A student at UEA and a local to the Norfolk area, Eliza Delf has been showcasing her talent as a singer-songwriter this year. After a successful kickstarter, she has begun working on her debut album, ‘Into the Wilderness’. While an in-person interview couldn’t be arranged, one of the bonuses of our video call meant that I was able to meet Eliza’s new puppy.
Singing has been a passion for Eliza ever since childhood as she explains, “I suppose it’s a bit cliché but I’ve always loved singing. When I was little, I used to always make up songs which were very bad and then when I got to about sixteen, the transition started into taking it a bit more seriously. This was prompted by some coursework in high school I really enjoyed. I think I just enjoyed the process of writing and then turning it into a song. It’s very satisfying when it comes together, now it’s just something I love to do.”
In the lead up to Eliza’s upcoming debut album “Into the Wilderness”, she has released four demo singles on her website that provide a glimpse into the sound and themes of her forthcoming debut. “I think that the demos on there are quite representative of the whole album, so it’s a good snapshot. I think a big idea in the album…is about how to come to terms with how you’re feeling inside. So, the wilderness inside is part of what the songs are about, uncertainty, anxiety, and then through the songs I explore those ideas through natural imagery in the wilderness outside.
“There’s a lot of references to the landscape around me and folk-art imagery to explore this idea of beginning to accept when you’re not feeling very well and how to come to terms with that. I guess it is a bit of a metaphor with the natural imagery but in some ways, it was the reality of when I wasn’t feeling very well…the outside was really important.”
In terms of the album itself, I asked Eliza what we could expect. With a laugh, Eliza said to “expect the unexpected. There are some songs in there that may take you by surprise, there are some that are more intense, orchestral songs with a lot of instrumentation and then there are some more pared back stuff so more like a couple of instruments and a voice. I very much wanted to create one creative project and I think the idea that it was an album was very important to me rather than individual singles which I know is very popular and probably easier to do! But I wrote it and started to realise it was an album, it needed to be together.”
Working on Eliza’s debut is the multi-instrumentalist and folk producer, Jon Loomes. “I feel very lucky to have come across someone like him. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, producer, recorder, he’s got a lovely studio in Yorkshire in his basement which is perfect for recording. He’s also a singer so maybe we’ll get him on it…some backing male vocals! He’s incredibly talented but he also brings a level of experience which obviously as I’m 19 I don’t have that. There’s some very practical things with an album as well as the musical side and he really helps to bring that knowledge.”
Earlier this year, Eliza played at the Young Norfolk Arts Festival here in Norwich. While due to Covid restrictions she couldn’t perform in front of an audience, the performance was recorded and can be seen on Eliza’s website. “It was a great experience. Obviously, it was a little bit weird as there was no audience. There was just the guy who was recording who was lovely and my dad and my brother who came along but that was it! It was a slightly strange introduction to the Norwich Arts Centre but it was very fun to perform the songs as acoustic versions which is very different to how they are on the album.
“That’s bringing them back to how I wrote them though, as I wrote them with just a piano and my voice so it’s quite nice to bring it back to that. Also, to really listen to them. I’ve sung them so much so to really listen to the melodies and lyrics is quite fun.”
Alongside collaborating with Jon Loomes, for the album’s artwork, Eliza has joined forces with the Norwich based, highly renowned, artist Will Teather. The cover artwork is a beautiful portrait of Eliza falling through the canvas creating a truly theatrical feel to it.
Speaking on the collaboration, Eliza said, “he’s an internationally renowned artist, it was crazy that he agreed to do it. He doesn’t do a lot of commissions and he listened to a few songs and agreed to do it which was very flattering! I felt very lucky again. I think it’s something to do with the way he paints, we’ve known of him for a long time as an artist and he crops up a lot in Norwich. I think that series he does of people falling really captured the feeling of the album, slightly magical realist I guess.
“My lyrics are heavily inspired by Angela Carter, who’s an incredible writer she wrote the Bloody Chamber and she’s very magic realist too…She was also a previous teacher at UEA! I think his paintings felt like they were a part of that same feeling I think. There’s something I wanted to capture in the lyrics that I think his paintings had. We just thought that we can’t not try to pursue that because it’s so perfect.”
In order to help start her career and create the platform she now has, Eliza ran a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year and mentioned how the Bright spark scholarship from UEA helped to fund her musical journey. “Before I was writing the album I applied to it [Bright Sparks scholarship]…and around that time I was thinking of doing an album and when I got it, it was a big boost. Making an album is expensive and not easy to self fund. The bright sparks money was really perfect timing.”
To keep up to date with the latest from Eliza, including information about her upcoming album, a newsletter is available to sign up to on her website here: Eliza Delf – Keep in touch