Sophie Jamieson has been lighting up venues across London with her pure and powerful music. When FFS saw her she was supporting Emily and The Woods, but it was clear from the decent-sized crowd that had got in early to see her that Sophie is making a name for herself in the folksier circles of town. We even spotted Lucy Rose in the audience – perhaps checking out her competition. In her very first interview, Sophie talked to FFS about the London folk scene, her favourite artists and plans for her first EP that will be released later this year.
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been playing guitar and writing songs since I was about 14, but I only stopped writing really crap, angsty music about two and half years ago! I started doing gigs about the same time while I was at university and really enjoyed be able to share my music, rather than just writing it for myself.
It’s quite a big step, taking your music out to people – was it hard at first?
It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It kind of surprises me that I’m doing it at all to be honest, because I’m not the kind of person that likes to be in the spotlight. It’s more about sharing than performing, I think. I don’t really see myself as a performer, or even a singer, but it feels very special being able to share.
Now you’re gigging pretty relentlessly. How has that been?
Last summer I booked myself as many gigs as possible and I think I did about three or four gigs a week – I’ve toned it down a bit since then! I’ve learnt a lot about live music and how it works and I keep meeting the most amazing and interesting people. It’s funny; I kind of thought that leaving uni might be a bit lonely because you don’t live with your friends anymore, but it’s not because I’ve been meeting people all the time.
The last time I saw you, you were playing with another guitarist. Are you more at home on your own up on or do you like having the backup?
I was playing alone up until January and I guess I felt pretty at home doing that because it’s what I was used to, but now I’ve had about four or five gigs with Liam Hoflay and Alex Betancourt from Patch and the Giant, and I’ve really been enjoying that. It’s exciting to have a bit more going on, and be a bit of a louder act – that’s quite cool – but I want to keep playing on my own as well.
How would you describe your music?
That’s the big question on the London folk scene, isn’t it? But I think, like a lot of people, I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as folk any more. Lots of acts get labelled as folk because they are singing with a guitar, and I guess that’s fair enough, and maybe folk has just become this really wide label for a genre that isn’t even really like a genre any more. I’m definitely inspired by some folk artists, but I also like a lot of indie music and a lot of music that I wouldn’t really be able to label.
Who are your influences, old and new?
One of my deep regrets is that I don’t have as many older influences as everyone else seems to have. I’m influenced by a lot of current musicians and many that are less-known – there’s Mt Wolf, Wilsen, Night Beds, Laura Mvula, Marika Hackman and Joe Banfi. These artists are making me more aware of the infinite ways you can hit your listener with soundscapes and percussive rhythms and making me want to delve into those areas more and more. At the moment, top of the list is probably Daughter, Keaton Henson and Dry The River, and I went through a year and a half in which I pretty much just listened to nothing but Laura Marling.
We’ve all had that phase! So have you seen Daughter recently?
Yeah, I saw them at Boxpark in Shoreditch a month or so ago and they were amazing. I expected loads of people to be there because it was a free gig so I got there at 4pm and I think I waited three hours before anyone else started queuing! But that was such an amazing gig and it started snowing while she was playing. Daughter’s definitely top for me at the moment – their songs seem to dissolve out of them – the emotion is so real. (
At this point we tell Sophie that there are similarities in the quality of her voice and that of Daughter singer, Elena Tonra, which stuns her into silence or completely embarrasses her.
Anyway! What’s the plan for Sophie Jamieson this year?
I’m actually recording in a couple of week’s time, then I’ll be releasing a single in April and an EP in June. And yes, it’s really exciting! I think I’m maybe thinking about it all a little bit too much and getting myself worked up about how perfect it has to be.
Can you talk about the EP? Do you know what’s going on it?
I know pretty much what it should sound like and how it should work. There is definitely a theme in the songs by some of my favourite artists and obviously they don’t all mean the same thing, but I feel like you get an impression of who they are and the core emotion that is rooted through their songs. So I think there’s something about being lost in a big place and I want to kind of get across those subconscious feelings.
And finally, what are your big ambitions?
I don’t really like to give myself big ambitions! I think what I would really love is to get to the point where I could be a support act for someone and go on tour. I would also love to do festivals – I think my dream would be having a summer of performing at festivals, partly because I haven’t even been to one! Shocking! But really, I haven’t thought much past the EP to be honest, I just really want to make it and make it perfect and see what happens. And then go back to having a summer of four gigs a week, probably!
words: Emma Barlow