The first time I heard Izzy Marie Hill sing I was surprised, not because I had any kind of pre-conceived predictions, but because I thought I was listening to a pre-recorded, remixed, professional piece when in reality the object I was observing was a live listen to a BBC session she did. Izzy Marie Hill is an 18 year old youthful yet sophisticated singer/songwriter from Leicester,UK. She writes contagious pop/rock/country crossovers that capture her candied, youthful experiences and unveil her voice. Her songs are a musical scrapbook, they are pictures that fill pages of her past and present and her lyrics are relate-able and reflect adolescent actuality.
“Invisible,” which is about ” someone who moved to a new school but found themselves completely alone” describes, “You noticed me when I was invisible,back when I was forgettable.” In the all-too-habitual happening of falling for your best friend, she sings: “I try to deny it, but I knew I needed something more and you know I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought of us like that before. I know it might sound crazy, but I’m scared to take a chance, cause right now this is all or nothing, cant you understand, my best friend?” It’s her songs with a sense of humor that really stick out, though.
In “Luckiest Girl in the World” her description is delightful: “Is this for real, never felt like this till now, Cupid’s arrow has hit me, ow ow ow!” In “Jimmy,” a song about Jim Carrey and Emma Stone, she sings, “Her only decent movie was The Scarlet Letter, or ‘Easy A.’ I’ve loved you since I saw Ace Ventura…you’re better off alone, you’re the screensaver on my cell phone.” She even has some womanly wisdom and can admit when she’s wrong, as in “Sick and Tired” she shares: “I remember the time when we were together, it was like a dream come true. Thought leaving you would be for the better, now all I think about is you. The things I said were so out of line, I want to tell you a thousand times that I am sick and tired of missing you, I said I didn’t love you but that ain’t true.”
She started writing songs “after I taught myself to play the acoustic guitar… I have loved to sing since a very early age and being able to play the piano and guitar has helped my songwriting skills progress.” Her album, which came out on October 1st, is entitled “The Other Girl.” Since, a song from the album, “Lovestruck,” was selected to be featured in the film “Halloween Party.” Izzy has videos of most of the songs that made it onto her aforementioned album and just finished up Music MAYhem, where she uploaded a video every day in May. She shares her songs with us like snapshots, that capture her creative confessions.
Sara Fincham: When songwriting, do you try to balance the serious songs with the more sarcastic/sense of humor ones? Do you even think about that, or do you just write?
Izzy Marie Hill: I think I just write what comes into my head, and I try to bounce things off other people too to see if what I’m saying makes any sense! Clearly some chord structures will dictate the kind of song it is, so for example when I was writing ‘How the Story Goes’ it was never going to be a happy song! However with ‘Lovestruck’ I decided I wanted to write a happy summer song so the musical structure is very ‘la la la I’m happy’ kind of music and the melody just followed that. With me the lyrics always come last but usually I’ve got a ‘story’ I’m thinking of. The next problem is writing the specific lyrics to try and get across what I’m trying to say.
SF: I like that your songs put me in a feel-good musical mood. The music is upbeat and the message is, while sometimes complicated and emotional, doesn’t ever get depressing. How important is it to have happy endings, if at all?
IMH: Thank you for that. I have to say that I’m a Disney girl so I tend to like happy endings! I think also as a person I’m very upbeat so its not usual for me to write a song where the ending is downbeat. But maybe that’s something I should do as a challenge for me.
As a songwriter I really appreciate feedback so if there’s ever any feedback you can give me on my music then I would really appreciate it. It’s very difficult to get truly independent opinions and certainly I welcome critique. For example someone might say to me, “I was listening to ‘The Other Girl’ but i really didn’t ‘like’ the person you were in that song.” Or they may say that they didn’t really understand the point I was trying to make in a song.
SF: I love “Lovestruck!” Can you give us any insightful information about the movie? Elaborate on how that all happened?
IMH: Thank you, I am really pleased about ‘Lovestruck’ as it was a song that came together really quickly, without any trouble at all. It’s an example to me of a song that I can write and record really quickly that I’m happy with. At other times it can take ages and ages and ages to finish a song, and then you get into the studio and have to work over and over on it. And even then some times it doesn’t work so it’s back to the drawing board again!
Anyway, back to ‘Lovestruck’ – I got some really great feedback on it from the NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) who have been very supportive of me, even though I live 4,000 miles from Nashville, and they pitched it for me to some major publishers who really liked the song. I also work with a couple of music sync companies who basically partner with writers to try and get their music into film and t.v. shows. I’ve had some success with this in the UK and got some of my music on MTV here. For ‘Lovestruck,’ an indie horror rom-com called ‘Halloween Party’ really liked the song and they wanted to use it in the movie and I was really happy that they wanted to use one of my songs.
SF: You don’t sound different than you do live. First of all, THANK YOU! That’s really refreshing! You just recently started sharing your skills, though. What about now was a good time, and what about before hindered you from doing so?
IMH: That’s interesting that you say that. At the moment when I play live its just me and a guitar as i play acoustic sets. However on my recorded tracks I’ve got the sound of a full band behind me (typically drums, bass, 2 or 3 guitars and piano) and one of the things I’m really looking forward to is touring with a band like that behind me. Hopefully it will happen soon and I can’t wait!
As far as sharing, it’s something I love to do as I believe that collaboration is the way forward, and over the last 6 months I’ve been working with lots of people on different projects to try and learn more about music – and writing – myself. So I’m glad you think I’m ‘sharing my skills’, and as I improve as a musician I’m certainly looking forward to helping people more. In fact if there’s anything you think I could be doing then please let me know.
SF: Regarding Emma Stone, have you recanted that her only decent movie was Easy A? I suppose you didn’t like Zombieland or Superbad, but have you seen The Help? And regarding Jim Carrey, is he still the screensaver on your cell phone?
IMH: Ha! That song was a really funny process. One day I noticed that Jim Carrey had posted an odd message to Emma Stone on YouTube and I was talking about it with my dad (who is great for bouncing ideas off). Well within 20 minutes we had written a verse and chorus and about 90 minutes later the ‘song’ was finished and on YouTube. By the way, I absolutely love Emma Stone and think her movies are awesome but for the song ‘story’ to work we needed a baddie and unfortunately that was Emma, hence ‘Stone/Stallone’ etc.
I’d only recently seen ‘Easy A’ so worked in the bit about ‘Scarlet Letter’. It was a really fun song to write as I could use some really funny rhymes like ‘Ace Ventura/Bora Bora’ and ‘you should forget-her/only decent movie was the Scarlet Letter!’ It was fun. I got a message from her to say she liked the song so it just goes to show what a cool person she is.
SF: You seem to be a very do-it-yourself type of person as you’ve already recorded videos for a lot of your songs. That takes a lot of time. When and why did you decide to dedicate yourself to doing this?
IMH: I made the decision about a year ago. I felt I was making some progress in music (although think it;s only baby steps so far) but then decided that the only way I’m going to be able to really make inroad would be to dedicate as much time to it as I could. So after I finished my A levels I decided to take a ‘year off’ and delay going to university so I could concentrate completely on music, which is what I’ve been doing. I say completely but I do have a part time job as I otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay my bills since unfortunately I’m not at the stage yet where music earns me enough to consider it a ‘job’. Hopefully one day it will!
So given where I am, I have to be a ‘do it yourself’ kind of person because apart from my family and friends, there’s no one else I can use. But in that comes a wonderful thing, since I do love that everyone I know is so eager to help me. I suppose it would be really great to have a ‘proper’ music video done, but in the mean-time it is kind of fun just picking up a video camera and making a video with my friends.
SF: Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to promote, appearances you’d like to announce?