I recently had the chance to virtually sit down with Brighton, England’s Amy Hill, who recently released her debut album, Place of Mind. Amy’s record reminded me of the best bits from Jewel’s debut record, Pieces of You and is one of my favorite records of the year.
Jason’s Jukebox – So you recently released your debut album. Can you tell me how long these songs have been in the works?
Amy Hill – Some of my earliest songs I wrote made it on to the album. They are very nostalgic for me, even though for most people it’s the first time they’ve heard them. There are a couple (Black Dove, Sing the Land) that were written in the last couple of years, but the others were written within the last 5 to 10 years. I’ve always dreamt of hearing those early songs with full instrumentation, so to be able to record them on the album with the full band gave them a new lease on life – and got me really excited about playing them again even after all these years. Also it seemed fitting for my debut album to return to my roots and pay homage to those first steps into singer-songwriter land
JJ – Do you have a favorite track from the record? Something near and dear to your heart?
AH – Back to the Green probably is closest to my heart – coming back to the nostalgia thing – I just remember so clearly the day I wrote it and the feelings I had. It was the song that has come most naturally to me in all my writing over the years. Sitting in my car, driving back to Sydney after visiting my parents for the weekend where I grew up on 12 acres of serene Aussie bush land. I was sitting in a traffic jam and got this melody in my head then recorded some lyrics into my mobile phone – when I got home I’d finished the song in about 10 minutes. Everywhere I play that song I get a great response from audiences and people often tell me how much they relate to it – I guess even the most slickest of city slickers can still appreciate the peace and beauty of the countryside J I think it’s maybe human nature, no matter who you are, to long for your own piece of space and calmness, and I love that song allows people to connect with that feeling in some way.
JJ – I love that track, the back story makes it even better! How about the concert experience? Are you doing any shows in support of the record?
AH – I’m planning a mini tour of the UK at the moment and will be playing a couple of festivals over the Summer – praying for sunshine!
JJ – I can understand the sentiment since I’m in the Seattle area. Some of my favorite artists have tracks where I can clearly hear their influences. How about you? What artists inspire you?
AH – My earliest influences and inspirations came from the music my Mum and Dad listened to when I was growing up – lots of Australian Country and Western such as Slim Dusty (my Dad’s idol!)and John Williamson. Plus American country and folk singers like Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, and The Carpenters. My biggest inspiration that really got me playing and writing was an Aussie band called The Waifs…check them out…they are my idols 🙂
JJ – I checked out The Waifs after we spoke – you are right, they are absolutely stunning. You mentioned an artist that I also adore – Dolly Parton. What’s your favorite Dolly Parton song?
AH – I’d have to say Coat of Many Colors. My Mum used to sing it to me when I was little so it always brings back warm and fuzzy memories. For a fun sing-along and dance, my mates and I can’t go past “9 to 5” – it just never gets old. (“Coat of Many Colors” is the title track from Dolly’s 8th studio album released in 1971. “9 to 5” is the title track to the 1980 movie that Dolly Parton also starred in)
JJ – It is a long way from Australia to Brighton, England. How did that move come about?
AH – Like many of us Aussies, being so far away from most of the rest of the world, we feel a longing to go and visit those far-away places, have an adventure – that was certainly the feeling for me once I had finished my studies anyway. So that’s how the living in the UK thing started (also helps that my Mum is English so I have dual citizenship!). I was lucky enough to have some friends living in Brighton who assured me I’d love the place – and they were right. I grew up by the sea in Australia, so Brighton was a good fit, being a seaside town plus a town jam-packed full of creativity and interesting people. The downside of course is the very thing that attracted me in the first place – how VERY far away it is. It’s really hard being thousands of miles away from family and friends back home but the joys of the internet have made that a little easier over the past few years.
JJ – I can relate to that last bit about missing friends and family since I moved to the Seattle area from Philadelphia a little over a decade ago. Must be in my family’s blood though, my brother went even further – to New Zealand. What is your preferred method of listening to music – Vinyl, CD, or MP3?
AH – I really like a bit of all three! MP3 for walking about or laying on the beach listening to some tunes. CD is still good for around the house. And I have recently got myself a record player so have enjoyed the delights of vinyl! Flicking through charity shop vinyl bins has become a fave hobby of mine – have found some gems recently, loving it 🙂
JJ – I have to say – I’m totally digital now, though I had a fairly large vinyl collection once upon a time. We briefly touched on influences earlier, but as a female artist, who would you say your favorite female musician is?
AH – Ooh tricky but I’d have to say Joni Mitchell. What she can do with her voice is amazing and her songwriting blows my mind.
JJ – I love Joni Mitchell too! The depth of her musical catalog is amazing. Finally, since this series is called “Coffee Chats”, I have to ask – what’s your drink of choice? (mine is coffee obviously)
AH – Chocolate milkshake!
Amy’s warm personality shines through on her debut album, Place of Mind. You can check out Amy’s music and information via her website here. An artist with a bright future, you can buy physical copies or downloads of the record at her Bandcamp site. Photos of Amy Hill are by Jess Eaton.