We admit that it took an age for us to return to Anglophile Studios and we’re well chuffed to do so. We’re equally over the moon that our first interview, for the new year, is with Oxford-based singer-songwriter-guitarist Dolly Mavies (real name Molly Davies….or…is it? ;-)). She has the voice of an old, introspective soul and personifies a ray of sunshine. During a break in gigging round the UK, Ms. Davies popped by the studio to discuss her new single, My Buoy, off her forthcoming EP, Reflections, and to chat about a variety of other topics.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a musician and to learn to play guitar?
I have always loved music, listening to music and have been surrounded by music from an early age. My dad plays the guitar and my nana played the piano so if I was not around one, It would be the other and this fuelled my interest and desire to get creative. I picked up the guitar properly when I was around 16 and asked my Dad to show me a few chords and my learning carried on from there, teaching myself how to get around the fretboard and to compose songs.
2. Describe your songwriting process? Do lyrics come before music or vice versa? What motivates your lyric writing?
I don’t have a definitive songwriting process. I love lyrics, poetry and words, and will often think of something and write it down, or more often than not put in in my phone so I can look at the words at a later date or when I have my guitar to hand. Sometimes I will play around on the guitar and come up with a little riff or some chords I like and work from there. My new single My Buoy is an example of this, I tried out some different tunings and came up with the riff for that song.
My lyrical motivation comes from the everyday, my interactions, relationships, feelings and friends experiences. Anything that particularly moves me.
3. As a young and aspiring female musician, what is your perspective of the Oxford music community? Have you been supported and embraced?
I think there is a large but dispersed Oxford music community, which whenever stumbled across is very supportive.
4. Describe the experience of playing the Common People Festival? How did you come to be invited to play?
I had a brilliant time playing at Common People Festival in Oxford in the Summer. I was so excited to play and be able to perform on both days across the weekend. I had such a large supportive audience and the weather was lovely so it was a brilliant experience all round. I stumbled across the chance to play through applying to play a completely different festival on the other side of the UK and the wonderful Greg just so happened to be running a stage at Common People and thought that would be better suited due to my location. Which it was, so that was a brilliant twist of fate!
5. How does music (either listening to or playing it) make you feel?
I love listening to music and think it is such a powerful tool to express emotion and allow yourself to delve into your feelings. I love playing music really loud, in any genre, and I particularly love music with great lyrical content. I love the opportunity to create and express myself through songwriting and I have found that I can reveal things I didn’t realise I was feeling in hindsight.
6. Who are your top 5 favourite British music acts?
I particularly love acts that are incredible to see live, particularly my local friends Zurich and Sam Martin. I am also a huge fan of Daughter, Travis and Laura Marling.
7. You’re on the Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs and host Kirsty Young has asked you to choose a book and luxury before she casts you away. What do you select and why?
One of my favourite books I have ever read is Patti Smith’s Just Kids. She is an incredible woman and has led such a complex, heartbreaking, wonderful and enchanting life and I think she is incredibly inspiring and I love a book that is about real life and so I would definitely take that with me. I think having the time to read is a luxury!
8. What does being British mean to you?
It’s a funny thing to think about really as I have Welsh heritage and feel very drawn to that part of me, however I think the qualities of general courtesy, and being polite are great attributes to being British.
9. Who would you love to perform with and why?
I would love to perform with The National, as I love their music and think they put on a great show!
10. What is your favourite area of England and why?
Being from Oxford, I would have to say here! I love the combination of city and also lots and lots of picturesque countryside. And Cotswold Stone, that’s lovely.
11. What celebrity would you fancy having afternoon tea with?
I would love to have afternoon tea with Debbie Harry as I think she would be an incredible woman to talk to about music and her experience in the industry.
12. What’s next for Dolly Mavies?
I am releasing a new single in February, My Buoy, taken from my forthcoming EP Reflections, which will be out later this year, which I am very excited about sharing with my fans.