We were lucky enough to catch up with musician Bethan John, following the superb release of ‘Im Doing Fine’. Read the full interview now!
Hi Bethan, what is your earliest music memory?
I started wanting to sing when I was 8. The first memory I can remember is, walking into my first ever singing teachers house, it was blue and white, and there was a large fish tank, and I was a little nervous, but I was starring at the fish which made me forget about the butterflies in my tummy. The room was a bright big open space and had cuddly toys on the sofa, and she made me feel right at home, and that was the start of my singing path, and I guess the rest is history.
Who influenced your latest release ‘I’m Doing Fine’?
‘I’m Doing Fine’ was influenced by a break-up I had last year. This song I wrote not long afterwards, I wasn’t planning on it but the words “been another day without seeing your face again” came into my head one day when I was working, and the rest just fit into place.
‘I’m Doing Fine’ was the first song I’d written on my own in a very long time. As my older releases were co-written with him (ex). Even though it’s a break-up song and like all break-ups they hurt and are very hard to get over, it gave me this song, which helped me open my eyes and realise that even though it feels like at that moment you’ll never be okay, and I wouldn’t be able to do it, that the feeling does fade and that I am doing fine on my own.
‘I’m Doing Fine’ is the first song you have written and produced yourself, what was that process like?
Is was scary, exciting, fun, a whole process of knew feelings and really eye-opening. I have never grasped production and throughout the years doing my degree in commercial music. I’ve always found it hard and just couldn’t never connect with it and always thought it would be something I would never be able to do in general, let alone by myself.
This time I looked at it completely differently, I wanted to do it for myself. I didn’t need to do it for anyone or any exams, or to impress teachers or think about getting a good grade for my work, just literally do it for me.
Working with a different software helped as I use to work on Protools, but last year, I got introduced to Cubase and never looked back since. I instantly connected with Cubase, and found everything about it so much simpler, and got the hang of pretty much straight away. Doing it at home as-well has made the process more relaxing, as your in your own surrounding comforts, and if you want to take a break to have a cuppa, make some food or relax you can and jump right back on when you’re ready.
Doing it in my own I had full reigns of everything, and that’s something I wasn’t use to. Could make it sound like I wanted, do what I wanted, and make the production so much more fun. Since then, I just haven’t stopped, and just continue learning more and more each time helping me improve my production and songwriting skills and knowledge.
You say your latest music is a heading in a new direction from previous releases, what sparked the change?
Doing it myself instigated this decision, and not being with my co-writer. I felt so free and didn’t want to have a certain sound, and wanted the music to change as Iv changed. Not that I’m saying you can only make changes to your music if you’re on your own, that’s not the case at all as millions of people work with others, but right now Iv found being on my for now is the right path for me. There is and will be some similarities in my music, like my old music, but each song is different. It all depends on how I’m feeling that day.
We hear a new EP is coming in March, can you tell us any more?
All I can say is that with being in isolation due to having COVID, a lot of new music has been made, (when i’ve had good days.) An EPs worth might be turning into an album. And a possible new single could be on the cards.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Stevie wonder. I didn’t start listening to funk and soul until I was at uni, and joined a funk function band. I fell in love with it, Iv always liked Stevie, but gained a new found love for the sound and how it makes you feel when you sing it.
Before covid hit, the uni was meant to go on tour in Amsterdam last April 2020, and we could decide what we wanted to sing, and we planned on doing a Steve wonder tribute set. Due to covid, unfortunately, we never got that far, but we had enough time to learn most of the songs that we chose, and OMG, coming in for rehearsals was the highlight of my week.
The raspy vocals tones, the beats, the guitar licks, bass lines, piano solos loved it all. And I’m a sucker for an ad-lib in a song, and Stevie was all about that and to make it your own, was nothing better. So to be able to sing with him and get that feeling x1000 would be a dream.
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
My second love has always been birds. When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet and help animals, I tried working in a veterinary clinic, but I didn’t stay for long, as it didn’t feel right. I suppose I didn’t give it enough time, but I was young.
I use to look after birds and help Injured birds, like swifts, partridges, sparrows, magpies, racing and woods pigeons, pheasants and main one’s bantam chickens. A place called Friends of the animals would sometimes contact me to see if I could look after an animal if they couldn’t, and we would always seem to find injured birds on the road, just seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.
We’ve always had animals when growing up so was always surrounded, but my pets were my chickens. I had one called Sunny, and she would follow me everywhere, sleep on my chest sit next to me, run after me if I had a tin of sweet corn (her favourite). My dream is to live in the middle of nowhere in a cabin with a music studio surrounded my chickens. Most people like dogs, cats hamsters – mine’s chickens!
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
Artists gaining more revenue from streams. For years I feel artists can’t rely on a music stream for income and heavily rely on tours and merch. I feel that with COVID physical tours could be out of the question for a while, and is there only so much merch you can sell? You gotta start getting really creative, for example, Eminem merch consisted of a brick, so there are no limits there.
And the government to have more respect for musicians and no be so demeaning towards a self-employed musician, and see it as a career choice and not a pass time hobby that we should give up and get what they class as a ‘real job’.
I know you do need to make income and if you’re not a high-end artist, it’s difficult, and you do need a job. Like myself, I need my bills paid, so I’m a care worker and a musician, but I don’t think it should mean that creating and releasing music should be any less important.
If you could choose one thing for fans to take away from your music, what would it be?
Relatability. That these experiences and moments I’ve written/writing about are normal things that happen in people’s lives, and we all go through it at some point whether it’s a break-up, feeling alone, missing somebody, feeling confused, lost, or happy and that you’re not on your own.
Have you started working on your next release?
I started working on new music when I was writing this single, so the writing hasn’t stopped even with covid. When I wrote this one, I get the passion back, and clicking with Cubase and finally getting myself a little home setup, the songs are slowly piling up. I can’t wait to get it all out there finally and show everyone what Iv been working on these past months and currently working on.
In an ideal world, I would want my music out sooner or have released more music, but being a DIY (do it yourself) artist takes a little longer, especially when I’m still learning this whole new process and producing side of things. But I promise you it will be worth the wait.
FVMusicBlog January 2021
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