Laura Musgrave returned to releasing music in 2018 after a decade-long break. She hadn’t stopped writing or playing during that time, but had taken a step back from recording, which turned into a lengthy hiatus. What effect did that have on her music?
“I always felt that the most important thing was that my lyrics were clever and witty,” she says. “Whereas now, I think the most important thing is that they’re heartfelt. If they end up being clever or witty too, that’s a bonus.”
The Leicestershire (UK) singer-songwriter’s music has been featured on BBC Introducing in the East Midlands, BBC Radio Leicester and Women of Substance Radio. She previously received mentions from NME, Q Magazine, BBC6 and XFM (Radio X).
Laura has always been a fan of blending pop and pop-rock elements:
“Genre-wise, I feel I’m still in the same ballpark,” she says, “But I’m not as cautious about embracing the poppier aspect now. Both are equally me. I don’t feel the need to pick a side.”
The break from recording not only gave Laura the chance to feel more comfortable with her style of music. It also helped her to find inspiration in other genres too, including folk, country and blues.
It seems a long way from her first acoustic demo EP Beneath My Skin, released in 2002. Early influences were a mix of mainstream and independent artists. Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Foo Fighters and Fiona Apple, alongside the likes of Darling Violetta and Velvet Chain. “I’m still especially passionate about independent music to this day,” Laura notes, “both as a fan and an artist”.
After the Beneath My Skin EP, Laura went on to perform around Leicester, London and Hertfordshire. In 2003, she released full length album Sparking on Second Thought Records which became the label’s top-selling release. Following Sparking, Laura studied for a BSc Honours degree in Music Composition and Technology. She also continued to perform both solo and with her band.
Notable performances during that time included Summer Sundae Festival (2004) and Middlesex University Summer Ball (2005).
On the subject of writing versus performing, Laura says it’s a tricky comparison:
“Writing is really fun, because you can play around with so many possibilities. There are so many directions you could take a song in. The overriding feeling when I’m writing is more freedom and less pressure than performing. Having said that, when you perform a song, you get that opportunity to connect with the audience directly. It’s so meaningful and fun, there’s nothing like it. It makes all the work worthwhile.”
After over two decades of writing songs, Laura felt it was time to shake up her writing process. She’s taken fresh inspiration from songwriting challenges and courses alongside fellow artists and writers.
In terms of writing a song, Laura says it’s being able to relate that’s most important:
“It has to be something that moves you, whether that’s emotionally, mentally, physically. If you don’t have that connection to your own songs, I feel like listeners can sense that. Music is powerful in that way. If a song is meaningful to you, you’ll remember every note and every word for years to come.”