Photo Credit: The Line Of Best Fit
Sophie: So our music team and all our listeners love you, you are our favourite artist at the minute so one of the questions our music team want to ask you is…where do you think are the best places to play in Exeter? Well the Cavern is like classic, I like getting down and dirty so I love the Cavern. The Phoenix, I used to go there all the time so I love the Phoenix. Um, where else is there to play in Exeter?
Sophie: There’s a lot of like small places like small little bars with live music events… Jess: And then just Westpoint haha… Yeah just Westpoint! Yeah, I say just those two. I’d say the Phoenix and the Cavern, like you’ve gotta get like proper dirty sometimes.
Sophie: Underground… Yeah, yeah, I love that place that was like the best nights of my life in that place [Cavern].
Sophie: Do you have any tips for upcoming artists? There’s a lot of people who think they have talent and want to make it but they feel like it’s the south west – it’s really quiet compared to London where it’s the sort of centre [for music]. How should they go about getting out there from sort of small quirky towns? Well I think just look at the amount that comes out of Devon like it’s mad the amount of people who have said that it must be so quiet down there, but the amount of artists to come out of Exeter is amazing. For me, I couldn’t have done this in any place other than Devon. All I would say is for anyone in music out there: make sure you’re proud of it first and foremost don’t think about what anyone else is doing because nothing great is made from that and just do your thing, make sure that you’re going to stand by it forever and if anyone else doesn’t like it doesn’t really matter because you do. That would be my advice to anyone, just play play play play play.
Sophie: Just keep at it. Yea, exactly, just keep at it, it’s a really hard industry but I just really believe that there’s a chance for me, space for me.
Jess: When you’ve got those songs that you play over and over again, do you find it difficult to connect with them or does it still bring you back to moment where you wrote them? Well I write really honest music for that exact reason because if I have to sing these songs over and over again, and I was singing a song which I didn’t really care about, I wouldn’t be able to connect in over and over again. I guess things change over time, life changes as well but for me I can always connect back in to that feeling so strongly. I mean I’ve got songs on this album that in 50 years time or even 20 years time I might be like “oh not that song” but at the moment I feel like a song changes as you work with it.
Sophie: How would you start the process of writing a song? Do you start with a story and the narrative and what theme you’ll bring or do you start with a beat and a melody? It’s almost always how I’m feeling, like the feeling that I want to portray or the feeling I’m meaning to portray. So I never think about how I’ll sell this song, its more about therapy for me, I have to get it down and I don’t imagine anybody else, its just me and my voice. Next would come the melody and the harmony and then I would produce it after that. But usually it’s all my feelings and then I work from there.
Do you find that inspiration comes easily or have you ever had those times where you just don’t have the inspiration to write? And how would you get past that? Totally! When I was writing the album, I had a really bad time when I was like “oh my God, I can’t write, this awful, everything I’m writing is absolute shit and I’m a failure” but my producer and one of my best friends said to me “chill the fuck out, it’s fine, it’s going to come back. You can’t continually produce brilliance.” All the stuff that comes out that’s crap, you’ve got to get that out, its just part of the process. He says that creativity comes in seasons and so sometimes you’re not feeling inspired and those are the times to go and see stuff to inspire you. That’s why you should get out, go on a long walk. If you feel like it’s not working, the best thing to do is just back off, don’t rush it. So when it does come, it’s the best feeling in the world. But you can’t expect that to be constant.
Sophie: That’s a really nice idea, to think about it in seasons… Yeah it really helps me when I’m not feeling well, creatively, to just turn off and step away from it all.
Jess: I can imagine you could get yourself in to a downward spiral if you didn’t think like that. It is such a downward spiral, before you know it you’ve got anxiety that you’ll never be able to write again.
Jess: Yeah and I’m sure there have been songs which you are so happy with and proud of that you just want to go and perform them live for people. Which songs are you most happy with? I love performing So Human, Woman, I really wanted to perform Woman live and that is one of the hard things about how the industry is set out. You write a song, you sign it off and then two years later it’ll be released. I mean Woman happened quicker than that, it was like six months which is like unheard of because usually you sit with music for so long and it’s part of the industry, it’s part of the structure. That’s really frustrating but when you do play it live, like as I said earlier, it gives that perspective to the song, that it can come to life again in a different way. It’s always lovely, it’s always funny to watch the audience and see how they’ll respond to different songs, it’s always like particular songs that they respond to. It’s fun to perform upbeat, at home I’d listen to downbeat 3am-like [music] but when you’re performing live its like “fuck I need upbeat songs”.
Sophie: With your album being titled Control, do you feel in control of where your career is going or do you think it could really go anywhere? I mean the album title Control was more about relinquishing control because I’ve always been very in control, but in this industry and the world we live in now I don’t feel in control at all because you never know what’s going to happen, like tomorrow it could all change and like one person could tweet about it which could change everything. These days everything is so instinct and you just don’t know and I try not to think about life further than the week ahead. I’m not interested in be famous, I’m not interested in like playing the main stage at Glastonbury – even though that would be wonderful – but those aren’t my goals, my goals are just to continue doing music and sustain. I think sustainability is important because if I can get like 10 years down the line and I’m still able to live and write music even if my audience is the same as it is now, that’s fine. I can sustain that and touch people in a different way. So yeah, I feel so lucky and everything that happens I’m just like wow, but I try not to think about it.
Sophie: So your mantra is a ‘take it as it comes’ as opposed to being obsessive. Yeah! Otherwise you’d have anxiety and fear of the future and if someone had of told me five years ago that today was going to happen I would have been terrified for five years. If someone had said “you’re going on Jools Holland next week” I would have been terrified” but I did Jools Holland a few months ago and now I’m not terrified and I think everyday things just get easier and easier if you just throw yourself in.
Jess: What has been the greatest thing which you think you have achieved? I set out to write an album like last year, a few years ago, that I’m proud of. And that’s something which I feel I’ve done and I feel so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity and I feel really proud of myself for doing that because being that honest and embodying yourself in to one body of work when you can take it or leave it is a hard thing to do.
Jess: And to create that many songs as well. A complete body of work must be an achievement. Yeah it is. This time last year I was like hating playing live, like I felt if I had to do another live gig I felt like I was going to die, I just can’t, like is there a way to be a musician without playing live? From that time, I think it was like November  to now [May 2016], it hasn’t been that long, six months, it’s like totally turned around. I love playing live and I can’t wait for the next time and I never thought that would happen. But I’ve just worked really hard and trying to build my confidence for that, getting a new band, playing around with the songs a bit and vocal practicing. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow like then I was just like ready to give up if I had to do another live gig, but now I feel fine to get up.
Sophie: Its such a journey isn’t it… Yeah like tomorrow my aim is to…
Sophie: ah don’t worry about that… Jess: Live in the moment! [all laughs]
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