1883 Magazine
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On Sunday 2nd June, a host of international pop and electronic artists descended on London for Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park. Headlining the festival was the biggest pop star of the 21st century, Justin Bieber, whose performance was nothing short of spectacular. His Purpose World Tour set included fireworks, a team of talented backup dancers and stunning digital stage visuals. You could almost understand why thousands of people had waited since the festival gates opened at 11am to see him.

Also performing on Sunday at BST was EDM sensation, Martin Garrix, whose high-energy set included a surprise performance from Dua Lipa for their smash hit Scared To Be Lonely. Swedish pop artist Tove Lo also joined the star-studded line-up, as did hit-making producer, Naughty Boy, and Brit Award-nominated rising star, Anne-Marie, whose natural affability onstage is sure to make her a big star.

We got the lowdown on the hottest up-and-coming talent by speaking to 13 of BST’s performing artists.

 

 

Dagny

What was the first festival you played?
This was a very long time ago but it was the youth part of the biggest festival in Norway. We were so excited that you could associate our name with that but it ended up being one of those shows where it was like midnight in this big, dark, black room. There was like five people there. There was nobody there [laughs]! I’d done a lot of shows before that but never a festival. That was like 10 years ago.

How do you feel you have evolved since that point?
Oh gosh, in every way. At the time I was doing acoustic singer-songwriter stuff; it wasn’t anything like we’re doing now. It was a whole different line up. We had a cajon and a ukelele! We had a kazoo and a glockenspiel! We had all these weird instruments. I think I’ve changed a lot too as I moved to London when I was about 21 and a lot of stuff has happened in my life since then.

How do you prepare to play live? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I have this weird pipe that I blow into because I’m really hoarse and everyone’s like “What is she doing?” [laughs] I think I’ve come to a point where I’m quite calm up until about 40 minutes before the show and then I just go into a zone of quiet focus.

Is the pipe like a kazoo? What noise does it make?

It’s a warm-up thing. You blow into it and your cheeks go “walalala” [laughs]. You can sing into it. It just helps my vocal chords.

Let’s talk about your new song ‘Wearing Nothing’ - what inspired that?

It’s about meeting someone that you just want to be absolutely bare with. It plays on this idea of being naked with someone; like to the point where even one piece of clothing is too much in between. It’s about wanting to show every piece of your soul. Wanting to be completely open with someone, which is quite a rare thing for me as I’m quite a private person.

How do you find being such a private person in the industry you’re in?

Sometimes I wonder whether, as a fan, it might be hard to relate to me as an artist as I don’t overshare. In a time when everyone overshares, finding your own boundaries is important.

 

 

Etham

As a young singer-songwriter, what obstacles have you faced in the music industry?

You’re always thinking about the rejection or what sort of vibe you need to capture for everyone to feel like ‘this is Etham’. As writing goes, it’s about finding out who you actually are; not copying anyone but you’ve also managed to make it familiar to everyone so it’s not too different.

How has your sound changed since you self-released music online a few years ago?

The production has changed but in terms of songs, keeping those songs raw and not too overthought, shows what I can do vocally, melodically and lyrically, I think that still remains. With the the way that times have changed with production, it’s quite interesting to try and push yourself. It’s kind of gone into a sort of vamped-up soul, with a bit of hip-hop influence as well.

Would you say that creating a melody comes to you much more naturally than writing lyrics?

Yeah, I think melodies and chords, in terms of the vibe of what I want, is a lot easier to me, that’s just my forte. Lyrics obviously mean a lot to me but I’m not the best lyricist. I have written all the lyrics on some of the songs I’m playing today but that’s only because I had tunnel vision at the time.

What would you be if you weren’t a musician?

I wasn’t very good in school and it was music that I latched onto really early. I’ve played guitar since I was in year five, so just from growing up with it, I just knew that even if it was gigging and playing weddings for the rest of my life, I would still be extremely happy just because I’m playing music and having fun.

What do you have planned next?

In late July, we’re releasing one song on Spotify that we did on Facebook called Control. We’re going to release an acoustic EP in September. I’ve been itching to do some shows as we’ve been in the studio for such a long time now.

 

 

Sarah Close

What kind of gender bias have you faced as a young female starting out in the music industry?

I think the hardest thing so far is being taken seriously. I’ve had people talk to other people about what I should be doing or what I think instead of just coming to me. I think there’s this perception that women can’t handle the raw truth. I’m someone that works on 100 per cent honesty and if something isn’t going well or doesn’t look right, just tell me and I’ll fix it! It’s my career, not theirs.

How would you explain your sound and musical influences?

I would describe my sound as quite fun; I try to have fun with everything I do. Fun, poppy; there’s definitely some electronic influences in there. I love Cashmere Cat, The Weeknd, I adore Katy Perry, I love Tove Lo.

How would you describe your creative process when writing new material?

I’m quite possessive over my lyrics so generally that’s something I work on myself. I like to work one-on-one with someone and keep the room quite empty. Normally I’ll just say to someone: can you start the music and make a beat, make some sounds with the piano and let that lead me. I just like to be inspired by the music. I find the most honest stuff happens when I just let it roll of my tongue rather than think about it too much.

What inspired you to start a music career?
Oh my gosh, I don’t think there was ever any other option, ever! I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I can remember! It’s really cheesy but it just feels like destiny [laughs]! I find so much joy out of writing and performing, it just never feels like work. I’ve always wanted to do it, I just never thought it was possible.

 

 

Skinny Living

Let’s talk about your new single ‘Why’ - what was the inspiration behind that?

Ryan: The song’s really personal for me. Quite a while ago I was going through a rough time that I didn’t realise I was going through, over-indulging in certain things, trying to distract myself from demons that I had inside me. My sister came and confronted me one night after a party we’d had and told me that I was addicted to things and go down the wrong path. That’s why the main lyric that rings out for me is: ‘Mistaking the truth for a lie.”

What are the roles that you have each taken in the band?

Ryan: We collaborate on everything together but I think each of us has taken a front and centre role in certain areas. Rhys, being the drummer, takes a predominant role in the beats, Will and Danny are on guitar.

Will: The collaborative side of it means that no one is left to go wild on their side of things.

Ryan: We all reign each other in.

Will: You’ve got Ryan’s soul lyrics and vocals, Rhys’ style of drumming I would consider quite R&B and I’ve got quite a rock guitar riff influence and then Danny’s got this blues-soul guitar style that’s quite Hendrix-y. It all creates our sound.

Who would you say has influenced you the most musically?

Ryan: For me, Bill Withers is a really dominant influence. I loved his music when I was growing up and mostly his lyrics and how relatable they were for me.

Danny: As a band, when we were just starting to get on the road together, we absolutely rinsed Caustic Love by Paolo Nutini. We listened to it at least three times a day. The whole album. Paolo’s sound is a big inspiration.

Tell us something random that you do to prepare before playing live.
Danny: We get the clap [they all laugh].

Will: Don’t call it that!

Danny: We all stand round and everyone has to clap at the same time. They basically all have to follow me but I don’t give any warning.

Will: It can happen any time but we just keep locked in with Danny. It’s more reading body language so any movement on stage you can all bounce off each other. That’s the best thing about being in a band.

 

 

Anna of the North

What was the inspiration behind new track ‘Someone’?

My mum always tells me that I have to be a good inspiration for other people but sometimes you might get a bit drunk and do stuff you wouldn’t have done if you weren’t. It’s also about those times when you go out and you feel like you need something just to fill your emptiness. It’s mostly about a really desperate time when you just want someone to fill that feeling inside and promise yourself you’re going to make it alone but you get drunk and bring someone home [laughs].

Your new album ‘Lovers’ is out in September. Tell us about the creative process behind creating that.

Well we have been working for quite a long time on this album and had only done five singles before. In December, we were putting out two or three demos a day and chose our favourites and worked with them. It was quite a hard process and you get so obsessed when you’ve heard it so many times. You never feel happy about anything as you always feel it can improve. When we started, with Sway, we didn’t think like that so it was really easy to just go with it. We tried to go back to that honest process. We did what just felt natural.

What is your favourite song to play live?

Today we’re playing three or four songs from the new album but my favourite has always been Us. I really love that. But now I don’t know because now we have Someone and we played that for the first time last night, that was really fun. I’m really excited about changing up the set. It’s quite hard dancing and singing at the same time.

What do you have planned next besides the album?

We’re have a few festivals coming up. We’re going to Mad Cool Festival in Spain; in Madrid, where I’ve never been so that should be fun. It’s good to experience new places, people and cultures. Also Blissfields Festival, which is in Winchester. We’re also going to Belgium and then to Australia, where Brady and I met. So this is the first time we’re going back.

 

 

Nina Nesbitt

You’re releasing your new single, The Moments I’m Missing, later this month. What were the inspirations behind that?

I started writing for other artists but a part of me still wanted to write for myself. So I started writing at night at home and creating ideas. I’ve had three and a half years since my last album so I’ve had a lot of time to grow up and reflect. It’s about looking back and taking in all the things that have happened in your life.

How have you evolved, both musically and personally, since your last album in 2014?

Personally, I’m a lot more clear on who I am and what I’m good at. Musically, working with other singers has helped me figure out what is different about me. So I guess I discovered that my falsetto and lyrics are my unique things.

What is one of the most significant things you have learned during your career?

Just be yourself. I know it sounds so corny but if you’re trying to be yourself, it’s going to be obvious to people watching. If you’re authentic, people will connect.

Do you have any unusual hobbies?

I like painting. I’m quite a gym freak at the moment. I’ve started dancing. I’ve been doing ballet and street dancing.

What do you have planned next besides the new single?

Probably play some headline shows, get the song out and then get the album out early next year.

 

 

Naughty Boy

How do you prepare to play live? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to look at the sky before I go on stage. A little private moment. A little one-to-one. Not necessarily pray but put some good energy out there. The energy in the whole area was mad today. It’s been a turbulent time recently in the UK and this kind of thing bring people together.

You’ve recently collaborated with Kyla on new track Should’ve Been Me. Who would you like to collaborate with next?

Definitely the Bieber. I’m going to put it to him today. I think the world needs that. I think the world is waiting for that. Honestly, over the last few years, I’ve loved the music he’s been putting out. Love Yourself was a really sick tune. Beyonce didn’t need to feature on a Naughty Boy tune but it’s just a testament to what she thinks is good music. Good lyrics, good melody. Job done [laughs].

When was the last time you were starstruck?

I don’t really get starstruck but this week I saw Dame Shirley Bassey. It’s because of the James Bond films I used to watch when I was a kid. That voice - she affected me knowing. It’s inspired me musically. You’ll hear in my music the string or the epic sounding - that’s all from Shirley Bassey. I would love to work with her. I’m putting it out there.

What song or artist have you been listening to a lot lately?

There’s a girl called Emily Warren. She’s done a lot of Chainsmokers stuff but she’s got her own stuff coming out now. It’s pop but the lyrics and melody are quite country. It’s the kind of music that I think people need right now. I don’t think DJ Khaled is a guilty pleasure but I’m really into him. I saw Katie Price perform her new single. It’s definitely not a guilty pleasure though [laughs].

When’s the new album out?

I’m just finishing off the album. Just finishing off some sessions and collaborations. I’ve got a collaboration with DNCE, Callum Scott; it’s a combination of new artists like Callum and bigger, known artists.

 

 

Kyla

Since Drake featured your song ‘Do You Mind’ on what his massive hit, ‘One Dance’ last year, you’ve decided to return to music. How does it feel being back?

I love being back! I feel like I needed to have the break just to appreciate it and enjoy it. Feels like home. I’m nervous about lots of things but when I’m on stage, it’s where I feel comfortable.

Which direction will you be going in musically? Is your heart still with UK Funky, or are you planning to push out into a different genre?

I wouldn’t say I’ve completely left funky but I wouldn’t say I’m fully submerged in it. I’ve always been an all-rounder, I love all types of music. I’d say I’ve always been an R&B singer but people are gonna be shocked when they hear my stuff. I’ve got a new single coming out very soon!

How did your collaboration with Naughty Boy come about?

I heard a track that he was doing and I just fell in love with it. Normally i write all my own material but i really wanted to jump on that track so I harassed my manager until I got on the track. I love Naughty, he’s just brilliant.

A lot of artists struggle with coming down from the endorphin rush of playing live. How do you snap back to reality after playing to massive crowds like today?

I’ve got a little boy and he always brings me back down to earth. I remember once getting in the car after going to something glamorous and he handed me a bogey [laughs]! He keeps me grounded and I love being a mum, it’s brilliant.

 

 

Will Heard

 What was the first festival you played?

Lawn Fest back in the day! It was about six years ago. I’d just got signed.

How do you feel you have evolved since that point?

I listen to a lot of music to influence me on many different levels. I’ve practiced a lot and honed my writing a bit more. I find lyrics I’ve written from five years ago and don’t hesitate to crumple them up like “What were you thinking?!” It’s cool because I can look back and be like, you know what, I wasn’t ready.

Let’s talk about your new EP ‘Trust’ - what was the inspiration behind that?

Life. Beep Me was a cover of Missy Elliott, who I grew up listening to so I was kind of honouring her doing that tune. Naked is about how I prefer nature to the concrete jungle that we all live in. I like to think that we could make it a lot more simple than it is now to make it better. I’ve always thought about why we wear clothes. Like if we were all naked right now it would be so different.

Which is your favourite song off the EP?

Beep Me I love so much. I created the drums on my computer, so it’s nice to feel that something I created in my bedroom is on stage. I love the flow of that song. I’ve got a new song out called Falling For You - probably next month. I’m going to release my album - hopefully in the new year.

You’re playing three headline shows in the UK this September - how do you get your head in the game before you go on stage?

Meditation. Yoga. Listening to my favourite music. Having a cold shower. Eating porridge. In any order!

 

 

James Hersey

What was the inspiration behind your track ‘Miss You’?

I wrote it at a time when I was travelling a lot - which I usually am - and I was home for a short spell but then I had to leave again. I was quite in love with a girl and needed to figure out the answers to some questions and that kind of became the song.

What is the best advice you have been given and how have you applied this to your music career?

Just to be open and to be humble to everybody, I think that’s the most important thing in music because it’s all about making and keeping real friends. Also be confident in yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things.

So what do you do to psych yourself up before going on stage?

I play with a band - there’s three of us - so we do a trust fall where we hold hands and lean back and everybody feels the weight of the other to make sure we feel as one before we go on.

How do you fight pressure from labels getting you to churn out new music?

Personally, I think it’s cooler to go at your own pace and not try to be too current if you don’t have to. There’s definitely pressure from the labels but you just tell them, “Hey you want great music? You gotta wait for it.” For me, with hundreds of millions of plays across tracks, I really wanna put out music that is gonna stay forever. It’s about making eternal tracks now.

What would you be if you weren’t a musician?

I would probably work with animals. I initially wanted to be a marine biologist. If I didn’t even study I would be a zookeeper or something just so I could be close to them. I love lions and elephants. They’re just so great and wise and powerful.

 

Louis the Child

 What is your favourite song off the ‘Love is Alive’ EP and why?

Freddy: I love Love Is Alive because I love the message that it pushes and it has a great chance of making people feel very happy and that’s what I wanna do. Also Go because it’s exciting to have my voice on some new music.

Robby: They’re both very empowering and make you feel good.

What’s the origin of your stage name?

Freddy: Wikipedia. Random article button.

Robby: We came up with a bunch of names and none of them really felt like the name. I think my sister gave me the idea. We tried it a few times and found Louis the Child and were like, “That sounds cool!” It’s wild that it came about to randomly but it feels so right.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

Freddy: Bon Iver, Kanye West, Vince Staples, Kehlani.

Robby: Kendrick Lamar. Calvin Harris. I love all his new stuff.

What’s your weirdest fan experience?

Robby: Well I guess it’s not really a fan experience but I walked in on some people having sex backstage [at LED Festival] in some random room when I was looking for the bathroom. We like to run out into the crowd during a hype moment. I’ve definitely jumped out over the barricade and had people grab my dick and stuff and I’m like, “What’s up! OK...thanks?”

What do you have planned next?

Robby: We’ve got some festivals in the States and a tour we’ll announce soon too. Hopefully an album out within the next 35 years too. I can promise you that [they both laughs]!

 

 

Sheppard

With six members in the band, how do you ensure you work fluidly together?

George: Three us are the main creative core. We’ll write the songs, go into the studio and build the album and then we’ll take it into the rehearsal space and the other three will add their little flair to it. The live show ends up being something extra to the record. It’s a bit more exciting for our fans.

Let’s talk about your new song ‘Edge Of The Night’ - what inspired that?

George: It actually started as a bit of a joke [laughs]. We were in the studio in this late night writing session and we’d had a couple of dud sessions before that and just wanted to shake things up a bit. It wasn’t necessarily for the record but something to hit the reset button with. But everyone really loved it so it turned out to be a single.

You’re currently touring with girlband sensation Little Mix - how are you finding that?

Amy: It’s lots of fun, the crowds have been incredible. We’re really surprised that people actually come early!

To what extent are your songs autobiographical?

Amy: Everyone tries to tap into each song. It might be someone else’s story but you might all have experienced something similar, so you just try to tap into that emotion and bring to the table your interpretation of that experience.

What’s your favourite song to play live?

Amy: Still Geronimo for me. It’s the song that everyone knows and no matter how many times we play it, people really love it. It’s just really energetic and fun.

George: I really like our opening song called Coming Home. It’s got this epic Coldplay intro - inspired by Mylo Xyloto. It gets me into the zone.

 

 

Mabel

To what extent you say that your songs are autobiographical?

Extremely. So far, I haven’t written a song that hasn’t been about something real to me or happened to somebody very close to me. It’s my journalling in a way.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

Solange, maybe Frank Ocean. I’d love to do an English girl group track with Jorja Smith, Ray BLK, Raye. There’s such an amazing R&B vibe coming out of the UK right now.

With a well known family in music [her mother is Neneh Cherry, her father Cameron McVey of Massive Attack], do you feel pressure to succeed in the industry?

Definitely not. My parents would have supported me no matter what I wanted to do but I think it was, for me, unavoidable. I started playing music when I was like, five and was just super into music. Growing up on tour and in studios and stuff, it was quite hard for me to avoid.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My mum always says, “Don’t let them change you”, and so far, I’m lucky because people have responded really well to me just being myself.

What is the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?

I just had a really weird one, just after my gig here. This woman had painted ‘Mabel will you marry me?’ on her stomach and had ‘Mabel’ written on her forehead and made me a little ring out of plastic. She was like late twenties, early thirties and was like, “Will you marry me?” and I was like, “I don’t know you, I will not commit at this point, I’m sorry” [laughs].

 

Interview by Aimee Phillips  
@aimeephillips94

Photography Jack Alexander 
www.jackalexanderphotography.co.uk

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