HER new single is fresh off the press…
so it is the perfect time to speak with Beth McCarthy. She tells me about her new single, Mr & Mrs Brown, and why Cottingham Folk Festival was a highlight of the year. I learn more about McCarthy’s musical past and how whether there will be an E.P. arriving soon. She tells me about some of the artists/albums that have inspired her and what she has planned for later in the year.
I find out about upcoming gigs and what it was like appearing on The Voice; what the music scene is like in Yorkshire (where she is from); how she got into music – and whether her parents’ tastes influenced her own direction/sound.
Hi, Beth. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! I’m really well, thanks. My week has been a little crazy. I’m over in the U.S. playing shows in Chicago and Florida - so not your average week!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Beth McCarthy and I’m a singer/songwriter from York. I’ve been singing and…well, songwriting with my acoustic guitar (who is called ‘Jeff’, in case you wondered) for seven years now. I was a contestant on The Voice U.K. in 2014 as part of Team Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) - and have, since, been doing all I can to make this crazy music dream a reality!
So far, I think it’s going pretty well.
Tell me more about the single, Mr & Mrs Brown. What is the story behind it?
Back in February 2017, my big sister got married...
Being the musical maid-of-honour; it became my job to write her first dance for her (the pressure of that, by the way, was HORRENDOUS). I asked my sister and her future-husband to write a letter to each other that they would read after the wedding - and wrote this song from those letters. I wanted it to be personal to them: not just another love song. So, Mr & Mrs Brown is the story of my sister and her husband!
The title is what they are now called - as man-and-wife…original, I know.
Listening to the song and it captivates me with its loving and passionate vocal. There is something soft and sensual about it. Has it taken a lot of hard work creating a voice that carries so many emotions?
That’s very kind of you! I’d say it’s taken a while for me to really get to know my voice and how to use it. I’ve never had the most technically brilliant voice, or a big ‘diva’ voice, and I think a pivotal moment for me was when I stopped trying to compete with those kinds of voices and started to appreciate what I could do with my own!
It’s easy to pick apart the imperfections and cracks in a vocal but they’re what make it real - I’d choose making somebody feel something with my voice than impressing them with it any day.
Can we expect any more material later in the year? Are you planning an E.P. or album?
I’m touring the U.K. in November, so you can definitely expect another single release around then. After that, I’m making big plans for 2018. I don’t want to say too much about what’s to come but, right now, is the most excited I’ve ever been about my music so...
Keep a look out!
It seems the Cottingham Folk Festival was a year-defining highlight for you. What was it about that gig that stuck in your heart?
There are some shows that remind you what you’re doing all of this for - and that was one of them.
The gig was a support slot for Lucy Spraggan - who is a truly incredible artist and songwriter - and I really have to give credit to her because she has created the most amazing fan-base. Everyone in that room was there to listen and support anyone who stepped on the stage; not just Lucy.
It’s like the whole audience was rooting for you before you’d even started singing and that’s one of the best feelings.
I guess appearing on The Voice would have been a highlight, too? How important was that experience with regards your ambition and drive?
The Voice is definitely a highlight.
It’s a strange experience as it really doesn’t compare to anything else - but it was a huge positive for me. It gave me a great platform to build from; introduced me to some great people and taught me a lot about the industry - the good and the bad parts! Thing is, a lot of people think that when you go on a show like that, you’ve made it - that you come off and you’re given management/record deal - and everything is worked out for you - but that really isn't the case.
It’s almost like you’re sky-rocketed up into success that you’ve never had before and then, as soon as you’re out of the competition, you’re left to figure out where to go next - and most of the time, the only way is down. It taught me a lot about staying motivated and, actually, how important it is to love what you do - because it’s HARD to keep going sometimes!
But, if you continue to love what you do and enjoy the journey you’re on… you really can’t fail.
What has this year been like? It seems like you have been pretty hectic…
Hectic is probably a good word to use! Hectic but amazing.
I started the year with a number–two single in the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Chart - which was just insane. I, then, played a U.K. tour and have been out to the U.S.A. twice - to play shows in Chicago and Florida. I started working with Ont’ Sofa as my management, who have already made such an impact on my life, and I’m so excited for what we have to come.
All the while, I’ve been writing my heart out into a load of new songs that I really am so proud of. So…this year has been amazing: but next year will be even better!
Talk to me about how you got into music? Was there an artist that inspired you heavily?
I actually got into music because I wanted to perform!
I’ve loved being on stage since I was young and went through all sorts of outlets of performance - from acting to musical theatre; to being in a crazy Rock band as a pre-teen. I ended up settling on singing and writing with an acoustic guitar (a little mellower than electric guitars and heavy drums!) and went straight into playing gigs at thirteen.
I can’t really pinpoint a particular artist that made me want to do what I do: I think I was always more inspired by great performers than I was music. I loved people like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury - who were all incredible frontmen - so I guess it goes back to that love of performance and (just) wanting to get up in front of people!
Was there a lot of music in the house as a child? Did your parents expose you to a lot of music?
My dad has always been really into Rock music so I grew up listening to AC/DC, Meatloaf; Deep Purple and Queen. My sister always loved acting, so I think I got into doing shows and performances because of her. Other than that; I wouldn't say we had a hugely musical household. My parents have always been super-supportive of my music, though, and come to almost all of my gigs.
I think I got them into music rather than the other way round!
You are based in Yorkshire. It seems a lot of our most promising artists come from the county. Is there something in the Yorkshire water, do you think?
Yeah - or maybe it’s in the Yorkshire puddings…
What are you doing this Christmas? Do you visit family or have other plans? Sorry to bring it up…but have you made plans?
I always take Christmas off to spend time with family.
There’s such a huge clan of us that it takes the whole holiday just to see everyone! It’ll also be the first Christmas with my new puppy - so I think I’ll be spending most of my time snuggled with him on the sofa watching Love Actually!
IN THIS PHOTO: Talmont/PHOTO CREDIT: Harvey Pearson
Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?
I know so many talented people that – but I could be here all day listing them!
You should definitely look out for Scott Quinn, Isaac Tyler; Talmont and Ella Grace - they’re all part of the Ont’ Sofa team and have some really exciting things coming up. Also, a good friend of mine, Antonio Lulic, is about to drop an E.P. - so keep an eye out for him, too.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Just love what you do; be yourself and don’t give up. Also; let yourself be happy: life is better that way.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
I’ll say Here We Are Again by Ella Grace - because it’s her new single and it’s BEAUTIFUL (so, people should hear it)
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