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Artist Spotlight - Bess Atwell

(Photo Credit: Tom Sheehan)

We had the opportunity to interview Bess Atwell for an Artist Spotlight Feature! Atwell's style is an infusion of alt and folk that ends up with something absolutely fantastic. Additionally, her vocals are solid and rise amazingly above the dynamic melodies she builds in her music. If you haven't had the opportunity to check her out, do so ASAP you won't regret it. Also, check out our interview with her below

How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?

I’ve been pursuing music seriously since I left school, roughly 6 years ago (that makes me feel old) but I’ve been writing and playing the guitar since I was 13. I have always been creative - I thought I’d go on to be a portrait artist or something like that - and loved theatre / musicals from a young age.

Could you walk us through your process of writing music?

Lots of artists say it, but it’s true; my best songs are written very quickly and just sort of pour out. The songs I labour over the most are almost always my least favourite. 

Recently I’ve been writing with a drum machine which I find helps me to avoid slipping into repetitive rhythms. I tend to start with a chord sequence and then write melody and lyrics simultaneously. I’ll always neaten up the lyrics after because the first attempt isn’t particularly poetic. 

What artists have inspired you in your career?

Johnny Flynn, Gillian Welch, The Beach Boys to name a few. As a teenager I listened to almost exclusively indie rock bands (Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, The National).

Currently I’m listening to a lot of solo artists - I used to avoid listening to other female, indie artists in fear that I’d end up sounding exactly like them and render myself useless but I realised I was missing out on so much incredible music. Julia Jacklin’s new record has blown me away, as well as albums from Soccer Mommy, Stella Donnelly, and Phoebe Bridgers. 

Do you have any favourite gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?

Great question! Last year I bought a little 90s Dan Electro that I play at almost every show. I put flat strings on it so that you get a smoother more defined noise. 

One of the reasons I chose to record our upcoming EP at Soup Studios is because of all the tape based outboard gear they have there.. it creates a warm, organic sound. They have an old, red whurlitzer that I played on ‘Swimming Pool’ which I love.

Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?

I’d say the vibe is.. moody? I try and come across as approachable on stage but the songs are a little dark so sometimes you just have to roll with it. I’m not super talkative when I’m up there but I don’t stress about it anymore. Sometimes all you can do is play your songs well and be appreciative.

I really enjoy the moment after sound checking when you can just wander around an empty venue with a cup of tea knowing that it’ll (hopefully) be full in a couple of hours. It’s the only moment you get to chill out if you’ve been travelling all day. 

What is one thing you want the public to know about your music?

I write it all!

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?

Yes! We have an EP out called ‘Big Blue’ on the 24th May and we’re playing an in store at Rough Trade East on 1st July if you want to come and get a vinyl signed. We’re also going on tour in October so they should get tickets for that too.

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