Singer

Austel – Interview

Tuesday 17th April 2018

Having spent the majority of her time dedicating herself to music, Annie Rew Shaw learnt to play piano from the age of 5 and is also classically trained.  She was part of a jazz band at school and also spent time as part of a musical theatre group. Instead of going to University, Annie decided to move to London to continue to pursue her musical career further.  She has since gone on to perform at Glastonbury Festival and support artists such as Fleet Foxes and Rumour Cubes, to name a few. Now, working under her alias as Austel, sees Annie release her debut single “Crows”, a beautiful expressive track, which relates to the anxiety felt within the unknown.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you become a singer/songwriter, and what made you decided to make a career out of music?

I started learning the piano when I was five and was classically trained in both piano and singing. Music has always been a huge part of my life – my parents are both musicians and it was a huge part of my childhood. I was in my school jazz band and went to a musical theatre group for years, so grew up on quite a healthy mix of genres. I always wrote little songs and poems growing up, but started thinking about them more seriously when I was around 12. I had quite a tough time at school and songwriting was a real release – a way to gather my thoughts and find my own way. I loved acting and writing at school, but music always had that extra pull for me. It’s always felt like a very natural part of who I am, and in that way I guess it was an inevitable path. Instead of going to university, I decided to move to London and make a go of it, and I’ve been here ever since! It’s not always easy finding the balance between making music and making rent, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from when writing your songs?

For most of my life, I’ve written songs on the piano or guitar, so they’ve often had that singer-songwriter, folky feel. However, in more recent years I’ve started to experiment with more electronic soundscapes and writing from bass lines and beats. So I think Austel is a real mixture of that – classic songwriting with dark, electro-pop vibes. I take a lot of inspiration from human emotion and relationships – not just those with people, but with ourselves and the world. I’ve always been quite a sensitive, empathetic person; I soak up a lot of what goes on around me. I also get really inspired by books, TV shows, art – anything that evokes a story or strong sense of relatability.

You released your single “Crows” a couple of weeks ago. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been amazing to release my own music after years of working on the sound and trying to find the right home for my songs. There’s been a great response to the single so far – some really lovely reviews in the press, which is nice to see. It feels great to get the ball rolling.

What’s the story behind the song?

I wrote ‘Crows’ with Adam Stark (my producer and bandmate) at the end of 2016, which was a year where I’d had to make some big personal decisions and change a lot of things in my life. The song felt like a new beginning; not for the project but also a mindset – that I could let go of the things that were holding me back.

There are only 5 lines to the song, which are repeated throughout. Was that intentional?

It’s designed to be a kind of mantra; ‘I don’t have to go where you go / I don’t have to speak when you don’t’ was a reminder to myself to seek inner strength and follow my own gut, rather than constantly seeking the validation of others.

The accompanying video is simple and effective, and works really well with the song. Who did you work with to create the video, and how did it feel seeing it finished?

Thank you! It was directed by my friend Dominique Croshaw, who’s a brilliant visual artist in her own right. We made it together in Kingston last year and it felt great to release it alongside the single. The video’s designed to represent the notion that sometimes you have to fall apart to put yourself back together again in the right way. It’s a continuous journey and about finding peace with the different parts of yourself.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Yep, there’s an EP on the way this summer! It’s called Unfold – I can’t wait to share it with you.

You have quite a background supporting other artists. Could you tell me more about your experiences and who you’ve enjoyed working with?

I moved to London a few days after my 19th birthday, only knowing two people in the city. That year, I played Glastonbury Festival as part of a project formed by Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly), and it was through that that I met an amazing group of musicians (including Adam and Terry who both perform in Austel) and my other collaborations have all stemmed from there. I’ve had some amazing experiences – supporting Fleet Foxes last year with Lyla Foy, touring the UK with Rumour Cubes and Munro Fox, performing gigs of all shapes and sizes across the city. I love all of the projects I’ve been part of. They’ve helped me grow so much as a musician and a human being, and introduced me to some of my best friends.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing or performing, are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy?

I love writing and drawing – they’re both also pretty important creative outlets for me. Long walks listening to records. Reading. Art exhibitions, museums, gigs, theatre shows. Brunch. Can brunch be a hobby?

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

I think my ultimate aim is to create music that makes people feel less alone. To create some sort of relatability – a connection. That’s what I personally love about it; how songs can lift you up out of the darkest places, wrap themselves around you or help you tap into feelings you can’t make sense of. In terms of where I hope music will take me, I would love to be able to travel and see more of the world. Meet more people, create amazing memories. Making music with people I love is the best thing for me and I’m very grateful to be able to do so.

Connect with Austel via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

How did you find the process of putting the album together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Marie Naffah – Interview

Monday 19th March 2018

Winning MTV’s Unsigned Artist Of The Year, selling out London’s The Lexington, giving TED Talks regarding the stigma behind disability in the music industry and all before releasing any music. With industry experts tipping her for big things, soulful singer-songwriter Marie Naffah finally releases her debut single “Let Me Wilt”, showing that “being yourself has never been cooler”. It all started in 2014 after Marie uploaded a YouTube video, leading to her being titled MTV’s Unsigned Artist Of The Year, putting her with the likes of Sam Smith, George Ezra and Ella Eyre. Soon Marie released ‘Blindfold’, the project where she delved into the stigma surrounding disability in the music industry and how we should tackle it, in response to her Grandmother losing her sight. The passion project led to Naffah giving TedTalks, making a documentary and gaining national coverage. Through the ‘Blindfold’ project, Marie met Kevin Satizabal, a blind pianist with whom she collaborates and plays live with at all gigs.

Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was about 14 years old. From then, I started writing songs – albeit badly. Any occasion – birthday, christmas – you name it, there’d be a tune that my family would have to endure. When I was 18, I opened my eyes to the world of the London music scene, gigging everywhere and anywhere to audiences big and small. From then I was hooked I suppose. It was when I was awarded MTV’s Unsigned Artist of the Year a few years back I suddenly became much more serious about the whole thing.

Your latest single “Let Me Wilt” is due for release on the 23rd March. Could you tell me about the single, and how are you feeling about getting new music out there? 

I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new music. Last summer was one of the most intense of my life – I got on a Greyhound bus from New York to Pittsburgh (after a series of Sofar Sounds shows) which led me to my new US manager, who introduced me to Tyler Watkins and the team at Postal recording in Indianapolis. I think the music we made together captures some of that Americana feel. We wanted something timeless – as most artists do I suppose. The guys at Postal were magicians. ‘Let me Wilt’, the first single, serves as a heading to the next chapter and I could not be more excited to be putting it out there with complete creative control.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from?

My writing process tends to be rather private. It’s an unsatisfying answer but you do just sort of ‘know’ when a song is ready. The good ones tend to come out all at once. Sometimes I will play around with lyrics afterwards, but normally when it’s done you’ll feel it. My manager is great at providing advice without stepping on my toes. It’s a real skill and I’m really thankful for his input.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

I started off as a lyric-driven, acoustic singer-songwriter, back when Laura Marling and Ed Sheeran were the king and queen of the cutting-edge music scene. Recently, things have moved forward and I’ve looked back – looking at old souls like Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Janis Joplin. Influences from my generation include those who will never fail to stand out in a crowd, the girls who went against the grain – Florence Welch, Amy Winehouse.

Are you looking to release an EP or an album in the near future?

I’m playing the single game at the moment. It seems right considering the music industry currently with curated playlisting ruling the show. I plan to go back to Indianapolis to finish the LP. My goal is to have an album full of single-worthy songs.

How does the single compare to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist?

I feel much stronger as an artist. I feel more sure about the sound I want to make and I felt a confidence in the studio that I’d never felt before. The result is bigger, more mature and the variety of weird and wonderful instruments make for that fuller, brighter sound. However had I not written the previous material, I wouldn’t have got to here.

How did it feel winning the MTV Unsigned Artist of the Year award back in 2014, and how has it since helped you with your music career? 

Being awarded MTV’s Unsigned Artist of the Year will be something that I will cherish forever. It led me to experience some great opportunities and connect with some great personalities who have stuck by me and offered me true advice. Having such a powerhouse choose me will always be something I am grateful for.

Your project ‘Blindfold’ is about raising awareness of the stigma behind disability in the music industry. Could you tell more about why this is something you feel passionately about, and what you feel the music industry should be doing about this?

The ‘Blindfold’ project has also been a highlight of my music career thus far. I started the project originally with a song I’d written about my grandmother who had lost her sight. The song explored the concept of blindness and the documentary is built around that song. Having teamed up with six visually impaired musicians and hearing their stories, I started to realise how discriminative and close-minded the music industry can be, especially to those with disability. I gave a TED talk about this very matter – I don’t have a big, ground breaking solution but I do want to help raise awareness and help the music industry become a more inclusive place. If a few more people are talking about it then maybe, slowly, things will change. It’s 2018, it’s ridiculous that someone who is blind should be turned down from playing a gig.

I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed you did a performance a little while back. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience?

Lucky you for being introduced to Sofar Sounds! I was approached by Rafe Offer, the co-founder of Sofar Sounds, while I was in session at Soho Radio. He told me about the concept. I have now played shows around the world with Sofar. London, Oxford, Brussels, Berlin, San Francisco, Boston, New York… so many. The initiative is flawless and I am so pleased they are gleaning more attention in the global press. It really is a special thing. Every time I walk into a Sofar, wherever it is in the world, it feels like coming home.

You’ll be performing your biggest gig to date on the 9th April at the Omeara in London. How are you feeling about the show and are there any songs in particular you’re looking forward to performing live?

There is no greater feeling for me than playing live. It really is my favourite thing to do. So yes, I am giddy with excitement to play my biggest gig to date. We had such a blast at the Lexington in January and I’m ready to get back on stage again. As for songs… I love playing all of them, but my band is particularly breathtaking in our new cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’. They are just so cool. So yes, come dance with me.

Connect with Marie Naffah via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Lumley set to release new single “Skyhigh” on March 15th

Wednesday 14th March 2018

Penned as one of my artists to watch back in the Autumn of 2017, Cambridge born singer/songwriter Tom Lumley has wasted no time in putting the finishing touches together on his next release.  Last year put a solid stake in Tom’s music career, after being awarded the Best Male Solo Artist at the NMG awards, and also being picked up by the likes of BBC Introducing. Fresh off the back of the success of his previous single “Just Like The Light”, which really gave Tom and his band another well-earnt peg up, and riding high after a year of performing a string of live dates, tomorrow sees the release of his next single “Skyhigh”.

Speaking with Tom last year about his plans for an upcoming EP or album release, he explained that “At the moment I’m going to stick with singles. I have a locker full of songs but I don’t want to rush it and just chuck them out there. I’m going to try and keep building the fan base whilst releasing singles until I think it’s the right time for an album”.  

Being fortunate enough to grab an advance copy of the latest single, it was pleasing to hear that “Skyhigh” continues to live up to expectations. Uplifting with it’s indie-pop vibes, and catchy with its lyrics that talk of a one-sided relationship, the track is very catchy and vocally pleasing.  Tom has a great voice with a harmonious tone, which often becomes more strident.

Alongside the release, tomorrow is also the final day of the current tour, which will also be a launch show for the single taking place in Tom’s hometown of Cambridge at the Portland Arms. If you fancy heading out and supporting new music, then grab yourself one of the remaining few tickets here.

Connect with Tom Lumley via his Facebook and Twitter.

Elesa Marmo – Interview

Sunday 25th February 2018

Elesa Marmo is a singer/songwriter from Long Island, New York.  She’s been writing music since she could remember. After many years of wanting to pursue music, as well as releasing music as part of the indie duo The Wilts, Elesa most recently released her debut EP, titled “Clear Blue,” which has been produced by Greg Almeida (of alt rock band VISTA). Growing up listening to a large variety of mainstream pop artists, her original music is heavily influenced with electronic sounds and soft acoustic feels and blends those sounds perfectly.  I catch a moment with Elesa to find out how it’s all going since the release of her first solo EP.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hello! I’m Elesa. I’m a singer/songwriter from Long Island. I’m 23 years old. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, I remember watching all my favorite pop stars when I was little perform and all I wanted was to be on stage just like them. Once I taught myself guitar and could put music to my lyrics is when it really set in that this is what I want to do. 

You have recently been part of the successful indie duo The Wilts. What was the decision behind moving away from this and pursuing a solo career?

I think we both just really wanted to make our own stuff. We made one EP together but unfortunately didn’t get to play live shows together. He’s great though, he’s got music out as his solo project called Lated and he’s in a band called Shorebreak as well and he’s so talented so definitely check him out! We will I’m sure do some shows eventually but we just wanted to kind of explore our own styles and find ourselves musically.

Your first EP “Clear Blue” was released in January. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Everything I’ve seen has been so lovely. The responses have been so positive so far so I’m over the moon!

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

Everything was just so exciting and new to me having full creative control and just really finding my sound. I don’t think there were really any hurdles, I guess maybe some writers block at some points but it really just all flowed out.

What about the final track listing, were there tracks any that didn’t make the cut?

I always knew I wanted a four track EP so I really focused on making four really solid songs, I was proud of but of course as a writer I have my book of songs from when I was a kid to now of lyrics.

How did the opportunity come about to work with Greg Almeida, and how was the experience for you?

We went to college together and he did The Wilts EP and we always said during that process that we wanted to work together. The experience working with him was incredible he really knows so much about the production side and he would help me so much with writing as well and just made the songs sound exactly how I wanted and would hear things I didn’t even think of to add to them.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from?

It’s different every single time. Usually it’s lyrics first for me but it can be music first. Greg really was the person I went to with lyrics and ideas and we would take it from there.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Stevie Nicks has always been an idol of mine. I love Lorde as well and her style and Carly Rae Jepsen, me and Greg listened to her while making this and we love her so much. I love Miley Cyrus too I’ve always been a big fan of hers.

What’s the music scene like in Long Island, and are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

It’s small but it’s nice. I think being near such a big city it’s great too. I haven’t performed live yet since it’s the first EP but there’s some venues of course I wanna try out!

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’m currently working on getting the production ready for some live shows so that’s my focus right now. I’ll hopefully make some new music and just see where this takes me!

Connect with Elisa Marmo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Nath Bravo – Interview

Thursday 22nd February 2018

Hailing from Mexico, but currently residing and performing in London, Nath Bravo has already spent a lot of time in the music industry pursuing opportunities. Having won a competition back in 2015 with an original song called “Alma Ajena” (foreign soul), Nath went on to write demos and took her first trip to London.  After 2 months in the capital she had played at over 30 venues and released her first single “Mercy” Nath was later discovered through one of her videos on Facebook and was asked to join the Vidanta group in Mexico, for which she spent 6 months as part of the team.  Following on from this Nath went back home to start focusing on her songwriting and creative journey. Now, with a brand new EP and single “Shadowman”, which was released at the end of November, she’s currently gigging all around London promoting and performing her own original music.


You have quite a musical background, and although you’re only 21 it sounds as though you’ve already spent a lot of time in the industry.  How have you found the experiences so far, and how has it helped you to develop and get to where you are today?

Well, I think it’s been a whole journey. Each phase I’ve gone through has built something different and in retrospect, it’s all been pushing me somehow till the point I’ve turned into this person. When you spend so much time and passion on something you believe in, you get the purest relationship with it, and the more I get into music, the more I get into myself. I’ve still got many many things to experience and I’m sure that in one year, they’ll bring me to another different phase without even noticing; I guess that’s how it works.

Do you feel that you have reached the point of finding the authentic sound and style that you were looking for with your music?

Authenticity is something that happens when you are truly honest on what you do, so, I think I’ve kept on being like that with everything I write and perform. That being said, I’m at the moment really happy with my sound, so I’m enjoying the feeling cause, at the end, I think it’s all about finding something that feels right. To trust your instinct and to own it is always gonna take you to a good place. I like to surprise myself.

You were born in Mexico but have spent time in London recording and performing. What is the music scene like in Mexico, and what was the decision to bring your music over this side of the pond?

I think Mexico is rich in culture and there are many talented creative souls out there, I love it. It’s interesting, different from the one here, as any other music scene, obviously, but the Mexican music has a special place in my heart. A couple of years ago, when I was living in Vancouver, a dear friend of mine recommended me to come to London to try my music out, and so I did. I came in the summer of 2016 and loved it; I guess it’s a place where I got a lot of my influences from, so, it just felt right to do it. This city is a sort of capital for music and therefore has many platforms and great opportunities for upcoming artists, which is wonderful. You should always be free to go out there and find the places and things that work for you.

Are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

I think The Water Rats has been one of my favorites. It’s such a great place to perform; intimate and nice vibe.

It’s been a few months now since the release of your EP.  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been good, I think that every time you release your work it’s a bit scary cause you are giving a bit of yourself for the world to listen and you never know what the response is going to be like, but I’ve seen that people have liked what I’m doing, so it’s been good, I’m glad!

Your latest single “Shadowman” has the most beautiful video to accompany it.  Who did you work with for the video, and where was it shot?

Thank you! It was filmed and completely made by my talented brother Aaron Bravo, mainly while on a road-trip in Iceland. I told him the meaning behind the song and the vibe, and he just instantly got it and brought his magic to the project. There’s a “male intervention” which was shot in Mexico.

Could you tell me about the single and the meaning behind it?

Well, in “Shadowman” the lyrics are quite personal, and still relatable. It’s a tribute to fear and the way I feel when it happens. I was able to experience it myself by the time that I wrote the song, so it just came naturally. It’s like you are a kid, trapped in a cage that only you can destroy, it’s a chaotic state of mind, but still, pretty fascinating as well. 

What’s your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?

I think it depends. A song can just happen and sometimes I make the song happen. Sometimes I have a very specific idea in my mind to be portrayed, and some others I just sit in front of the piano and let it be as it emerges, and as soon as I get something half decent, I keep on working on it until I feel it’s ready; I guess I just feel it. Once it’s almost done, I send it to some good people I trust to know what they think and to know if it’s not only cool in my mind.

You were invited to join the group Vidanta back in 2016, which you were part of for 6 months. What was the decision behind not continuing with the band, and what is it about being a solo artist that has made you pursue this instead?

Well, Vidanta is a big resort in Mexico and I was invited to the group as a solo artist, so I was headlining shows pretty much every day. It was a step I needed to take in order to get more experience and I’m grateful it happened. After 6 months I just felt it was right for me to continue with my own path and project so I left to focus on my songwriting and production, but I think I’ve been a solo artist my whole life, I just started making my own thing and it’s just worked out, however I do love to collaborate with other people, to share ideas and so on.

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

To connect with people is always gonna be the ultimate aim, I think. I hope it leads me to a point where I can inspire the audience, that’d be amazing, and I always dream about being on the road, so maybe everywhere!

Connect with Nath Bravo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Irene Skylakaki – Interview

Monday 19th February 2018

Born in Greece, Irene Skylakaki studied in London before moving back to Athens to pursue music full time; an endeavour that led to her releasing two critically acclaimed albums in her native country. She has also supported such artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Jessie Ware, Beirut, Daughter, and Cass McCombs. After returning to the Capital, Irene forged her path onwards through serendipitous circumstances – she met Lola Marlin (Director of Sarm Studios), who introduced her to producer Danton Supple, while trying to retrieve a lost dog in Maida Vale. This meeting led Irene to writing an albums worth of material within two weeks, containing the songs which form her upcoming EP “Planet”.

How did it all start for you, and what was the decision behind making a career out of music?

At school I guess I was a bit immature and didn’t have a lot of interests. The only thing I really cared about was music. I studied Law in London to prove to myself (and my parents) that I was capable of academic success, but I soon realised that I was following a path that wouldn’t lead me somewhere. I always wrote songs on the side and was lucky enough to be picked up by a Greek producer who loved my music and helped me make it in Greece. Having released two albums in Greece which did well, I felt like I owed it to myself to try to pursue music on a larger scale, for a wider audience, so I returned to London and met Danton Supple, who produced my upcoming album ‘Matterless’. It all happened very quickly and quite serendipitously.

You originate from Greece, but how does the music scene compare to the UK?

The Anglophone music scene in Greece is quite small. In London it truly feels like the sky is the limit, with so many incredible talents from all over the world residing in just one city. I believe it’s the right environment for an artist to blossom and it’s really a matter of endurance and staying focused, as London can be a very hard city to survive in financially, as a rising musician.

Your debut EP “Planet” is due for release on the 16th March.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

I’m very excited. I’m an impatient person and I’ve waited so long for this release. As it’s a very different industry compared to Greece, I wanted to first find the right team here to support me with this effort, instead of just releasing everything and hoping for a miracle. As David Bowie had said in an interview about pursuing music, 50% is art and 50% is business. He always gave a 100% to both.

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Planet is a selection of songs from my new album ‘Matterless’, which will be released later this year. I didn’t want to give too much away from the album at once. I have a friend who is an artist and has great taste in music. We sat down together one day, listened to ‘Matterless’ 30 times and rated the songs. After a couple of bottles of wine, we were able to select the songs for ‘Planet’. It was a very collegial process!

Could you tell me more about the inspiration behind “Planet” and are there any artists or ventures that have encouraged you on this release?

A feeling of isolation and romantic failure inspired ‘Planet’. I love Marika Hackman, Laura Marling, The XX, Daughter, and I feel I’ve been really influenced by their sound.

How does it compare to your previous releases?

I’m older now, so hopefully my songs are more mature. I think that songs are a representation of the person who wrote them. When I release a new song, I feel like I’m releasing myself. This album is even more autobiographical than my previous ones and I feel much more ‘exposed’. In a bizarre way, I find this process very soothing. As if by sharing something so intimate, I’m exorcizing pain by helping others feel less lonely and isolated.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

Leonard Cohen is my god. He was a great songwriter from the beginning, but through the years he developed his art both musically and lyrically in an incredible manner. I believe in artists who have longevity and are not numbed and reassured by temporary success. Artists who have a fire inside them. Like Joni Mitchell, or David Bowie.

Who has been your favourite artist to support so far?

It’s a band and it’s ‘Daughter’. Apart from awesome musicians, they were super lovely people too. I have a little girl crash on Elena Tonra. Such a beautiful person and artist!

How are you feeling about your upcoming headlining show at The Islington, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to performing live?

I can’t wait! I really like The Islington as a venue and I’m sharing the stage with a brilliant greek artist and friend of mine Katerine Duska, who is travelling from Athens just for this show – it’s going to be a great night. I can’t wait to perform one of my new songs called ‘It’s Getting Darker’, which, as the title gives away, is darker and quite intense when performing live.

What have you got planned next, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I’m recording my next EP at the moment with Andres Mesa, sound engineer of Phil Manzanera, and planning more gigs for the following months. I hope my music will take me to another planet and I’d love to take you with me!

Connect with Irene Skylakaki via Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.