Interview: Rebekah Fitch – Personal Songwriting

by / April 5, 2017

Over the past year Durham based musician Rebekah Fitch has released a string of singles of varying styles but seeped in pop melodies. With the songwriter gearing up to launch her latest release, ‘Another Show’ this week, we thought it was high-time we got the scoop on her music so far.

So tell us about the new single, ‘Another Show’.

I probably wrote it about this time last year. It was a bit different from other songs I’ve written. I was going through a really low period. It was just about being in a low place mentally and putting on a mask all the time. I was at uni, you know a lot of people and you can’t be explaining to people every day that you’re feeling depressed so it’s very much that you’ve just got to get on with it. It turned into a song about mental health and how people do put on a front. I think people need to be aware that even if someone looks okay and they’re wearing this smile on the outside, they might not be okay on the inside. So it was quite a personal one for me. It’s weird whenever I perform it live because I’ve come so far since then but I feel like I need to go back into that place and sing it authentically. It’s a challenging one, sometimes I find I’m really distant from it cause I’m in such a different place right now but at the same time you also want to convey what you’re singing about. That’s the challenge in performing it.

Was the personal side new to your songwriting?

I always try to write personal songs. I don’t like writing songs that I don’t have a personal involvement in because I feel like it’s not genuine. I don’t tend to write songs about made-up stories or things that aren’t happening in my life because it’s harder to get really emotionally involved when I come to sing it. I think when you’re singing your own songs you should really be emotionally involved and singing from personal experience. That’s why songwriting is so great, because it can be personal. If I’m writing for myself it needs to be something that I have experienced or dealt with in my own life. ‘Another Show’ is similar to my other singles in that I try to write from my own perspective about things that I am struggling with or thinking about. It was just a whole other different topic than I had written about before.

I  like to write stuff that would make people think. That seems to be a recurring theme. I don’t want it to be some clichéd, empty-headed thing. Songs are such a powerful tool, why would you not use that? I don’t understand why more people don’t harness that and try to pack some meaning into a song instead of singing about some really clichéd standard thing. One of the things I found really interesting is whenever I’m listening to other songs I probably don’t pick up on the lyrics that much, even though when I write I focus on them quite a lot. But other people really do. I think it’s really important to write about something you believe in and want to challenge other people with.

Is ‘Another Show’ the best release you’ve put out so far?

Definitely. It’s the one that I would genuinely listen to whereas the others I wouldn’t. I think it’s the same for a lot of people who don’t like listening to recordings of themselves. Whereas the style of this one is closer to what I would listen to. It’s the one I’m most pleased with and I think it’s the one that other people tend to like. It’s been with me for about a year and I’ve played it at a lot of live shows and people like it. That puts it in a good perspective in your mind because other people have given you good feedback. It’s definitely my favourite so far, so I’m quite excited to put it out there.

Your singles have used different styles, while the new track is more guitar heavy, was that intentional?

The first three songs were written about three or four years ago, when I was just writing songs as opposed to trying to make my own style and hone that in. They were songs I thought were better than the rest. Even after I had them recorded and was about to release them, I knew what style I wanted to do but these didn’t really fit in. This is the first one I am keen to release and I’m happy with it. The other ones I thought, they’re ok but I wouldn’t listen to them whereas this style is more what I want to do. It took a while to get there.

It was also the first one I recorded with Owen McGarry. On the other ones I didn’t have as much creative control because it was done back and forth with emails, I wasn’t there in the studio when all the instruments were being laid down. Whereas this one and the others I’ve done since, I’ve been there the whole time in the studio. In my degree quite a lot of what I do would be in the studio for my composition. I like to be there and have control over everything, the electronic sounds and the guitar sounds. It was nice to be able to have proper control over every aspect of it.

Rebekah Fitch – Photo by Conor Kerr Photography

Do you think your degree has been influencing your songwriting and production as you go along?

It’s kind of mixed. Most of it is completely irrelevant. There’s some really good bits like a module on world music which is so interesting but when am I going to use that? I’ve written essays on flamenco, Tibetan monks chanting etc which is really cool but in terms of my songwriting it’s not going to have much of an influence. I did popular music studies last year which opened my eyes to more complex stuff. I really got into David Bowie because we were covering him quite a lot. That was interesting in terms of introducing me to other artists.

Instead of doing a dissertation I’m doing a composition portfolio which is all electronic studio based stuff. Some of that is more experimental songs which forces me to practice production skills, and I know that I’m going to use that later on plus I get to try out things without feeling like I should be working. I have to listen to more electronic artists which are having quite an influence on my style and production.

Are the hook and melody in your songs important to you?

Whenever I try to write songs I do try to make a catchy melody and I think that’s important in grabbing people. I do also like to have more experimental bits in the production which I guess are only coming through now, but in my mind that’s what I do. It’s kind of weird that people don’t really hear it yet. I think melody is quite important to me because I think it’s what stays with people.

So far you’ve released a string of singles as opposed to an EP, do you plan to stick with that?

The first three I recorded all at once and I planned to put them out as singles to get some momentum going so I could do one every few months. I got ‘Hosanna’ recorded so I could put it on a CD, it kind of turned into an EP as it was four songs on a CD. It was a collection of singles. I think after this release, I’m keen to do an EP, because I’ve got so many ideas and songs that I want to put out there. I think an EP is a good way of getting them out there in one go.

You’ve based in Durham but from here. Do you notice many differences between Durham and Belfast?

It’s pretty different. In Durham it’s very much a uni town and there’s not a lot of live, original bands. Most of the gigs I would play would be college balls, it’s not so much a gig as people going to a show you’re playing at. Sometimes it’s harder to play your own stuff because people aren’t coming to see you, they’re coming to an event and they want to hear songs that they know. You tend to have to mix your stuff in with covers but you always get a good audience. Newcastle is more similar to Belfast because there’s more original bands. But it’s more strategically difficult to play gigs there so I’ve only really played a couple in Newcastle.

Are you looking forward to the single launch?

This year I’ve been playing a lot with new equipment and effects and it’s become better I think. I want people to hear it here, I want to show everyone what my set is like now. I think especially with the original singles I put out, I don’t know if people will have the wrong perception of what it is that I do. I think whenever I play live shows, it’s a lot closer to the sound that I want. I just hope it’s a good chance to portray what I’m about.

Rebekah Fitch – Photo by Conor Kerr Photography

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