INTERVIEW \\ Rising artist Bryony Jarman-Pinto on recording her debut album with Werkha

28th January 2019

Bryony Jarman-Pinto is a vocalist you’ll hear a lot about in 2019. Having collaborated over the last few years with her school friend and label mate Werkha, as well as Gondwana’s Matthew Halsall, it’s finally time for the Tru Thoughts artist to reveal her debut album. It drops later this Spring, but there will be an exclusive live preview at Ghost Notes on 14 February, where Bryony supports Ego Ella May and DJ Robert Luis.

Ahead of the album release, Bryony chatted to Tina Edwards over a smoothie in a London Fields cafe. As well as talking about recording with Werkha, they chatted about Bryony’s previous career path into the art world, millennial anxiety – and how getting drunk is overrated. 

T \\ You didn’t study music, what was your route in?

B \\ Music has always been there. My dad was a jazz musician and my mum as well. My dad is double bassist – back in the day he played with a band called Baka Beyond. The performers of the band when to see the Baka tribe and they have a very specific way of singing. My mum is a jazz musician and has done many a thing – piano is her main instrument, she’s very skilled. So that’s where my music comes from – being involved in workshops, performances, being around it. Having lessons from her and her friends. It’s a very informal education that I have.

“There’s some really hilarious recordings of me speaking absolute nonsense”

T \\ So what kind of wisdom did you learn from your mum and her friends?

B \\ I think the biggest thing was being able to improvise, and that’s in both senses of being able to improvise technically – having that ability to do it in your voice – but also being able to go on stage, get it wrong – and fix it. My sister studied music at Guildhall – she went down a more Classical route. She’s a fantastic composer and performer. We have different ways of approaching music which probably comes through the education routes we took. I will just go on stage, improvise a song, or take a song and change it. I like to not know what I’m doing.

T \\ How much of that mind set did you bring into recording the new album?

B \\ That’s how I start most of my writing! I might have lyrics or poetry that I’ve brought in. Usually it’ll start where I’m just improvosing the melody, improvising the words – there’s some really hilarious recordings of me speaking absolute nonsense – to get a rhythm and form a melody.

T \\ How do you get past that? If I was to start doing it now, I’d reel things off and start to stutter as words stop coming, but I guess the difference between you and me in the first degree is that you would be able to keep going. How do you get past mental roadblocks?

B \\ I might fixate on something, so there might be a small phrase that’s worked, and also because it’s coming off the top of your head, most of the time it actually has meaning – it’s like that game, word association, because the words coming up – it’s not random. They’re maybe things that have been on your mind. It’s a way of getting a topic for a song. I could be like, “Oh, I’m singing about the environment, that must be something I’m thinking a lot about at the moment”. Anyway, I’ll get this repetition, maybe a phrase or two, that I can use it to create more of a melody, and then I’ll come back down, listen to it, and actually write some lyrics. It’s not always that way but it’s a fun way of doing it.

T \\ Sure! There’s no formula, it would be so boring to do it the same way every time.

B \\ Yeah, it would be the same thing each time. I wouldn’t be very creative.

T \\ So I mostly know you for your collabs with Werkha (‘Shakedown Radio’) and Matthew Halsall (‘Jamais Vu’). How accurate an introduction are those tracks to your own upcoming music?

B \\ I think it’s quite good – particularly those two ‘cos they’re a bit more of the same vibe – it’s not like ‘Side-Stepping’ which is way more dancy. With the album it’s much more – I don’t wanna say say chilled out – but it’s got a more mellow vibe. There are some songs that have a bit more of a push to them rhythm-wise… I think it’s one of those things where you have to listen to it and then decide. I wouldn’t say that they sit particularly in any genre. In terms of how I’m writing and the stories within the lyrics, there’s weirdly a bit of folkiness.

Read about Ghost Notes’ final month of live shows

T \\ When you’re struggling to describe it, I think it’s a good thing. And especially being your first album, you dont wanna put yourself in a box.

B \\ One thing about this album, is that it really is coming from a collaborative space of me and Tom [Werkha], working together to create my sound – but it’s my sound with Tom’s influence. So it’ll be interesting – particularly performing it live [get tickets for Ghost Notes on 14 Feb]. I’m performing it slightly different to how it is on the album because of who I have involved – like the pianist and percussionists – so that’s moving it towards a slightly more Bryony aesthetic.

T \\ How did you and Tom meet?

B \\ We went to school together in Cumbria, met when we were twelve.

T \\ Do you remember the first time you guys hung out? 

B \\ I think… OK, so, it was either; my Mum ran a music youth project, and he went with a few of his friends and I went with a few of mine. It could have been that. Or… it could have just been first year of school – we went to laser quest and the cinema. 

T \\ So when you’re not doing music, what are you into? What fills your head when you’re not thinking about music?

B \\ I live in London which is cool and I’m really glad I moved here. It’s vibrant. But something I really enjoy is walking. What my boyfriend and I spend a lot of free-time doing is going further out of London to walk in the woods or find a little hill or knoll. That’s the lame side of me!

T \\ Not at all, walking over Box Hill and around South Downs is gorgeous!

B \\ Yeah, so – I need that, otherwise I feel a bit trapped. Other than that, simple stuff! I don’t really like going partying – I like going to gigs. I’ve got to that point now where I can’t handle [drinking]. The next day you can’t do anything, or the day after. I’m a two day recovery person. It’s not worth it! I have people round; food, film, girly nights in, cinema. I like those sort of things. 

T \\ How do you identify with the whole ‘millennial crisis’ thing; always being switched so switched on?

B \\ It would be impossible not to feel that. For me, coming into music was unexpected. I studied art and while I was at university, I thought I was gonna be a practicing artist – then I realised that I didn’t get that much enjoyment out of exhibiting because it felt all about buying and selling. So then, I thought I’d be a wardrobe assistant doing costume. I got work experience, a job in a theatre – tried getting into that. Tom started to say ‘”we’ve got this gig, that gig”. And I thought, “I need to give more time to this”. Then, there were questions like “will you sing with Halsall?” and “will you sign to Tru Thoughts?”. I thought this was becoming something I needed to focus on fully!

Buy tickets for Ego Ella May and Bryony Jarman-Pinto, DJ Robert Luis at Ghost Notes, 14 Feb

Tweet @_SupStandards @JarmanPinto

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