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Discover the Inspiration for Singer Songwriter Amelia Coburn's Debut Studio Album

Discover the Inspiration for Singer Songwriter Amelia Coburn's Debut Studio Album
June 2024
Reading time 5 Minutes

Singer-songwriter and proud Teessider Amelia Coburn is celebrating the release of her debut album

She shares her musical influences.

Amelia has lived in Middlesbrough all her life, and spent time in Mexico, France and Russia whilst studying at university. She’s been playing and performing music since she was teenager after she got a ukulele for Christmas. ‘I’d kind of begged my parents for it,’ she laughs. ‘I’d been singing jazz standards in a local café with a CD, then I finally learnt the ukulele. I taught myself in my room for a few weeks when I was a teenager. At that time I was playing unusual covers that I’d learned from my dad’s record collection. I’d go to local open mic nights and play songs by the Sex Pistols and The Specials on the ukulele. That’s what I originally became known for. Then I dipped my toe into songwriting, and that’s when my music career really took off.’ Amelia was a finalist for BBC Radio 2’s Young Folk Award in 2017.

Timeless and enchanting, it’s difficult to pin Amelia’s music down to just one genre. ‘I’ve been described as alt-folk, indie, and someone said it’s sort of torch-lit jazz with psychedelia,’ she says. ‘My inspirations musically are quite varied; it goes from new-wave artists I used to love growing up, and also Judy Garland, Doris Day and musical theatre stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as more modern artists like Neil Hannon from Divine Comedy. Of course there’s the folk element of it where I’m songwriting and telling stories, but I do think, especially on the production side of the album, there’s hints of alternative and musical theatre jazz.’

Amelia describes the North East music scene as ‘diverse and varied’. ‘In Middlesbrough alone there are loads of different artists and bands and what’s really great is that we have quite a lot of grassroots music venues, from bigger ones like Stockton Globe to smaller venues,’ she says. ‘Across Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington and the Tees Valley there are so many different music venues and often people don’t realise that. Anyone who isn’t from the North East doesn’t expect that.’ As for where she places herself in the region’s music scene, she says: ‘[It] has lots of traditional and very professional folk artists like The Young’uns, the late Vin Garbutt and The Unthanks, but would I sit with them or would I be more on the pop side of things? I think I’m somewhere in the middle.’

The places and people surrounding Amelia inspire her writing. ‘[They] really feed into the stories that I tell,’ she says. ‘I had a lot of free time when I was in Mexico so I ended up doing a lot of writing. It was a very inspirational time because I was doing something different every day.’

More recently, Amelia has been at home in the North East, where she finds inspiration in the local scenery. ‘I have a lot of maritime-inspired songs because I used to love going to Redcar and Saltburn growing up and spent a lot of time by the sea because I was fascinated by it,’ she adds. ‘I’ve also been really inspired by books. I’m a big bookworm. I try to inhale so much inspiration every day wherever I can to flex my creative muscles.’

Amelia’s debut studio album Between the Moon and the Milkman, produced by Bill Ryder-Jones, was released in March and features 10 emotive tracks. She says its release has been a long time coming. ‘It’s a collection of songs that have been written over the last six years. The earliest song on the album was written in 2017 and the most recent was in 2023,’ she explains. ‘Like with many debuts, there’re songs I’ve written whilst growing up. There are a lot of influences from my travels on there that tell stories and tales of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. It’s called Between the Moon and the Milkman and that title is one of the lyrics of my songs. A lot of the songs were either written at night or are about nighttime. I find it a mysterious and inspirational time. Everything’s quiet, I can get things done, but it’s also a bit creepy and as a kid I was scared of the dark. I’d have vivid dreams a lot. It’s a “nighttime album”. I’d listen to it when the sun goes down with a nice hot drink,’ she laughs.

‘My favourite track is probably See Saw because it was the last song I wrote for the album and no one had heard it except me, my manager and Bill Ryder-Jones who produced the album. I finished it on the way down to the studio. I really like the gothic elements of that, inspired by gothic literature and the fairytales I read as a child – and superstition. With the melody I’m quite proud of how it’s slightly cabaret- and carnival-style.

‘The track that means the most to me is called Please Go Gently. I wrote that when we knew my grandad wouldn’t be with us much longer and it’s about saying goodbye to him. It was inspired by the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. I reversed the sentiment. I wanted his journey to be a gentle one. It’s wishing a loved one a peaceful end of life I suppose. That’s a very personal one on the record.’

‘I hope that each listener has their own unique experience – I’d like to think it’s a unique album’

With each track so different, Amelia doesn’t want this album to be background music. There are emotional tracks that will make listeners feel and think. ‘The first song, When The Tide Rolls In, really sets the scene because the melody goes in places it shouldn’t go,’ she explains. ‘It’s quite dissonant and a bit unexpected. I’d like people to listen to the stories and enjoy that but also think “what have I just listened to?” It’s a collection of songs that fit into their own world in a way but I hope that each listener has their own unique experience – I’d like to think it’s a unique album.’

Amelia heads out on tour at the end of May, and will enjoy a homecoming gig at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on 8th June. ‘I’ve done a fair few headline tours before but this time it’s very different because I’m going out with a full band and we’re playing bigger venues,’ she says. ‘It’s probably my biggest tour to date in terms of venue size so I’m really excited for that.’

After that, she’s keen to begin writing for her next album. ‘I do take quite a while to write,’ she laughs. ‘It took me six years to write my first album so I need to get cracking I suppose!’

Buy or stream Amelia’s debut studio album Between the Moon and the Milkman now.

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