Music interview: Yorkshire singer songwriter Jess Thristan

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Jess Thristan is recalling how she found her first live appearance on national radio.

The 19-year-old singer songwriter from West Yorkshire was a guest on the Clare Balding show on BBC Radio 2 last weekend.

Jess Thristan

Jess Thristan

“It was so much fun,” she says. “I really enjoyed it. It was the best day ever.”

There were, however, a few pre-appearance nerves.

“I was up from about 5am. I literally had two nightmares that I slept through my alarm. I woke up a 3am needing to check my phone. I was in a panic all night.”

The teenager is currently in the midst of promoting her debut single, Little Bird, which is officially released on Monday.

Not only has her fledgling musical career found support from Clare Balding, she’s also been backed by Bob Harris, whose country show is also broadcast on Radio 2. Harris apparently took her song out to Nashville. Jess is waiting to see whether that leads to offers from the States but she says: “Even the fact that he has taken it over is so cool.”

Born and raised in Halifax, Jess says she has been into music “since primary school”.

“I never got into doing performances in high school; it was always other people who were really confident. I didn’t think I was good enough.”

Instead she kept her songwriting to herself until coming across home-made videos other aspiring singers had posted on YouTube. “I thought, ‘I can do this. I can always take it down if it gets negative feedback’. I put the first video up when I was about 14 and it went from there.”

It eventually led to management and publishing deals. Latterly she’s been writing songs with Corinne Bailey Rae collaborator Steve Chrisanthou. Little Bird was written in London with Sara Eker, who composed for Atomic Kitten, and Nick Southwood, who co-wrote the song Lost Stars which Adam Levine sang in the film Begin Again.

Little Bird is about “deforestation and looking after the planet rather than destroying it – it’s something I really care about.”

However Jess is happy that people can interpret it as they choose. “I want people to let the songs apply to them rather than me specifically. In my mind Little Bird has an environmental message. In other people’s minds it could be about relationships or symbolise something close to their hearts – that’s something really special.”

Next will come her album. “That should be out about springtime next year – that’s the plan,” she says. She’s also “crafting” her live set with her band so that “once we start doing live shows it will be exciting and people will enjoy them”.

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