How did it feel to get your first single of the year out and what inspired ‘Don’t Say It’?
It always feels good to get new music out, and the reaction to it has been really nice, so far! Writing this song was a process of finally accepting that a relationship was over for good. The line ‘Don’t Say It’ felt like it summed it all up for me, knowing something but not wanting it acknowledged with words, as that would make it real.
Sonically, what did you want to capture within the production of the track?
I wanted to make something that sounded like the heaviness I was feeling and, even though the song is melancholic, for the groove to feel kind of determined and spiky - like a fuck you! Once I had got that groove and the keys I understood how the vocals should sit on top of it all.
‘YKWMHW' was less intentional in a way - I had been working on loads of tracks with different people but in the end the ones that became the EP were ones I had been writing and producing by myself and didn’t think anyone would ever hear really. It wasn’t until I played them to my friend Tev’n - a producer I was working with at the time, that it took shape. He loved them and helped me by doing some additional production and giving me the confidence to finish them off.
The process of creating 'Nature' was quicker and was partly made during the first lockdown, so that experience definitely shaped it somewhat. It was even more solitary and I really went for the production with a kind of determination that I didn’t have with the last EP, it was much more self assured.
"I spent a lot of time recording birds, crickets, anything I hadn’t noticed before and a lot of these found their way onto the EP ..."
How did creating this project push you as an artist?
I had in my head the sort of mood I wanted the music to create and I think I achieved that to a certain extent, making all of the creative decisions myself and trusting my instinct more. I feel like I really said what I wanted to with these songs. Every new work you create as an artist challenges you - I sometimes think one of the hardest challenges is just continuing to make it!
What were your initial inspirations for the EP?
I'm endlessly inspired by tormenting myself with the past! I can find it hard to let go of things and the process of making this EP felt like a lesson in tying up some loose ends, having a kind of emotional clear out and making peace with some of those things I had been holding onto. Sonically, all the natural sounds around me really came into focus during that first lockdown. I spent a lot of time recording birds, crickets, anything I hadn’t noticed before and a lot of these found their way onto the EP in some form. It was like I was homing in on the detail, getting rid of the irrelevant clutter that was taking up so much space and had been holding all my attention.
Is there a track on the project that you feel best encapsulates the overall tone of the EP?
I think it might be the last track ’No Good', maybe because it summed up that moment in time the best and felt like it tied everything together. It is mainly made up of recorded sounds - birds, glasses, a kettle, my housemates and the cyclical shape of it reminds me of a lot of relationships, how they sometimes don’t go anywhere. I wanted to learn to be ok with that too, to not try to fix it. That idea of nothing ever really being finished and over - as all your experiences keep living with you - but that you have to find a way to move on and let go.
"The best sessions I have been in kind of feel like therapy! You have to be willing to go there and the rewards when you do are really amazing."
How was working on your own personal project after spending the past seven years collaborating with other musicians?
The process of writing has always been a bit sacred and private for me and being able to go through that process on my own feels really important. I wasn’t getting the energy I needed from working on other people’s projects anymore and I felt like I was giving quite a lot. I was definitely scared of not having anyone else to hide behind though, but I feel way more connected to music again now, I didn’t want it to feel like a chore.
How important is collaboration to your creative growth?
Collaborating has always been a part of how I create and I love the mutual trust and respect that is born through making music together. It is really beautiful when it works and I have learnt and gained so much from the people I have worked with over the years. It is a really strong bond that you build between you, it feels very intimate and I think this is why often the same collaborators work together for years. The best sessions I have been in kind of feel like therapy! You have to be willing to go there and the rewards when you do are really amazing.
How do you feel that your sound has evolved since your earlier solo release ‘Wolves’?
I think that taking the step to produce myself has been the greatest factor in that evolution. It was significant for me to find my own sound away from the influence of other people’s ideas about my sound. On ‘Wolves’ there were a few different producers and tying these identities together was part of the process of making it but I think that created more of a separation between the song and the production if that makes sense, whereas now I don’t feel that separation.
"Really interesting production is as much about what you don’t know as what you do. Using your limitations rather than being discouraged by them."
When did you first get into producing and how does it aid you as a writer and performer?
Really just in the last couple of years! I never thought I would play it to anyone and it was a while before I shared the tracks (which ended up being YKWMHW) with the producers I was working with at the time. For me, the writing process makes so much more sense now, it has really opened things up a lot for me. Although I play piano and a bit of guitar and can sit in a room and write a song like that, I am way more inspired by rhythm and the feeling certain sounds give me, and will usually start with a really scrappy beat and go from there. The other stuff is quite secondary to me to be honest and I use my voice as the main melodic instrument and kind of fit everything else around those elements.
How important is having a knowledge of instrumentation to your production?
I actually don’t think it’s that important. Really interesting production is as much about what you don’t know as what you do. Using your limitations rather than being discouraged by them. That said, it’s helpful that I can play keys, but I think you can get a bit stuck in the technical side of things sometimes and not being afraid of trying things differently is good.
If you had to give three tips to producers starting out, what would they be?
Be brave, trust your intuition, don’t judge your work as you are making it...oh, and back everything up!
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
When I was growing up and getting into music Whitney Houston, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Cody Chestnutt, Erykah Badu, Floetry...were some of my first loves. More recently, I would say Arthur Russell has had the biggest impact on my music but soooo many more too.
If you guys had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?
What’s coming up for the rest of 2021?
I am hoping to get some more music out by the end of the year and maybe even do some live shows!