The UK is no stranger to providing US music lovers some of their favorite imports, from Blur to Pulp, from Coldplay to One Direction, from Lilly Allen to Kate Nash. And now the UK is shipping off a new import stateside: meet 19 year old “girl next door” Jerry Williams. She’s a lovely bird with some sweet singer/songwriting skills and a wry lyrical sensibility not dissimilar from the ranks of the aforementioned Allen and Nash, and a face that is more than a little reminiscent of America’s queen of quirk, Zoey Deschannel. Hailing from Portsmouth, a coastal city in southern England, Williams has new EP out, her first, called Cold Beer. YE was lucky enough to get to chat with the young artist about music in Portsmouth, her craft and process, and all the artists who inspired her music. Sit back, maybe grab a cold beer, and get to know UK songstress Jerry Williams.
When it comes to music in the UK, most Americans think of London (the new era brash pop scene like Lilly Allen), Liverpool (The Beatles, duh), or Manchester (Oasis, The Sex Pistols, and arguably the entirety of punk rock). But Miss Williams hails from Portsmouth, a city most Americans don’t normally associate with music. But the singer assures us that the Portsmouth music scene is more than happening. “I lived in Portsmouth all my life and I love it here! The music scene is great and there always seems to be something going on. My first ever gig was at a well known venue called The Eastney Cellars as part of an open mic night when I was 17. Since then, I’ve gained a lot of support from the local music scene; everyone seems to help each other, like a musical family.”
She also credits her actual family for supporting her musical aspirations at such a young age, and she remembers the moment she caught the performing bugg, as it were: “I’m incredibly lucky to have such supportive parents and family. The moment I realised I wanted to do this was when I went to see Jake Bugg live, and I admired his work so much. I’d been writing in my bedroom for years at this point, but I was so shy! Seeing him sing his songs made me want to sing mine.”
Already a prolific writer at this point, when Williams finally got the opportunity to hit the studio and lay down her own work, she reports that she wanted to be very involved in the production process, very hands on. “I’d been writing for a year or two in advance to releasing this EP, so when it was time to put it together, I thought ‘Cold Beer,’ ‘Boy Oh Boy,’ and ‘Bolt From The Blue’ worked well together, showing different aspects of my writing. The EP was produced with Dan Brown in Bristol, and it was so much fun! We just experimented with sounds and styles. I’m really into production, so I was there the whole way in creating the sounds. It was a really fun and organic process.”
“Cold Beer,” the title track from the EP, is a quirky breezy slip of a song, and YE was curious as to what in particular inspired the singer to craft such lyrics. According to Miss Williams, the whole song came from one random moment at a gig. “It was inspired by a night out in London where I was playing a gig. As I was walking to the stage, a guy put a cold bottle of beer on my leg! It was on my mind when I went into a session a few days later, and Dan Brown and I drew upon the moment and created the track. I thought it was quite a cool, young, honest concept. It really happened, so hopefully people can relate!”
While I’ve already likened the singer/songwriter to several other irreverent Brit beauties, Jerry herself tries to shy away from labeling anything; she just wants to make music, and she doesn’t seem to care what box listeners categorize her sound in. “I just produce the sounds and songs I like. I don’t look at any trends or try to be anyone else. I just write what I write and leave it up to other people to decide what style I am. I try to be as honest as possible in my music.”
That being said, Miss Williams does report at least one sonic influence on Cold Beer. “I remember referencing The Kooks’ song ‘Down Down’ when I went into the session with Dan. From that, we came up with a vibe that was quite retro, and we just progressed from there.” She also loves the sounds of artists like Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, Jamie T, Slow Club, Jake Bugg (obvi).
And lyrically, what gets Miss William’s pen to paper? “I draw inspiration from things that happen to me or my friends. Someone could just say something, even one word, and it can spark a whole song for me. I can’t write about anything I don’t feel, so in every song I write, it links to personal experience.”
This talented girl next door has a bright future ahead of her for sure, but coming up in the immediate future she has a single release for “Boy Oh Boy” hitting at the end of October and then, “hopefully more writing, more gigging and more new music for next year!”
Speaking of gigs, we asked the chanteuse what her favorite moment of performing so far had been, the moment she really knew she was entering the next big chapter of her life: “I played at Victorious Festival in Portsmouth, on the main stage, with my full band, and that was amazing! I got the biggest buzz, and people knew my songs, which feels incredible!”
Here’s to many more years of of people knowing your songs, Miss Williams.
Check out a playlist Jerry made exclusively for YE below of some of her favorite jams. And checkout her EP Cold Beer, out now.