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Interview: Bessie Turner

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April kickstarted the Summer of a lifetime for Bessie Turner: her debut single received a whole lotta love, landed her slots at festivals up and down the country, and then an unexpected airplay by Jo Whiley on Radio 2 lead to the release of her second single ‘Words You Say’ being moved forward a week. You could say Bessie is one to look out for.

Most artists draw up their experience of growing up to produce their sound - in fact, many musicians cite that their love for music was ignited by a small spark during their childhood, that eventually turned into a burning passion. This is no different for Bessie, who feels incredibly lucky to have grown up surrounded by so much creativity and talent.

“My mum would blast out X-Ray Spex, Portishead and Manu Chao. My neighbour would make up punk songs on his acoustic guitar and promote anarchy in the UK, and my grandad has always played brass in Jazz bands.”

Bessie got her start by uploading her tracks to the BBC Introducing Uploader, which soon lead to radio plays and interviews with the team. 

Her love for music was taken one step further when Bessie, ahead of releasing her debut single, set up her own label Don’t Try. It was suggested by Richard Haugh of BBC Introducing Suffolk, after Bessie mentioned no labels seemed interested in releasing her song ‘Big Sleep’.

Developing her own label paid off for Bessie. ‘Big Sleep’ gained over 7,000 views in its first 12 hours of being released. “It was like my birthday, but better!” the singer exclaims, also stating that literally 200 views would’ve made the 23 year old happy. The whole process of creating something with friends while you’re young is enough.

It may feel like having the backing of a label on a release adds validity, perhaps a sense of ‘seriousness’. “We don’t always know what we’re on about” states Bessie on her label, despite its evident success. “I answer my own questions and queries and it’s down to mine and my friends opinions to what happens next, which is both good and bad.” Sure, the idea of having a team working for you, pushing you and bringing the best out of you and your music is appealing… but right now, this set up is perfect for what Bessie wants to achieve, and she has control.

Her latest release ‘Words You Say’ is less chilled and folksy than her first release. The decision to go bigger with this track was because she wanted to make something she would listen to herself. Something that would grab attention and not just float by.

“I’m very proud of the songs I write” she explains, “but I wanted to make something more punchy to reflect what I listen to.” Bessie cites Beck, Mount Kimbe and Parquet Courts as major influences in her decision to go bigger and bolder, crank up the volume and get her guitar out.

When writing her songs, Bessie says they flow from the first line. Referencing the first line of her track ‘Words You Say’ - “hang me on a floor” - she says “a few months ago I was moaning at my boyfriend for not hanging his clothes up and in a stupid voice he pointed and was like “but look… I hung it on the floor” and I laughed and thought… yeah, fair point, so you did. I feel like I’m just hanging on the floor sometimes too I guess.”

She worked on the track with producer George Perks (Marika Hackman, The Big Moon), along with Benjamin Ward and Tom Armstrong playing drums and bass with the vision to create something ‘wicked’.

The music video however was made alongside her best friends, which made her feel comfortable in front of the camera. But next time, she’d like to take on a role behind it.

“I’d like to take myself out of my comfort zone and do something a bit more abstract for the next single, I’d like to be on the other side of the camera and use other people and ideas and visuals”

Aside from running late for one of her jobs in a pub, Bessie’s got an upcoming EP on the table and a few shows in Ipswich, Colchester, London, Cambridge and Norwich coming up, but nothing much more and she likes having “no expectations, that way everything is just a happy bonus!”

Sure, playing on Jools Holland and nabbing a set at Glastonbury are some of the ‘happy bonuses’ Bessie would like… but the one she really wants?

“Going on This Morning would be rad.”

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