Interview: Jess Harwood

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Photo by Nicki Jaye

Hailing from Blackpool, in the North West of England, Jess Harwood has such a beautiful tone to her voice.  Her song “Breaking Down” will have you hooked. Recently taking part in a ‘BBC Introducing’ Masterclass, Jess is hoping to secure some dates being a support artist over the Summer as well as play at some festivals.  With her debut EP about to be released, and several dates in Manchester planned, read on to find out about how self-taught Jess writes her music and how she’s teamed up with Reverbnation to help support charity Oxfam.

SP:  Hi Jess, When did you first start playing the guitar? Did you always aspire to becoming a musician?

JH:  I’ve always loved music and I have been singing from an early age, think I was about five. And from then I always said I wanted to be a singer. I first started playing the guitar about two years ago, when I was 18, because I felt the need to write some songs but couldnt really play an instrument so it was difficult to put my ideas down, so my Mum and Dad bought me a guitar for my 18th birthday and then I went on the internet, learnt the chords and taught myself the guitar.

SP:  Tell us how you got involved with BBC Introducing? How did the Masterclass go?

JH:  Well basically, I just uploaded a track on to the BBC Uploader and thankfully it got picked and played on the BBC Lancashire show and from then on they have been playing my tracks on quite a few of the shows… The Masterclass was great, it was really good! I learned so much from the day and I’m really grateful that Sean McGinty and Gareth Fletcher (Lancashires BBC Introducing show) put my name forward to be a part of such a wonderful day/experience.

SP:  How has the feedback been on your demo EP?

JH:  The feedback has been really really good, lots of people have been telling me they love it via Facebook, Twitter… And the response I get after I’ve done a gig, the amount of people that come and buy one is brilliant… I’m overwhelmed that people are liking my music and want to buy my EP.

SP:  You filmed a session with Rotted Grape earlier in the year and you looked freezing!! Have you played in any other compromising locations?

JH:  Yes, it was freezing, so so cold… It was one of those, it was warmer outside than it was inside and outside was covered in snow! Yeah there is actually, I did a video with Preston Sessions. I was stood on a bridge at Avenham Park over a frozen lake, another cold day!

SP:  So far, what event have you been most nervous at? How do you overcome any nerves?

JH:  I dont really get nervous, its more excitement! I love getting up on stage and playing my music to an audience… I was really excited to support Billy Lockett on the Manchester leg of his UK tour at Sacred Trinity Church in Salford.

SP:  What kind of situations inspire you to write?

JH:  Most of the songs I write seem to be relationship based but are not really from personal experience, although I once wrote a song about a little girl I knew who sadly passed away at a very young age. I thought it would be a nice way to remember her.

SP:  How would you describe your sound?

JH:  This is a tricky one… I would describe my sound as catchy, melodic, acoustic music with resonant lyrics. I seem to have a lot of comments comparing me to Laura Marling and Ellie Goulding.

SP:  Who are your musical influences?

JH:  I dont think I have any specific musical influences, I have grown up listening to all types of popular music so probably got some influences off them but can’t really put my finger on anything in particular.

SP:  If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?

JH:  Someone like James Morrison would be so good to collaborate with, really like his style and his tone of voice.

SP:  Why should people listen to you and check out your music?

JH:  I really think people would like my music, I think its fairly mainstream and I just want to get my music out to as many people as possible. And I would love to do this for a living.

SP:  You have teamed up with Reverbnation where a percentage of your download purchase goes to charity. How did this come about?

JH:  People were asking how they could buy my music so I just had a look on the internet to find a suitable outlet for people to buy it. And Reverbnation seemed like a good idea especially with 50% of the price going to charity… I thought ‘why not give it a go’.

SP:  How does it feel having a song out there that people can buy?!

JH:  I’m really excited about it! It’s so great that people are actually buying my music.

SP:  Are you excited for the rest of 2013 and what it may bring for you?

JH:  Very. Ive got a new four track EP coming out in the next month or so, looking to get one or two festival slots confirmed and then hoping to get a tour or supporting someone on a tour for after the summer. But in the meantime I am always on the look out for good gigs across the country.

SP:  What five words describe your music?

JH:  Catchy, melodic, acoustic, easy listening and resonant.

Jess Harwood’s Rotted Grape Acoustic Session:

Connect with Jess here:

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