An Interview with YouTube sensation Hope Russell-Winter
London based singer-songwriter and YouTube sensation Hope Russell-Winter has already been described as the “Next Adele” by Mike Naylor of BBC Radio. She’s took some time out of her phenomenal schedule this week for an interview with me as she’s supporting Brian McFadden, formerly of Westlife, at Canary Wharf’s Boisdale.
1. When did you start out singing/playing instruments?
I started falling in love with music when I was around 8. I never dreamed of making a living by being a musician until much later, but my love of music is something that I’ve had pretty much as soon as I could listen to it. I loved being creative and theatrical as a kid, and I started writing a lot of poetry too. The singing and playing instruments side of it came in when my parents bought me a second hand keyboard from a charity shop, it all started there!
2. Do you have a favourite instrument / favourite brand of instrument?
I mean, I am a piano woman through and through. I remember listening to Tori Amos’ early albums and being astounded by how emotive and crazy her piano composition and playing was. It’s an instrument you wouldn’t necessarily think could bend to an individual; but from Tori Amos to Tim Minchin to Jamie Cullum you can totally hear what each individual brings to the piano, and what the piano gives back to them. I aspire to have that relationship with the keys in the future. Favourite brand – I’d have to go with Roland. Purely because my first proper keyboard was an RD-800 and I cried when I was given it. I’m very lucky in order to have such a beautiful piece of equipment. I know have a little RD-64 for travelling to gigs and I love that too. There’s something about the way the keys feel that I haven’t felt with any other brand.
3. Who are your musical inspirations?
I think the majority of musicians or music lovers listen to music all the time. I certainly do. It’s always with me and so I tend to listen to a real mixture. My main inspirations are the artists I was brought up around – Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy, and Turin Brakes. This is the music that is at the core of my musical being. Norah Jones is a huge inspiration to me, along with Guy Garvey as a lyricist. Too many to choose from!
4. What do you get upto when you’re not out gigging?
At the moment – writing and recording! I spend a lot of time writing in my songwriting journal and coming up with little piano ideas to turn into songs. I’m currently demoing up my songs I’ve written over the past 6 months to get the process of recording the EP going.
5. You’re supporting Brian McFadden who used to be in Westlife, that’s a massive gig! You must be proper excited for that? Is this the biggest highlight in your musical career so far?
God yes! SO exciting! I feel so honoured to be supporting him, totally a bit nervous about it too. It’s certainly a huge highlight. I’ve been really lucky with the start of my career, I’d say the only other highlights are some of the comments I get on my Youtube, which are very special to me. But yeah, can’t believe and can’t wait for the shows!!
6. Can you give me a brief description of your song writing process?
I’ve learnt a lot in the past 6 months about my process. I had a very structured and standard process in which I wrote songs (Find chords, thing of theme, write lyrics and melody to the chords.) But I really wanted to push myself lyrically and musically when I was writing for the EP. So I started writing lyric and melody ideas before I put the piano to it, which was a really interesting process. I also started to try and write from a more sort of detached place. Which sounds weird, but I began to start writing only when I was going through something emotional or something that was happening to me – which I think is a bit limiting. Songwriting is all about story telling, and I’m not the only person in the world with a story to tell – I’d found the benefits in sharing other stories that aren’t just my own. So yeah, haha it changes a lot, but it’s the best thing in the world.
7. Tea or coffee?
Geez, I’m gonna sound so pretentious, but iced coffee. There I said it. Nothing like a good iced coffee.
8.What’s your ultimate goal as a musician?
I’ve got a mixture of small goals and big goals. Some of the big goals I keep to myself, but ultimately – just being able to live off making music. Wanting to touch people and help make the world a little less shitty. If I ever went on a tour of my own records, that would be a dream come true.
9. Your upcoming EP – how would you compare it to your previous work?
It’s definitely a departure. I was so young when I released my previous stuff, and it was a great education for me on the process of making and releasing records. But I had no clue what I wanted my sound to be. I’ve been spending the time since those releases to make informed decisions on what sound I want to put out there. So this EP at its core it’s still me. It’s a bunch of my best songs, with a band behind it giving it a kick. In a good way.
10. Finally, why do you love music?
I think creating a song out of thin air, I just love it. Creating life and magic just from your hands and mind, it’s so cool. I feel really lucky I’m able to do it. Music helps you understand your emotions. It really does soundtrack your life. And what is a movie without a really good soundtrack?
Featured image credit @jackelliothobbs on Instagram
Follow Hope on Twitter & Instagram now @hopemusicuk