One to watch Joni Fuller is an 18 year old singer, award-winning songwriter, pianist and rock violinist. Joni’s successes to date include winning the Make it Break it Songwriting Contest two year’s running in 2008 and 2009 and Best Female Artist at the Exposure Music Awards in 2010.
When did you start writing songs?
I started playing the violin when I was five and the piano a few years later. I was accepted into the Junior Royal Northern College of Music when I was eight and I’m still there today. It was around then that I started writing my first songs and I’ve continued writing ever since.
How long have you been performing your songs?
My first performance as a singer-songwriter was in front of 3,000 people at the Casino Barrière during the Montreux Jazz Festival when I was 12! I suppose it was one of those defining ‘sink or swim’ moments. Since then I’ve performed all over the UK and across Europe too. Playing live is a big part of what I do and where I feel I have nurtured my sound.
Who are your influences?
My classical training has influenced my music and any great songwriter/singer/instrumentalist inspires me. My parents named me after Joni Mitchell and I’ve grown up in awe of her music and in particular the poetry of her lyrics. Prince inspires me as a total package – he’s got it all. Bat for Lashes and Regina Spektor are two of my favourite female artists of the moment.
How would you describe your sound?
I write all my songs on the piano and have performed a lot of acoustic sets, so it’s not surprising that my songs are melody-based with a rock sound that I hope is distinctive. The incorporation of electric violin has developed in recent years, from fans’ reactions at live shows.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
As I get older my lyrics have become much more personal and I incorporate life experiences and emotions into my songs as well as the occasional fictional story.
Do you have a particular method of writing songs?
I don’t sit down to write a song but I guess I spend so much time at the piano, I don’t have to! I become totally focused on the new music that’s going on in my head. I tend to write the whole song at once with key words coming at the same time as the melody/hooks. It’s only later that I look back on what I’ve got and start arranging things technically.
You were a winner in the Make It Break Songwriting competition (MIBI) in 2008 and 2009, how has this success influenced your career so far?
Winning the MIBI Songwriting Contest two years running gave me a real boost in confidence. The five day residential workshop at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) was great and the full band showcase in the Paul McCartney Auditorium was a really good experience.
How did you come to enter the competition?
I found the competition on the internet and liked the ethos it had of encouraging young songwriters, so I went for it!
Apart from the prizes, what do you want to gain from the experience?
Because of its involvement with MIBI, I’ve met a lot of great people in and around LIPA since first winning in 2008. I recorded an EP, Run for Cover, with Harry Andrew Brown, a LIPA sound technology graduate and it was one of the songs from this – Change Girl – that went on to win in 2009 too!
What song would you have liked to have written and why?
Jeff Buckley’s Lover, You Should Have Come Over is one of those songs that seems to capture everything; a beautiful melody, heart-breaking lyrics and building to a passionate crescendo.
What is your current most played song on your iPod?
I’m hooked into Prince’s back catalogue right now, so Pop Life from Around the World in a Day is top of the playlist.
After finishing my A levels in the summer I’m looking forward to immersing myself in my music. I’m hoping to have more time to take advantage of winning ‘Best Female Artist’ at the Exposure Music Awards and I’m also planning to take up some of the session work that I’ve had to turn down in recent months. Playing with other musicians is always a valuable experience.
See Joni live in 2010:
Taurus Bar, Manchester – 17/04/10
RNCM, Manchester – 01/05/10
The Gregson Centre – Lancaster – 15/05/10
Risa Hall Album Launch – Taurus – 22/05/10
Montrose Music Festival – 29/05/10 & 30/05/10