“It’s all about personal experience”: an interview with Rebecca Jayne

photograph of Rebecca Jayne by S.

Creating poetic lyrics about heartbreak, growth and disillusionment based purely on one’s life experiences is a unique ability afforded only to the most earnest songwriters of this planet. To sing these lyrics whilst playing self-penned guitar melodies is what completes a truly talented singer-songwriter-instrumentalist: of which British country singer Rebecca Jayne is one.

Drawing inspiration from poetry, music icons and real life has taken Rebecca Jayne from topping UK iTunes country chart to touring the very capital city of country music itself: Nashville, Tennessee.

It’s no lie that British country music is a near-silenced song within the South American-dominated genre of country music. But at the Secret Garden Stage in Bracknell Music Festival 2016, a steady stream of acoustic indie-country acts took the centre stage.

WisdomTooth: I noticed many of your songs seemed to be influenced by this idea of dissatisfaction. Do you think angsty emotions influence the songs you write, or is songwriting cathartic; a distraction from your feelings of restlessness?

Rebecca Jayne: I probably songwrite more when I’m upset, because when I’m happy I want to be experiencing my happiness. But it’s both, really!

WisTo: So feeling sad is a catalyst for lyric material, which makes you songwrite, and songwriting, in turn, makes you feel happier.

Rebecca: Yeah. I probably write more songs when I’m sorta, like, down.

WT: That makes enough sense.

RJ: But I do write some happy songs! Well, not as many *laughs*.

WT: I did sense a mix of both emotions for a lot of your tunes – they’re mournfully reminiscent, but take pride in a sort of survival of the human spirit, especially during heartbreaks.

RJ: It’s all about personal experience for me. A couple years ago I mainly wrote from [other people’s] perspective. But now I’ve started writing from personal experience and I think those songs I’m a lot more proud of because they actually mean something to me.

WT: So when did you start songwriting?

RJ: I started playing the guitar about ten years ago…

WT: So you were ten years old.

RJ: Yeah! *laughs* I started singing a little bit then, [but I didn’t start] songwriting until… well, I’ve always been into poems. I’ve always written poetry. I’ve been really into poetry my whole life. But I probably started writing songs about four years ago?

WT: So you were my age. Sixteen.

RJ:  – when I began having personal experiences to go on, yeah.

WT: You also went to Nashville to tour, didn’t you?

RJ: Yeah!

WT: How did that feel? What were your biggest experiences?

RJ: Well, the best experience was that I got to play at the Bluebird Café? I don’t know if you know it…

WT: What an iconic place to play! [Bluebird Café is the famous country music club in Nashville, Tennessee where a young Taylor Swift was discovered and legendary country-rock singer Garth Brooks had his beginnings.]

RJ: I’d been there before – actually, I played there twice. And when I played there last year, I actually got an encore!

WT: Wow!

RJ: It was so amazing *laughs*. That was probably my best experience.

WT: How did you realise that music was what you wanted to do? You could’ve been a poet.

RJ: *laughs* Well, music for me is – what’s the word for getting your feelings out?

WT: Expression.

RJ: Yes! That’s the word. I like sharing [my feelings] with people, because what I found is that when I used to play it to friends and family, they’d go “Oh, this is actually something that I went through” and then I thought – “Actually, this is something I could share with a lot of people”.

WT: So who are your musical influences, especially as a country singer?

RJ: Taylor Swift is a big influence for me, and Eva Cassidy. Those two are probably the biggest influences. With Taylor, it’s her whole solo transforming, and Cassidy was just an incredible musician – I mean, obviously there aren’t many videos of her as a person so I’ve never really got to know what she was like, but her finger style pattern on the guitar is incredible.

WT: When did you first perform onstage?

RJ: I did my first open mic in 2011, and it went from that. It’s just got more and more.

WT: That reminds me – your song, I Want More, landed in the UK iTunes Country chart. What’s next for you, now your songs are charting and you’ve toured in the States?

RJ: I am currently launching my EP for November, and then I plan to tour with it.

WT: So what should we expect?

RJ: It’s taken about a year and a half to do… there are a couple of happier songs but there are sad ones too, all about what I’ve been through in my personal life. My mum and I painted the cover of the EP, and my friend Molly helped out.

WT: I’m taking that your friends and family are important to you? During your gig, you actually said that after I Want More made the iTunes chart, you were shocked that people other than your parents and siblings bought your songs!

RJ: *laughs* Definitely! Even here [at my gig] I have my family and friends with me, and it is really supportive. 

Rebecca Jayne’s EP launches 20th November.


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