In Conversation With abs

Yorkshire singer/songwriter abs is at Hyde Park Book Club on 9 February, having released her debut EP in September 2023.  

Congratulations on the release of your debut EP.  It’s an exciting time for you, with the release and the upcoming Debut EP Tour.  Was there a point at which you realised the dream of the EP would become a reality?  That defining moment? 

I think the defining moment for me was when the first song of the EP ‘Fool Around’ came to me. I was at a bus stop waiting to go to work at around 7:30am and was fuming that I felt like I was stuck in a rut of work work work. The song was me dreaming for summer and holiday and to just have time to groove with my friends and feel relaxed. 

I wrote that song, and then the EP dream came to me. I had written two incredible songs which I loved (Access Restricted was written beforehand), and I was excited about finally releasing a body of music. 

Can you take us through the significance of the songs?  Or share something of what they mean to you?  

Fool Around – I started to mention this before. This song is my plea to wish that I never had to work and could just have summer all the time!  

Access Restricted – This song is my bad bitch anthem. I wrote it when I couldn’t sleep because a boy annoyed me, and it made me think – why am I spending my time thinking about this person? This is my powerful song that gets my anger and sexy side out, and I hope it empowers women when they hear it.  

Blossom – This song was written as a note of pride for myself as a reflection on what I have gone through. I have made it over the other side of a really difficult few years, and I am incredibly grateful for the support I have and have had, but I don’t think people give themselves enough credit for the self-work that you have to put in. It takes a lot of courage to want to get better mentally, and it is a lot of effort to put the work in to improve yourself. I am very proud of me and this one means a lot. 

Haven – I currently work in a secondary school, and TRACKS Sheffield Music School came to work with one of my students. They weren’t confident in their spoken word they wrote, but it was amazing when I heard it. I told them, if you write me some lyrics, I will turn it into a song, and that is how ‘Haven’ was born. I printed them off a picture of a mystical forest that they chose, and the lyrics were inspired by that image. This song is dedicated to that student, and to TRACKS for the amazing work they do for young people in Sheffield.  

Going back now in time, how did your passion for music begin? 

I have been singing since I was one year old, and my grandma remembers me singing Little Donkey in the pram. I’m not particularly sure how my passion for music began, but I am lucky to have always had it and to have kept it going! Not many people find their passion until they are much older, so I see that as a privilege. 

Did you have any other career in mind through your earlier years? 

I actually didn’t! I have always wanted to do music and never thought I could do anything else. As I started getting older, I started to realise I work well with children and young people, and that’s what inspired me to start working in a school. When I studied music at university, I learned what music therapy is, and this combined the two! I am going to study music therapy this September in London alongside pursuing my music career and I cannot wait. 

What was the first opportunity you had for singing in public? 

I was part of all of my school productions. The first time I had a solo part was when I was in Year 8, and I played Nancy’s best friend Bet in Oliver. It was my first singing solo role!  

You’ve been releasing music since 2019 and this year is the first with a band.  How did that come about? 

Once my confidence came back after the pandemic, I brought myself to do my first solo show on November 1st 2023. It was such a joy and it reminded me how much I love performing. For my next gig, I brought a band together of some of my close friends. Just over a year later and we have sold out shows and already achieved so much! My band are amazing supports of me and my crazy idea, and I am so grateful for them: 

Zak Michaud- bass 
Ashly Young- keys 
Em Risley- alto sax and backing vocals 
Rose Franchi- tenor sax and backing vocals 
Jemma Green- drums 

In terms of your live performance, how much does your audience’s reaction influence you?  Do you make changes based on their responses? 

I don’t usually make changes, but I do get ideas from the audience’s energy and response to songs. For example, at my EP launch, the audience sang Access Restricted so loudly I was so shocked, and it made me so happy! Now I over-exaggerate certain parts of my show which I know the audience loves, which makes the whole thing more enjoyable for everyone involved! 

There are considerable challenges to face on the pathway to wider recognition, and you’ve had the impact of the pandemic to deal with in that timeframe.  Please tell me how you came through that to where you now are. 

Over COVID I had a massive knock to my confidence and my mental health, so the fact I am releasing anything again is such an achievement for me, and I am so proud of myself! It took a lot of self-work and support from those around me to get my confidence back and I am so glad that it did. Now, I try to focus on having faith: faith in myself, in others, and in knowing that whatever is meant to happen, will happen. 

Can you explain Help Musicians to our readers? 

Help Musicians is a charity that is for musicians of all genres, at any stage in their career. They support with advice and finance, either in times of crisis or at crucial stages that could make their career.  

I put in an application for a grant to help support the funding for my tour, and I am extremely grateful that it got approved! Through this, I have also had business and health advice. 

At this stage in your career, has there been a stand out moment?  One that makes you smile – or not! 

I think my standout moment has been supporting Dreamflower Collective at Foundry. It’s a venue that I went through my university life going to, and the fact I got to play there was amazing! I played to around 300 people that I haven’t played to before, and I had such positive feedback. It felt like my first properly professional gig, and I will treasure it forever. I must do more of those! 

Your energy must be channelled towards your tour right now, but is there already a plan for what happens after that? 

After tour my first plan is to have a break! But after that, I already have ideas. I want to make at least two music videos this year which I have planned, write my second EP, and as I am moving to London, I want to build up my fanbase there.

This is only the beginning! 

abs is at Hyde Park Book Club on 9 February, supported by Leeds Isaac Malibu and The Will Yates Experience.  Tickets here.   

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