I have been speaking with Tina Boonstra…
about her new track, Find You, and how it came together. She reveals whether there is a concept behind her song series, Underrated Animals, and what the next single will be; how she got into music and which albums are important to her.
Boonstra tells me what gigs she has coming up and whether she gets time to chill away from music; what advice she would give to artists coming through and which rising band we need to get involved with.
Hi, Tina. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I’m pretty good, thanks. I released a new song called Find You on Friday, so it’s been a pretty nerve-wracking week, but good fun too.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer-songwriter based in London, but (like most people in London) I’m not really a Londoner. I like to say I’m from Liverpool, because I spent my teenage years on the outskirts of the city but, unfortunately, I don’t have the accent so no-one ever believes me.
Find You is your new single. What is the story behind the song?
Find You is realising how completely un-self-sufficient I am. I have a tendency to slip into thinking that I don’t need anyone or anything to be happy. I’m fine on my own and, if stay focused and work hard enough, I’ll get what I want. But, the truth is, it doesn’t work like that. I hate to admit it, but I can’t survive this city and this life on my own. If I try to; I either end up living like a robot, not really feeling or enjoying anything, or a total wreck on the floor. Usually, both. It’s a disaster. Find You is about being honest about that and trying to figure out a way back to the things that matter.
I understand it is part of a series of songs called Underrated Animals. Is there a concept behind the tracks and what compelled you to release a series?
It happened by accident, really. As we were recording this project, I realised that all the songs explored the idea of weakness or smallness from a different perspective.
When it came to designing the cover art; we had this idea to use unpopular animals to depict each song, as a way to try and celebrate the small and the weak. That’s how the idea came about to release all the songs as a series.
Why should we always talk about the pandas? Or the lions? What if I’m not a panda? What if I’m a pangolin or a jellyfish? Should I try to change who I am? Try to be bigger, louder; more appealing? Everyone wants to be strong but, if we try that, we end up all the same. In this project, I wanted to celebrate the small and overlooked. And, hopefully, get people thinking about how great small is and how powerful weak can be - maybe we’re all just underrated animals?
When might another single come forward? Are you releasing a new song at regular intervals?
The next single is called Flicker and will be out early next year
Growing up in a missionary family; how did that affect you in terms of music being played and when music came into your life?
My parents weren’t really that into music, so my main exposure to music at the start of my life was the Gospel music that was sung in my church in South Africa. Some of it is pretty wild and raucous which I loved and still do. Then, there are other songs in that genre which come from such a deep place; it’s hard not to be moved by them.
It was great, but also quite restrictive. Thankfully, I have three older sisters who eventually started sharing their music collection with me. From Nirvana to Elvis; whatever they were into, I was into as well; for a better or for worse.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alice Greenfield
Which artists did you discover young and become involved with?
Because of my slightly limited exposure to music growing up, I have so many memories of coming across new music as a teenager and being completely blown away; from Bob Dylan to No Doubt. I loved discovering new artists. Jeff Buckley had a particular impression on me. I was pretty obsessed with the album Grace as a teenager.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Well. Releasing music can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I hope people will connect with the new song and I hope I manage to stay human through the process.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
It’s an incredible feeling when you’ve worked on a song which describes a time or feeling in your life to hear other people connect with that song. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Oooh; only three? I don’t know. I’m very fickle so I’ll probably change my mind depending on which day you ask me. Today; I think I’d say
Grace - Jeff Buckley
A Black Mile to the Surface - Manchester Orchestra
Chutes Too Narrow - The Shins
Such different artists writing such incredible songs. All of them have had a big impact on my life personally and as a songwriter.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I’m playing at the Hope & Anchor on 25th October and at The Finsbury on 6th Dec. More info on my website.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Tough choice. There are so many great bands around right now. Maybe Manchester Orchestra. I think they’re doing amazing things at the moment.
When it comes to a rider, I’m a simple creature. I don’t need much. Just some water would do me. My band, on the other hand...
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Make exactly the music that you want to make. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Do what you want to do and do it because you love doing it. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters.
IN THIS PHOTO: VOS
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There’s this new band called VŌS that are doing pretty cool things right now. You should check them out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I’m a big fan of wild swimming. There’s nothing quite like it. I’m a bit of an introvert, really. I like reading books or being outdoors in the countryside.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I Was Alive Back Then - Kevin Devine
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