Interview with Beccy Yong AKA This Little Bird, April 2012
On the 1st August 2009, just as the sun was setting, 18 year old Beccy Young from Seaham was stepping out onto the stage at Storsjoryan Festival in Östersund – Sweden’s second biggest music festival – to perform with her band, The Small Screen Light Show. That night, Lady Gaga also played on the same stage and Beccy and Gaga would later dance together to the Eurhythmics at the festival after party!
“It was pretty incredible for a girl of my age (back then) to be playing on the same bill as Gaga. She was very sweet and it was just so surreal to be in the same room as someone I admire, dancing to The Eurhythmics (of course Dave Stewart is a northerner!) in the middle of this way out town in north western Sweden.”
That was the apex of The Small Screen Lightshow’s musical journey together. Formed at school by Beccy and singer Mattie Vant, over the period of four years the group successfully achieved national radio play, appeared on TV, gigged regularly at major UK venues and gained an international following. Since the bands hiatus in 2010, however, Beccy has managed to quickly establish herself as a promising solo artist. Performing regularly across the North East as ‘This Little Bird’, her songs have already been played on BBC 6 Music and later this year, her debut EP will hopefully be released independently.
Beccy explained that she found the transition to playing solo difficult at first. As bassist in TSCL she’d never been the main focal point of the performance and admits that she stills finds it hard to play when there’s no one else “you can bounce off and have chemistry with.” This Little Bird has persevered however and realising that you can “never please everyone with your music”, she decided to just write and perform songs that pleased her.
Those familiar with TSCL will quickly realise that Beccy Young is quite different from the Vines-esque sound of the Seaham three-piece. That’s because at heart, Beccy is a folk singer and the 1960’s are her “favourite era to look to for inspiration”. The name This Little Bird is a reference to Marianne Faithfull’s 1965 single of the same title, a song which also inspired George Harrison’s ‘And Your Bird Can Sing from Revolver. Listening to ‘Romance is not Dead’, voted demo of the week in NARC back in January, you can immediately see the similarities. But Beccy is adamant that she doesn’t want to be compared to her idols, and makes the point that one of the most frustrating things as an artist today is that no one ever seems to get any credit for individuality anymore.
Lyrically Beccy is wise beyond her (20) years, writing insightful songs about rekindled romance, travel and old friends. As she notes, music has allowed her to experience great things so far in her life and this has enabled her to confidently write some pretty impressive material. Choosing to stay in the North East rather than moving to London for University has also inspired her creatively: I’m glad I’ve stayed here as there are so many amazing people and artists right now and had I moved away, I would never have met those people.
As well as the people she has met over the last two years, Beccy is also thankful to the network of North East music promoters who keep on top of ‘who’s who’ in the region and helpfully match artists up with others: “they know the right bill you should be playing on and I think that is important because they are choosing you for a reason and not just to fill a space on the night.” One such network is the Outsider, run by local music fan Russell Poad. On Thursday 4th May, The Outsider presents another great night of music featuring This Little Bird as well as South Shields act Here Comes Good Sailing and Glasgow’s Jonathan Sebastian Knight. This is a pay as you exit event (pay whatever you can afford), doors are 7:30pm and I would certainly recommend it as a perfect start to the bank holiday weekend.
Beccy is particularly looking forward to Thursday as it’s her first gig in Newcastle for a while. Further afield she was recently added to the Willow Man Festival line up which takes place in June as well as A Place in the Sun in Stockton on July 22nd, with Treetop Flyers. Beccy also hopes to record an E.P. and do a launch somewhere in the North East later this year, but admits that “it won’t be for a few months yet as I’m a poor student!”