Dear Ange, what does all the critical praise mean to you and how do you describe your journey thus far?
That’s a difficult one! Great reviews are what put me on the map, and let me know that I was doing things right… but I live in fear of the bad ones! When I was very young I was told I couldn’t sing, and that stuck with me for years. When I first started songwriting it served as my counsellor; it was for no one other than myself. As time went on I started wanting to really share my songs and the reviews because really important, especially in that first year. Now the reviews are nice… but I’ve started (only just started!) to believe in myself enough to know that I’m doing things right without having to hear it from a reviewer or broadcaster first!
Don’t desert me… and if you go the wind will blow you back to me… When you write something that resonates with many do your songs reflect something personal or is it mostly a result of your keen observation of life and people around you?
I’ve done both. Music for me has been a journey. My very first (non folk) album “Windmills and Wishes” was almost entirely autobiographical, and there are songs on “Bare Foot Folk” and “The Lament of The Black Sheep” that are also about my own journey... whereas Esteeseewas a result of observing the life of the 18th century poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge! Folk music is about people and stories; so you have to observe life - whether it’s your own life or that of another.
For Might Is In the Mind – how and when did you come to this conclusion?
This song was based on a story I found it a book called "Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge". Coleridge credits his hearing of this story to the American painter Washington Allston. The full text of that story can be found online (and in the inlay of my last album)... it’s worth a read!
Singing about a sailor’s life is it more following on the footsteps of some of the most interesting folk songs you’ve heard and grown up with or is it simply praise of that difficult, exciting, dangerous life? When I wanted to first write a “proper” folk song I felt I had to start in either a forest or at sea. You can hear a lot of that on Bare Foot Folk. As I’ve grown to understand the genre more I’ve written about the seafaring not so much because it’s part of the history of folk, but because that’s where I’ve found the stories. “The Sailor’s Farewell” for example was a story told to me after a concert, and all the Esteesee songs set at sea were because that’s where the stories were set… many seafaring songs have their own cadence that naturally lends itself to folk music.
Grief, sadness, cries, - all feelings an artist never hides away or suppresses for the sake of survival and for the art. Do you see it differently or can you add something to it?
It’s fair to say I came from a broken place. Between the ages of 8 and 15 my world collapsed… but now my life is very stable and very happy and has been for years. I’m far from grief and sadness, and yet this has been the most creative few years of my life - and much of my art now draws from the lives of others rather than just myself. I don’t think it’s ever healthy to suppress feelings, whether you’re an artist or not… but being a musician means I have a very natural outlet for those feelings.
Who make up your audience and what is the most rewarding part of your interactions with your fans?
They’re a mixed bunch of entirely lovely people :) I’ve often had three generations of the same family at a gig and been told they all enjoyed it equally, which I take as a great compliment. I’d like to think that my audience is anyone that likes to hear a good story.
As an artist, what stuff from the busy, modern world we live in you have no use of and how easy or difficult is it for you to shut out the unnecessary?
I’m always online. Constantly! Twitter, Facebook… emails. It’s definitely the way that I’ve grown my audience. However it really can be a curse as well as a blessing. I’d like to be able to switch off a bit more than I do. I keep trying to set “no iPhone days” but whenever I do take a break from social media I seem to miss opportunities… A huge number of my fans are from Twitter and Facebook, and I really love the way it lets me stay in touch with the rest of the folk community - it’s also allowed me to meet other musicians and artist and build online relationships so that when we meet in person we’re already good friends! What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned through your experiences that have helped you make your music heard and appreciated by many?
Hard work pays off. There’s no way of building an audience other than working hard, making friends, building relationships, playing gigs, writing songs… and above all else loving what you do.