Interview: Bryony Williams

Bryony Williams is a indie/pop/folk musician from Wolverhampton. She has released two EPs so far in her career and there’s another on the way, The State I’m In, on 30 October and this time it will be released on vinyl, a great opportunity for collectors. Her latest release, out today 28 August 2020 is a single called “Knockin'”, which she describes as her take on depression and how intrusive it is in your life. A lot of people suffer from depression at some point in their lives, making this a relatable song, especially during the isolation, loneliness, and uncertainty of lockdown. Here’s what she had to say about the song and its meaning and significance to her:

“The line ‘blinded by lights and misery’ signifies our attachment to social media and how we compare ourselves everyday to meaningless standards which ultimately fuels our low self-esteem and makes us buy the next self-help book and the stupid cycle repeats itself. Clearly, I’ve had enough and I’m done with depression getting a hold of me and damaging my confidence and ability to trust. Though that’s easier sang than done.”

Not only does Bryony write and record her own music, she also has a zine called Grrrl Groannn, which gives a platform for female musicians to talk about their work and get proper representation. We’re lucky to have her with us on the blog to talk about her music, inspirations, and life. If you want to learn more about her, keep on reading!

Angie Moon: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Bryony Williams: I would say why not… take a listen and let themselves come up with an answer.

Angie: Who are your biggest influences?

Bryony: Ladyhawke, Anna Burch, Jen Cloher, Anna Calvi, Hazel English.

Angie: You started a zine that focuses on female artists, how did you get started in that?

Bryony: The idea was provoked through a university module that challenged us to create a product that disrupted the Birmingham music scene. As ever, the local scene is diluted by white male bands, producers, tech personnel, promoters, etc. And despite being in the local scene for a few years now, I have never worked with a sound engineer or producer who identify as a woman or non-binary, and obviously as a musician starting out, I have been surrounded by this lack of diversity while coming up through the ranks which then normalises this accepted narrative.

So Grrrl Groannn was produced. Primarily as a zine publication; I started interviewing touring artists and photographing their live performances and of course this was a lot of fun as well as fighting the gender equality cause. So, using my own money, these zines would be designed by Jess Webberley, and sent off to print and sold online or at our events.

At the moment though this is on a 2020 pause, but we are looking for cool places to stock the remaining zines we have leftover on our Bandcamp – so hit us up if this is something that you can help with, whoever is reading this, or, buy a zine directly! There’s only a few left and we do not re-print. So you’ll be getting your hands on limited edition Grrrl Groannn merch. You lucky bugger.

Angie: Who are your favourite female artists?

Bryony: Gwen Stefani, Anastasia, Grimes, Fergie, Ke$ha.

Angie: What inspired the latest single, “Knockin’”?

Bryony: The song is my depression session. I’ve always underlyingly competed with anxiety and self-esteem issues, and in 2019 it certainly reared its ugly head. I spent months in bed, paranoid about those around me (or not around me) and simply couldn’t think or do. Though I actually wrote Knockin’ in Spring, 2020, after coming back from a few months of solo backpacking, I am certainly in a better place now, where I am able to process and reflect on my past self. This song is a big ‘fuck you’ to any self-induced negativity.

Angie: What was writing and recording the EP like?

Bryony: Both the writing and recording of this EP were surprisingly super quick. After backpacking I wrote 3/5 songs, whereas ‘I Can Be’ was produced late 2019 and the last track on the EP called ‘I Wonder’ is in fact 2 songs merged together that I wrote originally on ukulele while backpacking. You can even hear the ukulele in parts of the EP recording if you listen out for it. Because of Covid, scheduling time to go into the studio was tricky. However, in the end, me and my producer, Matthew Pinfield, blocked out a week working 10 hour days. We completed the EP in 6 days.

This EP, State I’m In, brings to life an array of sounds – with Knockin’ being my most rockiest track to then this track called Dive, that is super minimal and interwoven with piano, violin, and stark vocals. This EP will show you a further exploration of who I am, and who you are too.

Angie: What does the EP cover photo mean to you?

Bryony: Well, like I’ve touched upon, this record has been brewed out of a very obscure and overwhelming part of my life journey where I spent a lot of time self-doubting and feeling worthless. But really, that’s all in my head, making myself my own worst critique. Albeit, no matter how serious mental health is, I mostly know not to take life that seriously, it’s all a game really, so let’s be playful with it. Plus it was taken during lockdown so, limited resources and that.

Angie: What do you like most about vinyl?

Bryony: Oh the same as everyone else. I enjoy collecting and owning something physical, analysing the artwork and information inside, and it’s a little bit of fun when you have company over, you get to find out about somebody’s taste as well as yours. Plus it is the best way to support the artist, WHICH IS SUPER IMPORTANT SO IF YOU’RE READING THIS, PRE-ORDER MY RECORD PLEASE.

Angie: What keeps you motivated during the pandemic?

Bryony: Hmmm, I guess others do. I want to prove myself to the world, while also acknowledging that who the heck do I have to prove myself to? So, maybe, actually, I am my own motivation.

Angie: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Bryony: All of them.

Angie: I see that you recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Media & Cultural studies, what got you interested in academia?

Bryony: I’m very much interested in everyone’s life story. Each and every one is important and it’s good to listen. People forget that, I think. To get to know others stories, it gives you perspective and a deeper understanding as to maybe why things are or aren’t, and maybe why such things should and will change. I guess it’s all enlightenment. Does any of it matter? Does it all matter?

Angie: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

Bryony: From my own, on-going experience, I think you’ve got to be prepared to comfortable in your own skin or at least your artist’ persona. This will help with everything you do because only you should be your biggest fan and that magic will rub off on other people who will then believe in you and your music too.

You can follow Bryony on Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and Twitter.

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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