Music interview – Fran Wyburn: ‘I think my broken heart provided more of an inspiration for writings songs’

Fran Wyburn with George Birkett. Picture: Maria Spadafora

Fran Wyburn’s route to becoming recording artist has been winding.

“I went to uni and did performing arts then I went London and worked for seven years doing community theatre projects,” she begins. “Then I decided to go travelling for a year and took my guitar and that’s when I started writing songs.

“I taught myself guitar. I had lots of time on my hands and lots of feelings to express. I busked the places that I was at with the songs that I was writing and then when I came back to England I went back to London and thought ‘Actually I want to do music’.

“I started dating someone who lived in Leeds and came up to Leeds College of Music and did a Masters, so that launched the second direction of my life.”

Wyburn’s experiences of travelling around New Zealand, Australia, Camobodia, India, the USA and Thailand might have been life-enhancing but, as far as her songs go, she says: “I think my broken heart provided more of an inspiration. I was absolutely heartbroken that whole year. You think it’s the time of your life but I spent most of it crying.

I did have a fantastic time as well.

Fran Wyburn. Picture: Maria Spadafora

“Maybe a lot of my songs at that time had a lot of the landscape I was experiencing in them, like mountains and oceans and deserts, so it did feed in. Also a lot of my writing I did out in places, on a beach or I might have been looking at a gorgeous mountain sunset. I guess I write a lot about nature and feelings and making comparisons and I think it came from that experience, thinking about it.”

The songs on her debut album, Wood For The Trees, were collected over time. “I did write one of the songs, Me and Me, when I was 24, ten years ago, and I put it as the last song on the album. It was a song I was playing when I was going across the world, it was a really important song for me, and I feel it’s just as relevant now as it was then.

“Then the song that really made me feel I wanted to be a songwriter, Happy Forever After, about my broken heart, that I wrote as I was going travelling, I put that on there as well.

“The other songs I set myself a deadline to write an album in six or seven months – that was autumn 2016 to spring 2017. I think they echo the seasons quite a lot.”

Me and Me was a song I was playing when I was going across the world, it was a really important song for me, and I feel it’s just as relevant now as it was then.

Fran Wyburn

The album features guitar played by George Birkett and backing vocals by Rosie Evans, both of whom were once members of Wyburn’s group The Indigos. For live dates Wyburn and Birkett will be joined by Jennifer Birch, aka Astraluna. “She’s amazing, she’s part of the Sisterhood collective which I’m also doing at the moment, which is me, Fuzzy Jones, Miranda Arieh and Astraluna. The four of us are putting on gigs and hoping to do tours with the four of us, like a Jools Holland sort of thing. That’s something that we’re pushing alongside our own music.”

Wood For The Trees was recorded at Dan Webster’s home studio in York. Webster will make a guest appearance at Wyburn’s album launch at Holy Trinity Church on March 1, along with the band Yasha. “He’s a fab country-Americana performer,” Wyburn says. “He’s just been the best producer to work with because he so gets this sort of music, he’s really passionate about it and has gone the extra mile all of the time.”

Sisterhood play at Chapel FM in Leeds on March 9.

More from Whats on