Sonny Drake contributed to this report.
Australian-born singer-songwriter Lucy Mason played the Tower Bar last Friday as part of the ‘Coffee House Sessions’ tour.
Curated by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the tour aims to bring up and coming artists to university campuses across the country. This gives the students the chance to see intimate performances by great new artists and the artists a chance to percolate interest throughout the country.
Taking to the stage during the Friday afternoon buzz of post-work lunches is perhaps not the most encouraging atmosphere for an intimate acoustic performance but despite the setting, Lucy’s performance shone. Sitting on a high stool alongside guitarist Pablo, who also provides backing harmony vocals, she lets her wonderful voice fill the room.
During the songs she appears lost in the magic of the moment. She closes her eyes and slowly nods her head during the space between verses, seeming to be just loving performing no matter how many people are there.
The set was made up of acoustic renditions of tracks from her debut EP, ’Empty Your Pockets’, bolstered by a brace of cover versions and her latest single, ‘Sirens’. All of these provided a showcase for Lucy’s impressive vocals, with her original compositions showing she has a skill with song writing. The covers, which included a version of Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’, an admitted favourite of hers, compliment her style of emotional writing.
After an intimate acoustic performance, she talked to The Linc about writing, performing and the UK music scene.
– Well let’s start at the beginning – what started your interest in music?
I grew up quite musical. My Mum used to force me into choirs when I was a kid, I didn’t particularly enjoy them, but I guess that’s where I got my knowledge of music. I started learning piano when I was really young and then started to sing in my room on my own. As I got older and became a teenager and started listening to bands it became something that I loved. I listened to music all the time and that really evolved into me making it myself
– Well that leads on to the next question, what sparked your interest in writing songs?
I listened to so many bands and to so much music that it got to the point where I was kind of jealous, like ‘I want to do that’! I feel like I’m still trying to make better music all the time, but that’s what triggered it. I guess when I was seventeen, when I had the ability to play and sing and feel more confident, that’s when I started writing.
– So what are your main influences?
I grew up listening to 90s alternative rock which is funny because I don’t feel I write like that but it’s definitely in me – stuff like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Cranberries. Then, when I was in high school, I started listening to No Doubt; I love Gwen Stefani, I think she’s probably my all-time favourite female role model. I think alternative music is definitely my favourite kind of music, I still love pop and all that, but the main stuff I listen to is the stuff I grew up listening to.
– Do you have a favourite song-writer?
Phil Collins; I covered ‘In The Air Tonight’ earlier, his songs are so good! They’re so emotive, yeah, he’s one of my favourites.
– And any current favourites?
James Blake and a guy called Matt Corby, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, I was lucky enough to go on tour with him last year and got to see him every night and listen to his songs. They’re two of my favourites. There’s so much out there, like Katy Perry’s new song – it’s just so fun, I wish I wrote it.
– Well, talking of song-writing you won an award recently (The 2013 UK Songwriter Contest in the Best Adult-Contemporary Song category for ‘Sirens’), how was that?
That was crazy; I didn’t expect to win that at all. I opened my email because it said the results were in and I scrolled down to see who’d won each category and I was so shocked! I really didn’t expect anything at all. It was very cool to be given an award for your writing – not singing or performing, but writing.
– A validation of what you set out to do?
– Having moved from Australia, how do you feel music in Australia compares to music over here?
It’s so good over here. I don’t want to say anything bad about Australia, but I think that in London, in England in general, you’re all just so accepting of all genres, like there’s a place for everything. Obviously pop still rules, but I feel alternative music and lots of other different styles are given an opportunity; especially in London, you can play a gig anywhere and one day be heard. I suppose I just like the crowd and the way it is in London – Australia was a bit difficult for me.
– So this Coffee House Sessions tour seems an interesting idea, how have you found it?
Good so far! We’ve done ten universities and we’ve ten to go which is a lot but so far it’s been really good. Sometimes we play to a packed room and sometimes we play practically empty rooms but it doesn’t really matter because each place you go it seems to make an impact in some form. It’s been really nice to play two shows a day for a whole week and have people hear you, that’s the best part about it and we’re really enjoying it.
– Well that was my next question – what have the crowds been like and what has it been like to play that many concerts in such a short time?
It’s been hard but we’re not tired and my voice isn’t tired so it’s really encouraging to know I can do that. The crowds have been great – everyone has been lovely.
Lucy Mason’s new single ‘Sirens’ is available now on iTunes.Tweet