Music Q&A:
Fiona Bevan

The songwriter to the stars – Ed Sheeran, One Direction, among others – has finally found some time for her own music, and is coming to Liverpool on 1 Dec

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What informs your music and songwriting?
I’ve been writing a lot about what it’s like being a woman in this world and the real events in my life or the people around me, and then it’s all filtered through dreams and emotion. I love telling stories but I also love taking people on a dreamy adventure.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Songwriting every day has really improved my writing – it’s like a muscle and I’ve been flexing. And helping other artists express themselves every day has really helped me see my own work in a new light and work out what I want to say to the world, and how. It’s also helped me embrace my own weirdness and recognise that every artist has an individual angle and viewpoint, and that’s so strange and valuable.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
My new EP is full of pentatonic melodies because I found out that humans 30,000 years ago had made flutes from the wing bones of birds, and they had five holes. I became so interested in how some of our scales haven’t changed for that long. And then this song Goddess just came to me out of the abyss and kicked off my own music again. It was the beginning of me writing for myself after a couple of years only writing for other artists. I’m just following the song creatures wherever they want to go and seeing what happens. I’ll definitely be making another EP or album soon as it’s all just flowing out and shaping up.

You’ve written so many successful songs for other artists. What’s your favourite and why?
A real standout for me is Queendom, which I wrote with Aurora. It was so inspiring to work with such an individual, wonderful artist and to write about a place where everybody is welcome and can feel safe. It still gives me tingles when I hear the hugeness of the song, and remember the writing process in Norway and how we got so inspired and excited.

Can you explain how songwriting for other artists works? Do you write songs with specific artists in mind?
I usually write with the artist in the room, so at first we spend some time getting to know each other and bonding over music and love or loss. That helps us find something really real and emotional to write about. The general public are super smart and can spot something that’s not real from a mile off, so it’s always about finding those life events and real emotion to get inspired by.

Also how you decide which songs you want to keep for yourself?
Usually I know because of the process – the ones for me are written on my own, first thing in the morning when I’m still connected to psychedelic dream land, with a pot of coffee and the piano or a guitar.

What song do you wish you’d written?
I wish I’d written Jolene by Dolly Parton. It’s such a heartbreaking and nuanced story, surprisingly filled with love, not hate towards the other woman. The lyrics and that rising melody are just so incredible.

What’s on your rider?
If someone could arrange for a 12-hour nap to be put on there, that would be great please. Thanks.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
One of my most surreal experiences was writing Wild Angels and The Bad Book from my new EP. I had a dangerously high temperature for a couple of days and all these lyrics and concepts started coming to me in delirious visions. Somehow I managed to write them down, and finished the songs off when I came down from the fever.

Why should people come and see your new tour?
I haven’t been on the road for three years since I got back from touring Canada, so I’m bursting with all this new music and can’t wait to share it with everyone. It’s going to be a world premiere! I love creating a special moment with the audience where we all connect and you can just feel that strange electricity in the room.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give someone wanting to be a songwriter?
I would say, learn and practise your craft, don’t be afraid, say yes to every opportunity however strange, and ask for help and advice when you need it. There’s no such thing as a silly question.

Fiona Bevan is on tour with Wandering Hearts now and they come to Liverpool’s Arts Club on 1 December. For more information visit fionabevan.co.uk. Photo: Chris Almeida

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