It's a Wonderful Life…

…isn't it…?

Interviewing Sarah Lillie July 5, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to see you perform live at New to This Solar System tomorrow night; thanks so much for finding the time to answer my questions

Q. Tell me, how did you get started?

A. Guitarist Ben Hood and I met at Southampton University and have been performing together with drummer Rob Austen since we graduated last July. For the Sevenoaks Festival, Ben and I will be performing as a duo.

Q. So, what you do for your day job?

A.  I live in East London and work as a professional singer. Aside from Ben’s solo work, he also works as a professional songwriter, singer and teacher.

Q. And, how did you get into music?

A.My Dad, Grandparents and Mum were all music lovers, so my sisters and I played music and sang from an early age. Ben has been a songwriter for many years; since watching blues-guitar band Divided by Three with his Mum in concert.

Q. Aside from the love of music, do you have any other creative outlets?

A. We both love cooking, Ben makes incredible paella and I bake most days. I love my knitting, painting and writing too.

Q. Do you have any particular musical inspiration?

A. We’re both big fans of Elbow; their music, lyrics and production are all incredible. I listen to a lot of the female jazz singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London and am greatly influenced by music and instruments from China, India and Africa.

Q.   So, what’s your mission for your music?

A. I’d love to travel with my music, and learn to play more instruments and techniques from different cultures.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you or given you great advice to get where you wanted to be?

A. I met an incredible musician called Rob Greenfield at my secondary school who encouraged my singing and song-writing, he will always be a musical inspiration to me.

Q.   Tell me a bit about your history as an artist?

A. I’ve led several acts and bands since school. Then, at University I began performing with Ben, we’ve been gigging, writing and recording together since. We play with friend and drummer Rob Austen and have begun rehearsals with bass player James Williams. We’ll be performing with cellists, a keyboard player and percussionist for some of the upcoming Summer gigs.

Ben joined a band at University and, since graduating, began performing his own material with them. He’s now recording his debut solo album with the same group of musicians.

Q. Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A.Selling out Ronnie Scott’s Bar and the Jazz Club Soho earlier this year with Ben and Rob are two incredible gigs we’ll never forget. One of my most memorable performances however, was a spontaneous, wine-fuelled jazz gig in the crammed cellar of a piano bar in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The owner of Aux Trois Mailletz  invited me to sing with the world-famous house band, it was brilliant.

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A.We’re performing at a new festival in Benenden on 10th August called Jack’s Festival, and again at Local and Live Music Festival at The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells over the August Bank Holiday. We’re in the process of recording for release later this year. Ben’s also been recording his solo album ready for Autumn 2012.

Q.How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A.We met Steph when lead singer of The Find, Jay, invited us to perform for Breast Cancer Care earlier this year. It was a wonderful gig for a brilliant campaign.

This is the first time we’ve been involved in the Sevenoaks Festival so we’re really excited to be performing this year.

And I’m sure everyone is really looking forward to seeing, what is sure to be, a stellar performance tomorrow night at Sevenoaks School for the Breast Cancer Care Benefit Concert. It’s been lovely getting to know Sarah Lillie and I wish you all the best for tomorrow evening.

To all those that are thinking of attending, tickets are available on the door and you are guaranteed to have an amazing night of music whilst raising funds for a very worthwhile cause. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

 

What on Earth IS New To This Solar System? June 17, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

As many of you will recall I covered an event in aid of Breast Cancer Care a short while ago: kicking off my coverage by interviewing the amazing lady organising it all. I have been asked again to cover Steph’s fundraising activities and am kicking off again with an interview with the lady herself.

Hello again Steph, thanks so much for finding the time to share with my readers again what you have been up to, we had a great response last time.

Q. What have you been up to since we last met about your In Conversation With.. . event?

A. Quite a lot actually. We did the Pink Ribbon walk at Blenheim Place which raised around £1500. This was a fantastic event: I even got to meet Denise Lewis and have my picture taken with her! The event was so well organised! I attended the Canadian High Commission a couple of weeks ago as a guest at the Breast Cancer Care meeting of the ladies Dragon Boat racers. I’ve been working with an American lady over here in her fundraising events and it’s proven pretty insightful for us both as our fundraising and charity systems are quite different. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Breast Cancer Care headquarters. I recently helped open a new Cancer Research shop in Sevenoaks. I’ve actually written a piece for the volunteer section on the Breast Cancer Care site – I’d never blogged before so that was a whole new experience for me! Otherwise, it’s been a whole lot of organising, coming up with new ideas and lots of meetings. Oh and lots of canvassing for this event over the weekends. It’s like a full time job, but I love it and the potential for all the good we can do!

You certainly have been incredibly busy! I think we’re all keen to find out what New to This Solar System is all about so I guess we had better not keep the readers waiting.

Q. So what IS New to This Solar System about?

A. This event is a benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Care. This event also presents the opportunity to introduce four local, unsigned [as yet] acts to the people of Sevenoaks. All of these acts have very kindly agreed to donate their time and their talent to this wonderful cause.

Q. So how did you go about getting all of these acts on board?

A. Well, I had seen The Find in concert as we held a small event a while ago where Jay invited Sarah Lillie as a guest. It was so good we knew we could do something more with it. I am frequently being asked at events if I could get Amy Coulshaw to do a set so this was the perfect opportunity. Electric isn’t feasible at this venue so, bearing in mind the need for a really great acoustic sound, we stumbled across Dan Clews who fits this perfectly. Everywhere I go, I find myself talking about these guys.

Q. So, what marvellous venue have you managed to secure this time and what are the details of this event?

A. Well, Sevenoaks School have actually been kind enough to allow us use of their facilities for this event: this place is absolutely beautiful [she says this knowing how much I fidgeted in my attire at the Tonbridge School because it was so grand] and it holds 420 people. New to This Solar System is actually a part of the Sevenoaks Festival.  The concert is being held on the 6th July in the Pamoja Hall, The Space at Sevenoaks School. The doors will open for guests at 18.45 and the concert will begin at 19.30. With ticket sales and drinks purchases on the night we are hoping to raise around even more for Breast Cancer Care this time around.

Q. What’s prompted you to organise this event?

A. Well, we know how much people are struggling with the economy being as it is and we also know that charity fundraising is also really struggling because of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether the economy is bad: Breast Cancer doesn’t go away just because we can’t afford it! Breast Cancer Care doesn’t stop working just because people are hard up and it’s really important to me that they continue getting the funding they need for their outstanding work.

Q. I know from your previous events that organising a concert is a fairly new thing for you. Have you had many difficulties?

A. Well, we’re finding that a lot of people aren’t really sure what the event is about and that people aren’t buying their tickets straight away which inevitably causes us a bit of worry that we won’t actually be able to deliver for Breast Cancer Care on this event. The difference with this kind of event is that usually I make all the decisions on what’s happening, when whereas this time I’m working with groups of people who all have different agendas and workloads. We’ve still got a lot to do but, well, it’ll be alright on the night! We just really want people to come along and have a drink and enjoy the music: it’s all about having a really great night whilst raising money for a worthy cause.

Q. So, how can people find out more about the event or get themselves a ticket to this great occasion?

A. We’re doing a poster drop over the Kent area, we’re advertising the event on the Breast Cancer Care online site, we’re listed in the Sevenoaks Festival line up, we’ll be out in Sevenoaks telling people about the event and we have a Facebook page [http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-to-this-Solar-System/125336894270462]. For tickets you can also call: 01732 450175.

Well I, for one, can’t wait for this event because I’ve looked up all the acts and they are genuinely amazing. I’ve got my ticket, have you?