Hello Onyda, how are you?
I’m doing good! Staying creative and enjoying the winter, I love to hibernate.
Congratulations on the release of “Like A Dog” how does it feel?
Thank you, it feels great! You spend so long working on something that when people finally hear it it’s like getting something off your chest. I’m really proud of it.
What’s the story behind it?
It’s about being super down on your luck, there’s a feeling of entrapment for your situation but all the while knowing that change is at the tips of your fingers. Recognising your power and strength as you work your way out of your difficulties, it’s melancholic but it’s also really uplifting to me.
It’s got a lovely melody to it, what were the challenges and positives in writing it?
I think every song is a challenge to me in the sense of I pull so many of my ideas from such vulnerable parts of myself. Some of my best songs including this one were written when I was going through something tough but the positives are it helps me massively to sort through my emotions. Writing songs is therapy and to make something beautiful out of your hardships is a gift.
You co wrote it with Ben Hillier, how did that come about?
I was put in touch with Ben through my manager and long time friend and producer Joe Hirst. I’m so grateful to know such lovely and talented people.
What did you learn from those sessions?
Ben is incredibly skilled, talented and also works (at least to me) incredibly fast, I learnt a lot from being around him. I also learnt that having another artist around you that understands your vision and has the same kind of musical language as you to be completely invaluable, it wouldn’t be what it is without him.
You are a singer songwriter from Stoke how did it all begin for you?
I’m an only child and I grew up on the edge of Stoke in the middle of nowhere, it was kind of a natural development for me through an huge amount of free time and boredom. I was a musical theatre kid and I knew I was into the arts but it’s just kind of something I picked up of my own accord, I could only play bits on the ukulele when I started out, I was about 14, it just kind of grew from there.
What did you listen to growing up?
I didn’t grow up in one of those households that has music playing all the time and pre internet I literally just listened to Jack Johnson, I didn’t really have a wealth of access to know about what was really out there until I was in my mid/late teens. Lana Del Rey was my first really big notable discovery that shaped me musically as a young person along with the records I used to collect that got me into old but gold artists like Nina Simone and The Carpenters.
You have multiple disciplines – art, visuals, film, fashion and music of course. Is there anyone that inspires you in these areas?
Great films/TV inspire me almost more than any other media because they create worlds for you. The stories, the soundtracks, the fashion, the colour palettes, it feeds into everything I do. I often write with a film in the background on mute, for this EP I became obsessed with Belgian film maker Chantal Akerman, I watched her films on repeat. It’s quite hard to quantify my inspirations because I think I get them from everywhere, in daily life, but my obsession with film and it’s influence on me is unmatched.
COVID has impacted the creative industry in a big way what kept you motivated?
I’ve been asked this a lot and for all the devastation Covid has caused, I feel really guilty to say that my creativity has flourished in the lockdowns. It made me realise how much of an introvert I really am and how much I thrive in the quiet. Obviously the live aspect was missing but boredom and isolation was how I began writing in the first place when I was a child, I feel more motivated than ever.
The last 2 years have been a time to reflect what did you learn about yourself?
I learnt immeasurable amounts. My life for the past 5 – 10 years has been a whirlwind and I think I needed the break. I went to therapy and came out as non binary, I feel like I really got comfortable with myself.
Did you pick up any new skills in this period?
I think the most important skill I learnt was self care! I learnt how to take care of myself and started living a much more sober lifestyle, that massively upped my productivity and I developed my songwriting skills more. Also reading, I know it’s not a skill but I’ve always struggled with my concentration and I’ve kind of had to develop the part of my brain that enables me to read and that’s kind of a big deal for me.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to a lot of Fleet Foxes and Julia Jacklin at the moment alongside my old time classics Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker and Gene Clark. I have a playlist on my Spotify titled ‘Onyda’s Feel Good Melancholy’ where you can see everything I’m listening to currently.
What are you looking forward to next?
Live gigs! I know every artist must feel nervous getting back into gigging after a long time off and I definitely feel that but I’m so excited to start getting back out there with my band, we all are. And just sharing all the new music, there’s so much to come.