India Bourne can usually be found touring with Ben Howard where she plays and sings in his band, but the classically-trained musician is taking some time out to concentrate on her solo work while the band works on a second album.
Originally from Devon, India released her debut EP, These Days of Ours, last year and she is now working on a second solo EP.
India chats to Rapture about her musical background, performing in Cornwall, and her plans for the future, both with Ben Howard and as a solo artist.
How long have you been singing/ performing and how did you get started?
I started playing the cello aged 10, and have always enjoyed singing at home and at school. Music became a real priority for me during the second half of secondary school and I quite quickly realised that’s what I eventually wanted to do as a career in some capacity. I started song-writing when I was about 15 and recorded an EP when I was 16 with a local producer.
After studying music at York University I worked in the English National Opera’s education department and at the weekends, I gigged with Ben Howard who was starting to play pubs and open mic nights in London and Falmouth where he was studying. When the music kicked off with him, I quit the opera and joined him and our producer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Bond to record our debut album Every Kingdom. In between tours I recorded my debut EP, These Days of Ours, and since having had some recent time off in between album cycles, I have just finished writing my second.
Who are your musical influences?
I am influenced and inspired by many artists, but most prominently: Thom Yorke (solo/Radiohead/Atoms For Peace) with the way he and his bands have evolved and how they continue to push the boundaries of current musical genres; Joni Mitchell’s timeless beautiful song-writing and her way with words; Peter Gabriel’s progressive approach to both his sound and the global music industry; Tori Amos’ stunning technical ability and fierce musicality; and the digital, mesmerising sound world of James Blake.
Where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
All my lyrics come from a very personal place; either thoughts or feelings I am trying to work out, or experiences I’ve had that I want to either share or explore the meaning of.
When and where was your first gig?
My first solo gig was in The Yellow Room at Dame Hannah’s at Seale Hayne in Devon in August 2012.
What is your favourite song to perform?
A song I’ve just finished writing called ‘Paper House’. It marks a substantial change in my musical style and is the one of the first which features a driving beat played on a full drum kit. I really enjoy the interplay between the drums and my vocal. The song is about feeling trapped/wildly frustrated and the drums mirror that by playing short explosive bursts followed by silence. The tension created is very exciting.
Who did you listen to growing up and what was your first album?
I first listened to what my parents listened to which was a mixture of Peter Gabriel, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Bach, Palestrina and other classical music. Then, it was on to what my big sisters loved – Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Blur, The Beastie Boys etc… but embarrassingly I think my first album was The Spice Girls! They had some cracking tunes though… right?!
Where is your favourite place to play live?
I love playing beautiful old tiered theatres with towering balconies where you can really feel the history and the intensity of the audience stacked up above you. The Olympia in Dublin is one of those.
What are your aspirations and plans for the next 12 months?
I’m going to record my next solo EP. The songs are there, I just need to get on with it! I’ve got a very talented band around me – Catherine Jack and Sarah Clarke singing backing vocals and Harry Meads on drums – so I’d also love to do more live performing. At some point I’d like to get a bassist too, as I am enjoying writing with a heavier sound in mind.
It’s been an incredibly interesting opportunity for me having time off from playing in Ben Howard’s band – I’ve been able to focus intensely on creating my own music, and it’s a sound I hadn’t anticipated, but which I am enjoying exploring massively.
I’ll soon be joining Ben and the band in the studio and we are going to spend the next few months recording the second album. It’s always exciting going back in to the studio with that crew – there are many songs we have already arranged and even gigged this year, but new ones will pop up too, so I look forward to seeing what will happen! Next year, once the album is done we’ll head out on the road again and hopefully get to explore some places we haven’t yet toured. It would be a dream to go to Japan, South America and New Zealand. Here’s hoping…
If you could play on stage with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Thom Yorke. For his musicianship and infectious onstage energy.
What do you think of the Cornish music scene and what improvements would you like to see?
I’ve always really enjoyed playing in Cornwall. With Ben, we’ve had some of our favourite gigs there and coming from Devon, it always feel like we’re back on home turf. I like that Cornwall has a really lively scene all year round and along with the big summer festivals such as Boardmasters, you can also catch great music in the smaller venues such as The Blue Bar in Porthtowan and the Tap House in St Agnes. I would love to see more live bands playing at the Minack Theatre, but it’s a tricky one as you can never predict the weather! It’s a stunning location though.
Are there any current Cornish artists you see going far?
Brother & Bones are awesome and definitely going places. Keep an eye out for folk duo Lily & Meg too, they recently supported me in Totnes and they went down a storm.
What is your most memorable gig?
Glastonbury with Ben and the band. It was electrifying to see that many people in the crowd and hear them singing along. Playing the Pyramid stage had been a dream for all of us, so for it to come true was amazing. It was one of those ones where you come off stage and say “did that really just happen?!”.
Do you have any pre-stage superstitions/ routines?
I do a lot of very strange sounding vocal warm ups to get me ready for singing and a few stretches and lunges for good measure. I also like to wear lipstick on stage but nowhere else. So when I’ve got my lippy on, I know I’m ready!
Describe your music/ style in three words
Classically rooted electro-pop?