How did you start?
Tender Central has been in the making for years, existing as a side project of mine in between touring with Ben Howard. I released an ep under my own name back in 2011 which very much spoke to my classical roots, but as I experimented further I could increasingly hear a strong rhythmic element developing which I couldn’t quite nail on my own. So it wasn’t until producer/DJ Jakwob and I sat down in his East London studio in 2014 and wrote Wake Me Up, I realised this was where I wanted to go. His beats and production tied my music together, creating a whole new dimension.
How did you start?
We’ve since collaborated on lots more tunes, many of which I am having a great time playing on the road with Banfidrummer Aaron Graham. I’ve also gone on to collaborate with other producers including Kideko who I worked with on my latest single Lava released on Communion Singles Club.
Where are you based?
In South Devon between the moors and the sea.
Please give an example of your music writing process
I grew up singing a lot of choral music and I think that really rubbed off on me. I almost always start with the vocal lines, often writing a vocal loop to sing the melody over like in Lava. The bass lines and beats are usually what follow. It’s nice for me to bounce the bass off the beats; it frees me up to have it grooving along. I quite often sing the bass lines before I play them which means they can take on a vocal quality in shape and phrasing, winding in and out of the melody. After that the rest follows!
What are you working on right now?
A song called Body. I run an all-female choir at home and started writing it for them. I’ve had a lot of fun workshopping ideas in rehearsals, it’s so amazing for my writing to hear them sing all the parts live. Soon I realised I wanted to add instrumentation so it has now grown from there. I am excited about where it’s going to end up..
What is your gear setup?
I play bass, keyboard and electric guitar. Aaron plays kit and SPDs. We sometimes have friends guesting on guitar and strings if we’re lucky…
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
I think living in the countryside has a big effect on me and my music. I spend a lot of time walking the dog through the fields and on the moors which gives me a lot of creative thinking time and space. Me and my husband lived in London for quite a few years and although I loved it I knew I would always be drawn back to the peace of where we grew up. So I spend a lot of time outdoors, running, swimming in the sea, digging in the garden and doing bits to our house. It’s a great place to clear the head and allow for creativity to come in.
How would you describe your music genre?
Jakwob described it once as kind of ancient sounding, almost primal which is interesting! I have a lot of different influences having studied a range of styles and genres at uni and having being around music since I was a kid. I love the the modal scales of trad folk music and the vocal lines and different ragas in Indian music. I am definitely drawn to using that kind of harmony in my music.
Do you know any music theory?
Yes, although I think i’ve forgotten most of it!
What are your plans for the future?
There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon both for Tender Central and for the bands i’m in with the Ben Howard crew. A Blaze of Feather is an exciting new project led by Mickey Smith and features the exact same line up as Ben’s band. We’ve all got some epic festival slots this year between us including Wilderness and Boardmasters with Tender Central and Latitude and Citadel amongst others with A Blaze Of Feather.
Looking to the future I’d love to release a Tender Central record. I think it’s something every artist has a desire to do. An album is a moment in time and a marker in the sand; something to show what you’ve been doing to the outside world when so much of what you do is invisible to the naked eye. You can play, write, craft and hone your skills day and night but unless you record it, music exists purely in the muscle memory of your fingers and vocal chords and in the memory of those who’ve heard you perform. In many ways that’s the magic and beauty of it.
How did you get into music?
I was lucky to grow up surrounded by it- my dad was a music teacher and my mum always play and sang. As kids we sang together and played different instruments. It captivated me, setting me on fire. I knew from quite young it was what I wanted to do.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Sylvan Esso’s new record, Bonobo’s recent album and I’ve also been getting into a tape in my car of old English Madrigals! It’s pretty funny stuff but I love the harmonies.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
Bjork’s fearlessness. Thom Yorke’s sound world. Joni Mitchell’s soaring vocals and lyrical journeys. Peter Gabriel’s instrumentation and raw emotional voice and Nina Simone’s fierce determination and unbelievable skills.
When are you playing next?
Communion’s London festival Bushstock on 10th June in Shepherd’s Bush.