Music Matters with Joell Fender

Joell Fender Interview

Next up in our Music Matters series is singer and songwriter, Joell Fender. 

Joell is one of the UK’s most in demand vocalists, having worked with with artists including, Years and Years, Sigala, Bastille, Disciples, Demi Lovato and Jessie Ware, and performed at the MTV EMA Awards, Glastonbury, Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball, the 02 Arena and on Later with Jools Holland and The Graham Norton Show.

One of the things we love most about Joell, is his commitment to every performance – his energy really is contagious (he throws some seriously killer moves, that would have even the most reluctant dancer wanting to join him on stage!) And his vocals on Bastille’s live performance with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic orchestra, are utterly stunning (watch it HERE.)

A rising star, we were thrilled Joell was able to be a part of our Music Matters series. We’re pretty sure his diary is going to fill up fast once gigs are up and running again!

What music was playing in your early years? There was a range of music always blaring out at home, loads of reggae, soul, R&B, lovers rock, my parents played it all.

What were you listening to during your teenage years? Boyz II Men, Usher, Beyoncé, Amy Winehouse, Robert Glasper, Jill Scott and a lot of soundtracks of Musicals.  

What do you enjoy listening to now? It depends on my mood but recently I’ve been listening to A LOT of 70’s soul/funk and disco…honestly can’t get enough of it.

What made you get into music? It was very natural for me. I always enjoyed singing and performing and would be obsessed with harmonising along to ANYTHING that came on the radio haha! In terms of doing it as a career…I was noticing more and more the joy it would bring me to sing, in comparison to my office job at the time, and from that I pretty much decided it’s something I wanted to do full time.

How does music typically feature in your day? When I’m showering/getting ready for the day…music is present. When I’m going to the shop to pick up things for the house…music is present! When I’m cleaning the house or cooking music is definitely present. Lol! Safe to say music is featuring in everything I do…I’m usually lost in my own world creating visuals in my mind to whatever I’m listening to!

Joell Fender Music Matters

What was the last thing you listened to? ‘I’ll Be Your Radio’ by Jarrod Lawson Feat. Moonchild.

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Yasmin Green! My bestieeee. Honestly one of the most gifted singer/songwriters I know. Her EP ‘After All These Years’ is truly stunning.

What was the most memorable gig/festival you went to, and why was it so memorable? I performed at PukklePop festival one year and managed to catch Solange’s set. Was blown away. Her performance and conviction, the set design, the styling and choreography was just ELITE. I remember leaving and thinking that I want my shows to look like that.

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? ‘Always and Forever’. Originally by Heatwave, but the Luther Vandross version is EVERYTHING.

Do you ever use music to change your mood? I wouldn’t say I use music to change my mood however, I definitely tend to play music in accordance with what I’m feeling. If I’m a little down, I’ll allow myself to be in that space for a little while and play something sombre/slow paced. If I’m pissed off, I’ll ABSOLUTELY be playing something more aggressive. I think we should all allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling and I think music has a great way of enhancing these feelings.

Do you play an instrument, and if so what? And how often do you play/practice? I’ve been saying for the last 5 years I’m going to learn guitar…and it’s just not happened lol. It will though! I only play chords on the keys when I’m writing.

Describe your creative writing process. I change it up quite a lot actually, usually I have the production already then get in the booth and record myself singing  absolute gibberish then see what melodies/themes stick out. Sometimes it could be a jam session with other musicians. I often also write down my thoughts/feelings then form the lyrics from this. I just like to follow where the creative flow takes me.

What’s the best thing about being an artist? No two days are the same! Me being an artist is a way of life, my art runs parallel to my personal life so it’s ever changing and growing. I love being able to express myself however I please. Art is all around us…everywhere! So to know I can contribute to that is pretty awesome.

What’s the most difficult thing about being an artist? Allowing myself to be vulnerable isn’t always easy, Self doubt, being a perfectionist, fear of not living up to all my standards, being misunderstood, writers block, being overly critical of my work…I must sound so pessimistic 

What has a greater impact on you; lyrics or melody? I’m a melody man.

Kitchen discos? If yes, what’s on your playlist? Literally heading to my kitchen in a bit, deffo gonna be playing Bruno Mars & Anderson Pak. Maybe some Sylvester, Thundercat, Donna Summers and Earth, Wind & Fire   

Why does music matter to you? God knows what I’d be doing without music haha. I truly think it’s my purpose in life to create music, sing, perform and uplift. Honestly though, could you imagine a world without music? Or for instance your favourite film without any music at all? It’s unimaginable right? Music has no language, yet you could fill a stadium of people from different countries all over the world bringing them together as one. That’s EXACTLY why music matters.

Anything you would like us to share with our readers? I’m currently working on my EP which is deffo gearing in the direction of 70’s funk/Disco…I’m soooo excited about it. Until then, you can check out all my previous work on all music streaming platforms which you can access from my website.

Click HERE to visit Joell’s website.

Click HERE to watch Joell performing with Jessie Ware on The Graham Norton Show.

We’ve also put together a playlist based on some of Joell’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

To read more of our Music Matters interviews, click HERE.

Music Matters with Louise Golbey

Music Matters with Louise Golbey

Next up in our ‘Music Matters’ series is singer, songwriter, podcast host, and longtime friend of ours, Louise Golbey. 

Louise has achieved staggering success as an independent artist, having performed at Glastonbury, The Isle of Wight Festival, recorded at Maida Vale for the BBC, and supported/shared the stage with the likes of Ed Sheeran (who also features in one of her videos!), Paloma Faith, Lianne La Havas, George Benson, Roberta Flack, En Vogue, Roy Ayers and Omar! Her music has received airplay on Jazz FM, BBC 1Xtra and Radio 2.

More recently Louise launched ‘The Songwriters Podcast’ in association with The Ivor’s Academy and PRS For Music’s M Magazine. Her guests are some of the UK’s most acclaimed songwriters, and have included, Michelle Escoffrey, Omar and Rob Davies. We highly recommend you check it out – it’s a really interesting listen!

We have huge admiration for Louise because as well as being incredibly talented and driven, she’s also extremely generous, and always looking to lift up other artists where she can.  

We spoke to Louise about her musical journey and what it’s like to be an independent artist.

What music was playing in your early years? My brother got me into R’n’B and Hip Hop when I was little.. my first album was Salt n Pepper. I also listened to my mum’s old Motown records – dancing round the living room! My dad used to play Country and Western on long car journeys and also I used to do a lot of musical theatre growing up so was also listening to and singing Musical songs… so a bit of a mix really!! 

What were you listening to during your teenage years? Mainly R’n’B!  

What do you enjoy listening to now? Neo soul, Rn’B, I still like listening to old skool Hip Hop and R’n’B and also I listen to Radio 1 quite a bit as I like to keep up to date with what is out and how songs are written/ produced.

What made you get into music? I grew up in a very musical household, my dad played guitar, my mum sang – my uncle played violin. I played the piano and started dance classes when I was 2. And I was in my first stage show when I was really little so I got the stage bug quite young. 

How does music typically feature in your day? At the moment (without the gigs) I am fortunate enough to be doing some remote recording and songwriting – so have been able to stay creative and productive most days. I am also doing a few collabs and still writing for my own artist project too. I have also been trying to do video and audio content for social media. Splitscreen remote duets etc – or just myself and the piano -But essentially I think about music 24/7!! BUT of course you cannot beat the feeling of performing in front of a live audience.  

What was the last thing you listened to? I was actually listening to some old 70’s jazz fusion / funk the other day (after being inspired by the soundtrack of the serpent!) But also I rewatched Native Dancer’s amazing live set from Jazz refreshed they did recently. 

Music Matters with Louise Golbey

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Well you already know about Native Dancer. But I do highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t! Otherwise my good friend Estee Blu is a brilliant Neo soul singer / songwriter.. so please check her stuff out too. 

What was the most memorable gig/festival you went to, and why was it so memorable? Well, I was lucky enough to have got chosen to play on the BBC introducing stage at Glastonbury a while back. I had never been before so for my first Glastonbury experience to be also playing there was just amazing!! So yes – very memorable. Loved every second of it.  

Do you ever use music to change your mood? If I’m feeling low, I’m inclined to try and lift my mood with something I love or something upbeat. And I love dancing so would definitely pick the right genre/ tempo if I was in the mood to dance. 

What album/s have had the greatest impact on you, and why? I fell in love with Neo Soul listening to Jill Scott’s ‘Who is Jill Scott’ album and that was the moment everything fell in to place with where I wanted my sound to be, with the way I wrote, and the producers I wanted to work with. Soulful melodies over hip hop grooves.

Do you play an instrument, and if so what? And how often do you play/practice? I play the piano. But I am not very good. I play to write really. I can read music. But mainly to use it to play basic chords and harmony ideas but I have played it more this year because of lockdown for little video clips for Instagram etc.

What’s the best thing about being an artist? Being able to have a unique product. Your own music, lyrics, story, style… and having people respond to it. The feeling of doing a gig and seeing an audience/crowd enjoying what you have created is an amazing feeling. 

What has a greater impact on you; lyrics or melody? Probably melody, but I write lyrics and obviously like to think that my lyrics have meaning to someone else listening to them too.. but you cannot beat a good melody line (in any genre)!!  

Why does music matter to you? It is my passion as well as my career. I am lucky to be able to do what I love for a living. 

Click HERE to visit Louise’s website.

Click HERE to book tickets to watch a live stream performance of Louise and her band at the 606 Club this Sunday 7th March.

You can find Louise’s podcast HERE.

We’ve also put together a playlist based on some of Louise’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

To read more of our Music Matters interviews, click HERE, including one with Native Dancer’s lead vocalist, Frida Touray.

Music Matters with Steph Douglas

Photo of Steph Douglas at the Don't Buy Her Flowers Warehouse.

Our latest music matters feature is with the lovely Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers. DBHF specialises in thoughtful gift packages, and they are absolutely fab! I’ve lost count of how many I’ve sent out to friends and family – I especially love the ‘Create A Gift Package’, where you can choose which products go in (always gin & tonic and chocolate).

We love Steph for her honest approach to motherhood, relationships and business, but we also love the fact that she enjoys a kitchen disco and is a serious advocate for afternoon naps – how GLORIOUS!

Steph has created a business with heart. It’s a business that really listens to its customers, and is committed to giving back, regularly championing fellow business-owners, and supporting charities such as Stand Up To Cancer. In March they’re donating £1 from every order placed, to Homestart, which is a fantastic organisation that supports families through tough times, as they did ours after our twins came along and wreaked havoc!

If you haven’t already checked DBHF out, then do so pronto! If you’re anything like me, they will fast become your number one go-to for gifts (oh and Mother’s Day is coming up, so….)

We spoke to Steph about what music was playing in her childhood, what music she listens to now, and of course those infamous kitchen discos…

What music was playing in your early years? Johnny Mathis, Cliff Richard, Sinatra, Barbara Dickson, Everly Brothers and lots of Musicals soundtracks. And the thing is, because Spotify didn’t exist and so we listened to the same albums hundreds of times, I still know every word to all of them. I was at a quiz night and some spurious lyrics from a Cliff Richard song came up and I called it instantly. OH! And Jive Bunny on car journeys, which must have driven my parents crazy.

What were you listening to during your teenage years? TLC, Fugees, a lot of R&B compilations and then some indie and Spice Girls mixed in because it was the 90s, and obvs Alanis Morrisette. I also loved a bit of Beatles and 60s compilations. I had Frank Sinatra Duets tape (yes tape) in my car and it was a fave. 

What do you enjoy listening to now? I still love listening to Kisstory and we went to see Lauryn Hill a couple of years ago so it’s probably time I moved on, but there’s something comforting in the familiar! I think with small kids and the business and generally what has felt like a ‘rush hour’ few years, adding ‘discover new music’ to the list feels like a chore, which I know it shouldn’t but maybe in a few years I’ll come out the other side. I don’t listen to music as much as I used to, but always feel a bit ‘oh I should do this more often’ when I do. 

How does music typically feature in your day? In the car, when we used to have places to go, and on a run. Usually at teatime when we’re cooking/eating we’ll put something on. The kids love a kitchen disco. Unfortunately that means Gangnam Style still comes on, and Little Mix (although I rather like Little Mix). 

What was the last thing you listened to? Damien Rice. I wanted to wail along, which probably says a lot about the state of my head currently! 

What was the most memorable gig/festival you went to, and why was it so memorable? I went to see Beyonce on the Lemonade tour. It was summer, I was with one of my best mates and we were drinking jugs of Pimms saying ‘Pimms really doesn’t get you drunk’ while getting very drunk. We danced aggressively and sang and knew every word and it was just really great. That album is magnificent. 

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? The Kooks Inside In/Inside Out. Also the Love, Actually soundtrack – Doug lived in Italy when we met and could only get Italian TV, but had a Love, Actually DVD and we watched it a lot. I know, we’re hideous. 

Do you play an instrument, and if so what? And how often do you play/practice? I learned the piano when I was younger but was rubbish at practicing so ended up swapping to singing lessons, purely because there was no practice involved. I can hold a tune but am by no stretch a good singer! My husband plays guitar and piano and can start playing something with no music, just works it out, and I would love to be able to do that but also have no patience so it was never going to happen. 

Do you sing to/with your children? If yes, does it alter their behaviour/mood? Yes, I was never a massive one for classes when they were little except music – I did a singing class with all of them and they loved it. A couple of summers ago we played Michael Jackson a lot on holiday every time we were in the car and it’s quite nice when you come out of the nursery rhyme phase and they start to like songs. The older two are just starting to develop their own tastes and definitely love music. 

Is there a song or album that got you through a difficult time? This is VERY tragic, but I went to Australia in my twenties and knew I needed to break up with the guy I was with as it was not a healthy relationship, and I remember lying on the beach on my own listening to James Blunt. And Kelly Clarkson. So sue me. 

Steph with her 3 children and cat(!) enjoying Kitchen Disco!

Kitchen discos? If yes, what’s on your playlist? Definitely – we have disco lights and everything, the kids all love dancing. It’s eclectic as it’ll involve music we like, music the kids like. The Trolls soundtrack isn’t so bad as it’s nearly all covers. My standards were never very high but as a parent I’m just relieved that we’re not listening to ‘Mr Tumble sings…’ anymore. I put Marvin Gaye on the other day, we’d had some wine and it was fun to watch the kids look on appalled while we gyrated to ‘Let’s Get It On’. 

Anything you want to tell us about? Mother’s Day is coming up (14th March) and Don’t Buy Her Flowers have some gorgeous selections, or you can put something completely bespoke together, and it all arrives beautifully gift wrapped and with a handwritten tag.

One of DBHF’s Mother’s Day Packages. Click HERE for more info.

Click HERE to visit Don’t Buy Her Flowers.

Click HERE to follow Steph on Instagram.

We’ve also put together a playlist of some of Steph’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

To read more of our Music Matters interviews, click HERE.

Music Matters with Sipprell

Music Matters Feature with Sipprell
Image of Sipprell

Our latest Music Matters feature is with singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Sipprell.

One of the UK’s brightest RnB talents, she has been championed by BBC 1Xtra, and her latest EP ‘Bad History’ has received huge critical acclaim. In the early stages of her career she was backing vocalist for Lily Allen and Leona Lewis, she’s since gone on to support PJ Morton and Roy Ayers.

The first time I heard Sipprell sing live, I was completely mesmerised. Her voice was flawless, and technically outstanding – I felt I was witness to serious artistry. Her vocal runs are off the scale, and she has been compared to vocal heavy-weights, Aaliyah and Mariah Carey.

‘Bad History’ is a stunning body of work, featuring some deeply personal songs about loss, love whilst her track ‘Planes’ focuses on the serious issue of climate change. It includes tracks produced by Chloe Martini and Lophiile (H.E.R), and the strings (performed and arranged by Sipprell herself) are a definite highlight.

A self-confessed perfectionist, Sipprell’s music is pretty much as close to perfect as you can get.

What music was playing in your early years? I heard a lot of different styles of music playing at home- The Beatles, Queen, Jimmy Hendrix to name a few, as well as a lot of classical piano from my dad. 

What were you listening to during your teenage years? A lot of RnB- Brandy, Aaliyah, Destiny’s child.. and UK garage, So solid crew ta ta ta! 

What do you enjoy listening to now? I’m still rinsing Lucky Daye’s album. I’m also enjoying Phoebe Bridgers at the moment.

What first got you into music? My mum used to sing, so that was definitely my first influence. I played violin and piano from when I was 6, but I always knew singing was what I wanted to do for life. 

How does music typically feature in your day? I always play music when cooking or working out (a very rare occurrence these days!) I try to pick up my violin and guitar most days but it doesn’t always happen. I also write and record as much as I can from home.

What was the last thing you listened to? Sault’s new album. 

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Lex Amor. 

Image of Sipprell

What was the most memorable gig you went to? Teedra Moses at Jazz Café was pretty unforgettable! And PJ Morton at the same venue…2 of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. Gabriel Garzon-Montano at Village underground blew me away also. No way I can list just 1! 

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? Kacey Musgraves- Golden Hour.

Do you ever use music to change your mood? I tend to use music to enhance whatever mood I’m in. Or use it as a tool for my emotions that might be stuck. So if I need a good cry I tend to put on sad music. A couple of times that has gone badly wrong and I put myself in a bit of a hole of sadness haha! But normally it works well. If I’m ever feeling like I need a confidence boost I tend to put on Beyoncé. Done that since I was a little girl. She makes me feel invincible!

Do you play an instrument, and if so what? And how often do you play/practice? Violin, I should practice every day, but if I have a guitar gig coming up I usually focus on that. I don’t practice either enough to be honest! I’ve also been meaning to get back into piano lately. 

What album/s have had the greatest impact on you, and why? Brandy- Full Moon, Mariah Carey-Butterfly, Lauryn Hill -Miseducation. Aaliyah- Aaliyah. They all helped shape me as a vocalist and writer. 

Describe your creative writing process. It can start in different ways and depends if I’m collaborating with a producer or not. On my own, I can start with guitar chords and write to that. If I’m with a producer or musician, my favourite way is to just press record and freestyle melodies, and hopefully the concept and some lyrics come with it. Some songs come quickly without trying, other songs are a lot more laborious to complete. 

What’s the best thing about being an artist? There’s nothing better than creating music and then having a new finished song/project to share with the world. I really enjoy collaborating with great musicians/producers but can also find it so therapeutic to get lost in my own little world. As well as the creative process, I love performing and connecting with a live audience.  

What’s most difficult about being an artist? Self-criticism, perfectionism. The finishing stage of making music usually gets pretty obsessive for me and that’s the least enjoyable part. Also, social media can be draining and take away from creativity- but there’s pressure on artists to keep churning out content on there.   

Is there a song or album that got you through a difficult time? I guess because I write, that’s usually what helps me through. Bob Marley always lifts my spirits though. 

What has a greater impact on you – lyrics or melody? I probably hear both at once but will focus slightly more on melody and vibe when I first hear something. Over time though I love to dig into the lyrics and go deeper into the meaning of the song.

Kitchen discos? What’s on your playlist? Hell yes. D’angelo, Lucky Daye, Little Dragon, to name a few. 

Why does music matter to you? I’ve never known life without it and it’s a massive part of me. It’s a great escape from all the problems the world is constantly facing, and life would be pretty dry without it!

Anything you want to tell us about? I just released my EP, ‘Bad History’. So you can check that out!

CLICK HERE to buy Sipprell’s latest EP.

CLICK HERE to hear recent interview with Rosie Lowe on Foundation FM. 

We’ve also put together a playlist of some of Sipprell’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

Sipprell can also be booked to perform at weddings and events. Click HERE for more info.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

Music Matters with Alain De Botton

Music Matters with Alain De Botton
Alain de Botton

Our latest Music Matters feature is with world-renowned philosopher, Alain De Botton.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Alain started writing at a young age, publishing his first book ‘Essays on Love’ when he was only 23. He’s since gone on to write several books covering subjects as varied as status anxiety, architecture, travel, and love.

I first discovered his writing when I was in my early twenties. I read ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ and instantly became a fan.

Alain is also Co-Founder of The School Of Life, an organisation helping people to become more resilient and lead fulfilled lives.

If anyone can offer consolation during this global pandemic, Alain certainly can. During the first lockdown he recorded a podcast with Elizabeth Day on ‘embracing vulnerability in the age of coronavirus’, which provided me with enormous relief and comfort. I highly recommend you give it a listen.

We spoke to Alain back in March just before lockdown started, and he told us about his musical inspirations, and what the great philosophers had to say about music. Following our involuntary hibernation due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to finally put this out for you to read. Enjoy!

What music was playing in your early years? Mostly Mozart and Vivaldi.

What were you listening to during your teenage years? Mostly Genesis.

What do you enjoy listening to now? Mostly Genesis and J.S. Bach.

How does music typically feature in your day? It comes on in the car.

What was the last thing you listened to? REM.

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Natalie Merchant.

What was the most memorable gig you went to? Natalie Merchant in the Albert Hall: she was moving and energising.

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? The Sundays and their song ‘When I’m Thinking About You’.

Do you ever use music to change your mood? Bach is wonderful at creating a feeling of awesome redemption, especially the last movement of the Mass in B Minor. Perspective returns. 

What album/s have had the greatest impact on you, and why? Genesis’s album ‘Seconds Out’ showed me how you could combine huge intellectual ambition and compelling tunes.

Do you sing to/with your children. If yes, does it alter their behaviour/mood?  I used to play them music, but now – as teenagers – the idea fills them with horror.

Is there a song or album that got you through a difficult time? Bruce Springsteen’s live albums are perennially consoling and profound. I’m Going Down is a perfect one for tragic moments.

What has a greater impact on you – lyrics or melody? Melody.

Kitchen discos? What’s on your playlist? Not enough. But it would need to be Abba and Tori Amos.

Do philosophers have anything to teach us about music? Arthur Schopenhauer proposes that music touches us by speaking directly in the language of the emotions, avoiding touching reason. It is therefore, in his eyes, the most subtle and persuasive of all arts.

Why does music matter to you? It is compressed emotion and articulates feelings that would otherwise have remained out of touch. It gives dimensions to my soul.

CLICK HERE to visit Alain de Botton’s website.

CLICK HERE to visit The School Of Life.

CLICK HERE to hear Elizabeth Day interview Alain.

We’ve also put together a playlist of some of Alain’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

Read all our Music Matters features HERE.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

Music Matters with Frida Touray

Lianne La Havas Backing Vocalist, Frida Touray

Originally hailing from Sweden, Frida Touray is one of the UK’s most exciting and talented singer-songwriters. Possessing an out of this world voice (which has been compared to that of Queen B herself – Beyoncé), and with some serious performance credentials to her name, Frida is definitely one to watch.

Her band, Native Dancer, has been described as ‘the moody lovechild of Weather Report and Beyoncé’, and is a rich mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop and Soul (with plenty more in between.) They’ve performed at SXSW, Love Supreme Festival, Somerset House and WOMAD, and have been championed by Jamie Cullum and Gilles Peterson.

Frida is backing vocalist for Lianne La Havas (with whom she supported Coldplay!), and co-wrote ‘Green Papaya’ on Lianne’s self-titled album released earlier this year. She also co-wrote and performed on ‘Signs’ – a track by Jordan Rakei, featuring American rapper, Common. Plus she’s performed backing vocals for Liam Gallagher, Cinematic Orchestra, NAO and James Bay.

Native Dancer release their debut album, TIDES, produced by Miles James (Michael Kiwanuka) on October 23rd. Ahead of its release, we spoke to Frida about her musical influences, her creative writing process and whether she enjoys a kitchen disco 🙂

We hope you love this feature with Frida Touray as much as we do, and we encourage you to buy Native Dancer’s debut album (link at bottom of feature). Support music – it matters.

What music was playing in your early years? Both my mom and dad loved reggae so there was loads of that. And my mom is a big blues and rock fan so lots of Credence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin and BB King in our house! 

What were you listening to during your teenage years? A lot of Rnb and mainstream pop!

What do you enjoy listening to now? Everything I can get my ears on. My playlists are wild in terms of genre which is just like I like it. A lot of cross genre music is what I find really beautiful and interesting. 

What first got you into music? I have always sung and I’ve never seen it as an option to do anything else really. I always knew that’s what I was going to be doing with my life, and that knowing in itself has been a real comfort and guiding light for me especially when I was younger.

How does music typically feature in your day? I generally don’t go anywhere without having either music or a podcast playing in my ears. Always when I’m in the bath and def always whilst cooking. 

Native Dancer Vocalist, Frida Touray

What was the last thing you listened to? Leif Vollebeck. Beautiful artist! 

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Leif Vollebeck. Gabriel Garzon-Montano. 

What was the most memorable gig you went to? Lianne La Havas, whom I sing backing vocals for, supported Coldplay on their last world tour and first stop was a three week tour in South America. The people, food and cities we went to were magical. They had a big production on that tour which meant we stayed in each place for a couple of days which is unheard of when you’re touring normally. Samba dancing in Rio is a memory I hold dear. 

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? Beyoncé’s self titled album ’cause I fell in love with someone when she dropped that one and it’s such a sexy intimate album in many ways. 

Do you ever use music to change your mood? I tend to use music to enhance whatever mood I’m in. Or use it as a tool for my emotions that might be stuck. So if I need a good cry I tend to put on sad music. A couple of times that has gone badly wrong and I put myself in a bit of a hole of sadness haha! But normally it works well. If I’m ever feeling like I need a confidence boost I tend to put on Beyoncé. Done that since I was a little girl. She makes me feel invincible!

Do you play an instrument, and if so what? And how often do you play/practice? I play a bit of guitar and I am trying to really get loads better. Don’t practise enough to be honest!

What album/s have had the greatest impact on you, and why? That’s a really hard question but one that I can remember clearly is Alicia Keys- Songs in A minor. I was 11 when that came out and I remembered my mind was blown. She crossed genres and was so original and graceful. And the songs were incredible and I still listen to that album. It inspired me to know you could mix rnb and make it sound like nothing I ever heard on the radio. And have it be cool and elegant. 

Describe your creative writing process. At the moment, I am having a bit of writers block which feels awful. I always know it passes. I usually wait for my emotions to be somewhat in turmoil before anything brilliant comes out which can be really unhealthy at times so what I am trying to do now is get into a practise. Even if I don’t feel like it I try and do something every day.  My lyrics are always written in some kind of transit..on the bus, on flights, out walking etc. 

What’s the best thing about being an artist? That what I dedicate my life to literally forces me to peel off layers of myself..to dig deeper..and to get to share that with other people and move them. In doing that, you develop connections with people. Which is what makes life so beautiful. 

What’s most difficult about being an artist? My subconscious need for emotional disorder. 

What has a greater impact on you – lyrics or melody? Melody.

Kitchen discos? What’s on your playlist? Dancehall and 90’s Hip Hop. 

Anything you want to tell us about? My band Native Dancer has an album coming out 23rd October and I’m so excited for people to finally hear what we’ve been working on. You can pre-order the digital album and the vinyl from our website.

CLICK HERE to buy Native Dancer’s digital album or Vinyl.

CLICK HERE to book to see Native Dancer LIVE at The Jazz Cafe.

We’ve also put together a playlist of some of Frida’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

Frida also fronts SG band ‘Mama Soulshine’ CLICK HERE to book or find out more info.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.

Music Matters with Annabel Williams

Music Matters with Annabel Williams

Annabel Williams is a world renowned vocal coach and much sought after vocalist. She has been head vocal coach for X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent since 2012, and has coached stars including Ellie Goulding, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry and Alison Moyet, to name a few. She’s also a phenomenally talented vocalist in her own right and has worked as a backing vocalist for the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Nicole Scherzinger and Al Jarreau, as well as headlining sell-out shows of her own at world famous Jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, and Pizza Express Dean Street.

Annabel and I (Sofia) met as students on a vocal course in London. When I first heard Annabel sing, not only was I completely blown away by her knockout voice, but also her musicianship which was off the scale! She possessed a musicality that I’d not witnessed before – she just had ‘it’! Music was a language that seemed to come completely naturally to her. Whilst still on the course, Annabel encouraged me to go with her to NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra), I was even lucky enough to have a few lessons with her (for a measly fiver, apparently!) The thing I loved most about Annabel though – ridiculous talent aside – was her warmth, encouragement, and unrelenting desire to see people thrive.

As part of our ‘Music Matters’ series, I asked Annabel about her musical influences, what was playing in her childhood, about her amazing new vocal app that reached Number 1 in the Apple charts, and so much more! Grab a cuppa and enjoy!

What music was playing in your early years? My parents were pro musicians so Django Reinhardt, all jazz singers and James Taylor.

What were you listening to during your teenage years? A mixture of Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and PJ & Duncan! Haha!

What do you enjoy listening to now? I go through phases, but my heroes are Chaka Khan, Freddie Mercury and Prince.

What first got you into music? I think when you’re a natural musician, you don’t have a choice! It’s just ‘in you’ from an early age. I was always obsessed with singing and harmonies and trying to sound like my influences!

How does music typically feature in your day? Omg, constantly! My whole life is arrangements, coaching, recording and listening to music! I’m incredibly lucky.

What was the last thing you listened to? Falling by Harry Styles and I was doing a Little Mix arrangement for them.

Is there an artist we might not know of but should listen to? Yes! Natalie Williams (no relation), she’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. She’s an artist in her own right and a songwriter. Check her out on Spotify/Apple. She’s released loads of stuff.

What was the most memorable gig you went to? Stevie Wonder at the O2 about 15 years ago. I cried from the moment he walked out to the moment he left the stage. It was like a supreme being was in the room. I love him like no other!

What album/song reminds you of falling in love? I recently worked with the fantastic Niall Horan on the release of his wonderful new album ‘Heartbreak Weather’ and honestly the whole album is like an emotional rollercoaster! He’s such a talented boy, it was an honour working with him and his band.

Do you ever use music to change your mood? Yes! When I’m cooking I listen to stuff like ‘Mr Big Stuff’ and ‘Cry To Me’ and pretend I’m in a film and dance around the kitchen haha, or when i need to switch off I put on massage music. I do the same for my contestants too on TV shows they’re feeling the pressure. Music definitely affects one’s mood.

What album/s have had the greatest impact on you, and why? Probably ‘Q’s Jook Joint – Quincy Jones. One of my heroes. It’s got everyone on there!

What’s most difficult about being a vocalist? I think performing in extremely difficult circumstances like occasions or when you’re ridiculously nervous but still have to deliver. No one knows what you’re feeling how you get through it apart from other singers! Breathing always gets me through and having a stern word with myself!

What has a greater impact on you – lyrics or melody? I’m definitely more of a melody kind of person. Also chords.A stunning chord progression can make me burst into tears instantly! Although what connects you to an actual song is ultimately the lyric. I love lyrics that are versatile enough to be adapted to each persons own journey. When they can make everyone feel like they are written specifically for them.

You’re one of the most sought after vocal coaches, does coaching give you as much of a buzz as performing? Yes! To be honest when I do one I miss the other. I still perform regularly (covid aside!) as it’s so important to me as vocal coach. I think it’s so important to practice what you preach. You have to keep doing everything and pushing yourself otherwise it’s easy to lose confidence in these things. When I am working with a client or contestant on a perfomance or recording and they nail it, it honestly is the best feeling. I’m like the proudest mummy ever! I’m often in tears back stage when something you’ve been working so hard on for weeks actually comes together and pays off. I love it.

Anything you want to tell us about? I made a warm up app for singers during lockdown and it was released in June. It went straight to number one music app in the apple charts and i couldn’t be happier about how well it’s been received! There was nothing like this out there and I wanted to create something that was universal for singers like myself to use before shows gigs etc but also for beginners and aspiring singers of the future. There are 3 levels so something for everyone and each exercise has a really fun fully produced backing track to sing along to! I’ve included a video of me explaining about each exercise and so the idea is it’s like i’m there in the room coaching you it is available on all platforms.

CLICK HERE to download Annabel’s amazing Vocal App on Apple.

or CLICK HERE to download it on Google.

CLICK HERE to visit Annabel’s website

We’ve also put together a playlist of some of Annabel’s influences and inspirations, you can hear it HERE.

Read all our Music Matters features HERE.

For every ‘Music Matters’ feature we publish we will be donating £20 to music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, who we’ve been supporting since 2018.