The Verse’s Tom Palmer interviewed BETSY ahead of her show at The Haunt on 28th November 2017.
BETSY, which artists would you say have influenced your development as an artist?
So many! When I was young I was surrounded by my parents’ and aunt’s and uncle’s record collections that went from Hendrix to Stan Getz to Vivaldi. So from a very young age, I’ve had a whole stash of different inspirations. But as I got into my teens I got really into soul, blues and jazz vocalists like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.
Today, although I am still influenced by all of these artists, I look to people like Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, David Bowie – artists who not only have incredible, unusual voices but a unique style – something I strive for.
If you could collaborate with one artist, past or present, who would it be? Why?
Kanye West. I really admire his music and how progressive it is but also the passion in it.
What is the story behind your track You Won’t Love Me?
Forbidden love! It’s about someone who I fell in love with, and I think fell in love with me, who I could not be with. But I always felt that perhaps the reason it felt so strong was because it was forbidden, and that had we met completely free, things would not have been the same.
What is your songwriting process/method?
For me, as dickish as it sounds, it’s quite an organic experience. I normally (unbeknownst to me) have a subconscious story to tell or something I want to get off my chest, that shows itself when I sit down at my keyboard and start to play a few chords and sing a bit. So long as I feel the passion, and the story is real to me, it writes itself. Once I have the main melody and lyric ideas I go back and add things like the string parts or synth riffs.
What is your advice for new/ upcoming artists?
Balls of steel! It’s tough out there! Believe in yourself and your opinions and decisions because at the end of the day it all comes down to you, and if you’ve gone with your gut, that’s all you can do.
Which performance has been your most memorable to date and why?
I think it has to be V festival. It was my first big festival and I was first on the MTV stage, so naturally thought no-one would come. But as soon as I got on stage hordes of people emerged from nowhere, singing my songs, balancing on shoulders. It was amazing!
What is your favourite song to perform live?
I love to sing the ballads, You Won’t Love Me and Rosie. I love to feel the emotion and get immersed in the song when I perform, and these two let me do that. Plus they make me feel like Shirley Bassey when I sing them – bonus!
As well as original material, are you planning any covers for your upcoming tour?
Ooooooo wouldn’t you like to know! Top secret! I may have a little sneaky bit in there!
What artist(s)/songs do you like to listen to whilst on the road?
When the girls and I are in the van, we like a bit of Motown or 70’s disco to get us in the mood. My pianist Sarah is the queen of jazz so we throw a bit of that in too.
Is there anything that you take on the road with you to remind you of home?
Oh my goodness, something terrible happened last time we were in Germany. I took a blanket with me that I had had since I was a child, for sleeping on the bus, and lost it somewhere amongst the travelling and drunken behaviour. Very sad.
What is your pre-show routine/ritual?
Bottle of wine of course and a hot toddy! And then we all get together and do this hand-waving ritual thing (you’d need to see it to understand!)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Doing a duet with Dame Shirley Bassey at the Royal Albert Hall.
You can buy tickets for BETSY’s show here: https://www.thehauntbrighton.co.uk/betsy