When Chordblossom came into existence, it was always our aim to shine a spotlight on the artists and bands that make up the music scene in Northern Ireland. We’ve been doing it for over ten years now and one of our favourite methods is our Introducing feature.
Put the kettle on, curl up on your sofa and and join us for a quickfire Q&A with some of our favourite new musicians. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover your new favourite artists.
This iteration of Introducing features the musical talents of BEA who just released their latest single ‘Stitch It Up’.
What was the inspiration behind your artist name?
It’s just the name I was born with, my parents have to get the credit (or the blame) for that one. For a while I just went with Bea (my first name) because people in England didn’t understand my accent when I said Stewart but I’ve since decided that they’re just going to have to get used to it.
Going back to your previous single, how did it come about and what does it mean to you?
My last release was ‘nicest song I’ve ever written’. It’s a very special song to me. It’s about the unspoken bond between siblings – you know you care immensely about each other and would do anything in your power to make sure the other is ok but expressing that can be hard, and in my experience we rarely say it out loud.
I wrote this song at a time when I could see my brother was struggling but I couldn’t find the right words to say to him. I guess it’s my attempt at putting the unspoken into words.
Have you any more releases or studio time lined up for later in the year?
Plenty more to come this year. I recorded an EP with Eliot James earlier this year – 2 of those tracks are already out with the rest to come soon. 2023 will be full of new music!
Tell us about your song writing process.
My writing process is pretty simple – normally I start with a lyrical idea or concept. If I haven’t got something obvious I want to say then I’ll spend a few minutes free writing whatever comes to my mind uncensored. Then I look through what I’ve written and take note of anything that sticks out and I think is worth running with.
If I still can’t come up with anything I’m happy with I normally resort to looking through the notes and voice notes on my phone which is a nightmare because I’m so disorganised – there are hundreds of unlabelled ideas to sort through. I then sit down at the piano or with my guitar and mess around with some of the ideas to see if anything sticks. It’s very therapeutic.
Who were your favourite artists/bands growing up? Have your influences changed over time?
Honestly growing up I was a mainstream girlie, the boyband phase really had me by the throat. I spent most of my teenage years being obsessed with 5 seconds of summer (we’ll pretend like that ended in my teens). More influentially, I listened to a lot of Irish songwriters like Foy Vance and Hozier. My influences have naturally grown over time. I went to a music college in London and was exposed to a wider variety of artists and genres.
I now listen to a lot of artists who I wouldn’t necessarily cite as references but I think subconsciously whatever music we put in has an impact on the music that comes out. In the last few years artists like Dermot Kennedy, Maggie Rodgers and The Staves have become some of the biggest, most obvious influences on the music I write.
The 2022 NI Music Prize has just concluded, what’s been your favourite album and single released last year?
There has been so much good music released this year it’s very hard to pick a favourite. I think my favourite single of the shortlist for the NI music prize is Rana the Fortunate by Joshua Burnside and Laura Quirke. Not on the list but I also love Alarms by ROE. That one hit me right in the feels.
Actually I think I’m gonna give my favourite album to ROE for ‘That’s When The Panic Sets In’. I think it’s very honest and equally relatable. I also really like ‘If I never know you like this again’ by SOAK.
If you weren’t a musician, what line of work would we find you in?
That’s an interesting question – my favourite subject in school (after music) was Spanish so maybe something to do with that. I have forgotten the majority of the language since leaving school though so if music doesn’t work out I’m going to have to do a lot of work to get it back. Then again I also think I could be a good nurse if I could get over dealing with all the bodily fluids. Nurses are absolute heroes I would love to be able to live up to that.
If you could collaborate with one artist or band from NI, who would it be and why?
Probably Foy Vance. He’s been a massive influence on my writing – I’ve listened to his music since I was very young and in my own writing I take a lot of time and care with my lyrics, I think because I learnt to love lyrics through listening to artists like him. He also just seems like a bit of a legend so that would be cool.
It is intensely difficult to be successful in the music industry. What does NI need to do to invest in/develop to boost your chances?
It is intensely difficult to be successful in the music industry. I think the hardest thing about it as an unestablished artist is that it requires you to put in the work of a full time job for free… but then you also have to eat and pay rent so you have to work a full time job that pays and nobody has time for 2 full time jobs while having a healthy work life balance. So I guess financial support for up and coming artists/musicians/songwriters who haven’t managed to generate a steady income yet would be the most helpful thing to create more space for making great music.
What does success look like for you?
This is a big question and I think I’m still figuring out the answer. It probably looks different depending on who you are and what phase of life you’re in. Right now, for me, I think success is making music that connects with people and that I am proud of. That being said I can’t ignore that there is a financial element to success – making a living from music is the goal so I hope that comes some day soon.
You’re going out on tour and can have anything you want on your rider, what would we find on yours?
I’m very indecisive at times so ask me this another day and the answer will probably have changed but today I think it’s gonna have to be many many bottles of the green VitHit (I think it’s elderflower and apple flavour so fancy). My guess is that a solid 70% of the fluid in my body is made up of that drink.
Where and when can we next catch you live?
I have a headline show in London’s Servant Jazz Quarters on 26th April 2023 and hopefully a Belfast show later in the year.
If you enjoyed this feature and fancy discovering some more new artists, we suggest you jump on over to our archive of Introducing pieces.
If you are a band or musician based in Northern Ireland interested in taking part in our Introducing feature, we recommend submitting new music to us via our Contact page and if we enjoy it, you’ll no doubt hear from us.