Jerry Williams // Oporto, Leeds // 31.1.2018
After recently completing her UK tour, singer-songwriter Jerry Williams is not stopping there. Amidst her dedication to bringing her music to audiences with her live shows, Williams is also recording her debut album. I was lucky enough to not only attend the intimate acoustic show at Oporto bar in Leeds – which featured support from Cat Una and Ørmstons – but also to chat with the indie-pop singer beforehand about touring, making a debut album, and inspirations in the songwriting process.
Upon meeting Jerry Williams I immediately noted how upbeat and friendly she seemed, and this attitude is definitely reflected in the cheerful tone of some of her songs; for example, ‘Mother’, which has surpassed 5 million listens on Spotify. Delving into the interview, we discussed her first shows abroad within Europe, with Williams noting how friendly and respectful European audiences are. However, it is hard to ignore the difficulties that being an unsigned artist brings, as whilst shows in places from America to Australia are definitely on the agenda for some point in the future, being a self-funded artist makes it tougher.
Nevertheless, Jerry Williams has so far been extremely successful as an independent artist, with her 2016 EP Let’s Just Forget It winning an Unsigned Music Award. As of now, Williams has only released singles and EPs, however this will soon change with the future release of her debut album. The new album, Williams noted, explored new concepts that had not been featured in previous songs. In many of the songs released so far, the lyrics tended to focus around relationships with boys, from ‘Boy Oh Boy’ to ‘I’m Not In Love With You’, yet as she has grown to experience more, the topic of her lyrics has developed too. Williams opened up about her most honest song, ‘Gameshow’, a song in which her vulnerability is undeniable, as she sings about losing a family friend. It is this song that Williams is arguably most personal in her songwriting, and unsurprisingly the song that means the most to her, as Williams told me of how it is very emotional to perform live. During the gig the more optimistic reflection on loss is mirrored in her most recent song ‘Grab Life’.
Furthermore, the experiences of meeting new people and hearing their stories has also been a source of inspiration in the songwriting process. During the gig Williams explained about an encounter with a man in a bar that influenced her to write the song ‘David At The Bar’, which had a heart-warmingly hopeful tone to it. These new experiences as an individual and with other people have creeped into her music, with her more recent songs focusing around new storylines. Williams has clearly grown more and more as both a musician and an individual, with expectations of her debut album being that it will adopt a more mature tone, straying away from the more boy-focused tunes.
As well as the influences on songwriting for new albums, Williams mentioned the band ‘’Get Inuit’ (now called ‘Indoor Pets’) as a source of inspiration, however the lyrics come from personal experiences in everyday life. When I inquired about how she wants people to respond to her music, Williams explained how she wants people to relate to her music and to feel the emotion that she expresses so profoundly, and to come on this journey with her. It is at this point worth noting the song ‘A Hairdressers Called Sids’, featured on the EP of the same name, as possibly the most obvious example of how Williams takes events and the emotion felt during them and develops them into songs. One thing that I took away from the gig in Leeds was that the recorded version of this track did not reach the beauty of hearing it live.
Overall, Jerry Williams is definitely an artist to keep track of. If you haven’t already checked her out yet, I recommend listening to ‘Velcro’, ‘Babe’, and her cover of The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ for a glimpse of how captivating Jerry Williams can be as an artist.