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

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Sunderland has a knack for producing exceptional songwriting talent and one of the recent names on everyone’s lips is solo artist, Lottie Willis.

Lottie, like most artists from Sunderland, is a product of We Make Culture’s hugely successful Young Musician’s Project, a scheme aimed at 13-19 year-olds that helps wannabe musicians of any ability develop their music skills and take their first steps in the industry. She began her musical journey with them at the age of 14 and explains how vitally important it has been for her development as an artist: “If it wasn’t for the Young Musician’s Project and their support I truly wouldn’t be where I am now. It has allowed me to work with professionals in the industry, helping me to build my knowledge and confidence. It has allowed me to perform at so many absolutely amazing gigs and has given me some crazy opportunities.”

Performing as a solo artist these past few years, Lottie has gone on to release four well-received singles as well as share the stage with the likes of Rag’N’Bone Man, The Lake Poets and MaxÏmo Park’s Paul Smith. Now 20 years of age, she is set to release her brand new EP, 2003 (named after the year she was born). It’s a release that, as Lottie says, “explores feelings of grief, hope and hate.” She goes on to add: “One track is a song I wrote when grieving the loss of someone in my family, another is about a break-up, and another is about being there for a friend.”

The release sees Lottie demonstrating a melodic but assured vocal delivery reminiscent of the likes of Kate Nash, Joni Mitchell and The Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, as well as a skill for songcraft with thoughtful song structures and use of dynamics to bring out the emotion and drama in each track.

I feel like sometimes I just close my eyes and then there’s a song that appears!

A noticeable change for this release is the introduction of a band to her music, with Sam Hughes (guitar), Aiden Juanzemis (bass) and Oscar Jordan (drums – with Betsy Kommer on live duty) adding to Lottie’s piano and vocals, and adding a richness to the recording.

“I have performing solo for many years now and I just felt like in order to elevate my music and allow more opportunities a band was a great idea, and I haven’t regretted it one bit! They are my best mates and make performing so much more fun!”

According to Lottie, the addition of her friends and the sincerity of the music has made the process of writing this EP an effortless one. “I feel like sometimes I just close my eyes and then there’s a song that appears! I tend to write a lot from personal experiences so it tends to come quite easy. I usually start by finding a chord progression I like and go from there. Once I’ve got some ideas of what I would like the song to sound like I will send it over with some ideas to the band and let them brainstorm.”

The EP comes with a launch party on Saturday 9th December at Independent in Sunderland, which will be a great opportunity for the city to come and celebrate this fine musical talent before she is recognised as not just a regional rising star but a national one too.

Lottie Willis releases 2003 on 8th December, she performs at Independent, Sunderland on Saturday 9th December.

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