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Getting To Know: Livvy English

1. Your journey into the music industry took an interesting turn when you performed for Will Young during a masterclass. Can you tell us more about that moment and how it influenced your decision to pursue a career in music as an artist?

This was during my first year of music university- we were sent an email by the head of vocals asking students to send their demos over as Will Young was hosting a masterclass that week and wanted to work one on one with some students on their songs. At this point I very much thought of myself as just a singer; I had written music before but mainly just as a hobby and an emotional outlet. I really didn’t have much confidence with my songwriting at all, but I’m never one to shy away from an opportunity to network with influential people, so I sent over a recording of my unreleased song ‘Wounded’. Much to my surprise, I was one of 4 people out of the whole university chosen to work with Will, who was an absolute dream by the way, so knowledgeable and lovely, and who loved my song. I’d always loved the idea of being an artist and playing my own music but doubted whether I was good enough to pursue it, so being chosen out of all those people and having Will and all my tutors and peers be so complimentary really just gave me the confidence boost I needed- I never looked back!

2. Livvy, your band has had an incredible year, performing at iconic venues and collaborating with War Child. Could you share some of the highlights and memorable experiences from this past year?

It has really been an amazing year for so many reasons. Headlining stages like Dingwalls and Spice of Life who have hosted some of my all-time favourite artists like Etta James and Foo Fighters, and finding out that War Child already knew who I was and had been following my music has been so surreal, but I think the absolute peak of the past year has been finally releasing music. Hearing myself on the radio and connecting with people who have found my music and hearing their reactions and how it has moved them has just been incredible beyond words. I put so much love and care into my music, and seeing other people love it too is so gratifying and really is a beautiful feeling. And to be able to do this all with my wonderful band, who are some of the most phenomenally talented musicians I have ever come across, is just the icing on the cake.

3. "Shame For You" is described as emotive, empowering, and heartfelt. Can you walk us through the inspiration behind the song and what message you hope to convey to your listeners?

My songwriting is very much inspired by my experiences of womanhood, especially my teen years and early 20s, and this is definitely the case with Shame For You. I spent a lot of my teens thinking that I had to look or be a certain way, to bend to other peoples’ expectations of me in order to be worthy and deserving of being loved, and I watched a lot of my friends go through exactly the same thing. It was only when I met my now boyfriend, who completely accepts and loves me unconditionally, that I realised how tough I had been on myself, and how much toxic behaviour I had put up with because I thought that I was the problem. I realised that the people who had been dismissive of or uninterested in our relationships were not worth my tears and heartache, and definitely were not deserving of my love, and what a shame that was for them. I want my listeners to know that they do not owe anything to people who do not respect or accept them as they are- if a relationship no longer serves you, whether it’s romantic, a friendship or a professional relationship, you have every right to protect your energy and find people who do add value to your life; it’s not you missing out, it’s them.

4. The song touches on themes of self-worth and walking away from toxic relationships. Can you elaborate on how personal experiences or realizations shaped the lyrics and overall tone of the song?

I feel that I have been undermined and underestimated in so many aspects of my life, whether it was by teachers and friends at school or in an industry as male-dominated as the music industry, and it had a very detrimental effect on my self-confidence. It was only once I got a bit older that I really started to value and stand up for myself. There was one male friendship in particular when I was around 20 that was a real turning point for me; I had been poked and prodded by this person who had not been a very good friend to me, who had been very jealous and possessive, and took advantage of the fact that I always look for the best in people and was empathetic of their personal struggles. After a few months, I finally snapped and called them out for their toxicity and, much to my shock, they listened. The mistreatment stopped, they held themselves accountable and left me alone. After that, I realised that as women especially, we don’t need to be polite and kind to people who don’t show us the same courtesy, we are allowed to be angry, and we are allowed to speak our minds. If I had spoken up when the mistreatment started, it would never have lasted as long as it did. I have seen some beautiful people lose their confidence because of the actions and words of others, and I couldn’t stand to see them lose themselves- this song is as much for them as it is for me.

5. "Shame For You" features a combination of dance beats, swirling guitars, and powerful vocals. How did you work with your band to create the musical atmosphere that complements the song's message?

I had a good idea of how I wanted the song to be as soon as I wrote the very first lyrics- I always hear the music in my head when I write. In spite of what I have said about men in this interview, there are some good ones out there and that very much includes my band. I explained the meaning behind the lyrics and how I wanted the music to reflect them and they listened to every word and worked with me to bring my vision to life, drawing to some extent on their own musical influences. Whilst I wanted to make sure that emotion really carried through the song, I also wanted it to be a fun, enjoyable track to sing and dance along to with friends, which I think we managed (if I do say so myself haha). I also can’t thank my producer (who also happens to play guitar in the band) Vince Marques enough- he really pushed me out of my comfort zone and experimented with a lot of different things to make this song just perfect. I think that the meaning of the lyrics is so strong and such a shared experience that we really all just felt it and vibed with it. It’s such a cliché but it really just kind of wrote itself.

6. In the press release, you mention valuing oneself and not making excuses for people who do not respect you. How do you hope this song will empower and resonate with your audience, especially those who may be going through similar situations?

This song is exactly what I needed to hear when I was younger. When I was 18/19 and struggling a lot with body image and how I was being perceived and treated by boys, it was songs like ‘New Rules’ by Dua Lipa and ‘Ciao Adios’ by Anne Marie that were getting my friends and me through. I really want this song to do the same for young people now. ‘Rest In Peace’ by Dorothy also really inspired me- I love how ruthless she is with her message and the power behind her vocals, I think I could still learn a thing to two from her. I’ve always looked to music for comfort and I know that a lot of other people do the same, so I wanted to use my music and my voice to spread a message of empowerment, and the importance of sisterhood and self-confidence in a way that would educate and unite people, but also be fun to sing and dance along with.

7. Your previous singles, "Meant To Be" and "Checkmate," received support and praise from critics and press. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your musical journey so far, and how have these experiences shaped your artistry?

It obviously has been amazing to hear my own music on the radio and to see it be written about in the press, especially outlets like Right Chord Music and Louder Than War who I’ve been following and taking music recommendations from for so many years just in my own personal life, but actually the most rewarding aspect of my artistry, and especially releasing music, is just hearing from people who have listened and loved my songs. I’ve had so many messages from friends and family, but also from people who I don’t know personally but have stumbled across my music and have been moved by it enough to want to let me know, or have actually bought tickets to gigs to come and meet me- that really does feel so special, and I hope that feeling never fades. It can be hard and disheartening as an independent artist to put so much effort into making music for it not to be seen or heard as far and wide as you’d hoped, so these moments of connection with my audience really give me the boost I need to persevere and keep grinding on.

8. As an artist, you've been recognized for your soulful vocals and catchy beats. Can you share your creative process when it comes to writing and producing your music?

My songwriting is typically reactive, especially to emotional situations. My mum was a blues singer when I was a kid, so I grew up surrounded by people who expressed their emotions and feelings through music, and this is something that I have done throughout my life. I’m not much of a collaborative writer when it comes to my own artistry. I like to sit on my own at my piano and really feel whatever it is that I’m writing- my songs are all very personal to me and are really an outlet to whatever I’m feeling or going through at that time, so I often feel too vulnerable to write with someone else. Sometimes taking a new song to my band to arrange, even though they are some of my closest friends, can be quite daunting as I feel like I’m baring my soul to them in a way that I would never normally do in any other circumstance. When it comes to the production however, I find it much easier to collaborate, although I always like to work with people that I know personally and really trust, especially when it’s a song as close to my heart as this one. In order to capture the true essence of the song, its meaning and my feelings, I need a safe space to vent, to make mistakes and not feel judged, and to really express myself, and that’s what I have in Vince.

9. "Shame For You" is described as your highly anticipated third and final single of 2023. What can your fans and listeners expect from your upcoming work and any future projects?

They can definitely expect it to be much rockier and edgier. I’m a rock girl at heart and anyone that has seen me live knows that a lot of my music is inspired and influenced by rock. I love Jeff Buckley, Muse, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters- I really could go on and on, and my listeners can expect to hear much more those influences in my upcoming releases. I’ll of course still keep my pop and soul angle too, but there will be a lot more anger, grit and power, and some very tasty guitar licks. My band and I will also hopefully be coming to a venue near you, but that’s all I can say on that matter- watch this space.

10. Finally, how do you see your music evolving in the future, and what are your long-term goals as an artist?

I’ve only been writing seriously for 3 years, so I think I have a lot of space to grow still. I’d love to do more collaborative writing and features. There are so many phenomenal artists and songwriters out there, especially where I live in Brighton where the music scene is just so vibrant and eclectic, and I think young women today have so many shared experiences that I’d love to really explore through music. As far my long-term goals go, I really just love what I do and I want to do it for as long as I possibly can. One goal that I’ve had since I was a little girl is to play my own show at the Royal Albert Hall (I sang there once in a choir when I was about 9 and was just mesmerised by the whole thing). I think the main thing I really want to achieve is just to leave a lasting impression and to empower and inspire the next generation of women. I want to get to a level where I can use my music and my platform to make a difference to peoples’ lives, to educate and advocate for women’s rights (which scarily seem to be up for debate again), and to create a safe space for women and girls to be who they want to be unapologetically.


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