Part One…

I started singing as early as I can remember, naturally finding deep joy in vocal expression from a very early age. One of my most powerful childhood memories is from the age of around 5, sharing songs with my best friend at school. I took in the inlay card (with lyrics) from my mum’s Eurythmics cassettes and taught her classics like ‘The Miracle of Love’ and ‘When Tomorrow Comes’. She taught me ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music and we danced around the playground singing in glee together. I remember that our conversations at the time included discussion of the uplifting nature of singing – we naturally and instinctively knew that it was a great way to cheer us up if we were feeling sad.

I dabbled in poetry-writing as a child and adolescent, then on the cusp of my teens I remember writing a very rudimentary verse set to a melody. The delight I discovered in this creative process matched that I’d discovered from vocal expression, and the seeds of my passion for songwriting were sown. At the same time I’d also begun learning clarinet and piano, and I loved sitting at the piano for extended lengths of time experimentally combining notes and rhythms to see what they sounded and felt like. I wrote my first full song on the piano around the age of 14 and the immense satisfaction I got from writing and playing it made me feel empowered and inspired – it was the beginning of a long love-affair.

I was a relatively late starter with the guitar, picking it up in my mid-teens, and by this time I already knew that my passion lay in writing my own music to sing and that the guitar’s primary function in my life was to accompany my voice. I was an avid consumer of music too, informally studying the songwriting of a wide range of artists who moved me such as Nick Cave, Trent Reznor, Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed and Beth Orton. Beth’s music, in particular, gave me huge encouragement and raised my aspirations – the technically “imperfect” qualities that I felt made her voice so expressive and special gave me hope that I might actually be able to be a credible singer myself too; and the fact that one of my favourite songs of hers, ‘Devil Song’ (which I later recorded with Andy on our album ‘Penhayl’) comprised only 2 chords taught me that profound and moving songwriting can be achieved without harmonic complexity. In short, Beth helped me believe that a career in singing and songwriting was accessible to me.

To be continued…