Exclusive – time well spent with Bisola!
When we heard “Come Alive” last year, we fell in love with the track instantly, so how thrilled were we when British singer and songwriter Bisola won a prestigious award for the song earlier this year! We felt it was about time to sit down with the lady herself and discuss…well, music, awards and what she has in store for us in the coming months!
TAPM: Welcome Bisola! It’s lovely to catch up with you finally! Firstly, many congratulations (again) for winning an award for “Come Alive“, it is so well deserved. We love the song here at talkaboutpopmusic.com! You must of been over the moon when it was announced:
B: I was gobsmacked and lost for words to say the least! I wasn’t planning to go to the award ceremony (it was held in Atlanta), as I didn’t think I had a chance of winning and it just seemed like such a long way to go for something that in my head I wasn’t even a real contender for. But as the time for the award ceremony drew close – I thought why not just go anyway as it would be a great opportunity to network with people in the industry on the ‘other side of the pond’ and I could may be even use that as an opportunity to have a bit of a mini holiday.
So I honestly travelled to Atlanta with no inkling I was going to win. When my name was announced as the winner for the category of Best International Female Single and I had to go up on stage to collect my award, my legs and hands were shaking. I was scrambling for words to say in my speech – I just mumbled something incoherent and got off the stage as fast as possible. It’s so ironic though ‘cos only about 6 weeks before I had been in the finals of a songwriting competition and I didn’t even make 3rd place (it was with a different song). I remember I’d driven about 2 hours to get to that event and the drive back home was tough. Thoughts about whether my songs were any good, whether I’d been wasting my time on music the last few years kept running round my head so to get the award for ‘Come Alive‘ just over a month later gave me a real boost of confidence and validation.
I think we all go through moments of doubt at various stages in life but the lesson certainly from this experience is to never give up especially when you know in your heart of hearts this is what you are called to do.
TAPM: So, new music for 2020! Already we have been blessed with the superb “Grace Upon Grace“. Tell us about the background of the song and what inspired you to set music to it, and also how you feel about the finished song:
B: Great question! I think the story of this song started way before I even knew I was going to write it. Some months back I had behaved in a way that shall we say ‘wasn’t my best self’ and I genuinely felt I let myself and people down. I remember how amazingly gracious one of the people involved in that experience was to me afterwards. They were just as friendly and as loving as they’d been before the incident and I remember asking myself if I would’ve been as forgiving if someone had done the same to me.
Anyone on a journey of faith knows that receiving and giving forgiveness is a huge part of that experience. I guess these were the thoughts that were running through my head as I began to write this song. After I locked down the melody and the lyrics, I got a distinct sense that the arrangement couldn’t be an airy, fairy lightweight pop production. It needed more depth and fresh approach. I remember lying in bed one night thinking about the song and I started to hear this rhythm and arrangement about how the song needed to sound. I went to 2 different producers to get the song produced but very quickly I could see that they didn’t really understand my vision for the song and couldn’t reproduce what I was hearing in my head. Don’t get me wrong these were super talented producers – one of whom I’ve worked with loads of times before but it just wasn’t clicking on this occasion. I decided to give it one more go with another producer – David Ezra (Hilltop Recording Studios) and I remember saying to myself if he wasn’t able to bring this song to life in the way I envisioned it, then I’d just park it and call it a day. Thankfully he got it!!! Phew!
It took a bit of us experimenting with different sounds and styles to find a good match for what I was after ‘cos there wasn’t really a template for what I was asking for. It’s not everyday you hear songs that mix classical music with beatboxing! I couldn’t go down the beaten path for this song, it somehow didn’t feel right so I’m super pleased that we managed to pull this off and with the great feedback about the song! I think as an artist it’s important you’re able to stand by your work and be true to what the piece is meant to be about – you’ll be stuck with it for the rest of your life for crying out loud!! ha, ha
TAPM: And already, you’ve ‘teased’ us about another “Summer banger” – “Breathe“! Anything you can tell us about that one…without spoiling too much?!
B: Ah the art of saying a lot without saying a lot! 🙂
It’s a deeply personal song to me – I guess a lot of my songs are personal actually but I welled up when I finished writing “Breathe” ‘cos I felt a sense of release that I was sharing something that I’d struggled with for years. There was a sense of triumph as the song helped me realise I’m no longer that scared girl who used to be down in the dumps anymore.
Despite the fact that there’s a deep message behind it, it has such a brilliant summer vibe in the way it’s been produced that people will hopefully catch that overcoming, feel good emotion behind it and run with it. It’s a song I can’t wait to share – if only someone could figure out a way to speed up time! Also huge props to David Ezra who also did the music production on this! He’s an absolute legend to work with!!!
TAPM: You’re already amassing a distinguished collection of songs, from your debut EP, “Holding On To The Light”, to “Lessons My Mama Taught Me”. Can we expect another EP or even an album from you soon, sweeping up all those tracks you’ve released in the last couple of years?
B: Now that’s the million dollar question I get asked a lot. The good news is that last year I spent a lot of time writing new songs. I’ve now built of a fresh collection of work that’s just waiting for the right time to be released. I think taking time out to double down on my songwriting is one of the best things I’ve done since starting down this road of being a singer songwriter. My style and sound has certainly evolved and so whether it’s an album or an EP I’m excited I’ve done the groundwork to allow me have the flexibility to go in a number of different directions. The main thing for me is to do what I believe is the right thing to do to move me forward – not just releasing music by numbers which sometimes you feel compelled to base on how the musical industry currently works.
…okay so I know I haven’t explicitly answered your question but what I can say is I definitely want to do either or both but it’s got to be the right place and right time. I want it to be a win win for everyone – for those who follow and support my music in terms of them seeing my progression and for me in terms of putting out something I am happy with and can be proud of.
TAPM: I love asking this question! If you could record with any artist or group, living or otherwise, who would it be and why?
B: It’s gotta be Whitney Houston hands down! She was just such an amazingly talented singer, but over and above that, there was something special about the way she could take a song and transform it to something absolutely magical that touched you deep down in your soul. I wish she was still here with us to continue to bless us with her gift but I also believe she’s in a better place now. She used what she was given to touch lives and that’s something you can’t manufacture.
TAPM: I’m guessing that you love performing live and with an audience? Do you have any plans in the future to tour now that you have quite a collection to pull from (and we want to be there when you do!)?
B: Oh yeah you can’t beat live performances whether it’s a stripped back acoustic performance or a big band thing. The chance to connect live with people and see their reactions, hearing them singing along with you and getting involved is really special. I’m hoping in the summer once Breathe is released I’ll be lining up a tour to share it far and wide. I’ll certainly be doing a few shows in and around the UK irrespective, so keep an eye out on my website and the events section of my facebook page to stay updated.
Check out Bisola’s new single “Breathe” here
And as requested…