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Daisy Atkinson: Flower power

If you haven’t managed to catch Daisy Atkinson playing live in Blackpool then you probably haven’t been out in a while. The singer songwriter is tirelessly gigging while also holding space on stage for other artists. Lauryn Eliza chats to her in a rare moment she isn’t on stage

With captivating powerhouse vocals and stage presence, Blackpool singer-songwriter Daisy Atkinson has a true musical talent that she’s been relentlessly sharing on local stages over the past couple of years.

In March, one of her many live sets was for Reclaim Slag, a fundraiser at Bootleg for the project mapping sexual harassment in the town organised by the Skate Like A Girl Collective. Prior to the set she sat down to chat to us about all things music on the Fylde Coast.

Arriving with her dad in tow, something she says is essential for her to feel safe as a young female musician on the live circuit, she says Reclaim is a project close to her heart.

“I love what they’re doing. Blackpool can be a scary place for women. We’ve all been there on nights out and its not pretty,” she says, wearing a black and white T shirt that tells everyone who’ll see her on stage tonight that Catcalling Ain’t A Complement. “What Reclaim and Slag are both doing is empowering so many women. And it’s just a really fun night – I love the support for local women and local creatives. I love everything they’re doing and I couldn’t be happier to be involved and giving back.”

Born and raised on the Fylde Coast, Atkinson is warm and unassuming – her gentle chatter belying her powerful stage presence. She was brought up on the musical influences of her family including her dad’s classic rock and mum’s Motown. Her brother was a formative influence too.

“My brother has a great voice. He’s five years older than me so when I was little I’d see him in shows and I always looked up to that. We used to sing together in the car to High School Musical and Hannah Montana.”

Her confidence on stage comes from years of practice. The 22 year old first started playing guitar at aged 10.

“My school started offering lessons and I was immediately hooked and went home and taught myself more. My teachers realised I could sing and saw my potential. I don’t think that without that I’d be doing what I’m doing.”

The song is different for me because it’s stripped back and a bit more emotional. It’s quite simple in terms of the chords, but the lyrics I’m quite proud of.

Her first experience of performing live was as part of School’s Alive at the Grand Theatre.

“One year I stood on stage in little fairy wings and sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow so that was probably my first gig,” she says. But at age 16 she began performing with another female musician at the Galleon, a bar she says holds a special place in her heart.

“I’m in there more than I’d like to admit,” she laughs, but says she enjoys performing at other local venues these days too. “Bootleg always encourages me to play original music and books me for slots. They get incredible bands and they’re always bigging me up and giving me amazing opportunities. Dirty Blondes and Common are such great little places too, and so is the Waterloo.

“People go into these places specifically to see live music whereas when I play in random pubs people are just there to get pissed.”

Atkinson is at the centre of a growing live music scene in Blackpool that has no doubt been boosted by the efforts of In Good Company, a collective that seeks out and nurtures talented musicians from across the Fylde Coast. The group provides a community and encouraging environment for young artists to support each other and gain experience performing across different venues around Blackpool.

Supporting both new artists emerging in the music scene as well as seasoned artists with single and EP releases, Atkinson likens In Good Company to a family.

“It can get really lonely doing this full time, and meeting new likeminded people, where everyone’s in the same boat and we’re all rooting for each other, is amazing. We’ve all grown so much since we met.”

But Atkinson draws strength from her fellow female musicians on the scene in particular.

“A lot of the artists that are coming through In Good Company are young females who aren’t quite that confident yet. They come to me for advice and I’m like, ‘why are you asking me, I feel the same!’ but I big them up.”

On stage later that evening, as she performs a range of covers including Paramore and Amy Winehouse, alongside her original music, there’s no sign of those insecurities. Imogen Evans, the 16-year-old musician who takes the stage before her, is a force to be reckoned with too.

“She’s incredible,” says Atkinson in awe. “Imogen’s songwriting is another level. I can’t get over the fact she’s only 16. I’d love to collaborate with her. I have plans to write a song and bring Imogen in on it and a couple of other local girls for a real girl power ballad.”

If you are a local artist looking to break into the music scene, Atkinson’s key piece of advice is to go along and get involved with the open mics In Good Company hosts. Networking with other local artists and local venues is key to thriving within the ever-growing music scene in Blackpool, she believes.

Alongside her relentless gigging, Atkinson is preparing to release a new single later this month.

“It’s called Rosie, and it’s about fancying someone that you shouldn’t,” she says with visible vulnerability. She describes it self deprecatingly as “typical singer-songwriter” territory, something she’s attempted to avoid, she says, but is increasingly coming to embrace. “That is what I am! I’m just figuring myself out.

“The song is different for me because it’s stripped back and a bit more emotional. It’s quite simple in terms of the chords, but the lyrics I’m quite proud of. They’re some of my favourite that I’ve written and every time I play it my friends say ‘you need to release that’.”

Rosie is released on 21st April with a joint single launch party with fellow local artist Emma Taylor being held at Bootleg Social. It’s the first time Atkinson will be performing alongside a live band.

“I’ve always been solo so I’m stepping out of my comfort zone but Ive got a really great group of people who are all great friends and it’s going really well in rehearsals.”

Atkinson describes her sound is a hybrid of musical influences including rock and indie, soul and jazz.

“But I’m a pop girl at heart,” she says. “I grew up listening to Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift – they’ll always have my heart.”

She says she has always been creative – in art and writing as well as music.

“I love writing stories and I love Taylor Swift because there’s so much storytelling in her songwriting. I love blending imagined scenarios with genuine emotion. My song Jupiter Girl is a load of nonsense but at the end is a personal story. I write about my own emotions and things I’m going through and it helps,” she say, “like therapy.”

Daisy Atkinson’s music can be found on Apple Music and Spotify. Follow her on Facebook and on Instagram. Tickets for her joint single launch with Emma Taylor are available here.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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