Sticking to her Herefordian roots is paying off. Local singer/songwriter Jennifer Booton is a name you are
about to hear a lot about, at present Jennifer is making a stir within the community for her talents. And her voice is reaching people afar, local media are obsessed with getting her efforts known and appreciated, and now it’s our turn.
Having just released her debut EP ‘Sirens’, Jennifer Booton has taken her compositions further afield to introduce you to those melodies . Embarking in her abilities as a live performer, the number of gigs are quickly racking up and in doing so her fanbase is vastly increasing. We have the honor in speaking with this promising artist regarding her influences, her passion, the recording process and what lies ahead.
Firstly thank you for spending time with Circuit Sweet.
Before we get to the details of your recently released EP ‘Sirens’, we want to get to know more on you- Firstly introduce yourself, How long have you been playing and performing live?
My name is Jennifer Booton and that is the name I go under to perform. I did toy with the idea of creating some kind of jazzy stage name but in the end going as myself seemed the best! I have been involved in music since a very young age. I played the electone from the age of 7 to 14 and achieved Grade 8. I was also classically trained in voice as a teenager gaining a Grade 3. I picked up the guitar at 15 and pretty much taught myself the basics and have been building on that ever since.
What was it that first got you to pick up a guitar, to put pen to paper and write your own songs, to get the courage to sing those compositions and to direct your creativity?
I was also the kind of kid that wrote diaries, that wrote feelings and I suppose was just always a little in tune with my artistic side. I was also probably very dramatic as a child. I was always involved in music groups and after school drama clubs and performed in concerts singing from a young age. I think growing up and listening to other musicians was the thing that made me finally want to write myself. I started by transferring things I had written and put them to music. At the time the end result of that was probably something very teenage-angst centric. Since that I have recently written songs which I think represent the type of music that influences me as well as giving people an idea about me. It was extremely nerve-wracking opening out to friends and family and letting them hear what I created, but I am very glad I did. Their support and kindness has probably been the most instrumental factor in to me taking my music to the public domain.
What outside influences trigger your creativity and create your unique sound?
I guess a lot of influence and meaning behind the songs developed upon graduating from University. You leave, unlike other educational choices you are on your own. And it’s easy to let other peoples decisions govern your own. I found that journey and that transition very hard, which is why I think I chose to sing about it. Also I write fairly vicariously. I see how things happen to those around me and in turn that can influence what I want to write about. Obviously other music, musicians and film scores play their part in what I do.
How would you personally describe your own sound?
I always find this the hardest question!! I guess it’s folk. But a lot more contemporary than your average and also has some blends of pop. A lot of it is melodic, quite easy going. That’s the best I can do! You’ll have to listen and decide for yourself…!
Last year you were noticed for your live performance at Bromyard Folk Festival- this year you’ve been busy with a plethora of live dates which in turn is getting you more noticed. Do you have many live shows planned for the remainder of the year and what do your live performances posses?
Bromyard was an amazing first opportunity. It was my first live gig and I learnt a lot from it definitely. This year I am opening the Main Stage at Nozstock festival on Saturday morning and am also playing lots of local festivals – Ales N Bales in Little Dewchurch and have just played at The #Courtlaughing Comedy Festival. The gigs have been brilliant in the way I have expanded my band and experimented with the songs. I play with two other guys at the moment who play lead guitar and bass and it’s very exciting to add new layers to the tracks and develop them. My live performances at the moment very much look at this development and having fun with the material.
As the face behind marketing and press at the renowned Hereford venue The Courtyard, home for arts, theatre, film and music, you recently performed at the #courtlaughing 3 day festival, your first time performing infront of work colleagues. How did that compare to the first time you performed live altogether? Were you more nervous?
Yes, without a doubt. I always find it easier to sing in front of a bunch of strangers. I guess the thing with songwriting is it bears your soul a little bit. Highlights things people don’t necessarily know about you or see day to day. Knowing my work mates were going to see me in a completely different environment was weird, but again everyone was so supportive that in the end I had a lot of fun!
You’ve also been working hard with local Open Mic Nights at The Courtyard with musician Nicky Jaques who is known to Circuit Sweet for her own involvements with music charity The Music Pool. Your involvement with the local music scene isn’t going unnoticed- have you performed at these open mic nights yet? And if so do you do many covers as well as originals OR are you more behind the scenes?
I must admit I haven’t performed there. I have helped rebrand the night and help out with social media but am so busy I just haven’t had time to do a gig. In terms of when I do play gigs I play originals more than covers. Some people have a lot of covers they can do well in their repertoire, yet my focus remains on my own material and getting that to a good standard and developing it. I am always on the lookout for a good cover though.
You’ve been noticed by BBC Introducing for Hereford and Worcester and participated in a live introducing recording. How did that go? Are you now on the lookout for more live sessions?
That was amazing. I literally sent in my material and before I knew it was offered this fantastic opportunity! The live session was lots of fun. I got to see other great aspiring musicians and talk to professionals. And when I heard it back the sound quality as it came out on air was sooo good. I would definitely like to do another live session again. I think Nozstock may well be recording so hopefully I will get to hear what I sound like in a different environment as well.
With regards to your debut EP ‘Sirens’ we would love to know the ins and outs on this release. Firstly describe your writing process and how you’ve managed to get to the point of your debut EP release.
The writing process was very organic. I had ‘I Won’t Stay’ and ‘Mother’ as the first two songs I wrote. I had a few so I then decided on 2 more to accompany it. ‘Sirens’ I wrote for the EP and a lot of the writing talks about transition. Where we are, who we are and what we want. Those questions I know I ask myself frequently. I then roughly recorded some of the songs with a guitarist called Phil Farr and explored the sounds and thought about what instrumentation could cover this.
From the writing process, the recording process followed, how did this come about and what do you feel your EP captures?
After having the songs ready I sought out names of local recording studios and producers. A lot of people suggested a gent called Paul Cobbold and I sent some demo’s over to him and we had a meeting and it went from there. It was lots of fun, Phil Farr also put down his guitar lines and I worked with Paul on what else I wanted in the background. So I sang violin melodies at him and he added it on and then played it back and voila! I had this great EP. I feel it really captures a move forwards, a progression. Getting this professional recording was a great boost for me in so many ways. I know have a working EP that people can purchase and that I can share with professionals. And I have learnt so much from the process. The songs and the music is continuously evolving yet I will always be very proud of this effort and the EP I have.
What does the final finished product of your EP personally mean to you?
I will treasure it because it is the first thing I did professionally to make myself heard. I have learnt a lot about the processes and myself through this project and have also got my name out there. It was all about moving forwards and moving up and onwards and I feel this EP really signifies that transition and that progression.
Do you have your own favorite track?
I like them all but as a favourite I would pick ‘Mother’. I feel that song really embodies what I am saying with the EP and I really like playing it live. It’s pacier and the contrast between the lower verses and the high chorus I really like singing.
To date how has the EP been received, and do you have any more recording plans?
I do want to record more and I think I will. The ideal would be to add to what I have and create an album of all my material so far. The comments I have had on my EP have been great – I have had to do it all myself so it has probably been fairly low-key but all encouraging. At the moment I am just concentrating on the live gigs for the summer.
Your local fanbase is enviable. The support you are gaining is currently incredible; you have your hometown backing your efforts at present. BBC have even tied the resemblance to your career with that of Ellie Goulding’s. Personally your vocal range and deliverance is simply captivating -but what is it that you are offering that your hometown is falling in love with?
To be honest I don’t know. I too am overwhelmed by the support of people in Herefordshire and can only say thank you to all the likes, buys, comments etc. As I said before that has really given me the drive to keep performing.
At present you are an unsigned talent, but this won’t last long. Is there a favourite label you’d like to work with/ Favourite band-artist you’d like to team up with and why.
Loads! I love The National and Daughter. I would love to collaborate with either of those bands. I also like Ben Howard, Feist, James Blake and again would collab with them too. Labels, I always say Island because a lot of my heroes such as John Martyn were on that label. Domino and Parlophone too.
As an artist what are your aspirations you’d like to achieve with your talent?
At the moment I am enjoying getting out there and writing and playing. I try to be relaxed about it and not put too much pressure on myself as I feel that wouldn’t be healthy. I would obviously love to be recognized outside of Herefordshire and to play to big audiences one day.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Hopefully I will keep at it and be able to share more music with you in the future – albums, more EP’s, bigger gigs. There is so much I would like to do!
Before we finish all featured artists are asked this- What album or track has been stuck on your turntable, ipod, cd player for a while now?
The new album from The National –Trouble Will Find Me. Particularly the track ‘I Need My Girl’. This band just seem to keep getting better and better.
And finally any last words from you?
Thank you for the interview and thanks again to everyone for being so supportive! I’m very lucky.
We want to thank Jennifer for sharing some time with us, we wish all the best. For now listen to more from Jennifer on her soundcloud page here- https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-booton1
You can purchase your copy of the release here- http://jenniferbooton.bigcartel.com/product/sirens-ep