INTERVIEW: Harriet Bradshaw | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Musical polymath Harriet Bradshaw is back up North after working as a touring cellist for songwriters across the UK. She’s also recognisable as a member of Teesside’s premier orchestral folk storytellers Nel Unlit, but this time she’ll be singing and playing her own original music from her self-titled debut album, released on 4th November.

Harriet talked about what it’s like to be bringing music back to her home region. “I’ve always felt that the North East has a fantastic music scene, and a really artistically varied one. The North East has such a rich heritage of folk music as well, and my music has more than a hint of that.”

There is a journey to making any album, and Harriet discusses the steps which lead to this moment. “I wrote some of these songs about five years ago, so quite a long while! I actually started recording these versions about a year ago, and had a couple of visits to the studio to get everything finished. I had help from some excellent musicians (Dave Fidler, Andy Fidler and M G Boulter). It’s so exciting to be finally getting my hands on the album!”

I think a lot of these songs came out of a transitional time in my life, and the lyrics reflect that. I started writing as a sort of brain-dump therapy

There is a folk-esque quality to some of the tracks, with a ballad-like twist from the rich and full strength of her voice. It has been said that she is Teesside’s answer to Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, but there is also something of Enya too. A half soft rock half classical sound, with an emotional story-driven core. It would be hard to place her in just one genre. She talks about how the instruments she plays have influenced her. “I’m a classically trained pianist, cellist and choral singer and I only picked up a guitar in the last few years. I’m always so grateful for my classical background, because it really gives me a full understanding of what it is I’m doing musically, and why. But I find the guitar gives me a different kind of freedom, because I’ve not learned it in a formal way, so I can just experiment and find my way intuitively.”

She speaks about the story behind her music and what experiences have pushed her creatively on this album. “I think a lot of these songs came out of a transitional time in my life, and the lyrics reflect that. I started writing as a sort of brain-dump therapy. Once I’d gotten rid of the initial nonsense, I started to hone my skill as a songwriter and really be able to write with clarity and intention. I’m a former Literature student, and I take inspiration from poets I’ve studied such as Sylvia Plath and Frank O‘Hara. I’m also lucky enough to have grown up with musician parents. With this being my debut album, I just really wanted it to say ‘Here I am! This is what I’m about as a songwriter.’ And I hope it’s achieved that.”

Harriet Bradshaw releases her self-titled album on 4th November via Butterfly Effect records. She performs at The Green Room, Stockton on Friday 4th, The Engine Room in North Shields on Sunday 6th November, Claypath Deli in Durham (supporting James Yorkston) on Friday 9th December and ARC, Stockton (supporting Amelia Coburn) on Saturday 10th December.


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