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What role does feminism play in music? How does being a woman affect leadership within a band? Josephine SIllars talks about these issues and explains why ‘branding yourself’ can sometimes be problematic for an artist.

Josephine is a musician originally from the Highlands but now based in Leeds, UK. Having been based between Glasgow and Edinburgh for the past few years, she gained recognition performing with her band 'The Manic Pixie Dreams'. After receiving support from Help Musician’s UK, she is currently working on a new EP titled “Desperate Characters” due for release this year.


  • How to overcome writer's block, get out of the rut, take the pressure off and have fun
  • What it's like to be a female band leader
  • The role of feminism in the music industry
  • How she used Skype to produce unique songs during Lockdown
  • The problematic side of branding


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okay. And so I'm down in Leeds at the moment because I'm studying. So I'm just about to finish my masters and actually the next 10 days,
which is fun.
I mean, not to be shady to England.
But politically,
I definitely chose an interesting time to move to England.
So your master is about to, to finish him. Do you mind telling us what the master is not?
Oh, yeah, it's a music. So I was originally doing performance. And but I've switched now to composition because obviously the Coronavirus situation, we can't do any live performances anymore. So it's, yeah, it's just creative music is like the title of the masters. But I'm specializing in composition.
That sounds actually really interesting. So it's a ticket that it's been a journey that you started before the lockdown began? Yeah, yeah. So
I started last September. So it's a year long course. My first sort of six months in these were great, you know, just moved here. Didn't know very many people made lots of new friends and lots of interesting people. And it's a really great city, it reminds me very much of Glasgow, which is where I was living before I moved, like the cities have a very similar energy, very similar sense of humor, great music scenes. But then for the lockdown to hit like halfway through the course, was interesting, certainly, because you know, the no longer had access to the university to the facilities. I was playing in quite a few bands as well with other students. And then all of that fell apart. I lost so much work. And but we've kind of settled into it now, I guess, though, getting used to the new model.
So do you think you've actually changed direction in your career towards composition?
And I don't know if change direction is necessarily the way I put it, because I've always been interested in composition. And over the last couple of years, it's something that I've been working in a lot more like last year, myself and a team of other musicians actually compose music for video game that's coming out at the end of this year. So composition has been something I've been interested in. But I suppose Yeah, you're right until the Coronavirus hit. And I was focusing on performance. And in the academic sense, performance was the goal for this for this course. And now, I've moved into composition, because I think that in light of the entire gig economy, gig economy falling apart, I think composition is probably going to be where the jobs are. In music. I guess like I want to make a career in music. I don't care what I do just as long as it's in music. Great. Yeah.
So Have you always been making music? You know, in your life? Did this passion start when you were little? Or is it something that developed? And no, I
did. It started when I was quite young. So both my parents play instruments, and I was I was forced into piano lessons from like age six. And which is embarrassing, because you'd really think I'd be a better piano player. Given the amount of lessons that my parents forced me into, but I was really bad at it. I was rubbish at piano for years and years. And it literally took until I was like 14 and started learning covers on YouTube. But I kind of got the hang of it. But and then that's when the songwriting sort of came through. Because for me, I can't really read music. So I was never very good in like, the classical music settings, which when you have Canada lessons, when you're a kid, let's be honest, it's always classical piano you're given. And so I was rubbish at that. But then when I discovered songwriting, and like learning covers of songs I actually enjoyed, that's when the real passion sort of began.
Okay, and so when I say composition, what do you compose on you use programs to compose or?
Um, well, I've been sort of functioning as a singer, songwriter, I guess for years and years and years. So for me, I just like, work from the instrument write songs. And in that sense, but overlocked down my thing that I've learned over lockdown is basic production. So I have been learning to record and compose as I go. Working with sort of MIDI instruments. That's been a whole new thing that I've learned over lockdown, which has been really interesting.
Right. So do you think you'll continue to use this software?
I think so. Yeah. And I think I think especially as it doesn't look like live gigs are going to be coming back anytime soon, at least as far as how we know them. I think Yeah. It's going to be quite a good thing for me to focus my energies on for now.
Yeah, I've actually sorted myself for refreshing my production skills on logic. Do you use a particular problem that you prefer?
garriage bad, right. I cannot stress how new to production I am. I'm very, very new to my flatmate uses a project software called reason I believe in myself. bandmate uses Reaper that's it. Yeah. So I'm, I'm kind of familiar with both of those, but I've not really tried them out myself. Yeah, at the moment, I'm just getting to grips with GarageBand.
So in terms of new creative expression, why would you say you write songs? What compels you to do it?
Oh, that's a really good question. See, I don't really, I don't really know how to answer that, because I've now been doing it for so long. It just comes, it comes very natural to me, even even when I have like bouts of writer's block, which, you know, it does happen. And like, there's been times where I've not written a song for a year, because I just stress external things happening, and just not being creative. But, um, I can't, I don't really know, because I've been writing music since I was quite a young teenager is getting into that mindset of writing, like getting up and going, I'm gonna write a song today just feels quite natural to me at this point. So I don't really know, I'm just used to it. I guess. That's a rubbish answer to a good question. I'm sorry.
I won't forgive you. I was interested in your, in your writer's block, though. So you said you have experienced it before up to a year? So what? What got you out of it? What would you like to share with maybe somebody who may be going through that sort of thing. Now,
for me, I, quite honestly, I've had really bad bouts of writer's block throughout my professional career. And like, the worst one was when I didn't write a song for a whole year. And that ended around this time last year. So it was like a year, but from two years ago, was when I had that last bit of writer's block. And for me, the biggest thing to get out of it was I just needed to change my schedule, my, my, the way I was living, I just everything in my life needed a shake up. And I think that the writer's block was a result of just being stagnant in life. Because you can't write music, you can't write songs, like if you're a songwriter who works with lyrics like I do. You need to be experiencing things need to be meeting people and doing stuff. So that inspiration, inspiration comes like I'm not really a believer in just sitting around at home and waiting for inspiration to hit like I very much feel you can go out, make your own luck, make your own inspiration. And so I was at that time I was working in like an office, it was a very, very high stress, very tense, high pressure job. Full time hours, and you're living paycheck to paycheck, it wasn't like a good place to be to be creative. So I quit my job, which I'm not recommending everyone do like, do not do what I did if if you're not able to because the only reason I was able to was because I don't know, around that time got accepted into the course. So I was going back to uni. And but quite genuinely, if you are in a sort of stagnant place you're suffering from might as well the biggest advice I can do is just try and break up your schedule a bit, you know, go on a trip somewhere, go go meet friends that you wouldn't usually see. I mean, maybe obviously, not at the moment, that's going to be a lot harder. And but yeah, that was the biggest thing for me was just if your life is going in quite a mundane way, you can't really expect yourself to be creative if there's nothing, nothing really happening to inspire you.
Does that make sense? Yeah, I mean, there's, you know, you know, about, you know, the kind of right brain left brain idea, of course, it's it is just, it's not exactly like that scientifically, but if you were always doing your left brain activities, it can be difficult to switch into that other way of thinking. And often I find that some, sometimes it can be good to have a bit of a ritual or a an artistic practice that helps you to get into flow, if you like a creative process, you know, do you do you have one of those things? Or do you just write when you get inspired.
And I used to just always write when I felt inspired. But now I'm trying a new approach because I'm also very, very slow writer, I kind of take like the field Apple approach. And like, maybe you'll get an album every like seven or eight years, if you're lucky. That's kind of how I go, I'm so slow, but I'm trying to force myself out of that. And, and my new sort of technique for that is to focus less on lyrics because I lyrics are like a big, big focus of my music. So I'm trying to take a step back from that. And if I'm writing a song, now, I'll try and start with the music because it's not, it's obviously not easier to write music than lyrics. They're both quite difficult if you're doing them to quite a high level. But I can spend weeks to months slaving over lyrics whereas if you just let yourself have fun with the music, like I'm trying to take The pressure off myself, not give myself a hard time and just get back into the enjoyment and then I find some enjoying what I'm doing everything flows so much easier. Right?
So do you have things that inspire you? You know, where do you get your inspiration from? Because you mentioned experiencing things outside? Unfortunately, at the moment, that's a little bit difficult. So, you know, how do you deal with that?
And, well, this is actually kind of the crux of what my new EP is about. So the new the new project I'm working on is called desperate characters. And it's an up of new material, which I have written, sort of between March and now basically just over lockdown. And, and to combat those feelings of, Oh, I'm trapped inside, and I can't see anyone, how am I supposed to be creative in this environment. And so I've combated that by doing Skype interviews with just a lots of different people in my life. And, and what I've done is I've taken sound bites and samples from those interviews, and I've been around them. So I've written five. Well, I've written more than five, but I think probably five or six are going to go on the EP, but I've written these bunches of songs, which include hearts of people speaking from the interviews, and the songs are basically around theme of whatever the interview is about. And so it's been quite a fun challenge creatively, I kind of have treated it more like, if you were to get a commercial brief for a song, you know, like, someone would say, I want a song that sounds like this, that is about this, and go away and do it. So I kind of wrote a brief for every song like, this one's going to be about off the top of my head, right? There's one that's kind of about environmental issues. I was like, I want this one to be about, I don't want to give too much away. Sorry, because we're in like the recording process. process at the moment. This one's getting recorded in the next couple of days. But I just threw out a brief for how I wanted it to sound why I wanted to be about on which ports I was using, and then launch the song from there.
Wow, that's really super interesting. Actually, I would have never thought of doing that kind of thing. And do you have specific topics that are really important to you then?
Um, me personally, I do. Yeah, I made a I made a joke about this actually, recently, because basically, all of my songs are about feminism. I'm sorry, I can't help her. It's just all there it goes me again, writing another song about how it's hard to be a woman.
It is hard, and I think that's a worthwhile topic.
Totally. Yeah, that's a my fallback topic. Definitely like power dynamics, power struggles, feminism, etc.
I mean, it's better than I love you. I love you. Please come back to me, baby.
Yeah, totally.
Not that there's
not a time in place for those. But I tend to get a little more angry.
Well, there's a place for that, you know, definitely. And better to be angry in a song, then get out there and you know, do something that you regret
later. Totally, totally better to channel If through something creative and just being being an asset to people. Yeah,
I mean, you could always go and then just beat your mattress to Apollo. Totally. That's another way. So um, it sounds to me, like, you know, your identity really revolves around music that for you, it is really important in your, you know, in your life, in terms of how to shape your identity. And I guess, I want to ask you a question that is dear to my heart. Because it's, there's a lot of pressure sometimes on musicians to be successful. And I wonder what success to you actually means? So very
good question. And there's actually a song, two songs actually, in this new EP kind of touch on this actually. Because I think lockdown has given me the opportunity anyway, to evaluate what success means. And I think that's been the case for a lot of creative people, especially because, at the start, I'm definitely not the only one whose work just vanished overnight. And everything became quite uncertain for like a freelance creative, basically, especially as freelancers for very much left behind by the government for the initial months. And so this has been something I've been thinking about, and I'm sure a lot of people have but for me, I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be constantly putting out content when you're a creative freelancer, whether that's in music or another discipline. And the idea of being successful, I think gets too wrapped up around how much of yourself you can put out there. And because I write music under my own name, like I don't have a stage name, or I did used to play with a band But again, it was like Josephine sillars, and Manic Pixie Dream, which was the band. And so it's a lot of pressure to make yourself the content, if you know what I mean, like you are the product. So I've been trying to reevaluate what success means to me, because I'm kind of, not about not about becoming a product. That's not, that's not how I want to be, I just want to work in music in whatever capacity I can make a good living from. I just, I just want to live my life and live from music and not have to work a job that I'm not passionate about. and not have to, you know, slave away for hours and hospitality, like I've been doing for the past however many years. And but I do think that people need to stop measuring success in, like, how much you kill yourself over making content, because it's not healthy. And it's not sustainable.
Yeah, yeah, there's a lot of that going on. And I think it can actually produce burnout, you know, if you're, if you're trying to put on content also might be that that content, isn't that great. Yeah, totally.
If you're putting something out constantly, how Where's your quality check? Like Surely, I'm, like, I'm constantly telling, I know, loads of musicians who are like this, who are just constantly dropping albums and dropping ups and like, here's a new song. And it's like, okay, firstly, that's great that you're so creative, that you can do that, I would love to be able to write a new album, every like month, or whatever. But you when you're putting stuff out there, firstly, you need to make sure that it's really good. And something that you're proud of, because once it's out there, it's out there. And there's stuff I released when I was younger, that I wish I hadn't, you know what I mean? And but also, you need to give your audience a moment to just enjoy what you've released. So if you're constantly putting out new stuff, how can you expect people to really get to enjoy what you've released, because oh, you're just immediately throwing something new in their face. You know, like, I'm always, I'm always, I kind of use that to justify those, how little I release. A balance. I'm too far on one side, and I know musicians are too far on the other.
So lifework balance, you know, that seems to be a very important thing for you. Definitely. And so going back to the subject of feminism, since it's, you know, what you really care about, I'd like to explore that a little bit more. So, I guess I'm interested in, first of all, you know, what does feminism mean to you? What, how do you define it, because I think there's a lot of, you know, misunderstanding around
that word. There definitely is, and I'm not going to pretend as well that I am 100%, the expert and the expert on feminism, like I learn more about that, know that every day. And, and I also think it's important to note that I am a white woman, I grew up in a middle class environment, you know, I've got a very supportive family. And as it goes on, the only thing really that works against me sometimes is that I sometimes face discrimination because of my gender. But it's not nearly to the extent that women of color receive or disabled women or any other intersectional issue, really, like I have to note my privilege at the start of this. You know what I mean? Cuz I don't want to pretend that Oh, my life so hard, because it's not compared to a lot of people's like, I am very lucky. So this so with that in mind, I mean, feminism to me, especially working in music. It's when I'm the only woman on our lineup with six men constantly. It's when there's no women on main stages at festivals. It's when there's hardly any women that work in production. It's when the sound engineer is always a man. It's, it's when you walk into a space. And you're the only woman and I can't imagine how that feels for people, you know, who are non binary, or transgender who again, come sort of another intersection of these of these topics. And so feminism is important to me in the music industry, in particular, because well, things have improved, but there's still a long way to go. And so I think it's important that people are having these conversations and initiatives as well, such as key
I think we're doing a really great job to raise awareness. Would you like to share a little bit
about that? Yes. So key change is
an initiative that I'm actually knocked off my head who says, I want to say prs are involved somehow, but I don't know off the top of my head. And that basically, they have a pledge that venues, organizations, managers and underrepresented artists can sign up and join. And it's to strive for 5050 gender equality, I think by 2022. Again, I could be wrong about the day, but festivals such as Primavera have signed it. And that's why you see such amazing gender balance on their lineups. Because they are they have signed this pledge, they are working with the movement to actually bring about change. And then you actually, from my hometown contacted me recently to write an endorsement for them as well, because they've recently signed it as well, which is really, really great. And we need the smaller venues as well as the big festivals to get on board with this. Off the top of my head, though, I will say I wouldn't name and shame people, but it's surprising how many festivals haven't signed it. Like, if you go onto their website, you can see a list of all the signatures, and there's a lot of big names missing in the UK market.
So hopefully,
they're all gone now. Yeah, that sort of change the signal on time and, and is greater than some organizations are actually doing something about it. I was wondering, you know, still going on to the same topic. Did you ever feel pressure to look a certain way? You know, to get the attention from your music?
I am? Yes. Sure. Answer.
Did I do anything about it? No. I like I'd like to say but bass because I'm a staunch feminist, but it's really just because I'm lazy. No, but it is a pressure that I found, especially when I was younger. And like when I first moved away from the highlands move down to Glasgow, I've lived in Glasgow and Edinburgh. But I moved to Glasgow first. And I mean, everyone in Glasgow dresses very well. Not gonna lie, as you know, there's so much it takes culture, like 10 extra years to hit the top of Scotland. So I moved to Glasgow and was like, wow, I don't know how to dress, I look ugly. And, and I'd be going to gigs and dressing just so badly. And then I'd be seeing other women dressing really well. So for me, I kind of feel like I did feel that pressure, especially when I saw a lot of younger female musicians who are around my age. And
you know,
not not, again,
I do think that
I was quite lucky in that it could have been a lot worse. But the pressure is there you see other young women being more provocative with the way that they present themselves on stage. And I think that's amazing for, you know, self empowerment and all that. And but it was very daunting as like a sort of late teen to arrive in that scene and be like, Oh, I'm not presenting myself in the way that I should, you know,
shoot and sees who you know, exactly. That's
the thing. So I assume, and half the time you spoke to any of these women, they were loving their life, they were doing what they wanted to do, and it was cool. They were just more fashionable than me. Basically, it was the crux of that. That I know, yeah, the pressure, the pressure is there. And I think when you look at the wider scene, especially in pop music in a global market, it's when you see young female songwriters and singers in their late teens, early 20s ihrer look very, very glamorous, you know, they're very sexy, and the they're tiny. And it does have a knock on effect to songwriters around the country. Like I'm pretty sure every single female musician has slipped to themselves and thought Oh, I should look more like so. Um, but I never did anything about it other than start dressing a little better. Because again, very lazy. very lazy.
Speaker 2
And have you ever been told Are you should wear this kind of clothes you should be by
meal members of
the music scene. Not I've never been
Speaker 1
told that by a promoter. But I have been told that by like other male musicians, that was younger, especially now people don't really say that sort of stuff to me, which is good. But when I was younger, yeah, I'd have like men come up to me and be like, oh, have you tried like dressing like this? And it's like, leave me alone.
I was younger. I
Speaker 1
mean, I remember being like 19 and somebody was saying to me I gig Why don't you dress more like so when sock and was chatting about another woman who was on the bill? Like, why don't you dress more like her? And it was like, at the time I didn't know how to take that because I was quite young. We're now looking back on that and it's like kind of flat. If someone said that to me now.
And also the short answer is because I'm not her and also what a stupid question to ask me is it's like
we're not here. We're not doing a fashion show. It's not a competition to you looks the best as a gay I don't know, you know, like
that. Like I've got a difficulty thinking about a woman asking Amanda same question. You know, and that's, that's my gauge because if you feel weird asking the same question that you've been asked to a man, then it means there's some kind of sexist agenda going on. You know, do you feel you had to fight harder than if you had been more a man to get ahead? You know, for example, getting better gigs or be taken seriously? Yeah, no, genuinely,
to be honest. It's not something I think about as much now. But that's because I've been doing music for a long time at this point. So I'm a lot more sure of myself. And I know how to speak to promoters to brokers, and I have a track record now to back me up. But when I was younger, and when I was starting out,
I mean, it's something
that's on your mind, certainly, when, when you see male musicians in the scene, the start at the same time as you and getting opportunities that you don't. And obviously, part of that is is is down to the both of these, these men are very talented, they're very beautiful. They do not, you know, disregarding anyone's talents when I say this, but something is in the back of your mind. You'll never know for sure, I guess. But I one. One thing that I remember when I was younger was when I was like 1617 still living in Inverness, I spend all my money that I'd saved up from working to go and like a waiter. I mean, I played like, not real venues, I played like a cafe in Glasgow, like a pub in Sterling. And I really shouldn't have been in those pubs because I was under 18. Haha. But it wasn't like a real tour. It was a real venues. But I was just desperate to play. So I went off on the mega bus with my keyboard. And off I went, and then I applied for contouring network for young people was not as bad for having too much experience. I don't know, it's things like things like that, you know, if I were a man, would that not have with that with someone have seen that and being like, wow, like this girl, or this man took initiative? You know, we should support that. But so I mean, you'll just never know. That's the problem. That's the problem with the sexism in the industry. So much of the time is a microaggression. It's not a vert.
You just can't
tell what people's intentions are.
Yeah. And actually, that, that fits well with my next question, because sometimes discrimination can be quite subtle. So for example, you know, could be some subtle put downs or implicit expectations of the kind of role. They play within a band, there's been this kind of implicit, understanding that because I'm a woman, well, I'm probably just a singer. I'm probably not such a good guitar player. I'm probably not good at drums. Whenever somebody comes into my house, and they say, See the drums, they always look at my boyfriend and go, Oh, you play the drums.
Speaker 1
It's funny, because when I played with a band, my band, amen. And that's why I've called my band, The manic pixie dreams because I feel like people stereotyped me into being a manic pixie dream girl a lot the time because I'm kind of quirky looping, and I play piano. And like, you know what I mean? It's so I kind of thought it was ironic to call my old male backing band, The manic pixie dreams I thought, whoa, that's funny. But then it gigs. People would ask them questions about the songs after the set, like people were going up to my drummer and being like, hey, what was that song? And he'd be like, I don't know. Why don't you ask Josephine who's like, leader who wrote the song
that people would always
speak to them instead of me. It was like, really strange. Really strange.
Yeah, there's an assumption that you're just a singer. You're you couldn't possibly be the actual leader of the band. And what was it like to be the leader of this all male band? Oh, it
was fun. I mean, it wasn't a normal band on purpose. But because it was just a situation of like, I mean, sometimes I've had a woman guitarist join me a few times, as I got back up when other members of the bank in May gigs, but half the problem I had with getting women into my band was the older women musicians I know are doing their own projects, so no one had time. That was genuinely The reason otherwise, like my friend, Bell, Dina, who is a songwriter under the name error of the curse, she joined me for a gig on guitar when my guitars could make it And literally, if she had had the time to be in my band, I'd love for her to be in the band. But again, you know, all the women I know are too busy. Really the universe. But it was fun. It was a lot of fun. Like my, actually my guitarist from my old band in Glasgow. He's a solo act as well as the name's Connor heavey. So do anyone listening go check out his new Because he is genuinely wonderful, also, and I was wondering
in terms of style of leadership, you know, I had my own burned a few times. And when I first started, I was quite young, I felt very, it was very weird for me to be the leader of the band, I felt quite shy, I felt quite reticent. And I think at times actually wasn't very good. Because I was scared of being called, you know, a bitch or bossy or something like that, you know, so I held back and then I had another band in which I felt more like Mother, you know, just sort of taking care of everyone. So I wonder, you know, what influence Do you think being a woman has had on if anything, if any, on your style,
I need to when my band's call me, mom. It's awful, because my boyfriend's actually my bass player. And sometimes he'll go like, Mom, and it's like, no, that's so weird. Don't say, No, like, do that when I'm being. And when I'm like, demanding band stuff of everyone. I know what you mean. Like, I think musically with my old band in Glasgow, I was scared of stepping on toes, even though it was my music. Like, a lot of the time, I was pretty bad at telling the musicians what I wanted, if you know what I mean, I just kind of let them do their own thing, because I can't I mean, I'm very collaborative. I love collaborating and working with people in that sense. But, you know, if I wanted something done a specific way, in a song, I would like tiptoe around, around sending, which then would be quite good again, because my, my, my boyfriend plays bass in the band, so he would know what I wanted. So he would tell them for me, which is quite, which was nice of him. But at the same time, it was like, Why? Why did I feel that way? My bandmates are all my friends. It's my music. But you're totally right as you don't want to come across as like a bitch or like a boss. Because Yeah, just because of you how people assume that with with gender. But in terms of paying my band organizing gigs, yeah, I'm very, very much mother them in that sense. Like I'm I like to be organized and make sure everyone knows what they're doing. I like sore out my bound. Before I source out myself. Like there's been countless times we'll be going to festivals, where I'll have got them the car, got all of their equipment sources, got them a driver, and there's not enough room in the car for me. So I send them all off in a car with all of their stuff all super organized. And I'm like, how do I get to the festival? happens? Yeah, that's one thing
that I think women are very good at, you know, just taking care of everyone else. And I think partly is, or maybe mainly, I'm not sure where this comes from, whether it's a culture thing, you know, whether we are just expected, because of centuries of being told, that's our role, or whether it is innate, like we've been told that it is, what's your opinion, they're part of me feels
that as the band leader, looking after the band is a responsibility because it's my band is my name. And they're at the end of the day doing me a favor by being in the band and helping with the music. And, you know, making the project bigger than it could have been been myself. So I do feel a responsibility in that regard. But at the same time, and they may have and they have told me that like, I've never been in a band, like what they have with me in the I really look after them compared to some other bands that they've been in. And so at the same time, while I do feel like I need to be responsible for that, to a certain degree, I think I do go a little too far. But I mean, I'm like that to live with, like, I'm the person that can leave the kitchen dirty. I need to I need to clean it. Do you know what I mean? I think I think I overlook after things in every aspect of my life. So you're the perfect slot means
in other words, in other words, and in terms of, you know, relationships within bands, because you said your your bass player was boyfriend, you know, I used to have that kind of thing going on sometimes in some bands, and then you know, I had some bad experiences. So I, I had a rule that I was like, Alright, never again, am I going to go out with someone and that I have a bandwidth. How do you go for you? Did you have any problems with that or not really? We actually met because
he became my bass player. Yeah, so I kind of didn't have it as a rule per se. But when we first started there was something I was aware of because it was like because she Jamie's an excellent bass player is very, very good. And he's a very good singer as well. So the few times I've had to do a gig without him, I've had to replace him with two people, one person to play the bass and then one person to sing his harmonies. Like he's, he's very good in the band. I don't want him to leave the band. And so I mean, so far, it's been fine. He's been in the band three years we've been dying to go. Okay. I know what you mean, it was something at the beginning of the relationship, I was a bit like this, this is either going to go really well or really bad.
Yeah, because you know, it's not in your case. But you know, if you go out with someone and abandon then you break up, it can be difficult to keep the band going, potentially, instead of your relationship with with other women songwriters. What's that been like? Is has there been competition or more a feeling of camaraderie?
I think and when I was younger, it felt competitive. But I think that's because growing up in Inverness, there is a great music scene. But it's not a big music scene. It's not a big city. It's not I mean, it's it assessee. But it's a it's a big town, really. And so it felt competitive then, but that's literally because there was only so many slots in the venues. And there happened to be when I was growing up. There are a lot of female singer songwriters. Like I was so fortunate to grow up, I have so many women musicians who were my age as well. It was so that was great. But you were I was competitive. Everyone, not just women. You know, that was literally just because of a lack of opportunity up in the highlands. But now it's definitely much more of a community. There's actually a group that I'm a part of called pop girls, Scotland that was started and chill. I don't know who started it. I know it was a girl called Rachel, who performs under the name cooler, who added me to the group. I'm not sure if she runs her or not, she may. But it's a really great group. And it's basically all the women in Scotland to work within Paul all together on the one on the one community, and we chat a lot. We share our music. If someone's got a dodgy offer from a promoter, we like name and shame in the group and chat about what's best to do about the situation. You know, like it's super, super community LED. And I think especially given that we don't know what's going to happen to gigs in the future. That's more important than ever. Absolutely.
Absolutely. And so, is there a singer songwriter that has been an inspiration for you in your career so far?
I think musically, I take a lot of inspiration from the likes of Regina Spektor, Ben Folds, all that sort of thing. Catherine Joseph, she won a swatch Album of the Year I think in 2015, but I find her very, very inspiring. Especially because, well firstly, she plays piano she sings her albums are like beautiful piano and like ambient drumming. And it's just that's, that's fine. But she's also a mother, you know, she's, she's not like a 19 year old pop star. She has been grafted and music and working hard. And she was I mean, she i think i don't i don't know what's on my head. But I think she was in her late 30s or 40s when she was shumba, the year and I remember when that happened being like, oh my god. So adult woman who's like an actual adult with children who plays piano and sings has one Scottish Album of the Year. There's hope for us all. Like, that's what it felt like when she won that. So I find her very inspiring. And she's also just a lovely person. She's so nice.
Maybe we should get her on this podcast. Yeah, you should. She's
amazing. So Josephine, before
we, we get your song plays. I wanted to ask you about your AP, because you mentioned it's called desperate characters. It's coming out what next week? No, there's
not coming out next week. But it will be finished in the next week. So there's not a release date as yet. But I'm hoping it will be out in the autumn. Right.
So do you want to tell us a bit about it?
Mm hmm. So yeah, as I mentioned, a wee bit earlier, but desperate characters. It's my first EP since 2015. So I'm really excited. There are songs that sort of discuss environmental ism, and the results that discuss just personal feelings throughout the whole situation as well as logical political themes. Because the whole point of the EP is I wanted to discuss the social and political landscape in this current time. And I was initially planning to do it as an album, in the sort of aftermath of Brexit. I wanted to talk to people about that, but then COVID happened. And then I was like, I don't know if I want to do an entire album based on COVID To be honest, so turned it into an EP instead. And I'm really happy with how it's coming out. And I was also very, very fortunate to receive funding for this or this EP is also funded by help musicians UK through their do it differently fund. Awesome. Yeah,
I think I think a whole album on COVID might be a bit too much. But that's what I thought. Yeah, but I didn't
want to scrap the idea completely. So yeah, that's why it's an up Yeah,
I wrote one song on COVID and man the guy was a bit of a difficult one because I think you know, I write cards sometimes I write cabaret songs and I think people