• SALUTE: Where did you grow up? What was it like?

I grew up in Dagenham, Essex. It was interesting but it wasn’t as diverse as it is now. I found that I was always drawn to travel and visit London, but a lot of folks around Romford were happy to stay in Essex on the weekends.

I come from a big family and I’m one of ten grandchildren. My nan came over from Dominica with my granddad and growing up she would cook all the time and we would all congregate there. That’s what Dagenham really meant for me, the people and family who were there, rather than the actual place.

It was mostly my mum who was a big musical influence on me. She listened to everything from Reggae, Lovers Rock, Country, Wham, George Michael so I had very diverse music at home. My uncle is a DJ, he introduced me to RnB from playing his vinyl records. He would give me demo CDs that he picked up.

  • SALUTE: Did you get into rave culture or bass music out in Essex?

I definitely appreciated it but I didn’t get into it too much. I was just heavily into RnB and Soul music. That’s more what I related to. I listened to a lot of Brandy, her second album Never Say Never was my biggest influence. Aaliyah, SWV, Toni Braxton.

  • SALUTE: How did you get started making music?

I’ve always been singing from a young age. When I was in school I got into dance and theatre, but I didn’t stick with it. When I was 14/15 I wrote my first song. After that, my mum just pushed me to sing. She would get me warm up CDs from London and sign me up for piano lessons and theory. I did go on to uni but I didn’t take songwriting as a profession seriously until about 2011.

  • SALUTE: Was there much of a local scene of musicians in Essex or did you find a lot of stuff through the internet growing up?

Growing up and seeing the change that the internet brought, I loved it. I loved that I had access to a world of music that I would never have discovered without the web. It expanded my musical knowledge and love for music.

But I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media.

As a singer it connected me to people. I love that I don’t need to sign a record deal to release my music. However, it has made it more competitive. The digital world has made music intangible, and it’s promoted a culture of instant satisfaction.

As a music teacher, I would ask my students to discuss their opinions on music, to encourage a different kind of engagement they might not be used to. You quickly see the change in their thinking and behaviour as they start to communicate more fully.

  • SALUTE: What was uni like?

(Music Arts and Management? WHICH UNI?) The degree was good. It touched on a lot of different areas that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. It covered a lot of interesting histories with regards to Classical music. I didn’t always get it, but I appreciated it and I got to learn a lot about the origins of pop music, how the harp and piano had a relationship.

I also learnt about how music was gendered, how playing the piano was considered a women’s instrument, but they were only allowed to play in the home, never in public. I came to appreciate where we are now.

We learnt about marketing and putting on events. It was really beneficial to me in terms of getting experience across the board but in the end, I decided that I still wanted to be an artist and put my own music out.

  • SALUTE: Now that you teach music as well, what’s your feeling about the state of music education at the moment?

There are a lot of cuts which is difficult because I see first hand how the arts in general affect the students positively. It gives them a creative outlet. As a teacher, it’s interesting because I actually want to know the opinions of my students. I try to spark engaging conversations and for them to share how they interpret things. Something they don’t always get to do in other subjects. I am teaching them about dialogue and how they interpret things which is different to learning facts in science or something. My room at lunch time was always full of students who wanted to work on music and have a chat. I’ve seen music in a completely different setting to being an artist and how it affects the lives of children.

  • SALUTE: What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters?

One of the first things that I keep coming back to, is to utilise what you have. I have made the mistake in the past of telling myself to wait on things until I had new equipment or able to afford everything to the standard I’m aiming to.

It’s important to try and enjoy the journey as well as the destination. It takes a lot of work to maintain and progress with your music so you have to try and enjoy what you are doing.

Networking and getting out to gigs is also really important. You can’t do it all by yourself.

  • SALUTE: How’s it been since your latest music came out?

I released an EP in December, called ‘(Wo)man’. A lot of things in my life changed but I’ve pushed through and the music is reaching people. I’ve had people reach out to me for potential opportunities to perform abroad. I have had a really strong response, a lot of encouragement to keep going. It has really carried me to keep going.

  • SALUTE: You worked in styling and fashion before right? How was it doing the visuals and styling for your videos?

Ahh, it was great, I love working on visuals. I worked for an online clothing company and I had the opportunity to style some of the shoots. I worked with what I had. It was a lot of fun applying those experiences to my own work.

  • SALUTE: How do you make it work for you, balancing work/life/music?

It hasn’t been easy. Putting in a full-time job as a music teacher was a lot. I think you have to just plan around those moments you get off to deliver on your projects. Being realistic with what you can get done with your time is really important. I’m currently working on a new project and I’m not putting a date on it. I’ve got a lot to do in the coming months, so you have to be patient with it and get it done when you have the opportunity. You have to plan ahead

  • SALUTE: What do you think of the SALUTE initiative and competition?

My cousin in Dominica heard about it and sent it through, maybe I saw it before that, but yeah, it reached all the way to Dominica.

It’s a separate passion to be a singer-songwriter compared to writing songs for other people. A lot of songwriters don’t know where to start if they don’t sing, they can’t gig. So with SALUTE, it’s good to have that platform. SALUTE is an amazing thing. To start something that is giving musicians a massive opportunity, I sense a lot of care for the cause. It has given me a boost of encouragement, it’s given me another reason to keep going.

 

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