A chat with Liv Dawson
Hot on the 2017 release radar, Liv Dawson is the next generation of British musician. If you’re not one of the 600’000 people who already listen to her Spotify tracks monthly, you might not know her name yet, but with songs like Searching, Tapestry and now Painkiller, she’s making waves in the mellow (and dance) music scene.
19, Liv has worked with some of the most eminent names in British music over the past few years.
We talk to her about what it means to be on her way to success at this age, whether she regrets not going to uni and the Diva deep inside her.
Q. Hi Liv, I know that we’re the same age but were you born in 97 or 98?
A. August 98.
Disclosure are the type of artists who put their own stamp on whatever they touch. You can hear their presence on Searching, how was it working with them?
I’ve known Disclosure for ages, they produced the track and we all wrote the song together about three years ago.
We wrote the first verse, the chorus and we knew we had it. The production was finished about a year later and that’s what we released. It contrasts my usual vibe so well.
We wanted to put out something that was a bit more uplifting, more fancy and made my live shows a bit more engaging.
Is that the sound that you’re going to stick with or do you prefer keeping to your mellow chilled vibes that we’ve come to love from you.
I love the disclosure sound, but my roots are mellow. My favourite track I’ve released this year is Tapestry, I always find myself going back to it when I perform special sessions. When I write with other people, I play them Tapestry to show them my vibe, to show them my sound and allow them to understand me as an artist.
It all depends on my mood. I usually write loads of depressing songs in the winter and uplifting ones in the summer. That’s usually the way it goes.
Which leads my nicely to my next question about inspiration. Yours Is the British weather?
It actually is, she says laughing, it’s a big inspiration. It’s raining today so I’ll probably write something a bit solemn and sad.
I’d love to be a diva. But I can’t dance
I was in a session recently and we finished the meet with a sassy song. The weather was typical half rain half sun, so maybe that had something to do with it.
But usually what inspires me is what’s currently going on in my life, my feelings and my experiences.
Do you ever take your inspiration from a very literal place? For example, during the election Captain ska came out with ‘Liar Liar’, and the lyrics were quite savage towards Theresa May. Would you ever write song about Brexit?
If me and the other writers happened to be having a discussion like that, if it was really impacting us on the day then sure, it would happen. But I wouldn’t go into a session with a mind-set to write about something related to politics. That would be bad vibes.
What was it like working with Honne on Painkiller, and was it different to working with Disclosure?
They’re definitely different. Disclosure obviously have a dance driven sound, but they also have a soulful side which bounces off my sound nicely.
Honne like to write the song first, and then focus on the production after. Andy from Honne sings, so as a singer, that’s a more relatable area for us to connect on.
I love working with both of them. It’s always chilled.
If you could work with any artist who’s around at the moment, who would it be?
I love Calvin Harris. I’d Love him to produce one of my tracks.
SZA, her new album is amazing and so is her song writing.
And Dua Lipa.
I’ve got a long list.
I know there’s things I’ll miss out on, but it happened differently for me
Liv, you’re 19 and have already made a great start for yourself in your career. Tell us how you got started in the industry.
I started writing songs when I was 14, but I was doing gigs singing covers when I was about 12. I had a guy who would play guitar for me, we would go around and play small pubs and clubs.
Then I decided I want to write for myself, move on from covers and make my own music.
I started testing the waters, writing with different people and then I met Jimmy Napes.
Napes is a somewhat overnight success story who was unknown until songs he wrote with Jess Glynne and Sam smith smashed the charts all throughout 2014. After picking up 2 Grammys and an Oscar (big deal), he’s understandably one of the UK’s most in demand song writers.
That’s when it got serious. Because I was so young it was hard to know where I was going with it, but I knew that I wanted to keep the songs I wrote to myself because I wasn’t ready. Jimmy is where it all started, my label found me through the connections I made with him.
If you hadn’t already got into the industry through the opportunities you had when you were that age, would you have ever taken part in a show like the Xfactor?
I don’t think so. I used to dream about it when I was younger, who doesn’t, but now thinking about it, I believe the right option for me was to keep trying and whatever was meant to be would be.
Now you’re in the industry, you aren’t getting the chance to go to university or experience that lifestyle Do you have any regrets? What would you say to the kids who are studying music at Westminster in hope that they get to where you are now?
I’ve always wanted to go to uni and have the chance to move away from home. It gives you a long time to find yourself, grow up and mature. Loads of my friends are at uni and I’m sure there are things I’m going to miss out on, but it happened differently for me and my advice is to just work as hard as you can and never stop trying.
There will always a break for someone, there will always be a time, if you’ve got it it’ll happen.
What the best live music you’ve ever seen?
Lauryn Hill at Brixton Academy. She came on really late which was disappointing, but her voice is incredible.
And obviously Beyonce. I’ve seen her twice.
Would you ever bring that hip hop, R&B style showmanship to your own tours?
I mean, I’d love it if I could dance. I’d love to be a diva. You can watch me dance and laugh at me.
You’ve got a tour starting in September, but when can we expect to see your first album?
I’m already writing loads for it, and I will be for the rest of the year. I want to write the songs my own way, to take my time with it and learn a lot in the studio. That’s my aim for the rest of the year and then maybe the album will come sometime next year. But I want to let it all happen really naturally. When I know it’s exactly how I want it, I’ll give I to the world.
Thanks for having a chat with SmokeMAG Liv.
Liv starts her UK tour on September 16. Painkiller is out now.