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Dave Insley

Dave Insley writes and performs some of the best twang-driven country music around (If not the best). He will shake the legs of anyone who appreciates great tunes -- with the vocal charisma of Willie Nelson and George Jones, and a timeless sense of production and arrangement, in the style of Patsy Cline and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Dave Insley is a mammoth talent.

WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCES AT THE MOMENT?

I like that the question includes the phrase “at the moment,” because like many artists, my influences change frequently, even daily. Sometimes it’s the rhythm of the washing machine or the clank of the garbage truck, sometimes it’s Buck Owens or George Gershwin on the turntable, or it might even be the theme from whatever cartoon my kids are watching on the television.

I listen to, enjoy, and draw from all styles of music, and I particularly admire the writing of Harlan Howard, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Merle Haggard. One of my all-time biggest musical and lyrical influences was my father, who was not a songwriter, but who was very clever with words. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Buddy Rich and Tennessee Ernie Ford records, but if you ask me again in a few days, it will be something else.

WHAT IS YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS LIKE?

My writing process is hardly unique, but (I hope) the results sometimes are. The words and music come in periodic cycles, sometimes with broad gaps of time between. My best ideas don’t really feel like they originate in me at all, but rather flow through me from somewhere else.

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My job is to be paying attention when this happens and dutifully record the proceedings; sometimes the ideas come crowding their way through my head so quickly that I have to hustle to keep up, and don’t have time to reflect on them until much later. The key which unlocks all of this might be some topic I’ve had on my mind for a while, or issue I’m struggling with, or it might simply be a chance encounter with a particular combination of words, or an unusual turn of a phrase.

Part two of the process comes later and is more deliberate and craftsman-like; parsing through the flow of words and melodic ideas to gather and organize those which fit together, in support of the idea, while maintaining a good deal of objectivity, and being a brutally honest editor. I can be very tough on myself during this phase, in the interest of avoiding self-indulgence; I will happily throw out more than I keep, or even the whole shooting match, as necessary.

The whole process is a little bit like someone dropped off a pile of lumber in my yard, and my job is to build a solid house out of it, one that is functional and will keep the rain out, and one whose overall style was suggested by the building material itself. I find the entire process immensely satisfying, regardless of what I do with the resulting composition. Oddly, the more personal the content and results, the more universally the ideas seem to be understood by others. This might be the key to turning “art into commerce.”

IF YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SEE ANY PERFORMER AT THEIR PRIME, WHO WOULD IT BE?

I would have liked to have seen Elvis at about the time of the ’68 Comeback Special. 

Maya Jones

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Maya Jones writes songs that make you think. Her voice is laid back, and her tunes get your foot tapping and head bobbing. She is well on her way to your radio dial. We asked Maya 3 questions. Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Some of my biggest musical influences at the moment would have to be The 1975, Pvris, Pale Waves & Paramore.

What is your songwriting process like? 

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The Songwriting process for me is different every time.  I can be in the most random places and have a verse or a chorus pop in my head.  I always have to have my phone or something with me so I can open up voice memos and save it for later. 

But the songs that I’m most proud of and the ones that tend to be the ones I release are the ones where I can finish in one writing session.  I like it when it comes natural and I don’t have to feel like I’m trying to just finish a song.  I want to always be real and honest with my music. 

Where do you see your music career in three years?

Three years from now I want to see my career continuing to blossom and grow.  I just want to keep getting my message and music out into the world and have more and more people listening to it. 

I play a lot of shows all over the US now but for sure I want to have a couple of tours under my belt.  Hopefully I would have been able to play some music festivals as well.

Jess Bishop

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Jess Bishop writes timeless songs for modern souls. Her words are true and her voice is pure -- offering a pleasing and thought-provoking listening experience. We asked her 3 questions. Here are her answers:

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

I grew up listening to artists like John Martyn, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan who I still regularly listen to now. 

I’ve also recently been introduced to some amazing current artists like Sharon Van Etten, Daniel Norgren, Aldous Harding and Nils Frahm. My favourite track to listen to at the moment is ‘Every time the Sun Comes Up’ by Sharon Van Etten. I love the rawness of her lyrics and her vocals are effortless.

What is your songwriting process like?

I used to always write the lyrics to a song first then play around with melodies and chord patterns afterwards but now it’s generally the other way round. I’ll write a chord progression, sing a melody and then the lyrics just seem to flow after that.

I definitely go through seasons with my songwriting where I’ll hate everything I’m writing, which sometimes goes on for months, then a few songs that I’m really happy with will all come at once. This used to really stress me out but I’ve learnt to just accept that I’m having a dry patch and know that it won’t last forever!

Where do you see your music career in three years?

I think it’s really difficult to put a time limit on when you want to achieve certain things but I guess I’d love to be recording my third album, after my second album hopefully being a success, which I am recording this October.

I love playing live so I‘d like to have built a big-enough fan base to be touring internationally as the headline act. Like a lot of artists, one of my ambitions is to play on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.... but three years might be a bit ambitious for that. We shall see! Watch this space :)