“I’m hap­pi­est in that Jane Austen/ Brontë sis­ters world. It does sound silly but there was al­ways this feel­ing of not re­ally be­long­ing to this era”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

So much is dif­fer­ent about her – from de­scrib­ing her song­writ­ing style (“It’s stream of con­scious­ness stuff, I sup­pose. Sit­ting down with a gui­tar and vom­it­ing emo­tion onto a melody”) to her ideal venue (“Some­where in the high­lands of Scot­land, not some ‘academy’ in a big city”), to what suc­cess means to her (“There was a brief spell of con­fi­dence when I signed my record deal at 16, but that hasn’t re­turned since”).

By not show­boat­ing, not “dig­ging deep” and not be­ing emo­tion­ally hy­per­ac­tive, there is an anachro­nism about her – both in speech and song. “I’m hap­pi­est in that Jane Austen/Brontë sis­ters world,” she says. “It does sound silly but there was al­ways this feel­ing of not re­ally be­long­ing to this era and that be­came even more height­ened when I was a typ­i­cally in­tense teenager. At school no one liked the mu­sic I was do­ing at all – it was all ‘yeah, folk mu­sic, what­ever – not in­ter­ested’. But then I sup­pose it is a bit un­usual to be a very young girl and to learn ba­sic gui­tar pick­ing prin­ci­ples from Neil Young’s The Nee­dle And The Dam­age Done.”

She clearly re­mem­bers two piv­otal mo­ments in her mu­si­cal devel­op­ment. “I was only six, but it’s stuck with me all this time. A friend of the fam­ily was stay­ing and was play­ing a clas­si­cal piece on the pi­ano. It all just seemed to make sense when I heard that. And then when I had left home at 16 and was liv­ing in London, a flat­mate played me Bon­nie “Prince” Billy’s I See A Dark­ness al­bum and that was like a shock to the sys­tem. I al­most felt guilty at lis­ten­ing in to such in­tense emo­tions.”

She was brought up in a vil­lage set­ting in Hamp­shire; her fa­ther was an am­a­teur singer­song­writer who also ran a record­ing stu­dio. “My mu­sic now is a re­flec­tion on what I was brought up on,” she says. “My par­ents had a lot of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young records. Joni Mitchell re­ally ig­nited a spark – there was some­thing about her voice, about the way it res­onated. It wasn’t a fe­male thing that drew me to her, it was how she used her vo­cals. I started play­ing the gui­tar when I was very young and my par­ents made us lis­ten to ‘real’ mu­sic.

When her MyS­pace page be­gan to pick up a bit of at­ten­tion, she dropped out of school at 16 and moved to London. She’s grate­ful for the mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion her par­ents gave her and when a song on her first al­bum, Tap At My Win­dow, which was by in­spired by Philip Larkin’s This Be The Verse (pop­u­larly known as “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”) con­tained the line “I can­not for­give you for bring­ing me up this way”, she had to sit her

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