The Portsmouth - based artist on her beloved grannie, Babadee, connecting with nature and her antidotes to self-doubt.
Babadee Knight was my maternal grannie.
She wanted to be an opera singer but abandoned her dreams in the Second World War to train as a nurse. Her husband was shot in the back, just a few days into his posting in France to fight the Nazi occupation. Thanks to her care, he survived. And until their deaths, they would celebrate life by walking down the sand in their matching dressing gowns and swimming in the sea every chance they got.
She took me and my sisters on holidays to North Wales and taught us how to brave cold water and to dive under waves. She would sing to me, teach me songs, tell me stories and would sit and listen to the songs I wrote as a child. I got hooked on the ocean and music so as soon as I left school, I moved out of London to live by the sea and started my journey to becoming a music producer. So, it’s only right that I named myself after her.
I see myself as multidisciplinary creative. I try to build a healthy ecology of creativity in my life by giving time for photography, drawing, dancing, making music videos, as well as lots of improv and carefree play. This is all while making a living through teaching Media Production at Solent University. Each discipline feeds the other and keeps me excited and motivated to grow and learn new things. I guess I get this multidisciplinary approach from Baba too, who was a diver, ballroom dancer on ice and loved to paint as well as sing.
When I feel down or uninspired, I return to nature. A walk in the woods or a dip in the sea never fails to open the door to new ideas and motivation to get back to making. In return I aspire for my creative output to help the natural world by celebrating it and promoting peace and compassion. I’m currently writing an album on the theme of birds as a way to deepen my own relationship with them and hopefully encourage others to pay more attention to these creatures which are slowly disappearing from many of our landscapes.
I’m quite a soft, rather sensitive person yet highly ambitious, energetic and optimistic. I’m interested in politics, society and how we can heal and restore the world we live in and I like to think that comes across in my style. My lyrics often incorporate social commentary and themes of resilience and I often use sounds captured on walks in my tracks. Acts like Massive Attack have hugely inspired me in the way they mix political messages, lo-fi dance and interesting soundscapes. I’m not interested in making music to fit the restraints of genres. This can make it hard to place the sound but in return, it’s definitely authentic.
Maintaining self-belief is probably my biggest issue. I had a challenging childhood and have learnt there is a link between trauma and limited self-worth. I find one cure is playing live. This year I have been on tour with DnB legends Kosheen, supported Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Hollie Cook and must have played over 20 shows, big and small.
People’s positive reactions are firmly ingrained in my brain. I don’t think anything beats the support of having a crowd smiling, dancing and singing along with you. When I meet people after the show, I get even more of a direct idea of the impact I’m making and confirmation that people understand and relate with what I’m trying to do. It’s so much more encouraging than likes on social media, even if it’s just one person. Now, when I’m back in the studio and I get frustrated finding the right chord, lyric or sound, I picture those smiles and remember that my little project can lead to great big ripples of positivity.
Collaboration is also a huge motivator away from self-doubt. The next few releases I have planned are collaborations with my best friend, drummer and talented producer, Rob Swaine, aka Submyth. Working with others is a great way of injecting new energy into a project and holding yourself accountable. It’s also so much more fun. Playing all round the UK has been exhausting but doing it with Rob has made it such a fun adventure and given me a much wider perspective. I sometimes like to think I can do everything myself, but I now hate working alone.