness and elitism from that minority of classical fans, that I make of point of trying to not be that way.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I try to keep out of the conspiracy world; of course I’ve heard about a few music ones like Elvis being alive and Paul McCartney dying in 1966. I also found the “Birds Aren’t Real” conspiracy very amusing; this one is purely satire though.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Oh definitely; I am quite shocked at myself that I didn’t end up buying another guitar! However, I did buy a crazy amount of pin badges that I’ve started collecting since. I like to put some of them on my denim jackets and guitar straps.
What useless party trick do you have?
I somehow managed to learn this when I used to volunteer to work with Birds of Prey; I can mimic a Tawny Owl “Twoo” which is the male call; they are the only owls that go “Twit Twoo.” It’s just putting my hands together tightly, leaving one space for the air to escape and blowing between the joints in your thumbs.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I think this one goes back to my university days when I put on a lunchtime concert playing hits from “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac. We all dressed up and had great fun playing through the songs and the audience loved it too; I’d do it all over again or even do “Tango In The Night” next!
What was the worst experience on stage?
I’m lucky to have never been heckled off (up to now) but I’ve had some bad experiences playing with band members who got far too drunk prior to our slot; playing the wrong chords, forgetting lyrics, and one song completely falling apart; it was so awkward! I’m all for having fun but with alcohol, there’s a tipping point. It’s why I don’t drink before playing!
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I did plan to go down the classical singing route for years and then chose a different pathway at university thanks to pressing the Big Red Postgraduate Panic Button. I envisioned myself auditioning and singing in opera productions down the line but I did get into composition at uni, mostly from a theatrical point of view. For some submissions, I wrote program music as well and composed a piece on the River Don Engine based in Kelham Island, Sheffield.
If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it?
I’d think aliens would be far more intelligent than me if they existed, so there’s a chance they’d probably describe it better than me! I would describe my music as being catchy songs using ideas, structures, sounds, and riffs from past eras like the 70’s and 80’s, that I bring forward with a more modern touch.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
My songs are linked in terms of structure and writing style, but the sound world changes A LOT! I’ve ventured into a lot of genres; I’ve tried everything from heavier rock to country! I’m not afraid to step out of my comfort zone and take on a challenge. Speaking of challenging things, I have posted quite a lot on mental health over on my Instagram; there’s still some stigma attached which needs to be broken down. The most difficult part of mental illness can be opening up to others and recognising that you’re not okay. After these past two years, it’s more important than ever that we’re talking about it; we have a right to feel angry, cheated, and grieve losing time, and loved ones and not having the same experiences of university, new jobs, etc. It’s important to allow yourself that time to process but to also get back on two feet and make exciting plans to look forward to. You have the right to be happy and life’s really too short.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
I think most musicians will have an “exposures” story so I’ll share mine as it really did piss me off at the time. A bar in York was looking for a musician to play so I went and met the owner. She said she couldn’t pay me but it would be “great exposure”, at first I thought well if I can play my own music, fine. But after hearing my music she wanted me to learn an entirely different set list in two days, for nothing. I left feeling very annoyed as my landlord at the time wouldn’t have accepted “exposures” as a form of payment. I politely declined!
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I think this has to be Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac as it’s a very happy song and I think after a rough two years people love a bit of positivity. It’s one of those songs that guarantees some audience participation; especially when they’ve had a drink or two!
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
I’m releasing a double called “Plastic Heart” which is a song about someone who is fake and untrue to their intentions. It’s also quite special to me as it’s my tenth release since 2020 and starting out as an independent artist. I haven’t released a single with a B Side before so I’m quite looking forward to it. Both tracks are on similar subject matter and same instrumentation so it felt right to release them together. I was listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac (Tango in the Night era) and Oasis (Don’t Believe The Truth) and I think you can certainly hear the influence in sound.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
In terms of the music I was very inspired by The Stone Roses “She Bangs the Drums” having that catchy riff. I wanted to write a song like that so I came up with the acoustic guitar part first and then the lyrics “You’ve got a Plastic Heart, that you could pull apart” came to mind. So I knew the song meaning had to be something along those lines.
I think having someone flirt with us to bolster their ego with no real intention of dating is a pretty relatable topic. Plastic Heart is about standing up for yourself and knowing that you deserve to be treated better. It involves putting boundaries in place which cuts out the wrong people for you.
What was the recording process like?
I got assigned to Tom Orrell through The Online Recording Studio to work on five tracks together. I started out with just the acoustic guitar part and vocals recording them in Chesterfield. Tom who is based in Leeds, then recorded bass and synth parts and we decided on some extra electric guitar parts and chord changes. Recording virtually did save me through the pandemic and I’ve really got to grips with it now. It was quite overwhelming at first but then something eventually did just click and I can record without many problems these days.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
I think my biggest learning curve is to record in plenty of time and if things don’t go to plan that’s okay. I’ve been battling with illness this year which has delayed things somewhat, but I’d rather take my time than rush to get it done.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Oh, I’m sure I’ll be picking little things with it in six months’ time but you know what, that’s writing music for you! When I used to compose I was forever editing at times; I set myself a rule now that it has to be 3-4 drafts only or else you can end up with something that sounds much worse than it did at the start.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Definitely another single in the works currently; maybe even an acoustic version at some point. Then it’ll be on more songwriting and also some more studio sessions in Sheffield. You keep going and going with the writing, onwards and upwards to the next project!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Thank you so much for making it this far through my interview! I have got another single coming out in a couple of months so keep your eyes peeled for that one!
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