Jess Kemp : Songwriter

23rd May 2017

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What’s your perfect environment to write in?

I don’t think I really have a perfect environment for songwriting as, so far, most of the songs I have written have been in the most random places at the most random times.  Sometimes, I can write 3-4 songs in a day but then at other times I can sit with all the inspiration in the world and only come up with a hook. I always find the best songs I write are ones that just come out like word vomit in the space of half an hour – my song “Stars” was written in 20 minutes.

What prompted the release of your last EP?

My last EP “Camden” was named after the title track on the record. It came after a bit of frustration within the music industry. I’d auditioned for a songwriting competition up here in Manchester in 2015 and to my amazement I reached the final which was to be held in Camden!  I was so excited to go down and play there and showcase my music to industry professionals, A&R, etc. However, when I got there the whole experience really wasn’t what I expected. It was all very rushed and the judges sat on their phones and laptops during performances – I just didn’t feel supported with my music at all. I suppose it was an each to their own type of thing and I was never expecting them to love my songwriting.  However there was no constructive criticism given, just the fact that they weren’t keen on my “Northern Tone”.  So I came home and I wrote “Camden” and “Killer Shoes” – two of my most Northern sounding songs ever!

Any particular influences for this track?

I had been listening to a lot of KT Tunstall, The 1975, and Adele (Rumour Has It) around this time. I’d say you can hear elements of each one in there but nothing too obvious.

Being an unsigned and self-managed artist how do you find getting gigs in Manchester and the surrounding areas?

I’ve been gigging around the North West for a good 4 years now and it started out quite difficult. Not many promoters knew my name and not all of them were keen on some kid turning up with a guitar to play their night. However, I had a handful of promoters who really believed in my music and put me on a few of their gigs over the years. This really gave me the chance to grow as an artist and learn the industry. It’s never easy booking gigs and finding the time to fit them all in so that you can keep yourself fresh and new but at the same time it’s a challenge that I enjoy. I love all of the self-marketing and promotion – I like to get creative with it all.

How does gigging in the UK compare to gigging in Europe?

Up to now, I’ve only gigged in Amsterdam but there are definitely plans to do this again further afield and in more countries. It’s not too different but at the same time music in Amsterdam is looked at differently. There are a lot more travelling musicians in places like that who all want gigs – so to be offered some was amazing! The locals really got into the whole “Manchester” thing and they loved the fact me and my band had travelled over just to play in their country. It’s so much fun.


Lucy Evers

As an ex-student of BIMM Brighton and a Vocalist in a Math Pop band Orchards, Lucy has an overview of the student experience that applies to you all. Lucy’s passions for music, journalism and photography all coincide here to showcase; live shows, top tips to living a student lifestyle and the general beauty of the city you live in. She wants you to get a down to earth overview of your BIMM student experience.