21-year-old singer-songwriter Jerry Williams is the fresh new voice in indie pop we didn’t know we were waiting for – but are so glad to have found. Her self-penned songs have the irresistible cool of classic early-2000s indie pop. Their characteristic honesty can be harsh and heartbreaking, as in ‘I’m Not In Love With You’ from award-winning 2017 EP Let’s Just Forget It, or sweet and sad, as in live hit ‘David at the Bar’. Delivered doe-eyed with a glowing vocal and a self-deprecatingly playful stage presence, such songs have earned Jerry a place on numerous festival bills for 2018, from The Great Escape to South By South West. She has also been hand-picked by Nasty Gal to play at their Carnaby Street pop-up on 23rd November – not at all bad for an artist who is, as of yet, unsigned. Spindle sat down with Jerry after her live set at the Shazam offices in Hammersmith last month to talk the story so far – and where it all goes from here…
Tell us a little bit about you and how you started writing music.
Well, I’ve always grown up with music around the house – like my family love music, always playing it on the radio and CDs, but none of them were ever musical. And then I was really into Avril Lavigne and Busted…
… And I just wanted to be like Avril Lavigne! And then I started doing classical guitar around twelve – just, totally the opposite to Avril Lavigne!
No, I did the same thing! But I was terrible at practising.
Yeah! Well I just loved songwriting, so I just used to do that, but my classical [music]… I don’t know why I did it for so long, but I’m glad I did, because…
It’s good technique-wise.
Yeah – it’s like the hardest way first! So I did that, and then I played my first gig when I was seventeen. So, just through the love of music really I just started playing.
What was your first gig like?
It was really – it was great. It was just like a sort of local open mic night at The Cellars in Portsmouth, which isn’t open now, which is sad. But the guy I bought my guitar off was like, ‘Oh you sing?’ because my mum was like ‘Oh, my daughter sings, but she’s really shy!’ – like, not pushy or anything, but she just wanted to sort of get me out there – and he said ‘Come and play!’ And then I went along and played and everybody was just so lovely! I only did like two songs but from there I got another gig, and another one… So the first one was really, really good!
Yeah! How did you meet everyone in the band?
Ronnie, the drummer, I used to go to school with. And then James I kind of just met on the local scene – like through other people. Charlie’s quite new to the band, the guitarist, and he’s just a friend of Ronnie’s from uni, so it’s that really nice just sort of friendly vibe.
How did you write ‘Mother’?
I wrote it with my friend Dan in Bristol, Dan Brown. And it’s just about a time where I wasn’t really feeling myself, like I was just a bit confused with what was going on with life and I just sort of wanted to… I just missed old times, like, moving on from college and things like that. So it was sort of about that and just asking my mum for advice, so I just sort of wrote it like that.
So what were your musical influences growing up? You’ve said Avril Lavigne…
Yeah! [Laughs] Well, my parents loved people like Coldplay, which is like, I love them so much! And David Gray – [I] loved him, so much – and then I loved Noah and the Whale when I was at school, and then through Noah and the Whale I found a band called Slow Club, who are just one of my biggest influences – I love them, so Slow Club was one of my biggest. [And] Jamie T… Yeah, those are my big ones.
Yeah! So you’re doing a lot of festivals this summer – what is the song that you’re most excited to play live?
Woah! That’s hard! I’ve been doing so much writing, so I’ve got lots of new ones, I can’t wait! But ‘Grab Life’, which is the song we played at the end [of our set] – I love playing that. It just makes me feel really good and I love that song. And there’s a new one called… What’s it called? It’s so new I can’t remember what it’s called! Um… ‘What Do You Want For Breakfast?’ it’s called and that’s just – it’s going to be so fun to play! Hopefully I’ll have that all ready to go by [the time I play] festivals and stuff.
So what’s your goal for the next year?
My goal is… I don’t know! There’s so much… My ultimate dream would to be on Jools Holland! That would be my ultimate dream – but I’d love to play Glastonbury (even though it’s not on next year…) Glastonbury, Bestival – some of the big festivals I’d like to do, or like smaller ones. So yeah, those’d be my goals: play loads of shows.
Yeah! One more question – what’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Um… Just ‘Enjoy it.’ Just sort of remember what you’re doing and – ‘cause sometimes, like, I’ve definitely done it where you just worry so much, you’re like ‘Oh God, I’m worried about this and I’m worried about getting here tomorrow…’ But just enjoy the moment and just think, ‘You’re doing what you love and you don’t have to do it forever if you don’t want to but just enjoy the journey as you’re going on it.’ I think that’s the best advice – and then, obviously, the cliché, like ‘Just be yourself, and do music you believe in. Don’t change for anybody.’
Thanks so much Jerry!
Watch the video for Jerry Williams’s single ‘Mother’ below, or listen to the brand new acoustic version of Let’s Just Forget It on Spotify here.
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