SHE made the news last year after conducting a mass singalong…
following a cancelled Adele concert. I have been speaking with Yazzy about that experience and what it feels like to have inspired so many people; which artists she takes to heart; the albums that mean the most to her – whether she has anything exciting planned for this year (so far).
Yazzy talks to me about her new E.P., Illusion of Love (Live in Studio), and which song from it stands out; what she did for Christmas (the interview was completed in December); the new artists we need to check out – and how she turns heartache and failed love into something hopeful and inspiring.
Hi, Yazzy. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! Absolutely amazing, thank you. It’s currently Christmas week and me and my siblings were given a puppy!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas, too!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name’s Yazzy. I’m an eighteen-year-old singer/songwriting based in gorgeous North Devon. I’ve been writing, performing and recording since the age of ten.
I am a full-time musician; I sing for a lot of charities including Children's Hospice South West and ChemoHero (of which I am a patron). I gig three/four times a week. I describe myself as over emotional and over-excitable.
If you were to meet me, you’d notice I’m very chatty, bubbly and giggly…and my music is very emotional and heartwrenching. Haha!
Illusion of Love (Live in Studio), your new E.P., is out on 3rd January. Can you tell me about the themes and ideas that inspired its creation?
So…Illusion of Love is an E.P. written about love, heartbreak and life experiences.
Is there a song on the E.P. that stands out to you? Which one makes the biggest impression?
For me; it’s Heal Me - as it’s not written about boys, love or heartbreak. Its written about a very dark time in my life where I was completely lost, unmotivated and didn’t believe in myself.
I’d lost the spark - and this song is written about wanting my mind to be healed.
It seems heartache and personal conflicts are a part of your ethos and songwriting. Do you think music is a positive way of turning something hard into a positive moment?
I think songwriting is a positive way of making something good out of something bad. A lot of my songs are written about bad experiences in my life - but at least I can turn around and say: “Hey; well at least I got a song out of that”.
Music, really, is like therapy: it’s there for you to pour your heart into.
You started writing and recording music aged ten. Was there a single moment where you decided this is what you wanted to do? How do you think your music has developed since then?
The moment, for me, when I knew it was what I wanted to do was when I was ten. I’d written my first couple of songs and recorded them in my friend’s dad’s garden-shed on a little Dictaphone. He used to burn them on C.D.S (for me) for me and mum to listen to in the car.
I thought it was so cool. I knew music was the only thing for me as soon as I started.
PHOTO CREDIT: Emzi Porcupine Hyam
You are still only eighteen, mind! Was your childhood filled with good music around the house? Which artists did you experience growing up?
Yes! my mum has great taste in music.
She used to own a shop and the albums she would have played were from artists such as Eva Cassidy, Amy Winehouse; Etta James, Nina Simone and Sam Cooke. I think you can tell, in the music I write today, that I was brought up with such soulful music.
IN THIS PHOTO: JP Cooper/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Both of these artists are so heartfelt and pure. For me, it’s the songwriting that JP and Frances create that is (just) magic.
IN THIS PHOTO: Frances/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
If you had the chance to select the three albums that mean the most to you – which would they be and why?
Not including my own; I would say Simply Eva by Eva Cassidy
I grew up listening to it. I sing Over the Rainbow and Songbird at most gigs.
JP Cooper - Raised Under Grey Skies
I love this album as its quite a recent discovery. There’s a few tracks on the album like Closer, The Only Reason and, especially, In the Silence, where the lyrics really resonate with me. This brings me on to my final choice….
Things I’ve Never Said by Frances
I love every single track on the album: literally every track is great but, in particular, Cloud 9, Don’t Worry About Me; Say It Again (because it’s my dad’s favourite song I cover) and The Last Word. I’m convinced The Last Word is one of the greatest songs ever created and, if you love a good cry like I do, it’s the song for you.
Is there any advice you would give to fellow artists coming through right now?
Stay true to yourself and try not to really listen to anyone else’s opinions. It’s good to get people involved with your music and journey - but don’t let people’s opinions affect how you feel about things.
It’s your journey, not theirs.
I guess conducting a mass singalong after a cancelled Adele concert must count as a personal highlight?! Did you expect so many people to singalong and participate?! How do you feel looking back at that time?
It was one of the best nights of my life. Even if there were three people there it would have been (just) as amazing. It was just SO nice to be surrounded by people who love and appreciate music.
You have performed with Jake Bugg and for Camilla and Prince Charles. Have these moments inspired you to aim big and high?
100%. I’d love, one day, for people to be as excited to perform to me as I was to perform to Jake Bugg, Princes Charles and Camilla...
It does make you feel really inspired to aim high because, for example, with Jake Bugg, it’s a completely different life if you get your lucky break. We all start off the same gigging in pubs, busking etc. and the journey is still the same - just on a bigger, more exposed scale with more opportunities.
I’d love to be as successful as Jake Bugg.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I have lots of gigs coming up but, in particular, I have my album launch at The Pier House, Westward Ho! on 5th January! I’m looking forward to that one, in particular, because I’ve organised it all myself - and I’m supported by Giardino Strings (a London-based string quartet).
I know the evening will inspire me so much and start the year off on a high.
Do you have plans for this year already?
2018 starts with the launch of my E.P., Illusion of Love, on 3rd January - and then the launch evening on the 5th (January).
What are your aims and ambitions for 2018?
In 2018; my New Year’s resolution is to write at least a song a week. I want to get really creative, write lots of songs and record - release a lot of songs while gaining a larger following.
That’s my aim for 2018.
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).
Frances – The Last Words (Live) – dscvr Ones to Watch 2016