Eleri Angharad is a country/pop artist from Swansea, Wales. Inspired by a North American road trip where she performed in Nashville, Chicago, and New York; Eleri writes and performs music that captures the traditional country music storytelling with captivating pop melodies. She draws influences from James Taylor, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, and many more from that road trip. Eleri had just released her latest single ‘Delete It’ and she joined us to talk about the single, as well as her personal musical memories.
Tell us a little bit about your background, how long have you been performing? And what made you venture down the music path?
As a kid I always loved music, I was always putting on shows with my little sisters, and singing in choirs at school and I started writing songs at 13 when I picked up my first guitar. I started performing at open mics throughout uni, and then went fully into music when I graduated.
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
My first gig was The Parrot in Carmarthen as part of an Acoustic night, it was a lot of fun and all my uni friends came along to watch.
A road trip through North America that saw you performing in Nashville, Chicago and New York seems to have been particularly inspiring, what did you take from the whole experience?
I’d always enjoyed country music as a teenager, but I hadn’t realised how big of a genre it was until I visited Nashville. I went along to gigs at The Bluebird, and The Listening Room and was blown away by the artists and writers. There’s music in every bar, every night so it was easy to find open mic nights and play as many as I could. I bought a guitar as soon as I got out there because it was easier than flying out with one, also got to play at some nights in Chicago and New York, but one of my favourite memories is playing in the lounge of the Youth hostel we stayed in and a crowd gathering around.
How would you describe your music?
I always describe my music as Country/Pop because I love elements of both genres and combining them to create my own sound.
‘Delete It’ is the new single, what was it about this one that made you chose it as a single? And what are the lyrical themes behind it?
Delete It is all about the anxiety of trying to communicate via text and overthinking every single word of a message that you just end up deleting anyway!
I think this last year has shown us all how difficult it is when you can’t communicate properly with people and have to rely on technology. It’s basically an anxious bop for anyone who’s freaked out when they watch the other person ‘typing…’
I chose it as a single because it seemed so relevant to what I think we’ve been collectively going through.
What goes through your head in the run-up to releasing new music? Are you excited? Nervous? – Both?!
It’s definitely a mix of both, sometimes it can be really hard to not put pressure on yourself to achieve the same results as previous releases, so I try not to have too many expectations and just know that I’ve worked my hardest to promote a song that I’m really proud of!
It must be quite humbling that both your previous singles, ‘Blank Walls’ and ‘New Sin’ have been streaming over 100,000 times on Spotify? And what did you spend your Spotify payment of £1.37 on?!
It’s crazy, it’s amazing how far music can travel, and I love looking at the listener insights on Spotify and seeing the places all over the world that people are playing my music. I’ve had plays in Brazil and India and Morocco and I just find it so cool that people are connecting from other countries. I try to leave any streaming royalties to build up and then reinvest them into recording new music.
In what ways have you grown as an artist since releasing your debut album ‘Earthbound’ in 2018?
Oh wow, that seems a lifetime ago after the year we’ve all had! I spent the latter half of 2019 touring around Europe, which was a lot of fun and I got to play some really cool venues and house shows! Then for the last year, I’ve been focussing on releasing singles, so I put out Blank Walls, New Sin, and now Delete It. It’s been really great to explore my sound over the last year and write with some really talented songwriters.
You performed at Glastonbury in 2019, straight after Billy Bragg – how do you follow a Glastonbury mainstay like Billy Bragg?!
Well, I think the music we make is very different, but luckily the little crowd he had brought stuck around for my set. It was on one of the Greenfield Cafe stages so it was a really cool intimate breakfast set on the Sunday morning.
Tell us about your collaboration with Naomi Rae that saw the creation of Siren Songwriting? What was the inspiration behind it?
I’d bumped into Naomi at a few gigs and events before she approached me about setting up Siren. We both just wanted to write a lot more and get into more co-writing sessions so we decided to set them up ourselves.
We were inspired by our friend, artist Violet Skies who runs She Writes songwriting camps for women and we wanted to create a grassroots version to give emerging female writers and artists a space to practice collaboration and music production.
The gender balance in the industry is still pretty male-heavy so it feels good to be contributing to rebalancing that. I think the last PRS stats said only 18% of registered songwriters are women, and only 2% of producers, which is crazy. A lot of it in my opinion comes down to confidence so anything we can do to build other women up in this industry is a win for me.
Taylor Swift is one of your main influences, any artist, regardless of musical genres should know her recent contract battle with Scooter Braun and subsequently Big Machine Label Group inside-out. It’s the equivalent of Tom Petty’s battle with Warner Brothers decades ago, but much worse…
Oh it’s definitely opened up such an interesting conversation. I’m sure this isn’t a new issue but I think she’s brought it to the forefront for a new generation of artists and music lovers. In her Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe, she voiced her thoughts about artists licensing their music to a record label rather than the label owning it outright and that’s something I can definitely get on board with.
In terms of a similar audience: who would be the ideal act for you to open for?
I’d absolutely love to open for Kacey Musgraves! I saw her in Bristol a couple of years ago and I think our sound would be really compatible.
Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
One of my favourite ones recently is JP Saxe, I love his casual, personal writing style. Also, have to big up a couple of my favourite co-writers Beth Keeping and Nina Sundstrom! I always love working with both of them and they’re super-duper talented.
Personally, who has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician? Would it be a teacher? A family member? A fellow musician?
My family has always been musical, but there was a choir teacher in school called Ms. Nancarrow and she was so passionate and inspiring, I absolutely adored singing all through school because of her.
What album do you have in your collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
I actually really love Stormzy! Especially when I’m going on a run or working out. I think he’s great!
Although 2020 was a year to forget, there was some great music released; what would be your album of 2020?
I think it’ll come as no surprise that I’m gonna say Folklore by Taylor Swift (although her follow-up Evermore is equally brilliant!) I love how she explored a completely new sound and took us all on such a journey with these new songs and stories. She’s so talented and creative.
What are your plans for 2021 should COVID ever disappear?!
I have a couple more releases up my sleeve for this year and my plan after that is to just write lots and lots of new music, with a view to writing a second album. I’ve had a couple of exciting opportunities crop up this year with publishing too so hopefully I can announce those soon. I’m booked to perform at The British Country Music Festival in September too and from Autumn I’ve been planning a really exciting country night in South Wales that I can’t wait to get off the ground.
Lastly; you recently asked on your social media accounts “what’s the perfect end to the night? Chips at 3am or a bit of dancing and home before midnight?” – what did you vote for?! And you seemed to have omitted kebab from the question?!
It’s definitely chips for me, the ultimate end to the night. I love mine topped with baked beans – how British! I’ve actually never had a kebab but if there’s a falafel wrap on offer I’ll take it!
Connect with Eleri, here.