Q&A: Reverbnation Competition Winner ESSIE

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For those readers who haven’t heard of you before could you tell us a bit about yourself, your story?

My name is Essie Laugharne and I perform, write and record music under the name ESSIE. I’m 23 years old and although I was born in Sheffield, I grew up from age 8 in Perth, Western Australia. After high school, I went on to study Popular Music at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music on the east coast of Australia, and decided during my final year at uni that I would move to London at the end of my degree. Whilst I was at university I released my first official EP titled Run Red, as well as a single called Sugar Rush. Since living in London, I have been gigging regularly in the capital, as well as releasing music. I released the mini-EP Not Easy in 2016 through The Animal Farm, and then the single Someone in 2017 through The A&R Department. Music has always been my passion, and I’ve always know that I wanted to pursue music from a young age. I first began playing guitar at age eight, and began writing songs at age ten. Some early success with my songwriting in the WAM Song of the Year competition really encouraged me to keep pursuing my dreams, and I haven’t stopped since! My music is riff based alternative rock, with bluesy licks and soaring vocals, and it encompasses so much of what I love about music.

EssieWho inspired you to get on stage and perform?

I’ve always felt very at home on a stage, and was very encouraged by my parents in all performing arts. I grew up listening to a lot of different music, and my parents would take me and my siblings to gigs, and that would always inspire me to want to perform. Throughout primary school I was encouraged to perform in the school choir and band, and also began playing at my local Church. I think all of these things combined really boosted my confidence on stage, and so from high school onwards I’ve always felt very excited but also at ease when performing. Watching artists such as U2 and John Mayer perform on DVD always made me want to practice and step up my front woman skills, I feel very strongly that a live show should always be even better than the album.

Could you tell us a bit about the track that won the competition ‘Someone’?

I initially wrote Someone for a university project, but it had a completely different set of lyrics. When I moved to London and took the song to The Animal Farm, we discussed changing the theme and lyrics to make it more accessible and authentic, and so I decided to make it a break up song. After re-writing the lyrics, I released the song in 2017 through The A&R Department along with a video clip shot by Carousel Films. I had a lot of fun shooting the video clip and playing out the narrative in reverse. I wanted viewers to get invested in the story as well as the song, and to really feel the heartache and the regret.

Your next single is being recorded through The Roundhouse and you are part of the emerging artists programme could you tell us a bit about this?

The Roundhouse run a fantastic programme for under 25’s called The Emerging Artist Programme. It has a yearly membership fee (which isn’t very much) and then you get access to their studios and rehearsal rooms for a very cheap price, as well as lots of producer drop-ins, workshops and competitions throughout the year. They also offer discounted tickets to some their MainStage events for their members. I’ve basically found it to be the most economical way to record in London, as I can demo the songs and parts at home, and then book a day or half day in the studio and track as much as possible. The engineer is provided and I have a few friends in mixing and mastering, so it just makes sense for me to use the Roundhouse for my sessions whilst I’m still young enough!

Where do you draw inspiration from for your lyrics?

I draw inspiration from everywhere really. I often jot down lyrically ideas or poems in my phone notes as I’m out and about, and then can draw on them later on when writing a song. These next two tracks are quite different from each other, but both very ESSIE, and they have quite different lyrical content. One is a more anthemic rock song, and is about love but also overcoming barriers and challenges, the other is a blues rock track that has a running theme of flowers and growth from old bones/ the body, and could almost read like a poem. I’m a very lyrics driven person, and get a lot of inspiration from different artists as well as from literature. I love the idea of creating metaphor’s that are fresh and different but still comfortable, and I often blog these ideas and ramblings on my Tumblr page.

What is the most interesting place that you have performed at?

I got to perform at a conference in LA a few years ago, as well as at an open mic night in Nashville, but in terms of strange places I’ve ended up, I’d have to say the Party in the Pub Festival in Wales. It’s a festival for ex-military bikers, and I can honestly say that it felt very surreal to have 400+ bikers rocking along to my music!

What do you think is missing from today’s music industry?

Money? No, just kidding, umm I think it depends on where you look. I find that the charts don’t really resonate with me these days, I feel like the same ideas are getting re-hashed over and over, and a lot of my friends listen to artists that are never in the Top 40. I’d love the music industry to get it’s soul back, it’s passion and critique and voice in mainstream culture. There are some exceptions to this, and it was cool to see the song ‘1-800-273-8255’ getting a grammy nomination, with it’s aim of raising suicide awareness. Not saying songs always have to be heavy or political, just that they should make you feel something.

Here at Artistic Echoes we are always on the look out for new artists do you have anyone you can recommend?

I’ve been following my friend Man and Maker as he’s begun to cut his teeth in London. He put a single out for Christmas and has a great voice and is playing a lot on the London Circuit at the moment. I also went to see 47 Soul recently and really love their sound and live energy, they’re definitely on the up and up!

What plans do you have for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m focusing on this next single and hoping to have it out by the end of March. Then I’ll release the second single for the year in the early summer time, and hopefully be playing quite a few gigs across the summer. I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into the live scene some more, as well as creating more online content such as videos and live covers/YouTube content. I’m also hoping to release some live tracks from my ESSIE trio shows, as they’re always so high energy. I’m also really loving my Tumblr lyrics posts and musings, so hoping to keep all of that content regularly updated.

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