GILLIE is a young guitar pop talent. Originally hailing from Wales, she moved east to London to study and began plying a folky craft which began to take on more electronic elements before arriving at the pristine pop/indie groove you can hear on her latest single, “Leaving Alone” (you’ll find it down there at the end).
As part of our new Rising feature, we wanted to find out a little bit more about Gillie as a person and as a musician, so we took some time to ask her a little about herself. Read on!
BACKSEAT MAFIA: Hi Gillie. Tell us a bit about yourself.
GILLIE: I’ve been writing and performing in bands since I was 15. Originally I’m from Wales, but I came to London to study at Goldsmiths when I was 18 and then went on to meet my band. Over the years my sound has changed a lot. I began writing as a folk artist, before taking more of an electronic route; however since working with my current line-up – we’ve been playing together since mid-2019 – we’ve found a sound that really suits the project.
Earlier this year I released my Open Up, Honey EP through Skivvy Records (a small label I set up at the beginning of last year with Ailsa Tully). This marked the beginning of more frequent releases. It got a really lovely response and was played across BBC Radio Wales, Get in Her Ears and Radio Hoxton. Over the past couple of years I have spent time crafting my live sound, playing across England and Wales. I’m now knuckling down on recording and releasing.
Who inspired you to start making music?
I was brought up around a lot of professional classical musicians who inspired me to start playing the cello when I was 7. I would always make up melodies and write lyrics but when I was around the age of 9, I was gifted a small seagull folk guitar and that’s when I started writing songs properly. When I was 14 I started listening to artists like Bon Iver and Daughter and realised I wanted to write music like them.
Music is something I’ve always wanted to pursue, I think my drive to write has always been there, in one way or another. I’ve always adored literature and poetry and the way words and melodies can influence you. I wouldn’t say anything triggered my love for music, but the artists that I listened to whilst growing up shaped the kind of musician I have become.
Is there one (or more) records that inspired you artistically?
Art Angels by Grimes and The Party by Andy Shauf. Although Art Angels is a very different sound to mine, I’m really inspired by Grimes as an artist and her energy, particularly on this album. The way she talks about production really resonates with me; she has always made it clear that her project is something she wants complete creative control over, and something that should be and will be built solely by her, as opposed to simply ‘the face of it’. This is something that’s really important to me.
Listening to The Party reminded me how powerful simplicity in music can be. This is one of the few albums I’ve been able to listen to over and over again and it really hits a spot inside of me. The delicate woodwind, emotionally charged strings and mundane lyrics create something really special and authentic.
If you’re trying to explain who or what you sound like to someone who’s never heard you, what do you say?
My music is quite chilled, it has a light feel with darker undertones. If I had to give it a genre I would say shoegaze or indiepop; however, I do listen to a lot of folk and I feel like that influences my music from time to time.
Tell us how you write?
Although I have a band I am the sole writer of the tracks. I usually workshop ideas with my band in a rehearsal space, drums, bass, etc. I will often begin writing by coming up with a melody, then a guitar line and lyrics. Once I have the outline for a track I may open up Logic and begin laying down the foundations. This allows me to separate myself from the writing process and hear how it sounds out loud. I will then begin adding flourishes and ideas on top of what I’ve written. Sometimes I’ll try methods like starting with the drums and some synth sounds first, and will leave the vocals and guitar until the very end to see what this produces. I can sometimes get stuck in a loop of writing in the same way, so I like to try and stretch myself in different ways.
Tell us about your live show? And how much have you been missing it recently?
I have been missing playing live, mostly because I miss the energy of playing with a band and bouncing ideas off one another. I’m lucky enough to work with Ailsa Tully and my partner Fin O’Hara, who also make really great music. It’s always great getting into a rehearsal space with them and getting their ideas on my songs. Having said that, I have really enjoyed having an abundance of free time to record and write. It’s been really valuable to have the freedom to take things at my own pace and think about the direction I’m heading in, something I don’t always have time for when I’m rehearsing for shows.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am planning an EP release at the beginning of next year, and would love to begin working on a larger body of work, probably towards the middle of next year. Obviously I would love to begin performing live again but time will tell with that, I want to make sure that it’s safe to do so.
Tell us the records that are rocking your stereo right now?
This week I’ve been really enjoying Walking Like We Do, by Big Moon. I really love the energy of this album; it’s been great to listen to as the winter months roll in, it makes everything feel a bit brighter.
This year an album that has very much been on my radar is Everyday Nothing, by Brooke Bentham. She is a good friend of mine and I always feel so grateful to know someone who makes such beautiful music. I also have to mention RY X’s Unfurl and Fleet Foxes’ Shore. Both of these albums have offered a form of escapism. I have listened to them a lot with my partner, particularly whilst driving around the countryside. You can get very lost within the spaces and textures of these tracks.
Tell us about your new single?
“Leaving Alone” will be released on Skivvy Records. It was recorded and self-produced at home during our first lockdown. The track is about coming to the end of my tether with people who have been disloyal. Sonically and in terms of songwriting this track is quite a new era and feels like I have taken a new turn. I have often allowed myself to become swallowed up by feelings and wallow in them; this has been reflected in my previous songwriting. I wanted to write something a little more lighthearted and carefree despite the context of the track itself. I feel like it is reminiscent of being a carefree yet slightly angsty teenager; however, this juxtaposes the fact that for the first time I feel like I am handling things in a much more mature manner by not letting them take over me.
And where can we get hold of it?
It will be available on all streaming services from Friday, December 4th.