LISTEN: Bess Atwell – ‘Co-op’

A nostalgia-tinged reflection on the different ways we seek comfort in a relationship, British songwriter Bess Atwell has shared her latest single ‘Co-op’. Released via Lucy Rose’s label Real Kind Records, Atwell gently shifts between tenses and re-traces her emotions on this charming musical snapshot, exploring what it means to truly trust someone to help you through life’s difficult moments.

“I think of this song the same way I think of a memory that keeps interrupting the current moment,” Atwell explains. Through her stream of consciousness lyrics and gentle melodies, she finds herself resting somewhere between insecurity and genuine confidence, treating everyday occurrences with a poetic poignancy – “Half your furniture we found on the street outside / Hey somebody is throwing out a perfectly good piece of mind.”

“‘Co-op’ is an illustration of mine and my partner’s life together,” Atwell continues. “The relationship seemed to provide me with some sort of permission to recuperate from family trauma, as if realising for the first time that there was a life outside of that chaos lulled me into an emotional slumber. Through the song I grapple with the desire for, and fear of, comfort. I used references to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway to depict a vivid nostalgia and an affinity for trivialities that serve to calm when darker thoughts set in.”

The track is accompanied by a soft-looking set of visuals, co-directed by Atwell and her good friend George Ogilvie, which gently attempts to “marry two worlds at odds with each other,” contrasting “the mundane and the emotional” elements of the track with Atwell’s eccentric props, outfit and choice of setting.

“‘Co-op’ started out as a bit of a private joke, so I wanted the video to have a self-awareness and sense of humour to it too,” Atwell explains. “I think there can be a tendency, when you’re shooting a music video yourself, to try too hard to make it look professional. Instead, I wanted to lean into the fun of making it with a friend. It felt reminiscent of our childhoods, when we would make up plays or dances and perform them to anyone who would watch.”

Watch the video for ‘Co-op’ below.

Follow Bess Atwell on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Kate Crudgington

LISTEN: Sunflower Thieves – ‘Hide and Seek’

Charming vocal harmonies and soft guitar sounds blend delicately together on Sunflower Thieves‘ latest single, ‘Hide and Seek’. Self-released by the Leeds-based duo, the track is a nostalgic musing on what it was like to be a small child, blissfully unaware of the troubles of the wider world.

Sunflower Thieves’ musical offerings blossomed out of Amy and Lily’s sixteen year friendship. The pop-folk duo craft tentative tracks with personal narratives, and ‘Hide and Seek’ is another example of their ability to create reassuring sounds.

“‘Hide and Seek’ was written on a little writing trip we took to Norfolk in January” the band explain. “We stayed in a little beach-side house with a log fire and had a lovely, creative time. That definitely influenced the song. ‘Hide and Seek’ is about childhood memory and ignorant bliss. We all wish we could escape back to a time when we felt safe and other people would take care of us, when life becomes a little difficult.”

“Most of the instrumentations (guitars, strings, bass, etc) have been recorded remotely during lockdown. Lily produces all of our music, so we’ve taken advantage of the concentrated creative time lockdown has given us to get it sounding exactly how we wanted it to. Production and songwriting are both hugely inspired by Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Rose for this song, and we feel it’s our best yet.”

Listen to Sunflower Thieves’ new single below and follow the band on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington

Introducing Interview: Beckie Margaret

(Originally posted on Gigslutz)

When Parallel Lines first announced Beckie Margaret’s debut London gig at The Waiting Room earlier this year, I immediately scrawled it in to my diary. As an avid fan of Cool Thing Records (the label Beckie is signed to) and all of the artists on their roster, instinct told me this was going to be something special. My instinct turned to panic when they (very kindly) asked me to DJ on the night under the name of Get In Her Ears, but the panic subsided at the thought of chatting to Beckie before the gig and spinning a few 90s grunge classics throughout the night.

I met Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records) outside the venue, and was introduced to Beckie shortly afterwards. We joked about both being from Essex and my questionable DJ skills, before heading down to the backstage area of the venue to have a proper chat. Although Beckie is new to interviews and gigging, speaking to her about both was effortless and genuinely enjoyable. We laughed our way through interruptions (that’s what happens when you sit on a chair in front of a door) and talked about her influences, her expectations, and where she’d like to perform next…

So, Beckie, when did you first start writing your own songs?

I started playing songs when I was about 7, and then when I was around 9…

That’s so young!

I know! I think it’s because I just loved poetry and words from a really young age, so just out of curiosity I started using other peoples poems and putting them to guitar. I mean, obviously they weren’t very good – I was 9 – but I’ve always been interested in English language and literature. I think the poems were just things that I’d find on the internet, or in old non-recognisable books in charity shops…God knows.

That’s cool. So your inspiration came from poetry originally, but are there any songwriters/musicians in particular that your song-writing is influenced by?

I love Jeff Buckley.

ME TOO! Sorry, carry on…

Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, they’re probably my main ones. When I started to self-produce, James Blake became a massive influence in terms of arrangement, but for song-writers it would definitely be Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver. Purely for the organic emotion, that gets me.

Same, especially with Jeff. How did you hear about your label Cool Thing Records? Did you approach them or did they approach you?

Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records founding member) is a teacher and he taught me song-writing, and he’s one of the reasons I’m doing my song-writing degree at ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance). I’m in my third year of that now. I left college, started my degree, self-produced my single ‘Cars & Catacombs’, got it mixed and mastered and ready to go, but I didn’t know how to release music.

I dropped Luke a message asking if he could recommend any websites and how to release new music, and he asked me to send it to him. I was like, “why does he want to listen to it?” and I remember saying to my boyfriend “I’m really nervous, why does he want to listen to it?” – the next thing I knew, I was in a meeting with Luke and he said he wanted to sign me. I literally just thought I’d get a link to a website when I sent the message.

That’s great, he obviously had faith in your talent if he took you under his wing straight away?

He’s great, he’s always helped me. Even when he taught me back in college he understood that sometimes I didn’t always work as well in a group so he’d let me sit on my own, and just let me be, you know?

It’s great that you’ve got that level of support from him. 

Your sound differs quite dramatically from the other acts who are also on the Cool Thing label (Petty Phase, Suspects, BAIT, Asylums). What do you like about these bands? Is there something in their sound that inspires you in your own performances or song-writing?

I think it’s mostly just about being yourself and each band doesn’t really care about trying to be like anyone else. I think that’s what Luke looks for, as well as quality. I really love how different and versatile everyone is. It’s a real support system as well, everyone’s behind each other all the way and that’s what makes it an inspiration for me. Music is music at the end of the day, as long as you can emote to it, it doesn’t matter what genre it is!

You’re about to play your first London headline show for Parallel Lines at The Waiting Room. How are you feeling? What are your anticipations for the night?

I’m hoping I won’t just be playing to my Mum. I’m new to gigging, so I think it’s just about remembering you’re doing it because you love it and to not take it too seriously. I just want to enjoy it, which is actually harder than it sounds. I’m just gonna focus on my band mates and get lost in the music, and if it goes wrong – it goes wrong!

That’s a good attitude to have! I know you’ve only just started to perform live, but once you’ve established a larger following (which I’m sure you will) do you have a “dream venue” that you’d like to perform in?

KOKO. I love KOKO. We’ve (Cool Thing Records) had discussions about potential followings and finding a following that’s loyal, and not big – kind of like Lucy Rose. I saw her at a festival recently and I went up and spoke to her and we were just having a chat about her music and her little dog, but no-one else really came up to her and knew who she was. I’d like to be like her, to be respected but not be mobbed, you know?

That sounds cool. What new music have you been listening to recently?

This is gonna sound really weird, but I starve myself of music as part of my creative process. I tend to listen to Brian Eno, Philip Glass and drone music because it provokes lots of thoughts and helps me to write my own songs. I’ve been starving myself of music while writing single 3 (listen here to single 2). I have listened to Nothing But Thieves new album though, and Anderson Paak, and I’ve gone back to Bon Iver recently too. And of course, the Cool Thing guys too. I couldn’t help myself in those areas!

Of course! So, what’s next for Beckie Margaret? More song-writing? Recording? Live dates?

Everything really, we’re going to be stepping it up a notch. I’m already working on single 3, I’m working on a cheeky EP, and just getting ready for next summer really. I’m going to make this my project for the final year of my degree too, so very busy. It’s good to be busy though!

Huge thanks to Beckie for answering our questions, and to Cool Thing Records for being as cool as ever. Follow Beckie Margaret on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington

LIVE: Beckie Margaret – The Waiting Room, London 28.09.18

(Originally posted on Gigslutz)

Familiarise yourself with the breath-taking talent of song-writer Beckie Margaret before she inevitably steps in to larger spotlights, performing to sold out crowds. She packed out The Waiting Room at her debut London gig on Thursday night (hosted by Parallel Lines), and proved that despite only playing live for the third time, she has a rare and precious gift for making music that can’t be ignored.

Inspired by the likes of Lucy Rose, Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver, Beckie’s songs are tender, intuitive and effortlessly delivered. She’s still at University in the final year of her song-writing degree, but there’s something about her voice and her stage presence that can’t be studied or learned in a classroom. It was a pleasure to behold someone so young look so comfortable whilst singing about love, life and trying to see the colour in the world when everything’s tainted by poor mental health.

Despite having only one single online at the time of the gig, Beckie’s set was full of modest, melodic songs which displayed her enviable musical and lyrical sensitivities. Supported by her label mates from Cool Thing Records (Luke & Jazz from Asylums played bass & guitar alongside her, whilst bassist Mike was on hand for guitar changes) Beckie performed her debut ‘Cars & Catacombs’ as well as her latest release ‘At Home (Where I Write)’ among other songs and all were delivered with elegance and precision. Her incredible cover of The Beatles’ classic ‘All You Need Is Love’ also acted as further proof of her remarkable and idiosyncratic style.

Beckie Margaret’s voice and natural charisma are unique and precious, and the Cool Thing Records family have clearly worked in harmony with her, nurturing and supporting her since the release of her debut single in 2016. We can’t wait to see what Beckie’s going to do next and we recommend you catch her now before she ultimately becomes uncatchable.

Support came from Calluna. Performing with a full band, front woman Heather shone (not just because of the glitter on her face) in the spotlight with her strong, sultry vocals. Perfectly billed alongside Beckie.

Follow Beckie Margaret on Facebook for more updates. Listen to her new single ‘At Home (Where I Write)’ on Spotify now.

Photo Credit: Kana Waiwaiku

Kate Crudgington