What is your name?
What is your genre of music?
Mainly singer/songwriter however.. with a very large pop/alternative twist!
Give us a little bio about you.
So, I’m a 22 year old female singer/songwriter based in Irlam, Manchester. I’ve been gigging on the Manchester circuit now since I was around 15 (I know that because I got asked to leave one of my earliest gigs due to being underage…). I started out playing my local acoustic night and festivals in my hometown on Irlam but then got a major thirst for hitting the city of Manchester. I had a couple of influencial characters in my teenage years who helped me get to that next point of gigging on the Manchester circuit, it was much appreciated at that time because at the end of the day, I was just some kid trying to get on gigs!
From there, I started to build up a bit of a name for myself and eventually after a few years of tirelessly playing the Manchester circuit became known as “The Serial Gigger” (Sonic Bandwagon, Pure FM). I was out 4/5 times a week playing every open mic and musical showcase going and the help I got from local promoters was outstanding. They helped me to get onto that platform and stay there for a good few years.
It was during this time that I decided I wanted to release some of my own recorded music. I went in to record my first single “Stars” with Sugar House in St. Helens. As the record was so well produced, I then decided the next stage would be to get a band on bigger gigs with me. This is the point I feel my career changed for the best, I began to move away from open mic’s and moved more towards putting my own gigs on and playing in some of the larger music venues in town.
I currently perform as “Jess Kemp” with a band with 3 of my best friends (Sam Butterworth, Luke Finch and Matt Royle). Since we got together we’ve had so much fun! Including, headlining Manchester Academy 3, Factory Manchester, Gullivers, The Live Room, Sacred Trinity Church, The Eagle Inn, as well as touring Amsterdam last summer (one to remember….), playing sets at Blackthorn Music Festival, Salford Music Festival, Manchester Pride…. and then came our plans for 2017… I’ll explain later.
What made you go in to music?
Music has always been in my family. My mum plays the piano, my cousins husband John Mackie has always been involved in the music scene… I just feel it was an area that was always there. However, my plan was to become a police officer from like the age of 10! (Still a bit of a dream job to be fair…) But then, music just happened! I played the school talent show with my guitarists (now wife) and it went so much better than we thought it would… from there people just wouldn’t let me go down the police force route haha. It’s for the best I suppose!
Are you a signed?
I’m proud to say that I am 100% unsigned.
You won at this years Manchester Arndale’s Student Band Competition, how did you prepare?
I’d love to tell you a big long story to how we built up for this but… we really didn’t you know. I’ve done competitions in the past solo and with the band and we’ve never won! I’ve always had the attitude “There’s always next year” and that stems from when I was younger playing in a brass band with my mum. So yeah, we sort of went into the semi-finals expecting to come last, so it was so chilled. We played what we thought were our best 2 songs and thankfully the judges loved it! Then came the final, we had the exact same attitude. In fact we had the winners and runners up already named in our heads. Not for one second did we imagine ourselves to be up there! We’re beyond honoured.
Why did you sign up for it?
I entered 2017 with the resolution that I really really really wanted me and the band to give everything we’ve got to try and land some really cool festival slots. So when this competition popped up on my facebook page, I had to jump at the opportunity!
You won two festival slots this year at two big festivals may I add ‘Kendal Calling & Bluedot’ how was that feeling?
It’s a feeling I really can’t explain. As I have said, we did not expect to win this competition so we never imagined what playing those festivals would feel like. Of course for any band, signed or unsigned, playing festivals of that size is the dream but still a whole week later, I can’t quite get my head around it! This summer is going to be one to remember.
You released new single ‘VondelPark’ tell us more about that
Me and the band went on a self organised tour of Amsterdam last August. I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was literally one of the best times of all of our lives. We played 2 headline gigs there and put on a show in VondelPark (Amsterdams version of Central Park, NY). The place is so so chilled, it’s amazing. The whole trip had its ups and downs as you can imagine a tour in that small amount of time, complete with getting the equipment overseas, a whole band, the accommodation, keeping the buzz going with all of the following that came with us. It was crazy at times. But I think the song “VondelPark” really reflects those few hours we spent in VondelPark where everyone was so chilled out, the sun was shining, everyone was happy, there were no technical things to sort out as everything was unplugged. It was just amazing. I’d do the whole thing again in a heartbeat.
What was the writing process like?
Writing this track was fairly easy. It just sort of came out. I wrote it in the first couple of weeks after we got back from the trip and I remember literally writing most of it all in one session.
who did you let listen to it first?
My mum and dad are always the first to hear it as I usually write in my bedroom at home. Then next I took it to band rehearsal and just started jamming with it, Sam, Luke and Matt just got it straight away and that’s how the completed track was formed.
Will we see a new EP, especially with winning four days a Blueprint Studio’s?
We will definitely be laying down a couple of release ready tracks. There aren’t any definite plans for how and when these will be released but I’m already so excited for you to hear what we’ve got for you.
Do you play any instruments?
I sing, play guitar and I dabble in a bit of piano and drums, apart from that no.
Who are your influences?
I have so many influences, some are a bit cringey but I can definitely relate to the likes of KT Tunstall, Alanis Morisette & Amy Macdonald.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
All of my songs are written about personal experiences. They have to be experiences that have changed me in some way, whether it be for the good or bad. I like to tell the audience what these songs are about and share some pretty deep stuff from time to time. For me it’s the best and most honest way of writing.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I hope to be still playing with my band on larger scale gigs, festivals and more overseas stuff. I’d like to think we’ll have done a couple more tours together too. With regards to the industry, I’m not entirely sure how that will work out… I think the best thing is just to keep doing what I love and see what the stars have in store for us.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I’m actually pretty boring you know. I’m studying a music business degree of which I’ll have graduated from next summer. In my spare time, I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend Emma – we like to travel and go to different places. I’m mostly found in the gym or at my computer at home just cooking up the next big project.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
I am a massive fan of Paramore. I lived by every single one of their albums through school and college. I think it’s mad to think how different my music would be should I have not done that.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
My Nana and Grandad Buck once said one thing that has always stuck with me and that is to think one phrase in every situation, whether it’s on stage, at an interview, in the crowd, at a coffee shop, in uni or at work. The phrase is “This Is Me”. I’m not too sure why it stuck and I find it hard to interpret my meaning of it but sometimes when I’m in a scenario where I feel like I’m a bit out of my depth, this one really helps.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Keep going, even when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Never give up because someone else appears to be doing better than you.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
I just always like to think… “One day..”
You get off a plane in your hometown (So these answers are dedicated to my home town…)
1/ where is the first place you visit – Home
2/ where is the first place you see – The airport I’m guessing haha.
3/ where is the fist food place you go and what do you get – Defnintely my own kitchen to get my mums homemade Corned Beef Hash.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
2. Guitar Pick (I’ve had to make so many in the past out of the most random objects.)