Interviewing the Welsh folk-pop artist Bryony Sier is such a pleasure! During the run-up to the release of her powerful new single ‘ID’ this coming Friday 29th November, we spoke to Bryony about her background and approach to songwriting, and she filled us in on a few of her upcoming tour dates. I hope that you enjoy reading her candid responses as much as we have!
Interview and words by Rebecca Fisher
Hi Bryony, it’s great to meet you. We really love your folky- bluesy vibe, can you tell us a bit more about your background and how you first got into music?
I was born in a small village called Troedyrhiw which is based in Merthyr Tydfil (South Wales) and from a young age, I can remember always having a love for music. When I was eleven, I entered a singing competition on Disney channel called ’My School Musical’ and I got through to the finals. This meant that I got to travel down to London for three days, head to the Disney studios and then my performance was later aired on Disney Channel TV.
After that experience, my interest in music grew but it was only until my aunt taught me a guitar when I was 12 that it became so much more than just a hobby. At the time my aunt offered me lessons, I was really struggling at school with bullying. Every Saturday I would look forward to going over my nans to continue learning, it would be the highlight of my entire week. I would come home and be completely infatuated with what I was doing. I was constantly searching for new songs to learn and then I eventually started to write my own songs. This helped me to get through school because it was the perfect outlet. Everything I was thinking and feeling were written down on paper. It was my coping mechanism and that’s why music is so important to me. It saved me and my connection to it has only continued to grow and manifest over the years.
We can’t wait until ID drops, can you tell us a little more about what inspired you to write the track?
I wrote ID about the pressures people can face. I know what it was like when I was in school. People are not always accepting of who you are and I faced a lot of rejection. I was always trying to fit in somehow but it never felt like I belonged anywhere. I know that a lot of youngsters and adults feel like there’s a certain level of perfection we need to project into the world in order to be considered ‘good enough’ or ‘successful’ but nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. I also found that whilst I was in school, I lost my identity and self-worth. I didn’t know who I was and that’s why when I finally left and went to college, everything got worse instead of better because I still had long term issues that I hadn’t dealt with. When I was writing ID, I wasn’t thinking of this at the time but I definitely feel that it’s important to recognise we are all struggling with something.
For myself, I came from school with extreme social anxiety and for so long I couldn’t talk about it, let alone even mention the word ‘anxiety’. But I’ve come to realize that it’s so important to talk. I want to write songs that others can relate to and be as honest as I can. If a song can give a message or some form of hope, then that’s all I’m aiming to achieve.
We’ve heard you speak before about mental health, is it something you consider needs to be more part of the music industry?
Definitely. I’ve seriously struggled in the past to attend networking events, songwriting sessions and other workshops because of my anxiety. A lot of musicians suffer from mental health and there needs to be some sort of support available to help one another and overcome obstacles. This industry can be very competitive and tough at times, so I think there should be some sort of musicians support group out there or a stronger mentor system where musicians are encouraged to speak up and talk about how a gig went one to one or within a group environment.
It is pretty clear to us from your style you count Fleetwood Mac amongst your influences, do you have any others?
I love Fleetwood Mac and they are definitely one of my influences. I’d say that Johnny Cash is my biggest inspiration. I didn’t like his voice much when I was younger, I didn’t really understand it. But I remember hearing ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ on Vintage TV and I fell in love with his sound. Ben Howard was also an earlier influence. I watched a video on YouTube of him playing ‘Only Love’ and I thought his fingerpicking was incredible. It inspired me to start adapting some fingerpicking into my own performances and eventually I found my own style. I listen to a wide variety of songs by different types of artists like; Jake Bugg, Sigrid, Amy Macdonald, Maisie Peters, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran, Vampire Weekend, Coldplay and Sam Fender.
Can you tell us about your songwriting method?
It varies all the time. Sometimes I might just be messing around with some chords on guitar and inspiration will strike. I can write a song within 5 minutes or over the course of a few days depending on the content and guitar pieces. I never write the chords down with the lyrics because I don’t know what they are. I can’t read music so everything is played by ear. If it sounds right then it stays! I always record the tune and lyrics as soon as I start writing a new song. I can never just sit there and think ‘I’m going to write a song today’ it doesn’t work like that for me. I have to be inspired and it has to feel right, otherwise, I’m left with nothing and have no song to show for it. On rare occasions, usually at ridiculous times of the day (mostly at night for some reason) I tend to have a full song come into my mind and it’s playing out like an actual record but if it’s like one o’clock in the morning I can’t exactly rush to get my guitar and start bashing out a tune because my whole family is sleeping and I don’t want to wake them.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I would love to work with Jake Bugg and Ed Sheeran. I love how unique Jake Bugg’s voice is and his guitar playing is phenomenal. I think that meeting Ed Sheeran has been a dream of mine for a long time now. He is one of the biggest names in the music industry because he’s such a talented songwriter. I’d also like to see how he uses that loop pedal because it looks super complicated to me!
If you could write for any artist in the world who would it be?
I think it would be interesting to work with an artist like Sigrid. I’m a big fan of her style and it would challenge me as a songwriter to write for somebody else, who sings a different type of genre. I like to push myself as a musician, so this would be interesting and exciting for me.
We’ve heard awesome things about your live performances, what’s coming up in your gig calendar?
I’ve got one or two shows leading up to Christmas, including Le Pub Newport on the 13th of December and Nos da Cardiff on the 14th of December. I will also be playing Focus Wales again next year on Friday the 8th of May.
Thanks, Bryony! We’ve loved hearing your answers and wish you every success with the new single! You’ll be able to listen to ‘ID’ on Trackd, Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer from this Friday 29th November. And she’ll be releasing new music early next year so follow Bryony on Trackd for updates!