Ahead of her EP launch this coming Friday 27th September, Liverpool Sound and Vision’s Ian D Hall caught up with Jo Bywater to chat about life, music, songwriting and teaching.
Yorkshire born, Liverpool based singer songwriter Jo Bywater is one of those individuals in life that, no matter how many times you meet her, interview her or just share a moment talking about poetry, music and films, she just illuminates the room with the kind of unexpected passion reserved for those that have released a dozen albums or even give non-stop interviews to the awaiting public. There is more to this young woman though than just being intuitive and having the remarkable skill of having many layers within her lyric writing, there is a gentleness that belies the tough Yorkshire shell.
Jo is a familiar face on the Liverpool music scene and has been the subject of many words written about her and with her new EP imminent I was able to catch up with the Yorkshire musician and after tales of the aforementioned chats of poetry and films, of which Jo seems to have excellent taste in, we settled down to talk of her music and the up-coming launch of the EP on September 27th.
It seems that it has been a long time since I last saw you, how’s life?
Jo: “I’m just getting organised, life’s meant getting into some new song-writing and some very reflective song-writing over the past year so that’s been very nice because I’ve not really done that for a while.”
This all obviously culminates in the new EP that’s coming out and you’ve got a launch night for it. You’ve had a couple of songs that you’ve played around with on the internet for people to hear. I know that they were not quite the finished article online, how has that process been for you?
Jo: “As in the process of putting the songs up in a demo guise? It’s been really interesting and a lot of it has been me feeling my way with new ways of writing for myself in that respect, because I wanted to concentrate a little bit more on melodies, harmonies, textures and focusing on song-shifts and meanings of songs. I guess what I was doing when I was putting those demo versions up was to keep things ticking over and wanting to get some feedback to a point and put in something and look at the evolution of my creative style, I think. What happened with those two songs was that people liked them and I really, really liked them and they have become two new songs on the EP which I didn’t at the time when I put them up know that they were going to become part of the EP but they are now! I put some different instrumentation on there and they are still within an acoustic vibe but there are different things on there now like harmonies.”
I feel very honoured that I was able to hear those two songs that you sent me as a link. They seem though to have taken you in a different direction to the previous album, there are subtle differences that come through, you’re more relaxed, your music reflects this as well, there’s more of a purpose to your music.
“Jo: “I’m massively more involved in the process of writing the songs, before when I was writing songs for the last album, it was the first time I’d kind of written songs and I approached them by just putting lyrics together and although I’m massively attached to it, it was a completely different way of writing. Now, I’m thinking a lot more about what people are hearing as well which is something that I hadn’t done before so it was much more balanced and I was experimenting with guitar styles, techniques, sounds and shapes of songs. I was also thinking about the music going out to other people which I hadn’t really thought of before. Before it was these are my CDs, these are my songs, like them like them, like them – in hindsight, whereas now I just want people to enjoy them and there’s a bit more of that involved in it now.”
Has it meant you’ve developed more as a song-writer?
Jo: “Yes it’s developed me, probably in the area of what people think about the music to a certain degree. You write a song and you want people to enjoy it, you want to inflict it upon them, that sounds like a bad thing to say, it’s about communicating something, I’m taking that more into account now.”
On the previous album, which you know I loved, I‘ve been listening it to it again recently and it’s surprising how there’s even more filtering through now. What you’re saying about the communication, I think it’s already there on a certain level on the first album. How important do you think each reflection is to you, going by that song?
Jo: “In music or just in the lyrics? It’s massively important to me but I don’t think it’s something you appreciate until you’ve got past it. So I think I would have sat at that time of writing that age is really important, experience of timing and reflective – I think it’s very important as an artist but I don’t think you don’t get to see it happening often, that’s a hindsight thing I think!” Experience is important and the way you deal with experience but I think that manifests itself in a different way regardless of whether they’re like 15, 30 or 50 years.”
Your new EP, you’re going to be doing a launch event, can you tell me more about it?
Jo: “It’s going to be on 27th September and it’s with Liverpool Acoustic at the View Two Gallery on Mathew Street. I organised this gig with them about 18 months ago. I organised my own launch night last time and that was a good experience to do that but I also thought it would be really good to kind of team up with a promoter and a night that I really liked in Liverpool. Obviously, Liverpool Acoustic is very significant to us as acoustic artists to go and do this with them. There’s a great line up for it as well. There’s Little Sparrow and Anna Corcoran, I’m going to check out their stuff this week, plus Me and Deboe, I’ve done gigs with them a few years ago but I’ve not done a gig with them for about a year so I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be an awesome night. I’ve also teamed up as well with the EP for Searching with Dandelions – which is a bit of a label collection kind of thing, run by Andy Jones of Just By Chance, who’s also playing on the EP. So a little bit more collaboration really all round, I’m just developing what I’ve done before. Tickets are £5 with a 50p booking fee or £5 on the door I think.”
Aside from music, which is obviously a big part of your life, you teach music as well don’t you, how hard is it to mix the two?
Jo: “No, I find it really easy. I started off teaching as a means to an end. I wanted to write and perform and then the teaching initially came first but music is the main love. I just really appreciate the teaching for what it is on many different levels. I’m teaching all ages from 6 to 60, retirement age and every possible reason why someone wants to learn guitar, I find that an interesting thing to do and to deal with people. I enjoy playing guitar and it’s nice to go and share that with people and you get paid for it! In terms of jobs and business it’s quite a nice thing to do. It’s brought me to a lot of music I wouldn’t have found on my own quite quickly so it’s introduced me to people and I have to go and learn these guitar parts that people want to learn, it brings me new styles that I probably wouldn’t have gone off and learnt myself and in a way, I think that does filter through to my song-writing. I like different textures and inputs and things so it’s really nice to develop different techniques and it’s pushed me a little bit to be honest as a writer and I value that a lot.”
You can read a review of the new EP Chasing Tales at liverpoolsoundandvision.co.uk/2013/09/04/jo-bywater-chasing-tales-e-p-review/
© 2013 Ian D Hall – Liverpool Sound and Vision
Originally published here – reproduced with kind permission.
And just a reminder about that EP launch – here are the details again.
Ian D. Hall was brought up in Birmingham and spent the vast majority of his teenage years in Bicester, near Oxford. He grew up loving music from a very early years.
In the last ten years Ian has written reviews for the Birmingham Evening Mail, Liverpool Live, Chris High and the University of Liverpool’s L.S. Media web site. For the last year of his graduate degree he was joint Arts Editor for L.S. Media and it has been his privilege to write on many of the arts in Liverpool, Merseyside, the U.K. and the rest of the World, having reviewed gigs as far as away as Poland and Canada.
Liverpool has been his home for the last eight years and is without doubt the most vibrant, most cultural part of the UK. His love of music and theatre has led him to see great bands and plays, not just in Liverpool but the wider artistic community. His dearest music loves are Punk, Progressive Rock, Metal, Rock, folk and pop.
Ian D. Hall graduated from the University of Liverpool in June 2012 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English. He now edits the Liverpool Sound and Vision website.
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