The Coffee House Sessions tour has started in Manchester this month, rekindling a relationship with our very own Students Union here at Manchester Met. Luckily for us and the Hive team, it means we get to be introduced to a whole host of new artists who grace the stage. As they arrive in this beautiful city, we get the chance to speak to them about how the tour has gone and their plans for the future. First off this year is Amy Lawton, a singer/songwriter from London who over the last couple years has been gradually building her name with some great performances and toe-tapping singles.
How has the Coffee House tour been so far?
Good! Really well, it’s the last day now and it’s gone so quickly, but I’ve really enjoyed it.
How have the shows differed between the varying Unions you’ve played at and have you found you’ve won over those crowds?
At 1pm, around the start of the set, most people are busy or sat having lunch so I try to win those over. But I find by the end most people are listening or have engaged a little. I do the audience participation bits which have helped, so people have shouted out things and I’ve spoken to loads of students before and after the gigs.
With you being a student yourself, I imagine you’ve relished being able to play to your peers up and down the UK?
It’s really nice being able to play to people who are all the same age to me. Especially knowing what kind of audience to expect and to have that definite.
Your sound has been likened quite often to early Taylor Swift, especially singles like Hurts Like Paradise. Would you agree or can we see significant change in the future?
I’m not sure, I don’t really think too much about what specific sound I want to have when I’m writing songs. I just say whatever I want to say and sing whatever comes naturally to me. People make comparisons because it’s easy. I love listening to country music and when you listen to a lot of one genre especially and write your own stuff, it’ll creep into your songs. It’s just whatever comes out.
Who in particular have you found yourself listening to a lot? Does that ever help keep you in the mood to write or write with them?
I love Suzanne Vega and her writing style. I love Kacey Musgraves currently and a lot of Kim Petras. Definitely when I listen to music that I love, it really gets me in the mood to go and write a song. I’ll probably never a write a song that is like the thing I’ve just listened to.
When it comes to writing, you’ve teamed up with the likes of Matty Benbrook (Paolo Nutini, Jake Bugg). How does the structure work when you’re in the studio together?
A lot of the time when me and Matty write together, he starts with a backing track and I write the melody and words over it. I really like that because it’s like a crossword puzzle where you just fill in the gaps. But sometimes I’ll be at home, have an idea with some chords and a first verse which I’ll come in and play to him. It happens in all different kinds of ways, regardless of which one of us has an idea. We just build on it from there.
So with that, do you find it easy getting songs created quickly or is the process long and drawn-out?
Sometimes if I’m stuck on something or didn’t have someone like Matty to be able to bounce off of, I’d probably be stuck on it for a year or so. Then other times I write other songs by myself really quickly. Hurts Like Paradise took about an hour, but it would’ve taken less time than that. Usually I’ll write one line, play that over and over again before moving onto the next one. Whereas Undone was written together. I had an idea from home, brought it into the studio and built on it together.
Being a part of the Coffee House Sessions tour for nearly two weeks with only Manchester and Liverpool left to play, what have you found to do whilst you chill?
We’ve been in the car a lot, long journeys.
What are they like?
We chat quite a bit, I’m the DJ so I get to pick the songs. I’m a big fan of journeys so they’ve been fun.
With Hurts Like Paradise coming out a few months ago now, have you been gradually playing new stuff on the Tour?
We’ve been playing this song called Don’t Bring Louise, which I’m hoping will be the next single out. It’s really good getting people’s reactions to that. I’ve got a lot of new songs I want to put out, it’s just the long process of getting them out there. I can write faster than I can put songs out.
So you’ve just got a load sat there?
A backlog of songs, yeah.
Finally, how difficult do you find getting back into student life if and when you’d much rather be out performing every night?
I’d always rather be out there. This week I had an essay to do which got done in the car. It’s just one of those things that’s got to be done, I can’t really complain!
Interview by Callum Sheppard.
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