AN INTERVIEW WITH AMY NAYLOR:
We all went to the Cleethorpes Folk Festival last weekend and were very glad we did - as we caught a brilliant set by the young and talented Amy Naylor. She writes her own songs, plays the guitar and sings - all in a fiercely genuine manner - a thrill to watch and listen to. We’re sure she’s going to be a star of the future, so remember that you saw her here in her early days, before she hit the big time. Here are some questions from Poppy, Simon and myself to the fabulous Miss Naylor, and her super answers.
Also, I’ve done my best to upload a track from her just-released album too - the song is Joker in the Maze and the album is A Brave Thing. (I hope it works, as technology not my strong point…) This brilliant album is ONLY £5!! So go to her website and buy one today.
Check out Amy here:
Here goes with the interview…
When did you start playing the guitar?
I’ve been playing ever since I can remember. I took classical lessons for a while when I was 9 or 10 but I quickly got bored of it. I continued to play, teaching myself, and slowly started to write songs, and then when I was 14 I had ‘proper’ lessons for two years (not by choice, my school made me) and it did me the world of good confidence-wise. If it hadn’t been for my guitar teacher, I never would have played my first gig, so I probably wouldn’t be where I am now!
Why did you want to play the guitar?
It was kind of just an inevitable thing; my family is a very musical one so I’ve always been around it, I couldn’t help but join in!
How do you remember all the words and songs?
When it’s a song you’ve written it’s a little easier to remember than other people’s songs. But all the same, it’s just down to playing the song over and over again in my bedroom for weeks on end. I have no life, that’s my idea of fun!
Tori Amos describes her songs as ‘friends’. What is your relationship like with your songs?
My songwriting is a little strange. Sometimes I sit down with my guitar and a song happens, other times nothing will come out. I think there is a little bit of me in each song and once it’s written that part of me has escaped and I’ve just got to let it do its thing. I wouldn’t describe them as friends because I don’t feel much attachment to them at all. It’s kind of like therapy, once it’s written I feel much better and I can move on. I’m constantly writing new material, good and bad, because I’m constantly working through new things in my life, which sometimes means it’s a bit of a chore having to play old songs at gigs… But that’s what the audience wants!
Which pop song would suit an Amy Naylor folk make-over?
Good question… Does Alanis Morissette count as pop? I think ‘You Learn’ would be a good one to do. (I had to think about that for a good ten minutes.)
You write both poetry and songs. What are the similarities and differences in the writing process?
In essence it’s the same. When writing either it’s mostly just a stream of consciousness thing, I write what comes as it comes. With songs I leave it there, some songs only take about ten minutes to write, I feel like I should make more of an effort! With poetry though, I’ll then go on to refine it and make it cohesive as a whole. Sometimes I try to adhere to certain techniques and things like that. Poetry for me is like a posh version of songwriting. That’s probably an awful thing to say but…
If you could jam with four other musicians/singers, who would you choose?
Newton Faulkner (his guitar playing is crazy), Alanis Morissette ‘cause she writes proper good songs, Frank Turner ‘cause he just seems like a lot of fun, and Wallis Bird. I take a lot of influence from her, she’s mental! Oh and my family of course… They’re fun to jam with too.
How does it feel to be up on stage on your own?
Sometimes it’s terrifying. Well… It’s always terrifying! But once I get going it is just the best kind of fun. It’s great to be up with other musicians too because you get to create a much bigger sound and you’ve got other people up there with you to support you and provide energy that you can bounce from. But at the same time, when you’re on your own you can get away with anything; some songs I play differently every time and it doesn’t matter because no one else up there is relying on me to play it right. It doesn’t matter if I swap a verse around or play the wrong chord, I’ve got no one to confuse. But I’ve also got no one to blame if it all goes wrong…
What are your writing ambitions?
For now, I just like writing. I need that output sometimes at the end of a bad day. But I’m also moving on to take professional writing at university so something more could come out of it, not just songs, and I’ll be glad if that happens. I’ll just see where it takes me, that’s exactly what I do when I pick up the guitar.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Doing what I’m doing now except more often and hopefully having improved! I’m gonna keep writing, keep playing, keep performing, and see what happens. It’s terrible really, I don’t have a huge amount of motivation. If it stopped being fun I’d stop doing it. But to be honest, I can’t see that happening.
Thanks, Amy, for lovely answers and we wish you the best of everything in what we’re sure will be a glittering future.