Lizzy Hardingham is off on tour with her new album, How Did We Get Here?, and she’ll be sharing some of these new songs with us on 17th October. Ahead of the gig, we caught up with her to find out more about the album and the important issues it raises about the links between music and mental health.
Hi, Lizzy! Great to have you with us. How was your summer?
I had a lovely summer, thank you. It was slightly less busy than usual, but it was really hard to know what would and wouldn’t be going ahead when booking festivals and gigs last year. The performances I did do, however, were glorious and so much fun. I hope the novelty of being back out on the road and meeting new people never wears off!
You’re joining us as part of the launch tour for your new album, How Did We Get Here? Tell us about that!
This tour has been an absolute labour of love! I’m writing this before the first date, so hopefully I’ll still be saying that by the end. I came up with the idea for this album on a balmy August day last year and haven’t really stopped since. It feels like we’ve been working on this for an age, but also like it’s just still barely begun, so I really can’t wait for it to come out and share it all with you!
What inspired you to create an album focused on the link between music and mental health?
I had a bank of songs ready to go that all felt quite vulnerable and personal; I just wasn’t sure how to tie it all together to create a narrative. I went over to Minnie Birch’s house for some tea and a chat and we talked quite a lot about people being more open to a global conversation about mental health. I felt really inspired by what she had to say, as well as her album You’re Not Singing Anymore, and felt an idea forming.
I suddenly knew I really wanted to include interview clips about mental health and wellbeing from a musical perspective. This, combined with the songs I already had, seemed like the perfect next project, but I really wanted to do it on a more professional scale than I had ever done before, with full band, in a studio and with a proper plan. That was where it all began.
What was the process of making the album like?
This was the first record I didn’t make on my own. Working with somebody else took a lot of pressure off me and allowed me to really enjoy the experience and focus on my musical input into the album. Previously, I’d been recording most things in my bedroom: singing, pressing the buttons and editing afterwards. Giving some of that responsibility to someone else was a big mental hurdle (control freak alert), but it was such a freeing experience that allowed me to think more about what I was singing/playing than the mechanical side of studio recording. I couldn’t have asked for a safer pair of hands and ears than Tom Wright at Powered Flight Music.
I also felt a lot more pressure in other ways. I crowdfunded some of this album and also received support from Help Musicians. I really felt the pressure to deliver, given what other people had already invested in the album and in my music. I found that quite hard to deal with mentally, as I’d only ever spent my own money on projects before. I sought advice from friends who had gone down the funding route and we talked a lot about self-belief/imposter syndrome. We had to convince ourselves that people had invested in our projects because they believed in us, and that we should see that as motivation and not a pressure to deliver.
You worked with a few guest artists (including Nancy Kerr, Julie Matthews, Blair Dunlop, Lukas Drinkwater and Katriona Gilmore!) – what was that like?
I mean, in a word, ridiculous. Both the artists speaking on the record and playing on the songs are some absolutely amazing musicians and people. For the interviews, I knew I wanted people who had been candid about mental health in the past. I reached out and was amazed that everyone I asked said yes. It was so inspiring to see how vulnerable and open they were during the interviews; it really spurred me on in the studio once we got to recording the actual music (especially given some of them are musicians I’ve been listening to since I was about 5).
I was also lucky enough to have some absolutely brilliant musicians lending their musical skills to the tracks. Tom Wright worked tirelessly on the record, both as a producer and a musician (drums, guitar, banjo, all the other instruments under the sun). I was particularly nervous, as this was the first time I’d recorded with someone else at the helm, but Tom was not just a brilliant musical pair of ears but also a really supportive and kind friend. It really is a pleasure to have so many people in my corner for this record.
What changes do you think need to be made to support musicians better with their mental health?
I think we’ve come a long way in the past few years, and certainly the pandemic has brought a lot of things to light, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. For example, there are really practical things that the MU are working on such as childcare being part of a rider for touring families, and wellbeing for and better representation of marginalised groups of musicians such as disabled musicians.
For me personally, I think being transparent about the lows as much as the highs is the best thing we can do. All too often, we only see the very best bits of people’s lives through social media, which can be difficult to process and deal with when you feel you’re in direct competition with your peers. I’ve tried to make this record vulnerable and candid to show that, yes, it’s amazing to play to a sold-out crowd in your favourite venue, but that not every gig is a winner, and that being a performing musician sometimes isn’t as positive an experience as it appears to be on social media.
Thanks so much for sharing all of that with us! Before we leave you, what else do you have in store in the coming months?
I’ve never put together or performed a tour of this size and scale before, so at the moment it’s taking up most of my mental bandwidth. That said, I do have gigs coming up this winter in new areas, as well as a slot at the Great British Folk Festival in Skegness (I’m definitely looking forward to the flumes). I’ve still got quite a lot of residual writing energy left from being locked down for so long, so I’m enjoying riding that wave at the moment, with the hopes that it will produce a great new set of songs for a new EP in the Spring. All in all, I’m still just enjoying being able to perform again.
Lizzy Hardingham will be joining us on Monday 17th October, as she launches her new album, How Did We Get Here, into the world! Head to Bandcamp to pre-order the album, and find tickets for Lizzy’s gig and everything else we’ve got coming up here.