Thursday, 9 March 2017

Eight questions with Holly Redford Jones

(c) Izzy Romilly Photography
1. First up, who is Holly Redford Jones? (a short introduction)

That’s me! After a number of bands with slightly questionable names (I’m reminded of the heady university days of ‘Too Much Pesto’) I’m keeping things simple and running with my actual name (alternative I know). I’m originally from Chesterfield, or Chesvegas to those who abide there, but I’m now hanging out in Oxford and soaking up the wonderful music scene here having graduated in 2016.   

2. How long have you been making music? Any special early influences?

When I was about eleven I developed quite a passion for Eric Clapton which started me down the guitar path… my interests have from quite an early age been slightly unorthodox, when I was younger I always revelled in outdoing my male peers in traditional ‘boy things’, I think picking up guitar was in some ways a natural extension of my antics on the football field. The music that I most associate with home though is Leonard Cohen. I used to love, and still do, listening to his live albums and the way his voice commands to be listened to. I think that’s what made me want to start writing songs, at least it’s certainly set the bar for what I’d like to achieve.

3. Your debut EP ‘The Future’ has been out for just over a week now - how has the response been so far and how does it feel to have it out there for people to listen to?! Feel free to big up everybody who worked on the EP!

The EP was a lot of fun to make. Initially it started out with an invite to record a few demos at the Abbey Road Institute over summer which is how I ended up putting together the band. I’ve been playing music with Chris Cottell for a couple of years now, mostly in the form of late night/early morning jazz, and he volunteered his drumming services and also introduced me to John Paul and Ed MacLean who are all current music students. We had a great time making the demos so just decided to have a go ourselves in the University Music Faculty over the Christmas vacation with John Paul producing, that’s how the EP came about. It’s been a bit of a DIY effort through and through with two of my other talented friends, Izzy Romilly and Paavan Buddhdev doing the photography and website respectively ( I’m also indebted to my other non-musical friends who patiently proofread anything I put in front of them for my trademark dyslexic errors! Conveniently I now have five close friends who are either English teachers or studying English at postgraduate level, so that worked out well for someone who frequently misspells her own name!

4. You launched the EP with a sell out Oxford show… how was that?! For any artists reading this who might be thinking about organising a show with Tigmus or have one booked in already, do you have any tips for self-promoting a gig successfully?

Amazing! I couldn’t really believe it, even on the night when it was becoming obvious it was going to be quite a packed show I was still half expecting no one to show up! I think picking the right venue is key, Fusion Arts was perfect for us, well-located just off Cowley Road and a nice size and aesthetic. But we were also blessed with two fantastic support acts, Catgod and Calypso Hetherington (go check out their Facebook pages!!).

5. You’re carrying on the EP launch celebrations with a show in London at The Harrison in a couple of weeks with fellow Oxford artists The 52s and Zander Sharp - what can we expect from the show?

I’m so excited for The Harrison. Firstly London itself… I’m still very much a Chesterfield girl at heart and I can remember when we used to take family holidays to London when I was younger so entering the Big Smoke is still very exciting for me! And myself and the 52s and Zander Sharp go back a couple of years now. We met on the Oxford scene and I’m so excited to hook up with them again in London. We’ve so many mutual friends and people in London coming it feels almost like a big joint birthday party or something! For the show itself, we’re stripping the set back a little bit and playing just guitar, bass and drums and as we’re in a folk club I’m hoping to slip a few more folksy songs I love in too… but the plan is still have everyone dancing by the end of the night!

6. Who is your audience and how do you connect with your fans? Any crazy, fun, exciting stories are very welcome.

Quite a mix actually. Having only just graduated I’m still very integrated with the student community in Oxford so there’s always a good student turn-out at gigs and I still love playing at student nights where I can, but I also did a gig at Fatlils in Witney recently and I was the youngest in the room by quite some margin. The diversity is something I really love, that was one of my favourite things about the EP launch, seeing all the different groups of people I’ve played to over the past year come together under one roof.

As for keeping in touch, as of a few days ago I am now on all major social media platforms including Instagram which I’m actually loving! I’d been putting off getting it for a while but have now been prompted into doing it and I’m finding it much more dyslexic-friendly than Twitter and Facebook! So if you want to keep up to date you can follow me @hollyredfordjones, and then I’ve also got a good old fashioned mailing list.

7. What would your dream gig look like? Are there any artists, locally or further afield, that you’d love to play alongside?

Ooh good question! Well of course up until last November the dream would have been Leonard Cohen but now Len’s gone I think the next best thing might be Father John Misty or maybe Conor O’Brien from Villagers? But I also love the idea of collaborating with other female artists, I really enjoyed Laura Marling’s ‘Reversal of the Muse’ podcast series and her dissection of femininity and creativity, a duet with someone like Beverly Howard from Alabama Shakes would be very cool. I’m also really into jazz and big band music so I’d have to say joining Jools Holland for a number would be a dream come true!

8. After the London headline show, what does the rest of 2017 hold for you?

Busy busy busy! We’re playing our first festival at Wychwood in June which I’m super excited about, it’s just after the guys in my band finish exams too so should be BANGIN. Then a few days later I’m doing a solo set upstairs @ Ronnie Scott’s for TV Nights which again, the jazz nerd in me is freaking out about! I’ve also got a few shows coming up in the meantime in Oxford and London (catch me next in Ox on 25th March at Cellar) and in April I’m heading back to my hometown, Chesterfield, for a few gigs too. I’ve also just started out with a couple of living room shows which has been so much fun, so if anyone reading this would like an itinerant singer-songwriter performing for them in their front room I’m very open to invitations!

Holly Redford Jones headlines The Harrison in King's Cross to help launch her recent EP 'The Future' on Tuesday 14th March with support from The 52s and Zander Sharp - cheapest tickets available here.

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