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Kezia Gill Interview
Kezia Gill's vocals are unlike any other. Her signature rasp, sensational power and unbelievable control make for a killer combination. Read her interview as she discusses her style, influences and writing processes.
Hi Kezia! Thanks so much for talking to me today! Your most recent release was a cover of 90’s dance party classic ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ featuring friend of the magazine and former interviewee Tim Prottey-Jones. You’ve put a new spin on the song; taking the iconic upbeat foot tapper and turning it into an amazing country blues tune. Why did you choose to cover this song in particular – and where did the idea for the bluesy spin come from?
I must confess, I can’t take any credit for the creative process. It was all Tim and his wonderful imagination!! He approached me with the project and asked if I would be interested in lending my vocals to the track. After one listen I was sold! I love anything dark and bluesy, so it was a great project to be part of.
Your voice really stands out – it has an iconic rasp to it and the control you have to execute perfect bends and melismatic turns is staggering! For me talent like this that’s made to sound so effortless always brings up the nature vs nurture debate, so was this singing ability something you’ve just always had, something you’ve worked to get or maybe a combination being something that you have always had to an extent, but have had to work to perfect?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I come from a line of singers, so it was always in my blood, but there’s no doubt that honing your craft is hugely important. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become perfect at something, and I’d say I’ve probably done double that when it comes to singing!! I’m by no means saying I’m perfect, but years of singing means I’m comfortable in my own voice, and I know how to get the best out of it.
In a similar tone, for some people being on stage and singing is a childhood dream that is harnessed at an early age, and for others isn’t something they realise they are interested in until later. Was this always the dream for you, or is it something you discovered a love for later on?
I can say with some certainty that I always wanted to be a singer. My Dad was a singer, and my earliest memories are watching him perform and longing to be up there on stage with him. It was at the age of 5 that I made my debut, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve never been interested in anything else.
Music can be such a powerful and expressive tool, allowing us an outlet for emotions that sometimes we didn’t even know we had! Being a songwriter and a singer, do you often find yourself using your songs as an outlet, and do you find that this helps you and your mental health? Absolutely.
I find song writing extremely therapeutic. I can write about my deepest darkest emotions, and packaged in the correct way (neither too personal nor to cryptic) they will hopefully mean something to the listener. It’s always been important that I write about things I’ve been through and emotions I understand.
‘All of Me’ is a fantastic song. I find it particularly interesting that the lyrics are those that you would maybe expect to hear in a gentle piano ballad, but seem even more powerful in the hard-hitting rock and blues style of this song. When writing this tune did the lyrics or the music come first, and what was the inspiration for pairing the two together in a way people maybe wouldn’t have expected? This was a rare exception where the lyrics and music came together. I thought the idea that all you can give might not be enough was truly heartbreaking. It provoked a raw and bluesy tune which paired with the lyric “All I can give you and All that I want to are two very different things” creates quite a powerful chorus. It’s sung with passion and heart because it comes from a place of desperation.
A lot of your songs have an anthemic vibe to them, ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ and ‘The Mess I Made’ being prime examples. Somehow you manage to generate atmospheric accompaniments whilst keeping the textures fairly thin, and the slower but very deliberate, driving tempos create this swell of intensity that sits perfectly underneath your powerful vocals. Although the words ‘style’ and ‘genre’ feel as if they are becoming less relevant in music – would you say that you have a particular style, and how would you describe it to someone who hadn’t heard your music before?
I have always believed that you don’t just hear music… you feel it. The first thing I say to my producer when I’m making music is “I wanna feel the message”, If it’s sad, the music needs to hit me in the stomach, if it’s happy, the music needs to lift me up, and if I’m going for a banger, it needs to make me move!!! I’d like to say my style is raw unfiltered feels!!!!
In fitting with style and genre I always find it interesting to learn who an artist’s inspirations are so that I can try and hear elements of it in their music. Who would you say your biggest inspirations have been?
This question follows on great from the previous one. I’m inspired by artists that make me feel something. Patsy Cline taught me how to sing. You could hear her heart breaking in her ballads, and hear her strength and sass in her upbeat tunes. I also adore Elvis, Freddy Mercury and Tina Turner because they’re all raw, unpolished and phenomenal with it. They condone your attention because you believe what their telling you. It’s quite incredible to watch one person control 50,000 onlookers. I find that hugely inspiring.
It’s currently a very busy time for you as you’re on tour! Can you tell us some more about any big plans you have in the next year or so?
I actually can’t say much, but mark my words, BIG things are coming!!
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name your top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
1. Rainbow- Kacey Musgraves
2. Everybody Hurts- REM
3. I’m Here- Kezia Gill
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