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Twinnie: Women in Country Music, Mental Health and The Debut Album

Twinnie | No Chords But The Truth

Written by Matt Spracklen

On March 1, 2020

TWINNIE

So here I was with a big article reflecting on Twinnie’s comments in this episode of No Chords But The Truth podcast regarding women in country music and the music world as a whole, the struggles and what no-one sees.. but do you know what? Scrap that. Queue tumbleweed…

Just listen to this episode of No Chords But The Truth with Twinnie because whoever you are, she has something to say and says it far better than I could write here. It really is an inspiring listen. We met at Bertie Blossoms in Notting Hill. Twinnie walked into the room, sat down on the chair next to me and I almost didn’t need to say welcome… she was straight in. What you see is what you get with Twinnie and what you’ll hear here is one of the most passionate voices in the music scene today. This is honesty and the reality of a touring musician and songwriter.

Back to my rewriting of this article though. In a time where Coronavirus has sent the world into confusion and desperateness, we have an opportunity to step up. We can step up as fellow artists, media, fans, friends and supporters of music. 

Livelihoods are on the line with the cancellation of so many gigs, tours, festivals. Whether you’re an artist, a session musician, a producer, sound man, lighting rig operator etc… this current crisis will be affecting you.

#artistssupportartists

I’m already feeling the warmth with hashtags such as #artistssupportartists and live streams of home gigs beamed across Instagram live. I’ve even seen guitar tuition over Skype. The UK country community is coming together and turning any negative into a positive. 

Twinnie was due to head out on her first headline tour and had to pull it literally the day before. I had actually spoken to her on the phone that afternoon and when we hung up, the tour was still on. It must have been an incredibly difficult decision to make and one full of anguish when the statement was put out. She, as other artists will, felt the responsibility of her band and crew. It’s not just the artist who suffers here. But in order that the FANS don’t suffer also, the tour follows many others to be cancelled for the same reason. The safety of the fans.

As we are now locked away in the hopeful safety of our own homes, we as fans can stream music, listen to the radio and share our favourite music on social media. Keep the community strong and support music. And listen to No Chords But The Truth podcast available on your favourite podcast app now… 😉

Matt Spracklen and Twinnie

 

Welcome to the No Chords but the Truth podcast in association with The British Country Music Festival (@TBCMF). My name is Matt Spracklen (@mattspracklen) and on this episode I was joined by Twinnie.  We sat upstairs in Bertie Blossoms in Notting Hill with a gin. We paused and then started one of the best conversations I’ve had in a long time. I say conversations – you won’t hear much from me, but what Twinnie has to say is so true, important and thought provoking.  We talk about the struggles she has had to face.  We talk about women in country music, mental health and we hear all about the new album. I know you are going to really enjoy this so here is No Chords but the Truth with Twinnie.   

Twinnie vocally warming up before settling…..

And welcome to Matt Spracklen’s podcast

Welcome to No Chords but the Truth podcast with Twinnie our special guest with Matt Spracklen today in Bertie Blossoms.

Yeah, Ed Sheeren’s pub. I’ve met him once you know and he said I had a nice t-shirt. It was a friend’s t-shirt and that is about as much interaction….. I’ve met him twice now.

We’ve spent many late night’s putting the world to rights and so you have got a lot to say and I’ve got a lot to say about so many things.

About so many things (laughs)

And it’s normally over drinks so that’s why we are going to have a gin and talk about it. So I want you to feel totally…

When do I never tell the truth?

Exactly.

I always get in trouble with everybody for telling the truth. People don’t like the truth. I’ve realised this. So, it makes me very unpopular at times, but I can’t be any other way.

Have you always been like that? Did you get into trouble at school?

Do you know what I think it was? I spent a lot of my childhood growing up in a situation that was predominantly ..I was being lied to, so we won’t delve into that as it’s not a therapy session but I think everybody has triggers and we are all human and I’ve just always been a very straight up person.

I think if my mouth doesn’t say it, my face says it and I think no matter what people say about me ,I think they would always go ‘well she’s honest and she’s upfront and she’s direct’ and not many people can deal…. 

Especially as an artist and as a woman people are not used to someone going ‘actually I don’t like that no and no I don’t know better but this is what my gut feelings says’ and I don’t know it is quite interesting and obviously it was kind of celebrated when I was up north because that’s how everybody was but other than that coming down to London….

North South divide personality clashes?

Yeah, I get on with obviously certain people and certain people I don’t but that’s just part of being human, so I don’t think I’ve ever struggled to tell the truth.

I think it has just been very built in me because I spent a lot of time …like…you know…smoke and mirrors and I can just sniff out a liar, I can read people’s body language and all the rest of it and I just know so there is just no point in you lying to me because I will find it out. It’s just the way I am unfortunately it gets me into trouble sometimes.

There’s not enough rock and roll in music anymore so you can do a treble?

I’m not like a rock and roll person. I don’t take drugs; I’m not drinking all the time.  I know it seems like I’m drinking all the time and I am having a gin now (laughs) but I think I am quite well behaved considering I am a bit of a workaholic so I work all the time and I am a bit of a perfectionist.

I think I just struggle to switch off from my job quite a lot of the time and I put a lot of pressure on other people because I have been so used to self-managing myself and without a label it doesn’t really compute in my brain.

I think we are all on the spectrum but I definitely am. Just the way my brain is wired. If I don’t know something then I need to know it and I need to understand it and if something is not working then I am going to go ‘right okay so how do we change that strategy?’ and this is just general in my life.

That is just having control though….

I am a control freak.

I totally get that.

Totally and utterly I will self-confess it. I am but I think …I know my faults anyway but my brain doesn’t compute people not being on all the time because I’m on all the time and that has been the biggest struggle for me I think in life.

Because you kind of expect not just everyone else to be on it but to understand you’re on it

But I expect a lot. I wouldn’t say that I am the most complex person in the world but I have certain things about me how I’m wired and I expect a lot from my friendships. I expect a lot from my work stuff and my personal relationships and I’m just an all in person so I think I’ve struggled to balance.

I sacrificed everything for my music career. I don’t have a life and I should probably have a life because if I let go of it more probably, I think I would feel less pressure that I put on myself.

What stops you from letting go then?

I think it’s just a control thing to be honest. If you look at my career ,I have been non stop since I was 4 years old and I think people in this country have been back and forth to America where they celebrate this but people like to put you in a box and a label.

I mean nowadays you can’t even label people.  People identify with being a man or a woman even if they wasn’t born that way and music is the only thing with labels… genre.  I don’t believe in that either it is just good or bad and I never switch off, so I have really had to try because it has damaged a lot of relationships personally and workwise.

I think people are hesitant sometimes to go ‘oh well she’ll just want it her way’ because I have such a vision of who I am because it has taken me a long time to get to this point, so yeah I’m not frightened of failure but if I feel like I haven’t done my best or people around me haven’t done my best and I fail because of somebody else not doing it then that doesn’t sit well with me.  Do you know what I mean?

I’m a perfectionist with my music, I’m a perfectionist with how I like my show and I am not that easy going with stuff like that unfortunately and the people that love and care about me and really know me and know how to deal with me get that, but then that is how you filter out your people. You find your people and even throughout this process I’m finding new people.

I’m such an energy person. I buzz off people so if someone is making me feel good …I don’t respond to b******t as well, I don’t want people blowing smoke up my ass for the sake of it but I don’t know, I just get really hyped and I want people to do well and I like pushing my friends and cheering them on and being surrounded by likeminded people that go ‘oh well it doesn’t matter because of your age you can’t do this or the fact you are woman’ well it’s country pop …none of that matters to me.

I am like I love a challenge.  If you say no to me then that is pouring gasoline on my fire.  I’m like I’ll prove you wrong because I think in my childhood I was always told…I grew up in a culture I wasn’t allowed to go up the park because my dad was so over protective.  I lived in a different circle.

lived a completely different life to any of my friends, so I’ve always got this fight in me that I’ve never been good enough and I have to prove that I’m the best and I think that’s why I left home at 15. I got my first job in London when I was 19.

Brian May from Queen gave me my first job then I went from ensemble.

Nobody in my family knew about music so it wasn’t like Nashville, where you knew to go to music city – there was no-one around me like that and if you know my heritage, they just didn’t have a clue so I had to figure everything out by myself and I think that’s because I’ve always had that independence I don’t rely on anyone.  I never rely on anyone.

  So I went from ensemble to playing a lead. I was the youngest ever to play Velma Kelly in the musical Chicago at 21 which was amazing and I kind of ticked things off, really fast tracked them and then I did a TV gig and then I starred opposite Glen Close in ‘The Wife’ and did all these things, but in the background was always doing music but couldn’t really figure it out.

I couldn’t really find the right people but through musical theatre I found my first manager and through that manager found the writing session and then found Jon Greene who is one of my best friends. If you don’t know who Jon Greene is – he is amazing. He has produced loads of records and he has just had his first country number one with ‘Lady Antebellum’. “What If I Never Get Over You?” and he produced all the James Bay’s stuff.

He is amazing but he changed my life because he was the first person really that believed me because I grew up on Hollywood movie musicals.  I respected the discipline of dancing, acting, singing and writing.  I want to be all of that.  All encompassing.  I want to be a performer and because I had come from a different world – I hadn’t had rich Mam and Dad and I had had to work all my life to get where I wanted to be. I lived alone in London. I was grafting and I was hustling and I think he saw something in me and respected it and even before Country Music is a thing.  I feel like Country is pop. It’s storytelling, it’s almost like if you look at Ed Sheeran – his singer songwriter stuff is almost like folky, country stuff but just with a different production and I grew up on people like Shania Twain and Dolly Parton and Billy Joel and rappers funny enough.

What rappers?

Oh just like all the famous ones; Biggie, Tupac.  I think Tupac is the most amazing thing ever…was the most amazing rapper.  For me he is more of a poet.  I just love his stuff.  Also a lot of my family were telling stories.  They are showmen you know…they put on a good show.  We used to go down the working men’s club where my grandma would play bingo and she would make me sing and then they would call it at the end they would be like ‘order, order let her sing’ and then my grandma would sing a bit like Irish folk.  You have seen Catherine McGrath’s video’s? It was a bit like that, so we had that real community and then obviously I found out about Nashville through Jon and went back and forth there and just really fell in love with the community there.  I am not letting you talk at all am I? I haven’t even had a gin yet.  

I might just pop back in a minute. This is perfect but cheers.

Cheers.  Yeah what was the question?

There hasn’t been one yet.

There has. We were talking before.

So how old were you when you first started playing music?

When I first ever sang and this is the Gods’ honest truth, I was probably about nine months old and there is actually a video of me and my Dad singing, and I am copying.  My Dad says on it ‘oh yeah she sings, she dances, she is a proper little poseur’. 

I think it was just always in me.  Whether I was starved of attention and was just like a complete drama queen all the time.  You know when you see kids and you think they don’t really change; I have always been the same really.

Then I got my first piano when I think I was eight and then I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was really, really in my twenties. I’m still in my twenties.

Have you always written music as well?

Yeah I have.  In fact that’s how it started for me because I would write down.  Although I am quite out there and I am good in a crowd, I’m really not you know. I find I’m not like a party’s person.  I hate being in situations. If you see me at a party, you will see me talking to the people I know because I’m just not good .

So I used to write a lot of my thoughts down. I spend a lot of time by myself actually writing poems and being the eldest of four, I saw a lot more than what my other siblings did, between my Mam and Dad and I mean this is not some boo hoo story, I mean I had a great upbringing but I remember when my Mum and Dad were splitting up, there was a song that I had written and I had just made up a tune to it. I didn’t have any music, but I must have been about six or seven and I’ve still got it at home and when I read it to my Mum, she started crying because she couldn’t believe that I had written it and it was something like ‘one in three marriages end in divorce, don’t do it, remember for better or for worse’. 

Obviously, I had just been like a sponge and subconsciously seen what was going on and they really wasn’t happy, so yeah I started really young and then obviously when I picked up instruments then it started to progress, but I definitely think as a writer because I come from that sort of film like world and I think of concepts and I love words, lyrics and it’s all about  story for me, I think that kind of helps me.

So I think about stories in my head or people tell me stuff and then I will write a story.  I wrote a song last night called ‘Wrong Party’ and it was about the Brits.  My brain is always on. I think it’s just a way of me expressing myself.

But that is something natural as well isn’t it? So many writers will go to Nashville and spend days writing three songs, the lunchbox sessions etc. but you have either got that in you or you need to take time to hone that as a craft.  I have spoken to so many songwriters, Lindsay Ell for instance. That is the first thing she had to do when she got to Nashville but life experiences obviously make up so much of that.

 

Course it does. Course it does.

 

Do you find yourself going back that far as well now even though you have written for however many years?

 

Do you know throughout this album process I did my thank you’s on it today for approval and I said it has been a dream come true and it has, but there has been so many times that I felt so vulnerable and so low and I was like why am I doing this to myself? Why do I want to put myself out into the world? 

For me song writing was always just like a self-thing. You know like when you journal and stuff but going back to Nashville I definitely feel like going there because of the rooms that I was in, people were a lot more welcoming so they make you feel safer and I am trust person. I don’t trust anybody.  My Mum will tell you this. I don’t trust anyone, and it is something that I really have to work on because it hinders me.  Is that the right word?

I think so but I think that has come from when I have been younger because I have always have had to rely on myself really to get where I want to be and also I’m the oldest of the family so ‘you look after your brother and sister’ but going to Nashville made me feel safe and I definitely flourished there and I feel I am such a better writer. 

It’s a discipline at the end of the day so I wanted to get good at it.  I wanted to be the s******t person in the room. I wanted to be in them rooms where I felt insecure.

I found my power there as well because I thought ‘no one is me’ and that is the power.  That is what I say to every new artist coming up or no matter what age you starIt writing, you have got a story that only you have got. There is no one else like you in this world that can tell your story like you can tell. People can help you and help bring it out but there is only one Twinnie from York.  Literally there is. 

I think there is only one Twinnie in the world actually.

So I found strength in that so when I felt insecure I thought no f**k it I’ve got a lot to say, they don’t know my background or where I’ve come from and Hollywood Gypsy the album, that is the backbone of me.  Two worlds colliding.

It’s funny that I grew up with a Mam and Dad that are completely different, probably shouldn’t have got married, but I was one person with my Dad and I was another person with my Mum – just culturally, who I used to hang around with, how I talked and I have kind of done that in my adult life as well.  It’s weird. 

You go back to being familiar. You know disfunction attracts disfunction. I feel like I have definitely done that in my adult life, but it has been a strength as well, so yeah, it’s quite weird really looking back on my life so far and all the people that I have met and I have a lot of faith as well and when there has been times when I’m like ‘why am I waiting’, why do I see everybody.

I used to write with Ben Earle.  We actually started a load of demos me and him where we were duets and that’s how he kind of did The Shires and asked me to be in that and I declined because I wanted to do my own thing and then when you see everybody racing past you, people getting signed.  At the time you can’t compute it.  You think ‘I work so hard and I’m doing this’ but then you look at me now and The Shires have opened the gateway to country music.  It is like a ripple effect.  You just don’t know that I’m a very big believer in what’s meant for you will be and I think that’s where I find peace.  At times, don’t get me wrong, I will phone my management and I’ll be like ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and you feel like the world has ended, literally ended because it is the loneliest job in the world I think, being a solo female artist. It is and you are in it all of the time and you can’t be objective about anything because it is you and it is so f*****g weird! You know like approving videos ‘oh my skin looks s**t’.  People think you look beautiful and I’m like ‘no I’m fat, I don’t like that, I look ugly’. Constantly not being nice to myself.  If I was my friend, I just wouldn’t be friends with me.  Do you know what I mean?  If I was friends with me.  If I treated myself …

Well you would be sick of yourself?

Yeah, I would. I don’t treat my friends that way. I am so positive but myself I will look in the mirror and I will be like ‘I don’t like you’ and it’s awful.  That’s what I do with my writing. A Type Of Girl was all about… I feel like I’ve got a responsibility as a writer as well to be real.

There is so much b******t out there that you can do a dance tune or whatever, but I really want to get inside people’s hearts and heads and make people either think or cry or dance ,because that is what made me want to do music. The power of music. 

Billy Joel, ‘She Has Got A Way’ that always sends me back to a memory of me and my ex-boyfriend and it triggers an emotion.  It triggers me being upset and I’m getting upset about it now…but because that is the power of music.  You can take it back.  That and smells to me, I think…

Smells is a good one…?

Yeah, it goes back to telling your own story.  I think the best people that I aspire to be like are authentic in what they are saying because people don’t like it sugar coated, people like to listen to sad songs. They like to be sad and think about their ex.

For someone who bought one of the biggest tracks last year which obviously is Social Babies and in the midst of all of the social media barrages and the pros and the cons….

 

I f*****g hate social media! It ruins my life. I know it’s a thing you have to do but I grew up in a culture where people knock on your door and you will be like ‘are you coming out?’.  I feel like we are going so far away from what makes us human and nature.  Stuck in a screen all day – you don’t know what those Bluetooth head speakers are doing. There’s 5G apparently causes cancer and I’m like ‘great’ but it is funny how you feel peace when you are in nature and then that is just chaos. 

Anybody can contact you at any point and you know when someone has read the message and then you get anxious …oh! I just can’t deal with it.  I can’t deal with it.

 

For someone who writes these songs, it has got to be so refreshing for people listening to your music and going to your shows to hear this side of it; where they come from. The real you behind it but that comes across on your social media as well.  There are glimpses of that.  You put quotes up you mean put meaningful texts that a friend has sent you.

 

I don’t like being fake.  That’s it.  I don’t like being fake because you look at …I mean ‘Social Babies’ I wrote five years ago.  It is worse than what is has ever been now, but I feel like we all have a responsibility on social media, and we have created this generation of being insecure. 

Everyone is insecure anywhere, but we are really insecure on social media so everyone is pictured with their best life.  I was like we should have invented ‘shitter’ and everyone just posts shit pictures of themselves and actually it will make people feel better because it’s real. 

None of it is real and it is damaging to kids and I feel really strongly about mental health because I struggle with it myself and I don’t honestly feel like there is enough emotional support around. I really don’t, especially what we do when you are constantly out doing your thing, you are on show for everybody, but it does take a real effect and what people say about you.  That’s why I don’t like it.  God love her – the Caroline Flack thing really hit me hard because I felt like she could (I met her once) have been one of my friends and I think there just has to be …I don’t know I want to create a community where people feel safe and feel loved because we all need love. 

That is all we are searching for and Instagram and Twitter it is all trolls and they can say what the f**k they want and I often try and be too honest on my Instagram and I get told off because I will post s**t that I think is funny that someone has sent me and I try be as real as possible. 

I would rather people like me for me than this fake version that I have to carry on for the rest of my life. 

I think the more of that that people show it also shows a vulnerability and with that I think it shows people are human and that’s what we need more so that was the whole reason behind writing Social Babies. I wrote that on the train and I came in the session with it and I was like ‘I’ve got this what do you think?’ and me and Pete just put a track to it and it was awesome and I remember writing it that day and I was like ‘this is going to be a big song, I feel like this is going to be a big song’ and he said ‘I hope you are right’ and actually Jon Green agree with me at the time because it was just a voice note and then the track came out and I was like ‘ha, told you’.

It was, it was one of the biggest last year. It was amazing and how is the album doing because everyone wants to know when it’s coming out?  It is finished isn’t it? You said you had written a thanks list.

 

It is finished and it is scheduled for April 17th.

Oh, an actual date. Okay wasn’t expecting that.

 

It’s all approved. It’s all done.  Do albums get pushed back? Might do.

They do and they will.

Might do, might not, I don’t know.  I am really excited for everyone to hear it but obviously I have massive anxiety.  I still feel like nobody knows who the f**k I am.

I think everyone knows who you are.

Not yet they don’t, not in a real way, not in the real world.  I mean they definitely do in the country community here and in America but as far as radio goes not really. Media? Not really. 

It is really hard. I find this has been probably the worst bit of it because I don’t know what is going to happen and I can control everything else.

Because up to now you have had something to build to and it’s almost like pushing something off a cliff?

But then like also there’s two ways of looking at it.  It comes out, it flops, I get dropped, I keep going or it comes out, we keep building, there’s more stuff.  You don’t know which track off the album is going to blow, if it blows at all.  The thing is for me Hollywood Gypsies is just the first chapter of leaving my mark on the world, my debut album. 

Obviously, I would love it to come out and be a smash and chart. That would be amazing but the likelihood of that happening – I don’t know, probably not.

Do you think the UK market is going to play a big part in that or are you going to be concentrating a lot Stateside as well? 

Both really.

You mentioned earlier on The Shires opened up the way.  Let’s not rule out the country music that came before The Shires but in a major way, in a mainstream way, they have opened up those doors to create a scene where young, aspiring artists, country artists, song writers, Americana players, everything can have a place in the scene all around the country.

There are festivals all over the place now.  Every country show pretty much sells out but how many country artists are getting signed to a major …we are still early on and there is tipping point so as an artist that is going to put out an album as big as yours…

 

I mean The Shires are an act that have been around for a lot of years now and I am a brand new act.  If I am going to be brutally honest I don’t think my music is the same what we do. I think it tips the pop side of things. 

If  I’m being really honest Bob Harris wouldn’t play Type of Girl the new version because it was too pop for his show.

Are you saying he did not play it?

I don’t think he did no.  He played Type of Girl the slowed down version but not the pop version and I totally respect that because I don’t think it fit in his show.  It is so pop and Social Babies is poppy. 

He has got a responsibility to his listeners to …Ashley McBryde and Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson were playing that week and Type of Girl really stands out that it is not in that lane. It’s more crosses over into both worlds so sometimes people don’t know where to put me which I think is a good thing because if you are not dividing opinion …the thing is if it fails which I don’t look at anything as a failure but you set an expectation and if it doesn’t fulfil that expectation that is fine.

If you look at Lizzo – she released that Truth Hurts in 2016 and now it’s a smash, so anything can happen but I have tried to stay in my own lane. I have created the music for me that I wanted to do.  Luckily I had a label that let me do that.  They believed in me enough and they are really happy with the album and they think it sounds great but I didn’t look at the market and think oh I want to be like The Shires or Ward Thomas or I want to be like Dua Lipa. I just wanted to create music. 

I never write for radio.  I wrote a song called Bad Bitch. I know it is never going to get played on radio.  It is never going to get played but it is something I needed to write so I am not an artist that thinks in money wise how much it’s going to make. I know every other person does around me because they all want to make money, but I don’t think like that and also I think that’s the best way to be because if it comes from the heart and it’s true and I love that then I will light up a stage.

If I am singing music that is just like ‘yeah okay I was made to put this out’ it’s not going to connect because I’m not connecting with it. 

I am excited and I don’t know where it is going to do. We have been played on Radio Two and we have been playlisted for Type of Girl so that’s great.

But you are back and forth in Nashville as well?

Yeah and we are doing an EP with BBR so I think internationally I am the only person that is doing that at the minute which is great. I did hassle them I was like ‘I want to live there, let me live there’ but yeah for me it will all crossover and that is the way it’s going.  I am quite forward thinking

I think that has to happen at some point anyway?

Do you know what? If anything all this country pop thing ..I know people have been ‘it’s not country’. If you look at Willie Nelson he is not the same as Garth Brookes.

They were saying the same about Shania Twain in the ‘90’s.

Exactly.  I think that what it has done is created a need for …people love good songs, well written songs.  They love it so it has introduced another audience. There are loads of young people that come to my show and kids.  It’s going to go that way and we are streaming and I think yeah, I can see it going that way.

It is an exciting place to be because the last three years it has been growing so much but whether it was ever going to get to the point where now there is a place for the festivals and the majors coming in and the streaming and the crossover. We are there now so yeah I think it is a good time.

Well people like Justin Bieber and Dan + Shay are paving the way.  People just like good songs. Also, I just think that the community is awesome.  I have never ever felt like an outsider there.

Where in Nashville?

Yeah.  I am just in the country scene.

You spent time with one of the most funniest people on the internet Dave Barton?

I stay with him and his wife when I go over there.  It is so funny I have got about five bedrooms and everybody is like ‘when are you coming to stay’ and I’m like I have to spread myself. I don’t feel rested there because I’m doing sessions and then I’m moving house half of the time and I am texting the group saying who has got my leather jacket.  He is amazing.  An amazing songwriter.  I am just surrounded by great people there that are enthusiastic and love songs.  It is not the same for me in London.  I write a lot by myself here but it is not the same community and that is what I want to encourage because there is loads of great UK talent here that I think needs nurturing and it is a whole new market.

What names would you put out there?

I think Laura Oakes is amazing.  Laura Evans. I’m just going to plug all my friends.

Laura Oakes was amazing @the British Country Music Festival last year.

 She was incredible.  Why is she not signed?  Mind you being signed is not the be all and end all because you have got more people to please.  People are pumping money into you. You have to deliver. 

I found it so much easier when I didn’t have a manager and I didn’t have a label because I only had to answer for myself and I answered to myself and I was going off my own timeline.  That is the biggest thing in this industry. Hurry up and wait.  I hate that I am so impatient.

Yeah but you do have that advantage of having such a good team around you.

Yeah, they are amazing.

I get asked all the time by younger artists ‘do I need a manager? Do I need this? Do it need that?’

You need the right manager.

I was about to say. The general consensus well yeah if you get the right manager.

You need the right people around you.  Steph is sat in the room now and she is one of my managers but she is probably one of the people that calm me down the most. She is my tour sister. 

It is important for people to get you.  It really is but I had to find that it is was not easy and sometimes you think you find it and then you work together for a bit and it doesn’t work or whatever. 

People get dropped. There is a lot of luck involved in the music industry I think and a lot of politics.

There is an element of creating that luck. You have got to put yourself in the right places and speak to the right people.

To be honest for any young artist that is listening I ask everybody.  I DM everybody. DJ’s even people that are big.  I send them my videos. Even now I don’t care whether it looks like I’m uncool.  Shania Twain has seen my video you know?

Really? How do you know that?

Because Anastasia is one of their clients and one of the backing singers is also a backing singer for Shania Twain and she showed her, and she loved it. She was obsessed with it apparently (laughs)

Amazing.

I can’t wait to meet her.  Her and Dolly Parton.

Collab.  I can’t remember what we talking about now.

What were we talking about?

I don’t know.

Oh yeah, the right people.  I mean that’s just life.

I am a big energy person so I buzz off people if they are on my wavelength, on my frequency as a I call it you can get so much more done.  I don’t know I am in a place now where I have done all I can do.  It is up to everyone else now.  If the people don’t like it or it doesn’t connect.

I love doing it. I love performing it.

 

There is a part of that submission that a younger artist or someone without a team around them hasn’t got and you have been there, so you know about it.


Listen.  You have just keep knocking on them doors.  Banging them down.  I kick them down. I made people listen to me. I just wouldn’t go away.  I don’t go away.  I think that’s why people are sometimes ‘Oh God, she’s a bit too much’. 

It might come across desperate sometimes and I am sure I have been in the past (laughs) but no doesn’t work for me.  We need to turn that into a yes because that’s not what I want. 

I keep going until I get what I want which is probably not a bad thing.

What has been some of your favourite times so far? When I say favourite times I’m talking about the last two years maybe?

Yeah like back when I was six years old (laughs) I wanted to be a star.

Hosting the BCMA’s with me probably wasn’t it?

Yeah course.  Well I sang with Brian Adams.  That was pretty special.  He invited me up on stage and didn’t even know me.  That was cool as s**t.

When I found out we were on the train from Kings Cross somewhere with my band member Joel and Steph and Steph told me I had made the B list on Radio for Social Babies that was awesome. 

When I filmed ‘Type of Girl’. I loved that video.

You were waiting a long time for that to come out?  That has been around for a while.  That is the song that whenever I saw you live, it was ‘Oh Twinnie is on stage’.  It has got that about it.

The actual version that is out now was the original version and Nashville slowed it down because they thought it was too pop but they wanted to get it on different play lists. 

I am trying to think.  There has been so many moments. 

I guess for me the best moments are when I see my family and they come and see me on stage and my Grandma and Grandad are still able to watch. They are my best friends.  They are 84 and 85.

Were your family at The British County Music Festival?

Yes they were.  They are amazing and they do so well, and they never miss a gig and she tells the whole world about me which is great but I am going on tour and I’m going to York which is amazing. That is nearly sold out.

Brilliant.  Is that Phil Moore’s tour?  Well it’s your tour …

Yeah its Phil Moore’s tour (laughs).  I am just quacking around.  Yeah Phil Moore is coming on tour with me so we are doing Glasgow.  If you haven’t got your tickets, please do book as they are going ‘thank God’.  Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester.  York has nearly sold out and London has almost sold out as well.

Wicked and C2C?

C2C, Berlin

Oh cool you are doing that as well?

I am doing London but I am playing the Spotlight Stage which is the new arena if you don’t know guys which I really excited.

On my birthday.

Is it your birthday? Oh I will have to sing happy birthday to you then.  Yeah I am really excited about that because I am the only British person apparently on there this year so that was great.  It is nice because I’ve done it.  This will be my third year or fourth year that I have done it and every time I have kind of stepped up so they have really supported my career.

Does that mean there is only more place to be next year?

I don’t think I will do it next year unless something massive happens but I would like to come back and do the main stage and headline it one day so we will see. Right now anything could happen. I mean look at Lewis Capaldi who was playing in bars three years ago and now he has just been nominated for a Grammy, Brit Award winner.

Did he win last night? I haven’t seen much.

He sold out his arena tour before his actual album came.

I know.

I mean that is the level you really want to be at isn’t it but that is the power of a song and also he is just f*****g brilliant. He just does his own thing. He marketed that thing. I feel like he is himself.

You know he wrote that song about his Nan?

Yeah. He is quite funny in an interview.

Yeah where he said ‘thankfully for me my Nan passed away (laughs)

(laughs) I feel like we would be really good mates.

He is a funny guy.

He is funny.

I want to go back and talk about something you touched on in your opening monologue (laughs)

(Sings)…in my opening monologue…

I find this quite a hard question to stage actually because I have no authority in this question whatsoever, but you have had quite the journey so far and you are where you are because of who you are and what you do and women in the music industry is such a prominent conversation on social media and across the press and just everywhere. 

Are you finding it easier now than when you started or is it just as hard?

What are the struggles? I know there are struggles, so in a way I am setting this up because I know you have got thoughts on this but we have never really talked about that. 

Woman generally have the worst time. 

Woman in the music industry I feel like they have to fight harder and woman in country music ..I mean that is a whole different ball game.  How long you got? That is just pathetic. It’s 2020 and we are still having to fight to have equal play lists and all the rest of it.

When you think of country music, I think of Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline.  I don’t think of a man.  I think Johnny Cash but them three – that’s who I think of.

I am an alpha female so men don’t like me naturally I don’t think.

That’s what I hear (laughs)

I scare them off I think.  I mean they like me but I have a very strong opinion about stuff especially when it comes to me. 

No-one knows me like I know me so don’t tell me I’m supposed to think or feel.  I’ve struggled a lot with that. 

I have had to keep my mouth shut and ‘play the game’ as they all say and if I was a man my life would be so much easier and people in my own circle, I find it difficult and it upsets me because I’m the person that has to go back and process these thoughts and it’s not like I can talk through it with everyone. 

I can’t talk through it with my Mum because she just doesn’t get it.  That’s when I talk to my other friends in the music industry, especially woman because there has been so much crap that I don’t even want to say on here.

Do you think it is a lack of explanation as well? Why isn’t the radio play there? Why are the festivals so lopsided? 

 Their answer can’t be ‘oh they are s**t’ because the woman in country music and the woman generally that I know in music are badass woman because we have to fight harder and I hate playing that card because I don’t like it.

I can stick up for myself but I always think of the 16 year old that has just got signed that doesn’t really know who they are and are being shaped and moulded and they go ‘oh you can do this and la la la’ …it goes back to the support. 

Rarely does anybody ask me ‘are you okay? Like genuinely, are you okay?’ I am so on it all the time. I am so tunnel vision, auto pilot.

It is only when I get home and I am ‘why did they say that to me or why did he say that to me’ and then I start to think wow if I was a man and someone had said that to me I would have f*****g knocked them out! Honestly I would have done. I am quite fiery anyway and I wear my heart on my sleeve.

I am very emotionally driven sometimes.  Sometimes people mistake my passion for being aggressive and I’m ‘no I just want this because I want it to work so much’.  If I feel like I’m not being heard, and this has happened in my personal relationships as well and I know what I am like as a person. I am not the most easiest of people when I feel strongly about something but if I don’t feel heard this is another trigger point. 

It goes back to being a kid.  I feel like I am the six-year-old being told ‘no, no’ but I don’t know how to explain it.  If you are going to blame the stuff …the bad…if you take the bad you got to take the good as well and that makes me a fighter. That makes me go ‘no sorry’. I am really good at confrontation.  Not in a fight ‘I’m going to knock you out’.  I don’t like that at all. I can’t fight but in a sense I feel bad for the other person if I have upset anybody.

Even if I know I am right I will back down sometimes ‘okay it is alright’ and then I go back and it manifests itself.

I can’t imagine that (laughs)

I definitely say my piece but I think everybody handles stuff differently.  I think I am a lot more open and if someone talks to me in certain way I definitely recognise it and I’m ‘not that’s not appropriate’ and I will call somebody out on it but yeah then I don’t want to make a fuss or I don’t want to make a scene so half of the stuff I just let go.  You know, it’s just life isn’t it? Life is not easy sometimes and its experience.

Do you have to find yourself holding back on social media saying what you really think?

 Yes I get told off all the time ‘you can’t put that, don’t put that’.  That is how I express myself as well. I feel I am very honest and sometimes when I am by myself I just want to write something and I put up a quote and its basically …anything that anyone does on social media its calculated.  I am calculated.  I know exactly who I am pointing the finger at just don’t tag them (laughs). I think ‘oooh look at me I’m on a sun lounger’.  You just want everyone to know you look good in your bikini girl, that’s it.

 

I haven’t posted one like that (laughs).

Neither have I.  I don’t like pictures like that myself.

What about the festivals that there should be a 50/50 split?

 It’s difficult because I feel like if the talents not there I don’t ever want to be on a stage for the fact that I am a woman.  I want to be put on the stage because I am f*****g great and I am go to sell that crowd a proper show and I think it all comes down to talent at the end of the day.

I think the difference in country radio is they basically can see all this talent of women but they are not putting them on. 

Not only have I chosen the most difficult industry to be in and the most difficult job, I have also picked the most difficult genre. I mean, is there something wrong with me? Literally, is there something wrong with me? I must love a challenge but I like that because we part of change right now.

100%

We are part of a change that is going to go down in history like CMT made history the other day that they said it was 50/50 for women and men playlist. Amazing because it has not happened and it is a boys club.  I feel like the whole music industry is a boy’s club but it is changing.  Streaming makes a difference. 

We will get there. We will get there girls, won’t we?

When you are touring or you are writing, wherever you are on your everyday and the touring part of year. What is the hardest thing for you? What do you struggle with the most? I am not trying to turn this into a ‘let’s bring it down’ sort of session (laughs).

Let’s bring it down therapy session.

We talked about social media.

What do I struggle with Steph?  What’s my worst thing that I struggle with?

Steph: sleep.

Yeah sleep. I struggle to sleep.  I don’t like sleep and it doesn’t like me apparently.  I don’t sleep.  I don’t switch off.

Deliberately?

I dance it.  Everybody asks me if I go to the gym. I don’t go to the gym, I just dance every single night and then after I’ve danced I get in a bath.  I’m not even lying. This is my routine. 

I’ve always been a night person though.  I’m well more creative at night.  I like getting up early in the morning and getting s**t done but my thoughts…I can’t switch off. I think if I had a boyfriend as well then that might help but saying that Adam (my ex-boyfriend) used to get well p*****d off with me because I would just be going on my piano and he would be like ‘get into bed’ and I would be ‘I can’t sleep though’ (laughs).

So what do you find the easiest? What do you enjoy most?

 Being on stage.  I love chatting s**t to the audience. I love how seeing their faces and I love dancing around.  To me I just want to get to an arena stage because then I can put on the show that I’ve always dreamed off. Do you know what I mean? With my dancers because I love to dance. 

I want the headset and me at the piano but we have got a long way to go before we do that hopefully God willing.

Some of the festival stages have been good?

Oh they have been amazing!  For a new artist I’ve had some great spots on the main stage for Long Road last year, C2C has been brilliant.  We did the BBC Radio Two stage. I’ve been on tour with Keifer Sutherland. He sells out. I’ve just had the best time. My artistry and the reason why I do this job is because I want to connect with people and my artistry is my songwriting and its being on stage and playing the songs. 

All of the other stuff I couldn’t really care about.  I don’t care about awards; I don’t care about red carpets. They are nice but half the time I just want to hang out with my friends, have a good time and play music.

That is something about the Country community isn’t it?

That’s it.

It’s a wicked community.

Yeah, it really is and it’s a nice community I think to kind of come up in because everybody looks after each other.

It’s nice to be in a position where you can also treat and give exposure to other artists the way that you would want that. You were saying about Laura.

I post about people all of the time because I think there is enough room for everybody and I would hope people would do that for me when I have stuff. My friends circle is very small but we all do that for each other.  There is enough to go around.

For those listening I think I might have heard some new unreleased Twinnie material?

Yes, you have it and you are probably going to get into trouble for that if you put it out.

I won’t put it out but what I will say is that hook is such a Twinnie hook. 

What’s a Twinnie hook? (laughs)

The rhythm of …the up and down melody

 That comes from…

 That’s what I want to ask you. Where?

 Rappers.

 Really? Full circle.

 Their rhythm.  I went into a writing session and I was joking around and I was rapping adlibbing and they were ‘do you want to put that in?’ and I was like ‘do you want me to, really?’ but that’s the thing I was just having fun. I was having fun in the session and I think I think about words as a rhythm because I used to be a dancer or still am a dancer but the …..(Twinnie gives rhythm example)…so I feel like just doing that rhythm and then putting words in..if it makes me move, then I know its good.

 Do you know what’s nice about it as well though and I know that it comes back to the genre conversation.  I can’t think of any other singers that sing that way specifically. If someone else sang that song it would be ‘oh are you covering a Twinnie song?’.  That how stylistic it is to you but also it is very a country thing and I know you wouldn’t have deliberately written but from a RnB feel of original country music, it is there that’s one of the massive reasons why you do so well because it is just brilliant. Your music is brilliant. You know I love your music anyway.

Ahh thank you.

Is that just you? Is it collaborations? Is it different writers or is it you pick up those hooks yourself musically as well as lyrically?

I would say all of the melodies on the album., I am such a melody person. I am good with lyrics as well but for me even if someone pops out a melody they’re like ‘do you like this?’ and I’m ‘err no can we change it?’. A lot of it is me really.

Cool. I always wondered that because I’ve never asked you that.

That sounds so bigheaded doesn’t it.  I load of it is me actually …No all my cowriters are amazing obviously there is some stuff I’ve not done like words obviously but definitely all the melodies are something I’m okay with or I’ve come up with myself or gone in the room with, especially things like Social Babies and Type of Girl, Better When I’m Drunk. The way I write as well is I generally write slow. If we haven’t got a groove in the room.

 

Lie To Me is one of best songs that came out from anyone last year.

Ah thank you very much.  Yeah I love that song.  I wrote that about seven years ago with Jon Green.

You talk about writing slow

Or I will pick a vibe I like off the radio or like an old song and then just adlib over it like my own melody so same chords but generally I do a lot of my songs have …(Twinnie sings example) …it’s got that skippy ness about it.  I also say lets do a skippy reprise because it’s too slow now and they say ‘okay’ ‘cos they kind of get it (laughs).

Lets it bring it back to rap?

Bring it back to rap.

Definitely rap on the next.

Me and Blanco Brown

Are you going to do something?

He rang me the other day ‘babe we need to get in the studio’ and I was ‘I know’ but yes its going to be fire when we do that. He is amazing. I love his energy. He had one of the biggest viral songs last year. It’s just amazing.

His album though is so good.

Yeah, he is great.  He is so good.

Some of the harmonies on that.

He is such a performer. That is what I love about him.

I have never seen him live.  I want to.

 

He is great. Take it from me and I’m not just saying that because he’s my mate.

Well….

We’ve come to the end?

Thank you for …..

(laughs) you are being really professional now aren’t you?

No thanks genuinely for opening up, speaking the truth.

I feel like a lot of people are going to hate me after this (laughs)

No. It’s really good.

Yeah I’m too honest aren’t I?  It’s going to bite me in the arse.

Talking of social media you social baby. Where can we find you?

My boyfriend (laughs). I don’t have one. Have you heard Cupid? @twinnieofficial – there’s only one anyway.

Is that the same across all socials?  Tik Tok? You’ve got to up your Tik Tok game.

Yes I know I am so s**t on that. You are going to have to help me. Definitely going to have to help me.

(laughs) We will do Tik Tok in a minute.

Yes awesome.

Cool.  Thank you.

You are welcome. Thanks for having me. It’s very nice in here. Thanks Ed Sheeran.

Thanks Ed Sheeran.

Thanks for my drink.

Thanks for listening to this episode of No Chords But The Truth in association with The British Country Music Festival @TBCMF. We would love it if you subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode and an extra love if you would give us a lovely 5 star rating.  You can even review the podcast and leave a comment with who you would like to see on. You can find me on social media @MattSpracklen.  See you next time.

 

Credits

Host:
Matt Spracklen is a radio and television presenter as well as a reputable music blogger. Matt currently hosts his own show on Bauer Media’s Country Hits Radio and having studied music in Nashville, he is seen as one of the UK’s leading authorities on all things country and Americana. He is known for championing British artists and continues to provide a platform on his radio show not just for headliners, but also emerging talent. He was a judge on BBC One’s All Together Now, he is the main presenter for the main stage at The British Country Music Festival and is in demand as a host for corporate events and music awards shows. Matt is an avid blogger and social media guru and has a considerable social media following, ensuring he is on most PR companies VIP lists for key music industry events. @mattspracklen

Producer:
Sarah Bishop  is a well respected radio producer who has worked with names including Edith Bowman and Arielle Free. She is currently the producer of The Frank Skinner Show on Absolute Radio as well as The Times’ podcast Walking the Dog. Sarah also works closely with high profile talent on television programmes such as the award-winning sitcom Catastrophe and award shows including The BAFTAs, The Brit Awards and MTV’s Europe Music Awards. @sarahbishop92

Commissioned by:
The British Country Music Festival  We are delighted to bring you No Chords But The Truth and we would like to thank all the talented artists who will be contributing to the show.  When we first discussed the podcast with Matt and Sarah, it was clear that we all shared the same passion to provide a voice and platform for UK home grown country & Americana artists and songwriters.  Please follow, subscribe, review, comment, fill in those little stars and join our community. Thanks for listening. Martin & Marina @TBCMF  #NCBTT

Venue:
Bertie Blossoms, An intimate neighbourhood dining concept, owned by Ed Sheeran, nestled at the end of the bustling Portobello Road, London  @bertie_blossoms

Transcripts:
The Virtual Temp, Debbie is our go to resource for transcriptions, minutes and admin services.  www.thevirtualtemp.com

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