An honest and heartfelt, yet powerful vocal, to match the honest and powerfully heartfelt songs. Scottish Singer-Songwriter Liv Dawn has gone from strength to strength in her fledgling music career, to the extent she won the “BBC Radio Scotland’s Singer/Songwriter of the Year Award 2019”. She released her first single “Reason” last summer and plans to release more this year. She also supported Tom Walker on his UK “Home Run” Tour. Liv tells us more about her writing processes and what inspires her >>>>>
Q: How did you first become involved in music, how long have you been playing and why the guitar ?
“I was always singing from a young age, but not very well. I would never let anyone hear me apart from my family, as I was singing around the house, but I only started to become interested in music late on in school. I studied Nat 5 Music in fourth year of high school and began singing in vocal groups. I went on to study Higher and only from then, grew confidence to sing solo. I studied voice and guitar in my music class, so I was singing and playing together from the age of sixteen. I just thought the guitar was so cool and the best way to start out playing songs”
Q: Who are your main influences, are they the same for songwriting and singing, or do you have different ones for both ?
“I like to take influence from many artists and writers. I love any true and heartfelt music, whether it is through lyrics or emotion within voice and I think that is where I take my main inspiration from. My absolute favourite artist at the moment is Dermot Kennedy. I adore his songwriting and how he creates so much imagery and feeling within his songs. He always uses metaphorical language and I think it is special how it is almost poetry. I draw inspiration from other great artists and writers such as Adele, Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Stevie Nicks and country elements from Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Sheryl Crow, Dolly Parton and Rascal Flatts – both inspired by their songwriting and artistry.
Q: How do you approach writing a new song. What processes do you go through. Melody first, or guitar/chord progression ideas come first, or does it all differ for each song ?
“I mostly write songs by messing around on either guitar or piano and creating a melody (which is usually in mumble language) then discover and find lyrics to place in. Sometimes, I have a concept or feeling in mind and I subconsciously sing lyrics related to that or I will write all my lyrics down first then try to create a melody. It totally differs for each song but I am usually melody then lyrics and I will keep developing the song once I create the hook or main sound. I am enjoying writing from my piano at the moment, with simple chords and arrangements as it brings out a more open and vulnerable side of myself to write from.”
Q: What are your main topic areas for songwriting, love, loss, life etc ?
“It totally depends on how I am feeling or what is on my mind. I write about many things I keep hidden or quiet and almost treat it as therapy sessions, but sometimes, I write from other people’s perspectives and experiences. Love songs are great to write, because you can lay all your cards on the table or say what you have always wanted to say to or about someone. Recently, I have been writing more about mental health and the difficulties of life and I like to steer away from love songs to talk about friendships, mental states and isolation as I feel that is important too.”
Q: How do you get ideas for songs, do you listen to other songwriters/music artists ?
“Sometimes I get ideas for songs from situations I am in, from new places I go to or from my friendships and romantic relationships. Mainly, ideas come from strong feelings, like if I am hurt, totally in love or if I have a difficult choice to make. I listen to other songwriters for ideas of sections and how their hooks work well, also different tones and emotion within their songs.”
Q: Have you had writers block and if so how do you cope with it – Do you just leave it until it’s ready to come out, or fight to write ?
“I get writers block sometimes, but I struggle with fighting my energy to write. Sometimes, I am too exhausted to write or I am not in the right mindset and it also comes down to what space and environment you are in too. I make sure to give myself breaks and let it come back to me.”
Q: You’re getting a lot of press attention now, how did that come about and have things changed since that happened ?
“I gained a lot of press from being a finalist in BBC Radio Scotland’s Singer/Songwriter Award 2019, as my involvement and live award show was broadcast and promoted across BBC Radio Scotland. I contacted local papers and online articles too, when the award was open for public voting. I am hoping to gain more press attention for upcoming gigs and song releases in the next few months.”
Liv Dawn single “Reason”
Liv Dawn Singer-Songwriter
Q: What stumbling blocks have you had as a music artist or songwriter/composer ?
“I struggled with learning and trying to get my head around the music industry to start out as an artist. I spent a year or so completely researching about distribution, royalties, touring, the roles within the industry and how to come across professional with Electronic Press Kits and websites etc. Once I began to understand these aspects, it became easier and I could focus more on writing and recording my music. I learn something new every day about the industry and I am still figuring it out. The main thing is to learn to not give up and how to cope with rejection.”
Q: Do you enjoy performing as much as you do writing ?
“Yes! I absolutely love performing. It is part of why I write music, I want to share it with others and hope they connect or relate in some way. I gain such thrill and adrenaline from performing and there is something so special about playing to a crowd.”
Q: Are you a solo artist or do you perform with your band – if not, do you intend to have your own band at a later career stage ?
“I am a solo artist at the moment, but I am developing to perform with a keyboard player. I would love a full band eventually. I adore string instruments and would love to have a violin or cello player alongside me. Also, guitarists and a drummer.”
Q: Do you record at home or go into recording studios – what’s been your experience thus far ?
“ I recorded my first single last year in an awesome studio called Lost Oscillation. It was my first studio experience, but the producer, Dave, I worked with made me feel so welcome and helped so much. I worked with my keys player, Calum and was great fun. I have a small home studio set up where I can record demos or lay some tracks for future releases too.”
Q: What’s planned next…will you release an album or just release Singles or EP’s ?
“I am planning to release a new single before summer and possible release a few more singles throughout the year. I would love to release an EP into next year and record a full album when I am further on in my career. I have many songs written I would love to develop further”
Q: What guitar/instruments do you use/own, why and what other gear ?
“I play a little piano, but I am working on my playing ability so I could perform keys live too. I mess around with percussion and MIDI through my electronic piano and I would love to learn the violin.”
Wishing Liv every success in 2020 and beyond
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By Pete Carroll (March 2020)