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Music Of The City: The Manchester Sessions

Music Of The City: The Manchester Sessions

We caught up with the team in Dawson's Music Manchester, as they gear up to host Episode One of The Manchester Sessions; an exciting and dynamic new forum supporting local artists, sharing music and experiences, plus offering an exclusive behind the scenes insight into the local music industry! We caught up in the green room with guests Katie O'Malley, Liam McClair and Ben P. Williams to discuss music during COVID, songwriting experiences and more!

Katie O'Malley

FFO: Kate Nash, Lera Lynn, Ida Mae.

Listen To: 'Heart Of Gold,' 'Yoshino,' Wild West.'

Check Out Katie O'Malley On Facebook

Listen On Spotify


What was your favourite gig before lockdown? 

I’m going to say one supporting Chloe Foy but it was way back in April 2019, and it was my favourite just because everything went wrong, but it still turned out ok! We thought there were going to be drums already there and there wasn’t so we spent about three hours, four hours going around Manchester trying to find a kick drum, but it still turned out alright and it was Luke’s first gig playing with us so it was a good start!

Do you have any new releases you’d like to talk about? 

We’ve been back in the studio and we’ve recorded quite a few songs and then the next song we’re going to release is called ‘Devil’s Got A Hold’ that I’m really excited about and we’ve filmed a music video for it as well, I borrowed my boyfriend’s grandma’s house but it suits the aesthetic, it’s kind of witchy and a little bit creepy. I used to have an obsession with horror films, so it’s kind of about all the stereotypical things that happen in horror movies!

Liam McClair

FFO: Paulo Nutini, The Kooks, Leon Bridges.

Listen To: 'Alchemy,' 'Fix It,' 'Better Side.'

Check Out Liam McClair On Facebook

Listen On Spotify


Can you talk a little about the personalised songwriting you’ve been doing?

Yeah! So, I turned 30 this year, my friend also turned 30 and when the eldest of my friends turned 30 I wrote him a song for his birthday, just a song about friendship and a bit of a jokey song about him, and he really liked it! And I really tried to continue that with all my friends; people heard them and thought it was cool so they asked if I could write them one for a birthday or christening, leaving work songs, anniversaries and all sorts! It’s been really nice, so basically they’ll say "here’s this person in a nutshell" and then I turn it into a three-minute song. So I can either do this acoustic or turn it into a more produced song.

It’s been a nice way to be creative without feeling like I have to be the one that’s releasing it all; it’s for this person, it’s for this event and the boundaries are there which I find very helpful to be creative. You just go from there, and that sense of structure I found very nice.

What’s your favourite bag of crisps?

Oooooh, I might go with…there’s a crinkle-cut cheese and onion, McCoys, walkers maybe, double crunch I believe it is? That, or there’s a lattice effect cheese and onion, the waffle-y type but they only come in the kind of guilty bag where it’s so big that you should share, they should really label them as a ‘shame bag.’

Which artist dead or alive would you most like to collaborate with?

I’m going to go with someone who’s alive and say Stevie Wonder, because I love his music and his ability to improvise and see the energy of his shows, it’s just so amazing! I guess my dream when you say collaborate is that he would do a gig and I would come on stage, basically I just want to watch Stevie Wonder play live is what I’m getting at! So, if he could do a gig and then he’s like "Ok, welcome my special guest..." and then there’s me for one song and then I can just go back and watch the gig!

Ben P. Williams

FFO: Jack Jones, Jake Bugg, Bob Dylan.

Listen To: 'I Can Do That,' Search Team,' 'Staring At My Phone.'

Check Out Ben P. Williams On Facebook

Listen On Spotify


So, what have you been up to in lockdown? 

Well, in the lockdown I was quite productive, for the first month at least, I wrote a song every day for a month, I did some collaborations with a lot of different people so I got a few songs out of that, and then the next eleven months wasn’t quite so productive, it’s inevitable I guess! So, a song every day for thirty-one days, it was a bit like hard work in the end!

Do you have any new music that you’d shamelessly like to plug?

I’m going to be releasing a new album hopefully later on this year, there’ll be a run of singles and then an album, so it’ll be my fourth album! It’s called ‘Under The Radar,’ which is the same name as one of the tracks off it, which I played for you!

When did you first get into music and how has your career progressed since then?

Well, I’d say I first got into music when I was around five or six, when I found The Beatles records in my parent's cupboard and became obsessed. Since then I’ve studied music through school, college and university. I went to Salford University and since then, initially, I was more of just a guitarist straight out of uni doing session work for other people, then in the last five years or so I’ve focused more on being a singer-songwriter.

Who would you say your key influences are? Following on from that, any artists dead or alive you’d most like to collaborate with?

I’m a big Paul Simon fan, I learned a lot of his songs growing up and I think his lyrics are genius. The Beatles, obviously, they’ve always been there. I like a lot of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, all sorts! I don’t really know exactly when people become an influence? I'd definitely collaborate with Paul McCartney! I’ve been a huge Beatles fan all my life, we could have a jam on the left-handed guitars, or I could play his and he’d play mine!

Watch The Manchester Sessions: Episode One Here!