Written by Kai Feltham
We went along to the launch of Alice Ashcroft’s EP ‘Two for None’ in the intimate setting of the Gregson Centre in Lancaster City Centre on Friday 20th January. A night celebrating the versatility of acoustic music boasted two solo artists, an exquisite duo and the headline act Alice Ashcroft and her band.
After sets from Lewin Cantor, Iona Lane and the brilliant Joe and Jebose, Alice took to the stage to showcase songs from her newly released five song EP along with some classic acoustic covers, including the likes of Maroon 5. Centred around the merry pluckings of her ukulele, Alice invited other musicians onto the stage to present a folk-inspired set of short acoustic numbers. The songs themselves are a combination of emotionally charged ballads and cheerful folk melodies, but come together well to form the basis of her new EP ‘Two For None’. We caught up with Alice just before her set to get the lowdown on her musical background, inspirations and the work behind her debut release.
Please state your full name, age and hometown?
Very formal! My full name is Alice Ashcroft, I’m 20 years old and my original hometown is a small village near Garstang…. you don’t want the address right?
Have you ever had any formal musical education?
Not really no, I learnt all on my own from YouTube videos and sites online. I did have a few guitar lessons when I was younger but I swapped those for teaching myself the ukulele, because it’s easier, and much more cheerful.
Who are your biggest influences?
Probably the standard singer / songwriters like Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne, but I also watch a lot of smaller YouTubers online like Dodi Clark and Tessa Violet. There’s a lot of great under the radar smaller artists online.
Do you think your surroundings in Lancaster have helped better your craft as a musician?
Yeah definitely! I came to Lancaster for Sixth Form and that’s when I started gigging from about the age of 16, and a lot of my friends in the area at the time were really into the music scene around the city. I played three gigs over the Lancaster Music Festival weekend this year which was really great fun, even though I was quite ill so didn’t really sound at my best!
Who are you listening to right now?
There’s a band called Joseph who are a threepiece with three female vocalists and a guitarist, they’re all sisters and have the most incredible harmonies. I’m heading to see them in a couple of weeks so they are definitely one band that I’m really in to right now.
Tell us about your upcoming EP, ‘Two For None’ How did it come about, how did you go about recording it, what are the main inspirations behind it, what do you hope it does for you?
Yes, it’s out today! There’s a lot of different songs on there, one that I wrote about two years ago and one that I actually only finished writing the day before we went into recording. It’s a big experimentation of sounds, trying to see what I do like and I don’t like, and what works and what doesn’t work. I’m really proud of it actually, as the first production that I can hold in my hand and say “this is all my work” it’s special for me. The recordings itself are me working with a band called Ark, who are a local progressive rock band. Ukulele music isn’t really their thing but they worked so hard to help me put everything together as full band piece and I’m really grateful for that. To flesh everything out and have it sound exactly how it sounded in your head is amazing. Besides, as one of the band members is my boyfriend they had no choice but to say yes!
We’re at your EP launch right now, how is it going and what do you hope to gain from tonight?
It’s going amazingly well! So far we’ve had Lewin Cantor and Iona Lane play and they’ve been great, and the audience seem to be really enjoying it. Joe and Jebose are still up just before me so I suppose there’s still time for things to go wrong! In terms of publicity though that’s really not what this is about, it’s just a case of getting my work out there and seeing if it does for other people what it does for me. A lot of young people who write music just want to be ‘big’, but I want to see what my music does for other people. God, that sounds so pretentious!
Who would your dream collaboration be with?
I’m really lucky because I get to jam all of the time with Iona (Lane) who played earlier tonight, she’s incredibly talented and I love playing with her. But I suppose in terms of people I’ve never met it would be YouTuber Dodi Clark. Lyrically and melodically she’s amazing and she writes about very personal issues, so she’d be my absolute dream collaboration.
What does 2017 hold for you? What can we expect from Alice Ashcroft?
Well this year I graduate, so hopefully I’ll be able to get myself a job and have more time to myself for writing music and possibly even get an album together, but it’s really a case of just seeing what happens!
We ask everyone this, if you could be a cocktail or drink, what would you be and why?
I don’t really know any cocktails…I suppose if I was going to pick a drink it would be a glass of red wine. Not everyone loves it, but when they like it they really like it! That’s the ukulele player in me I suppose, sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, but it’s always good fun.
Listen to Alice Ashcroft’s track Two For None here: