In the big moments in life, time feels like it slows to a crawl. We want to savor the happy moments for as long as we can, and it can feel like we’ll never get over the hurt of the bad moments when they’re happening. The thing about time is that it always keeps moving, and we have to move along with it. The aftermath of these momentous events can often take on equal significance to the events themselves. Learning how to process and grow is an integral part of the human experience, but that doesn’t always make it easy. British songwriter Jerry Williams has experienced a number of events that have had a huge impact on her, and she parses through the fallout of these moments on her recently released EP Gameshow. In conversation and in music, Williams paints a vivid picture of what it’s like when time forces us to keep on moving.
Across her three EPs (2014’s A Hairdressers Called Sids, 2016’s Let’s Just Forget It, and Gameshow), Williams has sown a remarkable ability to channel complex, hard-hitting emotions into expressive music. Armed primarily with her trusty acoustic guitar, she pours her soul into her music. Gameshow‘s titular track about the death of a family friend is raw in its painful emotions and meticulous about the small details we use to remember people. The lyricism is strong, and you can almost picture yourself in the room with Williams as gameshows play on the TV and she tries to process her grief. On a similar note, “David At The Bar” is so strong in its storytelling that we can see this man for ourselves, struggling with his addiction and coming to terms with what life means and how to be happy in this journey.
Williams has shown incredible range in her music, as well. While her slow, somber tracks will grip you, she can capture any mood or feeling. “Lavender Field” from A Hairdressers Called Sids is bouncy and buoyant, and Gameshow‘s “Left And Right” is high energy fun with a gleefully fast guitar riff to propel it along. Williams has also branched out into a few different genres, as well. “Grab Life” is a pop song if I’ve ever heard one, and it’s a great pop song at that. No matter what sound or style Williams is going for, her lyrics and the songwriting gives each a track a warm heart and a sturdy musical core to work with.
A week after Gameshow dropped we sat down with Williams to talk about the new EP, how her music has evolved over the years, and the strong emotions she puts into her songs.
Gameshow contains many intensely personal recollections. What was it like processing your emotions through the experience of writing the EP?
It was pretty natural. It’s more to have your feelings in a song form and you just listen to it, it’s like a diary entry. Songwriting helps me process my emotions. Especially with the song ‘Gameshow’ as it’s such a sad story, it helped just to kinda have it there, in a little piece of work.
You went through the death of a family friend, which inspired the track ‘Gameshow.’ Can you walk me through the writing of that track specifically and how you came to cope with the loss through music?
I wrote it about 4/5 months after she passed away. A lot of little songs and ideas I was writing before touched on the subject a bit but “Gameshow” was 100% all about her and her family. I was holding in my tears whilst recording the demo and then as soon as I left the room I was a mess. I cried on the train home and then when I showed my family. It’s been tough to sing live, but I remember her when I sing it and it makes me happy. The song wrote itself and I’m really proud of it.
How does it feel seeing the reaction to the EP and knowing people can relate to your experiences and emotions?
It feels amazing of course. I love listening to songs which have a real story that you can hold onto and relate to your own life. It creates a connection. People have told me stories on how my songs have helped them in situations completely different to my story. It’s great hearing people’s interpretations of lyrics.
The lyrical aspect of Gameshow is incredibly strong. Why is it important to you to have such a solid lyrical base for your music?
I think it’s so interesting to listen to diary entry, conversational lyrics. You can really get inside someone’s thought process. Especially when songs come out easily, like “Gameshow,” the lyrics are so raw and just what’s on your mind. It paints a picture.
You write out lyrics in a notebook and write a lot on acoustic guitar. How does that process help you focus while writing?
I don’t know, it’s just how I’ve always done it. I get compliments that I still use a notepad in writing sessions and I’m like ‘what…that’s normal’ [laughs]. It just helps me work on lyrics better and see where it’s going.
You’ve evolved greatly over the course of your 3 EPs. What lessons have you taken from each EP that you’ll use writing music in the future?
Don’t be afraid to be honest with your feelings in your lyrics. I’ve always been like that but where I’ve been exploring and experiencing new things and subjects, I’ve been able to write about different things which has shown in my musical progression.
What’s it like playing these incredibly personal songs in a live setting?
Honestly, it’s easy. I don’t get embarrassed or awkward explaining the meaning behind my songs or anything, even when they are quite personal. But I think it’s special for an audience to understand what was going on in your mind and life at the time you wrote a song. I guess when you step back and think “oh my god that’s personal” it seems weird to share it, but I think it’s being honest. I’m quite an emotional person and wear my heart on my sleeve, so I think I’d burst if I couldn’t be open with my stories and feelings [laughs].
‘Gameshow’ is out now.