For many of us, nearly a year ago, normal life came crashing to a halt with the seemingly foreseeable future a blurry mess of lockdowns, front room workouts, and binging Netflix series. However, for one artist from London, lockdown presented an opportunity to work on new sounds, new styles and new approaches. Plumm is a musician with serious ambition and vision, and after establishing herself as a pedigree talent within the London jazz scene, her major breakthrough came with her music featuring on Radio 1 in 2020. For Plumm, 2021 is all about building on that platform and taking off into the next step of her career and create a new sound and vision for both jazz/soul and also the music world.
Plumm is not your average musician that is for sure and the creativity shown in exploring new routes in lockdown was evident just from speaking to her over a zoom call. Thinking outside of the box is a term often thrown around, but the idea of bringing her ‘live loop pedal show’ demonstrates that when there is a will, there most definitely is a way.
“I am an extrovert in both my personality and in my music, and I view music as a big feast. It is way of interaction and sharing each other’s ideas, and in a sense, we are all creating together. Therefore, while lockdown is a hindrance in some respects, I have still managed to find plenty of ways to create and collaborate,” she takes a minute to pause, as if to check whether she missed anything off.
“I made my own live loop pedal show, which was a hit! I did this as a way to offer my listeners a way to still interact with live music. I have also used a lot of my time to write new stuff, as well as to try and finish off previous projects that have not been completed. I think prior to the first lockdown I had burnt myself out a bit - so having the time to chill out was beneficial. I am also now in the process of putting together an album which is very exciting!”
Of course, the suggestion of an album is an immediate talking point, and as usual the classic question followed her answer. “When will the album be out?” However, wisely Plumm said she still does not know when it will be out but she did give us insight into the inspiration behind the project.
“I can’t give you a date yet!” She says chuckling, “but what I can tell you is that it is going to be focusing on the idea of the instrumentalisation of the voice. This album is the first steppingstone for me to pursue those new ideas, concepts and sounds that I am working towards.”
"I won’t lie I have been musical all of my life and it is something that I have always had an immense passion for"
Creativity and artistry, whilst is a natural talent, is also something that has to be developed and stimulated throughout one’s life. However, as Plumm acknowledges music has always been part of her life and even from a very young age she was not one to shy away from extravagant ideas and performing.
“I won’t lie I have been musical all of my life and it is something that I have always had an immense passion for.”
“Ever since I was a child I have been playing in bands and doing shows; I remember when I was 5 or 6 doing a talent show at school and singing “And All That Jazz” in this really flamboyant pink coat!” She laughs as she recalls the story.
“For me, playing the drums and singing were the foundation to my musical career”, she adds. “From there I decided to begin composing and then when I was 16, I went to Brit School for college which really opened the possibilities for a career in music. It was an amazing place to interact with people from all types of artistic backgrounds and it was crucial to forming the relationship with artists I work with now. I also used my time at Brit School to develop my sound.”
Brit School is based in London, and despite originally being from South Wales, Plumm remained in London after her time at college and university at SOAS, studying Ethnomusicology. As she points out, London is a melting pot of musical ideas and also a microcosm of various sounds from around the globe. For the jazz scene that she is involved with, there is real variance in the styles and sounds across London.
“It is definitely true that certain areas produce different types of sounds. Across London there is a real range of music under the category of jazz. For example, the south-east I hear sounds and jams heavily influenced by improv and abstract jazz, whereas other area of London have a real Hip/Hop or Trap influence to their sound”
"To be perfectly honest the whole music scene that I am involved with is extremely inter-connected"
However, she is quick to point out that she has a specific idea in mind when it comes to jazz, “Personally, I view jazz as a verb, because you do jazz. Do you see what I mean? For me there are two types of jazz. One is the type that everyone knows, the classic, established sound, with standards and so forth. The second type is in regard to the new form, the Renaissance Jazz, with hybridity and collaboration.
For Plumm, her musical life at current revolves around London and for good reason. The contemporary jazz scene is certainly alive and well. What is most interesting about Plumm’s journey is that her musical community is not confined to one certain area, but rather you could describe it as a musical diaspora across London and that she finds herself in range of locations performing and collaborating.
“I would have to say predominantly in South East London in areas such as Deptford, Lewisham, Peckham and Brixton. The scene in these areas is really amazing and is a great place to converge and share ideas. Also, I am often involved in the North-East London scene in Hackney, but to be perfectly honest the whole music scene that I am involved with is extremely inter-connected.” For Plumm the idea of inter-connectedness is clearly very important, and rightly so because it is the perfect pathway for collaboration of ideas and styles.
“The particular jazz scene in London that I just mentioned is majorily credited to ‘Tomorrow’s Warriors’, a jazz music school that has produced some really top musicians such as Moses Boyd, Joe Armon Jones, Nubiya Garcia, Theon Cross and Ezra Collective”
"I think vocals are such an untapped resource in music and that is something I want to progress towards in the future regarding my sound"
What is clear to see when talking to Plumm is that the range of influence from the jazz scene in London is something that is both important to her and also the community as a whole. Furthermore, it would be fair to say that the London music community is a great place to share and collaborate ideas but also thoughts and philosophies regarding music and this has clearly stimulated Plumm in her transition as an artist, as it clearly demonstrates the imagination that she possesses in regard to where she wants to take her music.
“At the minute I definitely identify my sound with a moodiness, eccentricity, fluid but yet romantic and bluesy. It is a range of emotions as it were. The thing is I am trying to create a romanticism within my music, [and trying to do that through the use of gritty sounds.] Robert Plant has been a major influence for me in that regards.” She stops to think and goes on to identify where her music has developed from.
“Whilst the use of bluesy and rocky sounds is a focus of mine, I also really enjoy writing catchy hooks, and I would like to develop vocals as an instrument, so that I can also write hooks purely through vocals. I think vocals are such an untapped resource in music and that is something I want to progress towards in the future regarding my sound. Like I think it would be amazing to create beats through just vocal sounds such as grunts. Like why not! Originally, however, the music I was creating focused on dark, moody ballads which I developed through my piano playing. However, as I said I am transitioning away from that one type of music and evolving from its foundation.”
But like many other musicians and artists, the musical community is not her only source of inspiration for her craft. You may think that for Plumm, her other sources of stimuli may involve landscapes, pieces of art, clothing or buildings, and whilst those examples may be to an extent, her answer is incredible and yet so relatable.
“It has to be food. 100%. Something I have come to realise is that music is food and food is music. What I mean by that is both are such creative processes. When we make food or music there is this sharing of ideas to create hybridity’s. I genuinely feel that food and music are intrinsically connected. When you cook, you can be collaborating, but you can also just be doing solo and it can be really individual. It is a time you can fully immersive yourself in the process of what you are doing, and the same when I am writing or playing music and its instantly rewarding!”
Of course, she does admit that food is not her only muse, “I also take inspiration from the inter-disciplinary aspect of the arts such as dance. Because I am an extrovert in my approach to music I really want to try and work with creators from a range of different backgrounds.”
Moreover, she does disclose that she has a real passion for fashion and style, but not just for the clothing as such. For Plumm, clothing helps her to identify her style and sound, but in a more visual way. We could not agree more with her, as clothing really does define your personality in a way that other material items cannot.
“For me I think fashion is important, as I like to see it as physical representation of my music, and it makes me feel good to dress up. I am quite extravagant in the way I dress, and my clothing definitely mirrors the moods of my music. Like now I’m basically wearing a ball gown! And it’s a Tuesday evening!” She says guiltily.
It can often feel that us, as consumers of music, can be too often drawn to the Anglo-American market without actually broadening our horizon to all of the incredible music that is available. Plumm is a staunch advocate of exploring [music from all over the globe which took her to studying Ethnomusicology at SOAS] because we ultimately are missing out on such a range of talent that often goes under the radar.
“I think there is such a range of sounds and styles that are on show in Europe. If you look at musical hubs at the minute in Europe, there are some amazing artists coming out of those scenes. I think Lisbon and Berlin are all great sources of inspiration, especially in Berlin where jazz has become integrated into the musical culture there. Not only that but the live music scene in Europe is unparalleled, it is so good!”
"I left the studio and just went to a café and had a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of red wine and I couldn’t stop smiling!"
For most young artists, a breakout moment is getting airtime and signals that everything is moving in the right direction in achieving their goals. For Plumm, that dream became a reality in 2020 and cemented her position as an artist destined to reach the top. Whilst she was quick to admit that airtime is not everything, she recalled the day with fondness and rightfully so!
“Wow, it was amazing. It was seriously cool” she chuckles lightly. “I basically did a live Maida Vale set, which was championed by the BBC Introducing, London. Like it was a real highlight of my career, like fuck, it was cool! I suppose it was nice to get the recognition. Obviously, recognition isn’t what I do music for, but I think that it just helps to give you a boost, in the sense that your work is being recognised. I remember I left the studio and just went to a café and had a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of red wine and I couldn’t stop smiling!"