One and a half years later than initially planned (another casualty of the pandemic,) Jerry Williams played an intimate acoustic show in her hometown, Southsea, UK. We caught up with Jerry before the show for a lovely chat about her music while walking along the beach, in the dark, before enjoying her show.
Jerry Williams is an indie musician, singer-songwriter, the sweetest girl next door, someone you wish was in your band, and probably wish was your best mate. She has released four EPs (A Hairdressers Called Sids, Cold Beer, Let’s Just Forget It, and Gameshow), and played numerous shows and festivals across the UK, USA and Germany.
Melodic Mag: If people are new to your music and google ‘Jerry Williams’ they may be surprised to find an old, male, Swedish singer. How would you introduce yourself?
Jerry Williams: Ah yes, the Swedish Jerry Williams! I’m kind of used to that now but it always makes me giggle. That wasn’t his real name either, it’s a stage name so what are the chances! I would introduce myself as a 26 year old singer songwriter from Southsea who loves to write songs with a conversational edge!
Tonight’s show has been delayed 1.5 years — how has the covid period been for you?
Yes it has! Like many people, I think the pandemic was a lot to get my head round but I was incredibly lucky during that time and I just cocooned myself inside. I feel so grateful to everyone who kept the country going. It took me a while to pick up my guitar during lockdown just because of what was going on. But there was definitely some nights where writing songs was my escape and I wrote a lot of ideas which still need finishing. I enjoyed watching music live streams as well and how you still can be connected to people through music.
You played America’s SXSW festival back in 2018, how was that experience?
Wow, that period of my life was unbelievable. I had the most incredible time over in Texas and to be there with my friends who are amazing people is something I’ll never forget. It was a lot of hard work to get over there but with the help of my band, fans and a pledge campaign we had the opportunity to be there which I’m so grateful for. That definitely was a career highlight and I’d love to think I could do it again at some point in my life.
We caught your show at Victorious Festival earlier this year, and it was one of our highlights. The hometown crowd was incredible from our end. How was the show/festival for you?
It was unexpected! I took a break from music before the pandemic so in the end, I’d hardly played live for about 2 years. I’ve always loved Victorious festival and I’ve been lucky enough to play every year since it began so it’s always felt like a little Christmas for me. When I had to chance to play again on the acoustic stage, which is one of my favourite stages, it was an instant yes. Even if no one was there to see me I just wanted to be there. However, the crowd was AMAZING! It felt like a dream after so long of not gigging, everyone singing along, cheering. The atmosphere was incredible and I cried when I got off stage. It was an exciting show and a much-needed sing-song for me.
You recently featured in a Lauran Hibberd music video with Zuzu — how did that come about? Can we expect a collab any time soon?
I’ve been friends with Lauran for a long time and she’s just the funniest, coolest gal ever. I remember first hanging out together and we couldn’t believe how similar we were. We were like ‘are…we sisters?’. So she’s always been someone I’ve loved talking to about music and anything else in life too. She’s an inspiring songwriter and I adore her lyrics, music, live performances. She asked me to join her and Zuzu, who I’m a fan of, in a music video! And obviously, I was like DUH of course I want to be in it! That was a fun day and we had a sleepover too which was great and we laughed at old X factor auditions haha. We’ve always said we wanna write together and joked that we want to start a girl band…but I’d seriously be up for that.
When can we expect a new song release? Wasn’t there was talk of an album before lockdown?
I’d love to release more music one day when the time is right again. There had been talk of an album before but it just didn’t feel like the right time for me, which is ok! I don’t want to put any pressure on it. Music means so much to me and it’s got to feel right.
Anything else you’d like to chat about before the show?
I love writing music about what I see in everyday life. It’s the best feeling when you get a bolt of inspiration and it just fires up something in you. Or when you write a lyric that just feels perfect. I’m so grateful to everyone who has enjoyed my music over the years and still continues to support me. It means the world to me. Thank you, I just wanted to say that.
Keep reading for the review of Jerry’s show!
Around fifty people filled The Canteen venue situated within The Hotwalls in Old Portsmouth’s art hub. The beautiful building, complete with vaulted brick architecture, is part of the historic military defences of the city, situated right on the seafront. It was the perfect setting for an intimate acoustic show, where Jerry was accompanied by local legend Marley Blandford on keys and Ben Corner on guitar.
Jerry posted on the day before the show that she’d broken her guitar from rehearsing so much. The practice paid off, the performance was flawless and the Fender Telecaster, perfectly colour coordinating with her outfit, had been fixed. However, the microphone clip broke after Jerry’s very first song line, one shared laugh with the audience later, and with all the nerves now gone, Jerry delighted the crowd with a mix of favourites from her EPs, old songs that hadn’t been played for a long time, and new songs written in lockdown.
One of the new songs, currently titled “Brain Breath” was a timely reflection about the world slowing down. Jerry then played one of her songs written a long time ago, “Riddles”, and noted how the lyrics now have a different meaning to her, and have helped her, written almost as a message to her future self.
The attentive crowd was silent through the slower songs, singing along with the favourites, and literally whooping with joy when Jerry introduced “another song to forget what’s going on in the world, ‘Let’s Just Forget It’.” A similar reaction when Jerry played “Grab Life”, almost everyone joining in with the “Irene” shout at the end of the bridge. (A quick mention of long-time fan Mark, with his ‘Grab Life’ tattoo, proudly sat in the front row).
Jerry’s latest release “David at the Bar” was also warmly received. Written in typical Jerry storytelling style, she explained it’s a true story, a song about when she met a stranger, David, in a bar, who was an alcoholic with a baby on the way and feeling extremely low. He made a deal that if she wrote a song about him, he would promise to give up drink. She’s never met David again, but it’s a cracking song.
Jerry sang “Film Noir”, introducing it as “an old song; it’s why I love doing shows like this, I get to sing songs I don’t get to play very often”. It’s a beautiful song, unreleased but well worth tracking down a recording on YouTube. The venue was also pin-drop silent when Jerry sang “Gameshow”, putting down her guitar, and filling the room with emotion. A song about the loss of a family friend and the small details we use to remember them, the gameshows playing on the TV. It’s a beautiful song, sung with intense emotion, Jerry said she very nearly cries singing it.
In wonderful contrast, the first few chords of “Left and Right” had the audience clapping and singing along. And with a final Christmas song to end, “Merry Christmas Everybody”, the 19 song setlist went in a flash. We are very much looking forward to next time.
Words and photos by Tony Palmer.