How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
For me, writing songs is a vehicle for transformation, and expressing the deepest truths of being human. To get in touch with raw places that might be below the surface, I like to write stream of consciousness right when I wake up in the morning. Then I hit on something that just feels right, and has to be expressed, which becomes the seed of the song. My first album covers personal but universal themes around trauma, sexism, power, and suicide. But in all the stories I share, there is hope and empowerment embedded in the experience. As my singing teacher told me, “lean into where it hurts.” That is where I find inspiration.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
Courage. Being authentic to your own inner voice. Don’t write something because it “sounds good” to someone else. Believe you have something real to say, and follow it. True creativity comes from trusting ourselves and putting aside self-judgement and other people’s expectations.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
Sometimes- but often I am writing something that feels like it needs to be shared with the world. And often I find that the more vulnerable I am willing to be, the better the performance and the song.
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
“There is a tiny box,
inside my hand.
locked but pounding
I look at you and contemplate the key….”
I like this one because it reminds me of a time when I hid my real feelings away, and I didn’t know how to break out of that pattern, but felt all the intensity trying to break free. A lot of that- the “key” – has been music.
What inspired “Feels Like Freedom”, part of your latest album “One Thousand Petals”?
“Feels Like Freedom” is about how I dealt with a traumatic experience at age 15. I really compartmentalised the experience and started to lose touch with myself and felt totally numb. The lyric “The taste of oblivion, only feels like freedom,” is about the realisation that getting numb to yourself is not actually an escape.
“Ready” is a celebration that real change is possible. It’s inspired by the feeling that you’ve overcome a lot of the struggles from your past, and you’re ready for the next phase, even if you don’t know what that looks like. The verse:
“Now to no man I’ll cater, And although I’m no world saviour, I am this song’s creator, And midwife to love’s labor” is about letting go of trying to live for other people, and embracing and following your inner compass.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Love Song To Myself”?
Yes- it was the first song I ever wrote, and I had to pinch myself because I’ve always wanted to write music, but never pursued it until recently. It felt incredible to compose something original rather than just singing covers. The creative process can be really joyful, even when it’s hard work or you’re writing about something painful.
What are your plans for 2019?
I am preparing for a couple of shows this Spring and also working on a new EP. My day job is running a nonprofit that helps increase diversity in the tech sector, and we have a lot of big plans in 2019 as well.
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your album “One Thousand Petals”: Rebirth.
- The best show you ever played: An intimate house concert for “One Thousand Petals” album release, playing with friends and my brother on guitar.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: A quiet space to get centred before going onstage.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: The Beatles, Rubber Soul.
- Your favourite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: Hard question. One of them is Massive Attack, “Teardrop”.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: Laugh a lot.