THANKS to Bailey Tomkinson...
for chatting about her current single, 7 Minutes in Heaven, and its story. I ask about her musical past and the sort of artists who inspire her; she talks about St Ives and what the scene is like there – Tomkinson highlights some rising artists worth following.
I wanted to know what comes next for her and whether there are gigs; if her parents exposed her to a lot of music when she was a child and what she does when she is not recording and playing – she selects a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Bailey. How are you? How has your week been?
Action-packed! And a bit weird!
I’ve spent a bit of time in the studio, which was fun, and then I watched another local girl, Molly, win The Voice! We both actually were invited to audition at the same time but I turned it down as I didn’t think it was a good fit for me and I’d just signed a record deal but Molly only went and won it! I’m really pleased for her!
Hell of an unusual week really!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
So. I’m Bailey. I’m a nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter from sunny St Ives in Cornwall. I like to write Country melodies that hopefully even people that don’t normally like Country music will want to sing along to! I’m signed to German indie label FBP Music and when I’m not performing you can usually find me in the surf!
7 Minutes in Heaven is your new track. How did that song start life?
It was a combination of things, really.
I love movies like Dazed and Confused and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for the sense they have where in one crazy night anything can happen. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling in a song. I’m nineteen years old, so you know I love a good party and we have some GREAT parties down here in St Ives. We’ve got the beach, bonfires; surfers and guitars so I thought why not write about some of them!
Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?
Oh, yes, loads. I have a couple of London gigs coming up which I’m really looking forward to. I’m playing Boardmasters in August and a bunch of other festivals too which I’m really excited about; a new single and E.P. at some point to cram in too! I’d very much like to get on the road later in the year as well.
When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?
I’m part of the generation that grew up listening to Taylor Swift. I think Red is a brilliant album but I love all sorts of stuff. I listen to Sinatra. I love John Denver because he’s my grandad’s favourite. Also Sam Cooke, ABBA; the Dixie Chicks, Sugarland; Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Jewel - honestly, I just love music.
It sounds like you have a wide variety of musical tastes. Would that be a fair assessment? Were your parents influential in that respect?
Yes. Good music is good music, right? Irrespective of genre. Our house has always been full of music. In fact, the way my dad tells it the only way to get me to sleep as a baby was for him to carry me around in my car seat singing Elvis songs! He reckons he had a left arm like Hulk Hogan back then! As I got older, they introduced me to more and more diverse music so, one minute it’d be the Eagles, then The Stone Roses, Jann Arden or Lucinder Williams…our house is never silent!
Country music is evolving at the moment. Do you think the genre is at its most open and inventive right now?
I think it’s always been an inventive genre but there’s definitely so much going on within Country music at the moment. Kacey Musgraves is a great example and Golden Hour has been a huge influence on me. My brand of Country music has a fairly big Pop side to it and she’s inspired me to not be afraid of letting that show. There are other artists too like Kane Brown and Lil Nas X who have fused different sounds and genres in with Country music - and it’s very exciting to see that growth and broadening of appeal. It’s how we can reach new people.
I definitely feel that nothing is off the table - and that’s very inspiring to an artist.
PHOTO CREDIT: Megan Hemsworth Photography
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
One of my favourite memories was my E.P. launch gig last September. We wanted something small and intimate so we picked a place called The Queen’s here in St Ives. It was so full that people were pretty much queueing to get in! It’s where I did my first open mic and my good friends and mentors The Amigos backed me; they’re fantastic! Lots of friends and family were there; everyone was singing my song, Hey Ace.
The atmosphere was so amazing and it was one of the venues busiest nights.
You are based in Cornwall. Is there a big music scene where you are?
It’s small but mighty! Here in St Ives, there’s a bunch of young musicians that are doing well and we’re all friends and support each other! Hell, one of us won The Voice this year! We’re not a big town but you’ll find live music here pretty much every night of the year. Keep your eye out for a local keyboard player called Joe Duke. He’s like the second coming of Jerry Lee Lewis.
There’s lots of local events and festivals too, including one of the biggest festivals in the U.K. in Cornwall, Boardmasters! I’ll be playing there this summer alongside Florence + The Machine, Jorja Smith; Foals, the Wu-Tang Clan; Rudimental and Sam Fender to name a few - I’m buzzing.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Love & Forgiveness - Courtney Jaye
This was the first album that I loved every single song on. The album was Pop-Country and had this Hawaiian twist to it. I absolutely love The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, so I felt as though it was everything I loved in one album. It has certainly helped shape my music and probably me as a person! I listened to it religiously for years. It’s very hard to find now as it was taken off lots of music streaming platforms - that just adds to the appeal in a way. It’s taken on this ‘was it a dream’-like quality.
Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift
This album was the reason I do what I do. The first time I heard Mary’s Song, I was so arrested by the story. I engaged with that song on a deeper level than I had before. I started writing music after I heard this (when I was about eleven). That album kinda opened a door to Country music that I hadn’t really explored before. I grew up with John Denver and the Dixie Chicks (more traditional Country) but I soon discovered artists like Deana Carter, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood.
Gold: Greatest Hits – ABBA
I couldn’t really decide which album as I love them all. Every time I listen to them it puts me in the happiest mood - I could listen to them forever. I’ve been collecting their vinyl for years. My favourite songs by them are Hasta Mañana, Super Trouper and If It Wasn’t for the Nights. They make me feel as though I’m spinning under a disco ball in a sparkly dress.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to support Kacey Musgraves or Taylor Swift. They’re two of my biggest inspirations and I’d have the usual stuff on my rider but, if I could be very picky with my rider, I’d have some Pan di Stelle biscuits ordered in because they were my favourite when I was little and living in Italy. They’re very hard to get a hold of in the U.K.! I’d have some potato waffles! Maybe just a drop of whiskey for after the show. Haha. I’m very easily pleased though.
Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?
Yeah! I’ve got some really exciting gigs coming up. I’m really looking forward to the London ones as it’s such a change in environment to the beach town I live in! I’m also buzzing for Boardmasters as I’ve been going to that festival since I was sixteen. I’ll be playing on the stage I really wanted to perform on too!! We put everything up on my website so folks can always check out what I’m up to.
How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?
Honestly, I love both! The studio is great because it’s where you can experiment. I’ve been playing around with an ’80s Cyndi Lauper/Madonna vibe recently and really like how it’s sounding, so having that space to just try new things is great. But there’s nothing like the buzz of playing to an audience; the interaction, the chance to just go where feels right in that moment. You can’t replicate that in a studio.
I love that with live music: every single gig you share with an audience is a unique moment. I saw Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs last summer and she said something that struck a chord with me. She said: “Don’t get your cameras out and film everything: let’s just share this experience and let it live in our memories”.
IN THIS PHOTO: Maggie Rogers/PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/Rex
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yeah. Definitely Maggie Rogers. I’m really into Camera Obscura and Alvvays at the moment too! And Jenny Lewis has just released an album. I have it on-repeat! On the Country scene, I think Runaway June are superb. There are loads of British Country artists emerging that I think shows a really healthy and developing scene.
IN THIS PHOTO: Alvvays
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I’m so lucky to have such loving and supportive friends and family! One of the best things about living in a small town is that your friends are never more than fifteen minutes away! One of my favourite things to do is have a surf and then lie on the beach with my friends under the sun and listen to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole!
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).
Light On by Maggie Rodgers is such a tune!
Follow Bailey Tomkinson
PHOTO CREDIT: Megan Hemsworth Photography