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Interview with Bristol based singer songwriter Katy J Pearson

Blog by Hannah Davenport @hannah11dav

Katy J Pearson, 24, on nostalgic lockdown music, releasing an album in 2020 and staying connected online.

Gigging at 15, signed at 19, music is an essential force in Katy’s life. Originally from Stroud, she’s been based in Bristol for four years which provided the setting for most of the songs on her latest album ‘Return’. The album was released last November, a risky move with touring on hold, but one she has no regrets about.

“In a funny way, I think it wouldn’t have connected as well if it wasn’t in lockdown.

“The songs were written in a place when I wasn’t doing that great and I think people need songs of positivity, hope and empathy.”

Music has influenced the very makeup of her days and dictated her emotions: “It’s so important for my moods, there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t listen to music most of the time.”

Katy reflected that she went into her shell during the first lockdown and struggled to stay inspired through the stress of the unknown. But keeping connected to her friends and family, reading, walking and swimming around Bristol kept her in a place where she wanted to write. That and the shift to warmer weather. “I’m excited for Summer, that’s my season!”

In lockdown, she reflected on certain albums that drew her in which she can play over and over again, like those by Bert Jansch or the Maccabees first album she listened to as a teenager. “They give you a feeling of stability and make you grounded, that’s super important at the moment, people need songs that take them to a place they remember.”

Musicians have received some serious blows the past year and have had to rely on support within the industry. “Independent labels are very much on the artist’s side and see it’s a lot to deal with, especially when most musicians are pretty sensitive and wobbly anyway!”

On top of battling streaming platforms and being put out of work from Covid restrictions, Brexit negotiations seemed to have left artists behind, with recent news the UK had rejected an offer of visa-free tours by musicians in the EU.

“I can’t believe the government’s complete lack of understanding for how vital the creative industries are for the UK. It’s baffling.”

There is a strong sense of support particularly among female musicians in Bristol and London, as Katy referenced the important role social media has played in staying connected.

“Things are hard for female musicians anyway so we’re very empathetic towards each other and cheering each other on at this time.”

The ‘new normal’ has meant artists now predominantly receive feedback over the internet, rather than from live audiences, a shift that may be hard to adjust to. Katy has found it ‘amazing’ but also potentially unhealthy. She said there is a risk of losing the organic connection that most artists strive to achieve with the people they share their work with.

Thinking about the summer ahead, Katy continues to stay positive: “I’ve got a lot to be grateful for, it’s all going to be ok, it’s just a rough patch for everyone.”

You can find details of her latest album ‘Return’ here:

Katy’s top 5 lockdown listens:
1. Townes Van Zandt – Fare Thee Well Miss Carousel
2. Renee – Jimmy
3. Kate Bush – The Fog
4. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
5. Michael Farnetti – The River

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