Niamh Watson is an up and coming talent and at the age of sixteen she is already gaining a positive reputation as a busy collaborator and genre buster. Niamh has recently released a dance track with Berlin based producer Leon Blake, has worked with Puerto Rican Electronic Funk duo SACH, has co-written and released tracks with young beatmaker from Denmark Nikola Carapic and she co-wrote the latest release from Australian Country/Americana artist Paula Standing with Australian Country Music legends Gina Jeffreys, Rod McCormack and Lou Bradley. Niamh talks to Hi Fi Way about her new single Sugar.
How hard is it pushing your way through this health crisis and contemplating releasing new music?
These certainly are difficult and uncertain times. Like most artists, I have re-focused my time from gigging and performing to writing new songs. I think that is what has helped get me through. My new song ‘Sugar’ was written and recorded before COVID hit us. It is a fairly positive and happy tune so, hopefully, listeners will feel a little better after listening to it.
Do you think people are more or less inclined to be chasing new music?
I think that due to our whole world going online, there is a good chance that people are seeking out new music and searching for up and coming artists that they may not have found previously. I hope so anyway!
Congratulations on the single, what’s the story behind Sugar?
Thank you very much! I was offered an amazing opportunity through Origin Music Publishing to work with producer Mario Spate in Sydney’s Forbes Street Studios and I jumped at the chance. Mario is rapidly gaining a great reputation in the industry and has worked with some amazing artists. Forbes Street Studios is regarded as one of the best in the country. The plan was simply to get in the studio together and see what happens. We really hit it off and wrote/recorded a couple of songs in a couple of days.
Sugar came about through a challenge we set ourselves during the session to write a ‘happy’ song. We had been discussing how sad songs seemed to be easier to write than happy ones. We both loved the easy going ‘lofi’ vibe of Sugar and so here we are. It’s very much a chilled song about the excitement of new love with a slightly light hearted feel to it. I sang the lyrics in a whispering vocal style, something really quite different for me and actually not that easy to do. I imagined that I was singing to someone who was sleeping while trying not to awake them. Like a kind of slightly creepy lullaby.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is definitely on the alternative pop end of the spectrum. That said, although I think I have a pretty distinct writing and vocal melody style that I’m comfortable with, I’m certainly not afraid to dip into the other realms of pop. I’m really open to experimenting with sound.
Are you building towards an album?
I think that an album is something that will absolutely happen however, the question is when. I’m always writing and have been accumulating a portfolio of songs that are yet to be released. An album is something that I won’t rush however because I think that it needs to be a beautiful body of art in and of itself.
Who would you consider as being significant influences for your music?
Ever since I was little, my Dads’ all time hero David Byrne has influenced my love for music and the way I listen and appreciate a wide range of genres and styles. My Dad is nuts about him and his former band Talking Heads and so I have grown up listening to all of their music. His live performances are amazing. Adele is definitely one of my idols due to her amazing songwriting and incredible powerhouse voice. I got to see her in concert a few years ago and her performance style has definitely impacted on the ways I conduct myself on stage nowadays. I also love artists like Lennon Stella, Bea Miller, Billie Eilish and Sabrina Carpenter. Oh, and I’m really excited about the upcoming Washington album (Mario Spate co-produced the title track Batflowers and it is amazing).
Do you enjoy enjoy collaborating with other artists?
I think that collaboration is such an amazing way to learn new techniques and ideas and this is really important at my early career stage. Like most songwriters, I sometimes love to wallow in my own thoughts and write alone in my music room, but I really get a kick out of writing and sharing ideas with other talented people that I can connect with. I recently put out a track as a featured artist with Berlin based producer and DJ Leon Blake called Brand New which has a bit more of an Ibiza’ dance vibe than my usual stuff . Without that collaboration I would never have been involved in such a track.
What do you look for in a collaboration?
I think that without a common interest or common ground or connection with your collaborators it is difficult to produce something that you are all happy with and excited about. I think that finding people you get along with and trust is super important so that you are heading towards the same goal.
What’s your next challenge?
I’m keen to keep writing good pop songs and get in the studio to record a few more demos to enhance my portfolio and body of work. I can foresee an EP at sometime in the not too distant future too.
How much are you looking forward to touring resuming?
I am really keen to get back out there to do some gigs and, of course to see some live acts again. I really can’t wait.
What is something that people don’t know about Niamh Watson?
I was born in Scotland and came to Australia at a young age. Maybe I can follow in the footsteps of Australian rock and pop royalty who also came from Scotland as youngsters – Jimmy Barnes, Bon Scott, George, Malcolm and Angus Young, John Paul Young, Colin Hay to name a few.
Interview By Rob Lyon