IT can be hard juggling…
academic duties and songwriting demands! Esme Bridie tells me about that balance and what we can expect from her forthcoming album, Today It Rains (out on 23rd March). I ask her about her studies and what she hopes to achieve; the artists who have inspired her most – what touring dates she has coming up.
The young songwriter tells me about working with producer Colin McKay and what advice she would give to fellow artists; if there is a standout memory from her time in music; making music in Merseyside – and why knitting has come into her life!
Hi, Esme. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I am good, thank you. My week has been good so far. It’s been a cold one, though: lots of staying inside and avoiding this weather!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a singer-songwriter from Merseyside - taking influence from classic artists such as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.
It has been pretty cold and snowy recently. Have you been affected by it? Does it provide you more time to stay in and make music?
Yeah. I’m currently in Leeds and it’s pretty snowy here! My uni has closed for a couple of days which means I have been able to stay in and write songs - without feeling guilty for not going to the library and writing my essays instead. Haha.
Your debut album, Today It Rains, is out on 23rd March. What sort of themes and ideas compelled the songwriting?
The songs on this album were written over the past couple of years. The themes include love, loss; loneliness, standing up for yourself and hopefulness – so, all the usual emotions you get at twenty-one. Hah!
Is there a song from the album that stands out from the pack – the one you feel closest to?
Hmmm…it’s so hard to pick one…but I think I’d have to say Only Lonely People. I wrote it at a bit of a low point about a year-and-a-half ago - and I just love how this version came out. It’s quite simple with just backing vocals mainly but, for me, the recording perfectly captures the emotion I had when I wrote it.
Shout out to Ellie Rose Smith and Thom Morecroft who sang backing vocals on it!
Colin McKay produced. What was it like working with him on the album?
It was wonderful working with Colin. I learnt a lot from him regarding production and arrangement. We did a lot of the production stuff together in the summer when we spent about eight hours a day on it. It’s a good thing he had some entertaining stories to keep us in good spirits! Even though it was hard work; I miss that time of working with Colin.
It was a unique experience.
I understand Today It Rains was recorded in parts – you were travelling to and from university to your home. Was it quite a difficult album to put together?
Yes. I am currently finishing my degree at Leeds College of Music but my family home is on the Wirral - so I have been very much between the two for a while. It hasn’t been too bad, really. I did have to travel back a lot - but that just meant I had a lot of songwriting time on the train (which is never a bad thing).
You are a young artist but have an exceptional ear for melody! Which musicians, do you think, are responsible for that? Which artists did you grow up around?
I am inspired by artists like Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Carole King. More current artists include the Staves, Lucy Rose and Laura Marling. So, I suppose, it’s a mix up of all of those.
What is the music scene like in Merseyside? How important are the people and the environment to you?
I love gigging in Liverpool. There is such a lovely atmosphere there for my kind of music. People will come out to gigs all the time; just because they love hearing new music. It is usually a very encouraging and friendly vibe from the audience and from other artists.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Yes! I am touring my album in March. I will play Leeds, Liverpool; Manchester London and York. Then, I have a couple of nice Leeds gigs booked in for April - as well as Focus festival in Wales in May.
It’s all looking very exciting!
Is the stage somewhere you love? Do you change your sound – compared to the studio – when you hit the stage?
I always get very nervous right before I go on stage and then, as soon as I’m up there, I just focus all of that energy into the emotion of the songs. I love performing. It sounds a little bit hippy but it kind of takes me out of myself in a way. It is such an awesome adrenalin-rush that, sometimes, it doesn’t feel real. I think that my sound in the studio is pretty similar to how I am live.
That’s what I like to go for when I record, anyway: just trying to capture my natural sound.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
2018 is looking like a very busy year for me! I’ll be finishing my degree and releasing my first album - so that feels pretty big right now. After that; I want to just keep gigging as much as possible, write more and see where it all leads.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I played solo at the Royal Albert Hall last November as part of the Music for Youth showcase. It was incredible! That is a very special musical memory for me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Well. I am still a new artist myself but, from my experience to this point; I guess I have learnt that you have to really love the creative part. You have to be almost addicted to the writing process and the performing - because all the other stuff around it, like the business side, can feel quite overwhelming at times.
However, if you love it enough; it won’t matter and you’ll just keep pushing.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love being creative with my hands - like painting or sewing. My most-recent hobby at the moment, though, is knitting. I have made a scarf - and I am currently working on a patchwork blanket. It’s so relaxing!
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).
Okay. Here is a song that came on my Spotify playlist while I was answering these questions: it’s called The Sweetest Thing by Camera Obscura. I love it. It is so uplifting!
Follow Esme Bridie