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You’ve played so many concerts and festivals this year. How has performing been?

I don’t think you can ever be prepared for getting up and singing your own stuff. Starting when I was 11 or 12, I made money by playing saxophone in a jazz band with my dad on the weekends—and I was always really comfortable on stage. But as soon as I started doing my own music instead of jazz standards, it became a different experience entirely. It’s much harder; you’re so vulnerable. Now I really get stage fright—the first song is always terrifying, but after that I get over it. Then I love it and I never want it to end.

You grew up playing a variety of instruments. How do you fuse that with your process today?

I did, but I don’t anymore. At 13, I decided to focus on my singing, my songwriting and my saxophone. Now I write mainly on the piano, and I just started to pick up my guitar a bit again. I’d like to incorporate saxophone into my music in an abstract way as well, as long as I’m not going to be playing it on stage. I feel like that’d be a huge step back for me because it just reminds me of what I did every weekend in my teenage years.

You wrote your first album in Devon, at the home in the woods where you grew up. Do you still go there to write?

Yeah; I’ve been writing some of the music for the second album there now. In Devon there’s peace—there’s no Facebook or anything to distract me. If I want to procrastinate, I have to take a walk, or chop wood to light a fire to heat up water for a bath. I find I write better, more meaningful stuff when I take myself out of my day-to-day life and basically allow myself the space to see what’s going on with me. When I separate myself from everything, it gives me license to try anything without that niggling, self-critical voice.

You tend toward very emotionally bare lyrics. How do you channel that?

The songwriting process is what I love most about music—it’s my therapy. It’s the way I understand how I’m feeling. It can be hard to hear other people being vulnerable, so my first album wasn’t very easily digestible. I wasn’t writing cheery pop songs about love; I was talking about things that people don’t really like to talk about. It’s fine—you can’t please everybody. I want my audience to be only people that want to go deep.

How is the attention you’ve gotten for your first album affecting your writing for the second one?

My label believes in me and wants a second album, so that’s a lovely way to go into it. But my second album might be completely different. I mean, I hope it will be completely different. I can’t worry about people liking it though—then I don’t think I would ever release anything.

"When you separate yourself from everything, you’ve got license to try anything without that niggling, self-critical voice."

Do you have a direction in mind for the new album?

I’d like to experiment more with my roots in music—so more jazz, more experimental, maybe pull away from the electronic thing and find a balance between the recording and live shows. I want the live shows to be at the heart of this record. Since I come from a jazz background, I love playing live in a free way—I like not knowing what’s going to happen next. But everyone’s playing to backing tracks these days and I find it quite limiting. The only way I’ll survive the shows for the second album is if we play everything live without a backing track. My favorite songs are the ones you can bend to respond to your audience. I feel like that’s when magic is made.

Your boyfriend is a filmmaker. Do you ever collaborate?

It’s great being with someone creative. He made a documentary when I did the first album. It’s very vulnerable—I cry my eyes out in it. When I was first doing music, I felt like the identity part of it is so important and the visuals are so important. But as a woman, I didn’t want it to be all about my face; I wanted it to be about the music. So I created these cold, minimal visuals because I felt like that way people would just listen to the music. But it’s not a true depiction of my character—I’m actually quite loud and bubbly. And I’ve slowly been trying to let my audience know me, so it’s good that he can film me and we can collaborate, because it allows people to see the true me.

People are primarily visual consumers these days. What’s your take on this?

It’s a shame—the emphasis on visuals has taken over in a lot of things. Sometimes I feel like music is a backing track to the visuals and not the other way around. I don’t think people take the time to really listen to stuff anymore, but my dream is just for people to listen to my album front to back.

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