Sunday, February 16, 2020

Bessie Turner: An Interview

This song is called 'Stranger Things', but it's not about the show...

Ahead of her set supporting Gengahr on the first night of their 2020 tour, I had the pleasure of sitting down and having a chat with Bessie Turner, a down to earth independent pop artist from the south of England.  Bessie first hit the music scene with her debut single 'Big Sleep' which went on to be picked up by BBC Radio 1, which lead to a live session on BBC introducing. Turner released her first EP in 2018 titled 22:22, featuring 5 tracks, including her debut single.

Sat on the balcony of Band on the Wall half an hour before she was due to fill the room with song, admiring the stage set up Gengahr had ready for the night's performance, we discussed her new single, upcoming releases and the stories behind some of her tracks.

For fans of: Nina Nesbitt, Birdie, Abbie Ozard

Tell me a bit about your new single Donkey.
It's not about Donkeys. That was what I called it on the demo and it kind of stuck. I felt really apprehensive about releasing it, it's essentially about the loss of one of my best friends. One of my best buddies died last may and that's kind of what just came out at the time. I didn't want to glorify the bad situation or the loss of someone but then actually people encouraged me and said 'of course people aren't going to think that you're trying to make money out of his death' cus I'll probably make about 2 quid anyway and I'll donate it to his charity. But yeah it's just about losing a mate and memories, yeah a bit of everything. I'm really proud of it and I like it, it helped me process something at the time and it's nice to share that with other people.

Is there anything else currently in the works?
There is another EP coming out, hopefully within the next few months, cause yeah, it's been quite a long time, well nearly two years since my first and last EP came out, but it's been a mad couple of years so it's time to start pushing them out again.

What are some of your writing processes?
I keep these kind of random diaries where I write down these kind of sentences, ways I'll be feeling. I write quite quickly, it just comes out from what I'm feeling at the time. I like using funny words in songs, or words that sounds nice to say and stuff.

You're quite the advocate for mental health (-absolutely), do you think that's influenced your writing in any way?
Definitely. I don't know how to write songs about anything apart from myself, which is sort of arrogant, all of my music is sort of self referencing and indirect things I've been through which is why it amazes me that other people can relate to it and enjoy it. But no, absolutely, I think it's important to consider it and think about it, and it's my outlet completely.

Who are some of your influences with your music?
I think Blue by Joni Mitchell, my Mum listened to a lot of Velvet Underground and Lou Reed and stuff like that. I listen to all sorts of stuff like hip-hop, crazy loud punk music, a bit of everything really.

What initially drew you into music?
It's kind of all been an accident really, I've always sang, it's always been like something I've been really into and I remember when I was younger, sort of 6 years old, or whenever Sophie Ellis Bextor came out, and like harmonising and thinking maybe I could be a backing singer one day. But I've just always written, always played guitar, and I've always been quite shy with it. I started preforming when I was 14/15 at school, and then it's been sort of right place and right time but I'm so grateful that people listen to it and enjoy it because you need to believe in yourself a bit sometimes.

If you hadn't have gone into music what do you think you would've been doing?
Probably still managing a pub, I've worked in hospitality a lot, and events and production, I love working with people and kids.

What city are you most excited to play with Gengahr?
I've never been to Dublin.
- I've never been to Ireland!
Oh I've never been to Ireland at all so I'm so excited. Guinness is my favourite drink.

Tour tickets available here

What's one of your favourite elements about tour life?
It sounds a bit rude but I like being on my own. It's nice to be in your own head a bit. Reading and having a bit of peace.

There's been a lot of festival line ups, and I know you're on a few of them, but if you could add yourself to any line up this year what would it be?
Either green man or Glastonbury, they're both this year looking to be amazing and obviously it's the 50 years, so I don't know... touch wood for me.

And finally, if you could describe your sound in three words to someone who's never listened to your music before, what would they be?
Period. Pop. Music.

Bessie's new single 'Donkey' is out now.
Bessie is set to play Sounds of the city 2020 (Liverpool), Stag& Dagger, The Great Escape and 110 Above.

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'til next time

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