Music is taking a new direction and for Lily Somerville, self-determination and commitment is the way forward.
Twenty year-old Lily started singing at the age of ten. Mixing her solo and band work with her University work, Lily has adapted to a relaxed way of life, taking everything that comes her way. She reminisces over her first memory of singing, making a point that she “started out as a Church boy!”
Lily tells the story of her first song all those years ago: “My mum was in the folk group at Church and I used to go along with her. They’d always do little solos for kids and I got asked to try, I was terrified but I did it and they were like ‘oh you’ve got a good voice’.” From then on she performed at a wedding and began an interest in musical theatre, where she really started to develop her voice.
The music industry in the modern day is dominated by stars from TV talent shows like The X Factor, American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent. Often, acts who don’t win still get signed to a record label. New artists trying to get signed don’t think these talent programmes are healthy for the industry, because new styles are often pushed aside and forced into mainstream music.
Artists like Justin Bieber found their fame through YouTube, where you can upload videos of yourself performing for the world to see. Speaking to Lily Somerville, a Popular Music student at University College Falmouth, it seems that if you’re not already known, you’re going to find a lot of hard work is going to be necessary to be successful.
Most young artists look up to famous stars for inspiration, but Lily says her songs “are fundamentally inspired by her own experiences” and that they “come from a very selfish point of view.” She takes her inspiration from life, the experiences around her and makes her music her own.
Imogen Heap, a self-produced artist, is a popular figure that Lily admires; not particularly because of her music but because of how she has conducted her own independent career. Although the music industry can make you ‘big’, it can be tough for most new artists to get their big break. She thinks “there are more and more artists making their own stamp and being able to make a career out of what they are with all the new technologies available”, even though “there’s a horrible kind of moulding going on where the music industry can turn an artist into what they want.”
As well as singing solo, she puts a lot of her time into the band she and her course mates have formed at UCF, called Curiously Late Nonsense who have been described as “dark folk”. The bands style is a contrast with Lily’s music, described as “lyrical.” The contrast gives Lily two different ways of performing, she likes singing with the band because there’s less pressure, but she says: “My favourite instrument is my voice, it’s my biggest release, I think, I can just belt it out and shout!” Lily accompanies her voice with a guitar and her grade 7 piano skills.
She thinks that the band has “a lot of potential” but with higher education taking the priority for the band members, “time and commitment” can lack.
A recent workshop with Bob Dylan’s support act, American band The WIYOS, gave Curiously Late Nonsense an opportunity to share their music with them. “They asked us to send our recordings over to them, so I think it’s literally about networking and all about getting yourself known and a bit of luck.”
Lily knows her future depends fully on her own work and taking opportunities: “I’ve still got a long way to go with it but step by step I’m working my way to being my own independent artist”.
“I don’t want to be famous” stresses Lily, “I’d rather just have a cult following,” she says with a smile.