Suffolk singer-songwriter Bessie Turner wants to hang out with Phillip Schofield and Jools Holland
PUBLISHED: 12:37 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:00 10 July 2018
It looks like 2018’s going to be another great year for Suffolk singer-songwriter Bessie Turner, who’s released debut EP 22:22.
Bessie Turner’s had a great 2017. In January she decided to spend some money on recording a demo instead of going on holiday. The result, her debut single Big Sleep, was viewed and streamed more than 10,000 times in the first 12 hours of her life as a recording artist.
With support from BBC Introducing and after performing a live session for BBC Introducing in Suffolk, Big Sleep started getting played on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music throughout the spring. Then six weeks into her career Bessie was asked by BBC Introducing to appear at Latitude.
Her second single Words You Say was premiered by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2, being played extensively across the station as well as BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 1. The year was topped off with live sessions for Whiley and Steve Lamacq in the space of six weeks.
By the start of this year, she’d become one of the most exciting emerging artists in the country; amassing 100,000’s of streams on Spotify and selling out shows in the UK and Europe.
She’s just put out debut EP 22:22 on Suffolk’s Don’t Try Records, recorded with George Perks (Dream Wife, Black Foxxes) at The Crypt Studios in London. It’s an ambitious record and a highly personal one - the title being a tribute to her sister Ruby, who’s two years and two weeks older.
It’s a showcase of her breadth of styles and imagination, from the subtleties of dream sequence opener Casa, the jazz infused swing of In My Room, to the alt-rock technicolor of Words You Say.
Using her songs as a way of releasing fears and documenting moments - in Abseil she laments “I’m worried I’m not gonna live long, I’m worried I’m not gonna try my best to keep you...” - it’s clear these are both songs and confessions. It’s often Bessie’s ability to juxtapose these melancholic sentiments with truly uplifting compositions that makes 22:22 so utterly haunting and beautiful.
Q: The last time we spoke, it’d just been announced you were playing Latitude’s Lake Stage; this year you’re headlining the BBC Music Introducing Stage from 11pm on Friday.
It’s nuts. I remember being such a fish out of water. Things have gone so quickly, I couldn’t have hoped for a better year. I [still] work in a pub, for a catering company, I do some photography stuff for my friend’s website and anything else that comes my way. It’s been a year since we released Big Sleep. It kind of feels like longer. So much has happened, but if anyone could have written their dream plan of how things panned out... I’ve hit so many bucket lists, Latitude Festival, Radio 1 and 2, Steve Lamacq coming to Suffolk and doing a live session for him and having a chat.
Q: You rounded off a great 2017 with an appearance on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show after her producer saw your perform at The Woolpack in Ipswich.
She picked up Words You Say in September. To be played on national radio was really mad and it was played quite a lot. Then I was invited into Maida Vale by Jo Whiley which is just insane. The bar’s been set, I suppose; like if you want to do this just keep working hard so that’s what we keep trying to do.
Q: BBC Introducing has called you a superstar in the making.
It’s crazy. I’m really honoured, really humbled. I don’t think I am [laughs] when I’m washing up and getting paid minimum wage to do it; making up little songs in my head or quickly recording little voice memos. But that was never what I aspired to be, so if it happens brilliant but we’ll see.
Q: Where’s the strangest or most unexpected place you’ve heard your songs?
I’ve heard it on the radio once, it was the newest single In My Room. My sister’s boyfriend was at a skate park and sent a video to my sister saying he could hear Words you Say coming from someone’s house. That’s a bit weird. We’ve got a friend in Wales and this lady who he rents a room off was listening to the radio and was like “oh I like this song”. My doctor - who I went to the other day regarding some horrible glands - said “oh I heard you on Radio 2” [laughs] which was quite cool.
I’m really excited, it’s wicked the Jimmy’s Festival organisers have got such big names. The Happy Mondays are a really good band to bring together for all the generations and its going to be so fun. Yeah, The Libertines... when I announced it I had so many friends going “where, how much, I need to come”. They were such a big band and hit such a wave at a good time. It’ll be really interesting, I can’t believe they’re on the bill. I’m going to steal all their stuff and show them who’s the rock star.
Q: Tell me about the new EP 22:22.
It’s got six songs on it and I can’t wait to get it out because I think I’ll then feel like the pressure’s off to go back into the studio and get straight on to making number two.
Q: Does writing ever get easier?
It probably has got easier for me, which is great. I really am lucky that if I’m in the right mood... that’s step one, getting into the right mood, the right headspace to do it and just play with my guitar. I’ve now got the freedom and confidence from releasing music to be able to be like “hey boys, listen to this” and learn to have different styles
Q: What’s the overall goal?
[I’m taking it] Step by step. I’d love to hang out with Phillip Schofield for the day and I would love, love, love to go on Later with Jools Holland. That’s always been my dream that I’m too afraid to say. I can’t even begin to think how many episodes I’ve watched from a tiny age. That’s my little marker but I don’t know, hopefully I’ll be able to continue and record more great music and see what happens.
Q: Any advice for aspiring singer-songwriters?
Try and be really brave because I wasn’t. I’ve been making up songs since I was probably 11 and it took so long for them to turn into anything like an actual product that anyone ever saw. It’s really difficult, especially if you sing as well; you’re bearing something you can’t change because it’s part of you. People are much nicer than you think; you always worry people are going to dumb your stuff down but they rarely do. If you have this song and you think it’s great, if you’ve made it you’ve made it for a reason; upload it.