Releasing her first independent EP 'All at Once', the Essex-born singer/songwriter speaks on finding inspiration in the seasons, having Tyler, the Creator as a fan and her journey on The Voice.
At the start of last month you dropped your new EP ‘All at Once’, how has the response been, so far?
It’s been a really good response, actually. I was nervous because it’s my first project since being independent and I was like ‘have I made the right decision?’, ‘should I have thought about this a lot more?’, it felt a bit too easy as it just fell together, the songs just seemed to work and actually, I didn’t need to over think it at all, people really like it.
There were a couple of new songs on the EP that I was nervous for people to hear because no one had heard them at all, they weren’t singles and I’d never performed them before. Usually, I’d get to perform songs off of the EP and see how people react but I liked them, so I just made sure to trust my own opinion and my distribution liked it, my manager liked it and so did the team! So yeah, it’s been a really good response and I’m really happy with it.
How was the process of working on this project?
It was kind of weird because I didn’t actually work on it during Covid, most of those songs were written pre-pandemic, back in 2019. It was good that I had those songs because they were worked on by the producers during the lockdown but they were written before, so none of them had anything to do with what’s been going on.
When I was writing these songs, I was thinking maybe they’d end up on an EP at some point but I didn’t write them all together like ‘I’m writing an EP’. They just kind of all worked together somehow and then all of the songs have a season in mind, that’s why it’s called ‘All at Once’, because it’s about all of the seasons happening at once for me. You know Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ (not like I’m a huge Vivaldi fan or anything) [laughs] but I knew about them from when I was younger and I liked that kind of collection of songs and whenever I write songs I feel like I’m always inspired by the seasons. So, even songs that aren’t a part of this EP have something seasonal in mind.
Do you find creating with that in mind helps you in building an atmosphere within your music?
Exactly, that’s exactly what I want to convey with my music. I didn’t think that I’d be a singer/songwriter, I always thought when I was younger that I’d been a film scorer. Not because I was necessarily good at that [laughs] but I like films and I enjoy creating atmospheres and making music. I always have an image in my head, or colours.
"... the whole EP ended up
feeling quite DIY..."
It was really fun, I came up with the concept myself because this song just made me want to dance. So, that was the Autumnal track on the project and it had a kind of warmness to it, so yeah, I just wanted it to be dancing freely on the street.
We filmed it on the Southbank but we didn’t get to do it in the exact spot I had planned, we wanted to film it down by City Hall. I love that area for some reason, I think it’s just the little fairy lights and it’s cute there! But it’s private land so … we tried to say it was for a uni project but it didn’t work [laughs].
The place that we ended up was really nice but by the time we got there it was like 7am because we wanted to film in the sunrise and it was so cloudy! Typical, but thankfully, we had someone to do the grading and give it that warm feeling.
There was a choreographer that I worked with called Fi Silverthorn and then a videographer called James Kellegher, just a really nice, small team. I do dance as well, I don’t say that I dance but I’ve been doing it since I was like three [laughs]. I haven’t danced it a while but I just really wanted to do it.
How did the restrictions of the past year challenge you to think outside of the box?
When we did that one, the restrictions were eased so it was easier to get together also because we were outside. The first video that I released last year for ‘Closer To You’, I couldn’t do anything, or go out anywhere, so I just filmed it myself on my phone. It was quite fun and I edited it myself, I could've probably got someone to do that but I was just determined to do it myself.
Is that DIY approach important to your music and remaining in creative control?
Definitely, it's the kind of stuff that I’ve always wanted to do. When I was a bit younger, I was like ‘I can be a YouTuber, I can edit music videos of mine’ [laughs] but I really enjoyed it.
I like the DIY aspect because the whole EP ended up feeling quite DIY, all of the pictures and artwork for the project and singles were taken by my little sister. It was all in-house, even with the videos and coming up with the concepts. I like doing stuff myself because then I know exactly what I want, but I do like working with others, it’s just nice to have the option to work on my own.
"... I can tell that I’ve grown, I sound very young on ‘Racing Cars’ even though it was only two years ago."
That was so mad. It was just a normal day and then my sister had been sent messages from people. She came into my room and I was still sleeping and I saw my phone and people had been messaging me.
The embarrassing thing is, I wasn’t following him on IG at that point! So, because he DM’ed me, it came through as a message request - I felt so bad.
It was a group of upcoming artists that he just put up and he tweeted about it as well and it was a screenshot of a little music video I had made in my hometown in Essex, on his story - it makes me laugh, what is going on. He was definitely on a YouTube deep dive and just ended up coming across it [laughs].
You dropped your debut project 'Racing Cars' back in 2019, how does your new project differ or show you growth as an artist?
You can still tell that it’s me, there’s still some similar aspects like most of my music being quite dreamy, ethereal and warm - there’s that continuity. Even in my voice, I can tell there’s a difference. I’m older now and I’ve had different influences, some are still quite similar but I’ve worked with different people. You can tell that there’s growth there, I don’t know exactly what’s different but I can tell that I’ve grown, I sound very young on ‘Racing Cars’ even though it was only two years ago.
I was on a major label at that point as well, so they had quite a big say in what was going on and who I was working with, which was mainly the big Pop top-liners. I really had some good times during that but again, it feels very homemade because a lot of the people I worked on with it, I met along the way - it wasn’t because of a connection through the label.
Do you feel that having more creative control and not having to work within the confines of a major label made this project more personal that your debut?
Yeah, definitely. You can hear that it’s my choice. One of the songs on the EP ‘When It Rains’, I wrote the lyrics on my own and it was produced by someone else, so that’s one of the first songs that I’ve released, that I’ve actually written on my own. Production wise, it was so much better than I could have done! It felt quite personal as I have a sad song on this project too and I haven’t released sad stuff before, which is weird. So, I just felt a bit more vulnerable with it. The first EP, was still very personal but it was still kind of naive, which is fair because I was only 18-19 when I was writing that stuff.
"I had a producer’s audition and thought I wouldn’t get through and then another and then all of a sudden I’m in the Blind Auditions and even then I was so, so nervous."
How did that experience of being on The Voice help you to grow as an artist and especially, as a performer?
It was such a strange experience because it’s such a surreal bubble that not a lot of people get to experience. On the show, when I first started it, I was so nervous. When I decided to go on the show, I was kind of scouted in a way through someone - it was very complex, but I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I had a producer’s audition and thought I wouldn’t get through and then another and then all of a sudden I’m in the Blind Auditions and even then I was so, so nervous.
Through the show, I had a lot of help from the vocal coaches behind the stage, which is one of the things that helped me the most. Obviously, I was also mentored by Tom Jones, he actually did help me, it’s different to what you see on TV but his team were really supportive of me and still continue to support my projects. I didn’t know who I was going to choose but I’m so glad that it was him, I only got one turn and then I won it! I felt like my confidence grew because I kept getting through and I was surprised, like 'ok, Tom likes me and the audience and the people at home seem to and want to hear me each week', so yeah!
You said you’ve been working on some live stuff, what can we expect from a ‘All At Once’ show?
I haven’t been able to plan anything yet, unfortunately, as I don’t know what venues are going to be available but I really, really can’t wait to perform! I know that I have some potential things lined up like support slots and hopefully others too.
I definitely want to do my first headline tour because I haven’t had a chance to do any proper headline gigs, even since The Voice. I wanted to do them so badly for ‘Racing Cars’ but I asked and asked and nothing ever happened. I didn’t have the team that I have now, it was very much an involuntary break, but it gave me time to get a great team together. So, it’s going to be better and easier to do the tour that I want to do, so I can’t wait!
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
My main vocal inspirations are Adele, Emeli Sandé and Rebecca Ferguson, her voice is incredible - I wanted to sing like her. One of my first ever performances was of ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’ and I tried to sing it exactly like her [laughs] and you can tell now that my voice is actually quite inspired by her. I used to listen to ‘21’ by Adele, secretly, in my bed when I was supposed to be asleep, I had an iPod Touch that I got for my birthday so I could listen to music. The first albums that I got on iTunes were ‘21’ and ‘Pink Friday’, but I would watch this track-by-track interview with Adele, all of the time, so I was just inspired and I wasn’t even really singing. Then with Emeli Sandé, I felt like I could connect with her in a way because she was of mixed heritage as well and I could see myself as her, a lot more than Adele, I loved ‘Heaven’ and ‘Our Version Of Events’, I listened to that so much, I think I did a cover of every single song [laughs].
Now, I’m mostly inspired by Lianne La Havas, I have a different sound to her but she’s just created a path and being able to see myself in her, representation is important. Laura Mvula, she’s been a big influence and actually, I met her yesterday, she had me on her show! I kept it cool, so it was fine. She’s so inspiring though, she composes and plays piano and her shows at the Royal Albert Hall with the live Orchestra, her voice was so good! And finally, Ella Fitzgerald!
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?
I love Mac Ayres, he’s sick. Rina Sawayama, she’s incredible. Ravyn Lenae, I've mainly listened to her ‘Moon Shoes’ EP, I have to shout out to my friends Rayowa, they’re heavily inspired by Disco, they’re so sick! I mean if you haven’t listened to Stevie Wonder, you should go and do that now, it’s important that you do it!
What’s coming up for 2021?
More music, I’m still writing at the moment - I’m not really sure what it’s going to be. I have a lot of ideas now that this EP is out of the way! Probably not an album, if I’m setting out to do that then I’m going to write for the album, not just random songs but this next project. I'm ready for it to be very concise and I’ve been working with some new people. I’ve got a collaboration out soon too, that I’m excited about but I can’t say who, it’s my first one and I’m very excited!
Hopefully, people will be able to see me live later in the year.