Epiphone caught up with Portsmouth, UK native Jerry Williams whose debut EP, Let’s Just Forget It, was the runner-up for Release Of The Year at the
Unsigned Music Awards in 2016, and has been steadily building up a following in the UK. Her single, “I’m Not In Love With You, was a Radio 1 BBC Track of the Week. And now, Williams is set to conquer the USA. Williams is taking her Les Paul Florentine PRO and her Epiphone Masterbilt to SXSW 2018 and you can catch her Tuesday, March 13 at 9pm at Latitude 30 for the British Music Embassy and Wednesday, March 14 at 9:30pm at the Central Presbyterian Church. And, follow all her SXSW happenings at her artist Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram sites. Thanks to @SHOTBYPHOX for the terrific photos.
Thanks for speaking to Epiphone.com, Jerry. Let’s start with guitars! Tell me about how you found Epiphone and what you’ve been playing on-stage and in the studio.
When I started playing in my band and moving onto electric guitars, I was looking for an amp and online I found the Epiphone Limited Edition Inspired by '1939' Century Amplifier
and it just looked so amazing and authentic. I checked out the guitars after that and just fell in love. On stage, currently I play the Les Paul Florentine PRO
and a Masterbilt Acoustic.
I’ve spoken with a lot of songwriters who excel at narrative songwriting who find that different guitars seem to inspire them in different ways. What role do guitars play in your writing?
A big part definitely! I first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and I started going down the classical route. I made it all the way up to grade 8-standard but throughout that whole time, I was writing songs on my Spanish classical guitar! My songs were very sweet and delicate on that guitar and then when I bought my first acoustic, the vibe of my songs changed! Moving onto electric guitar has made my sound a lot more edgy and my songwriting has become more brave and bolder. The sounds and stories have to match.
Tell me about what your life is like now and how have you organized your life as a musician.
Life as a musician is hard work but super rewarding, especially when you’re unsigned and being a DIY artist. Songwriting is my ultimate escape so I can always make time to write a song, especially if I’m feeling super inspired and there’s something to write about.
You grew up in Portsmouth. What was that environment like for you as far as what kinds of things you wanted to write about and what you were listening to when you started to get some momentum as a musician?
Portsmouth has been a big part of my life in terms of songwriting. Living by the sea, going for endless drives along the beach, and the people and stories I meet here inspire me always. I can only write about things that have happened to me or someone else I know. I can’t write about something that isn’t real. I listen to artists like Coldplay, Jamie T, Slow Club and Vampire Weekend. As my sound has changed, I love bands like Get Inuit and Alvvays.
How old were you when you started to write?
I started to write when I was 12, same time I began to learn classical guitar. No one in my family is musical but they are all definitely big fans of music. There was always music on in the house growing up and in the car. It rubbed off on me a bit too much. Plus I was a massive Avril Lavigne and Busted fan when I was young so I guess I wanted to be them too haha.
Congrats on coming to SXSW. With the terrific press you’ve been getting, how has the industry response been? Have they all been encouraging or have some tried to change you style?
I can’t believe I’ll be playing over there, feels like a dream come true. I’ve had some interest from the industry but I’ve just been doing my own thing. My sound is quite eclectic and that doesn’t sit well with some people but I’m a true believer that the song should fit the story.
How is the new record going?
It’s going good. I’ve been doing a lot of songwriting & producing with Dan Brown, a good friend of mine and it’s been really fun. I love being a part of the production process so I’m always there as we’re building up the sound, throwing ideas in and stuff. I love experimenting and trying sounds on tracks.
Tell me about putting together your band. Were there any music styles you wanted to stay away from as you were choosing your band members?
My band are all friends of mine. I used to go to school with my drummer Ronnie and I’ve met James the bassist and Charlie the guitarist along the way! We get along so well and I think that’s great for a live performance. We have fun on stage and my songs are fun. It reflects well. We all have different musical tastes, which is so exciting in terms of ideas and trying things with pedals and sounds and feedback and whammy bars etc. I haven’t deliberately stayed away from any styles.
Who have you been listening to or thinking about as you’ve gone through the process of making your record?
I’m not sure. I’ve just been writing from personal experience and jamming out on my Epiphone guitars and seeing what happens. I’ve been writing songs where I can imagine them being cool and engaging live so I guess thinking about the stage show has been influencing me a lot. I love watching bands who really get into it and can scream and dance on stage. I want to do the same. I really would love to try an Epiphone with a whammy bar on it. I’ve always loved the look and sound of the Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Joe Bonamassa Les Paul Standard.