In today’s interview, I got the chance to speak with upcoming Indie Pop vocalist, Uma. Currently based in London, the songstress debuted late last year with the song “Mockingbird” which garnered attention from music platforms like Indie Shuffle and with only one song under her belt, she is already being called someone to watch in the indie scene. In this interview, we got the chance to speak about her music beginnings, the backstory of “Mockingbird” and much more!
Q:Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?
A: Hi! I’m Uma. I’m a musician currently based in London.
Q: Even though you’ve only released one song thus far, is there a specific genre you consider yourself an artist in? (Ex. Alternative, Alternative Pop, Indie Rock, Indie Pop… )
A: That’s such a difficult question to answer! It seems to be up to the listener haha! Some people say it’s more pop and others say it’s more folk or indie. I don’t have an elevator pitch for it. I put lyrics I write to music I enjoy in order to create something I find beautiful and interesting (and at the moment that’s turning out to be quite a mix of different sounds).
Q: Your song, “Mockingbird” was released in October. Can you explain what the song is about? Is there any significance behind calling it Mockingbird? What does a Mockingbird represent to you?
A: I wrote Mockingbird in my last year at university. There was a lot of pressure, confusion, love and heartbreak. A very good friend of mine started having panic attacks and I wrote this song for her. It’s a love song but it carries the weight of life in your twenties.
Well, a very talented musician, Lucy Lu, wrote a beautiful song at my house a few summers before I wrote Mockingbird. I think it’s one of my favourite songs in the world. There were about twenty of us – (imagine twenty nineteen year olds under one roof!) And Luke played us the song one afternoon and everyone cried. It has this one line that goes ‘… a mockingbird sings, it sounds a lot like morning (mourning?) bells’. That line really struck me, for ages I thought of him as the mockingbird, and then I forgot. And when I was writing this song, the word spilled out onto the paper and it made me smile. For me, the Mockingbird is the one who can help you tell your story when you are too tired to speak, it’s full of beauty and sadness.
Q: If I’m correct, Mockingbird is your debut (correct me if I’m wrong). What was the creation process behind it?
A: It is! (kind of) Somewhere out there, there is another version of Mockingbird I did years ago with a band called “Sur”.
I wrote the song in one sitting an afternoon in 2015, easiest song I’ve ever written. Coming back to it now and recording it was like finally finishing a puzzle. I had a very clear vision of where I wanted it to go and I am lucky enough to have a team by my side that understood that. It was a lot of fun, and that’s mainly down to Tom Kitson, who produced Mockingbird with me and helped me find the spaces in it, and Lucy Lu and Johnny Fever who added some magic to it and also mixed it. Those three are definitely ones to watch!
Q: The song sounds somewhat personal, is it important (to you) to include real life emotions and experiences in your music?
A: I find that it’s not so much important but inevitable. When you create, you leave a piece of yourself in the work (and you take away something new), or at least that’s how I see it.
What I’m doing right now is taking a lot of old songs and arranging/recording them properly. It feels a bit like an emotional spring cleaning. All of the songs have memories and life attached to them, each one comes with it’s own baggage. I’m also writing new songs, they have a different kind of weight to them and that is exciting.
Q: Growing up, is music something you knew you wanted to pursue; or were you attracted to the arts in general?
A: My parents are both workaholic artists so going into the arts or being creative was not something I remember choosing, it was just life.
I started playing the violin when I was four and it’s the longest, toughest and most challenging relationship I’ve ever had (ongoing), but I also danced and acted, so sometimes it feels like all of this was a bit of a happy accident, music just happened to be the medium that captured my imagination the most.
Q: Once you gravitated towards music, who were some of the artists that (you feel) influenced your sound; or your style of writing?
A: Oh wow, more than I can name, but here are a few… Bebel Gilberto, Silvia Perez Cruz, Adriana Calcanhotto, Buika, Chet Baker, Manu Chao, Ella Fitzgerald, Tomatito, Chavela Vargas, John Coltrane, Jill Scott! Laura Marling, Lianne La Havas… I don’t know! All the greats of course, and many others. I was also very inspired by Avril Lavigne and Shakira at one point, someone gave me Happy Ending and Fijación Oral for my birthday, I think it was 2005, and I’d listen to them together. Also a lot of classical music and reggaeton for some reason. I think all of it has influenced me in some way.
Q: As I mentioned earlier, you are a newly debuted artist, what are some of your goals for 2019?
A: More creation and release, in all formats. There’s a new single coming out in February but aside from that I’m playing it all by ear and seeing what happens.
Q: Thank you again for talking with me, before we end the interview, is there anything you would like to say to your supporters?
A: Thank you, thank you, thank you.