Made In Manchester Series - Part 2 - Alice Gasson

Posted by Naomi Jackson on

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Drawing on our city’s rich creative and industrial legacy, our garments are influenced not only by the artistry and innovation pulsating through our streets, but by the beauty we see in relics of bygone ages which give us a glimpse into England’s past. 

We proudly manufacture and print our garments here in Manchester, the city where the Industrial Revolution began. The city once nicknamed Cottonopolis, home of Britain's cotton industry. A city renowned for its creativity and innovation.

We've decided to feature a few different projects from around Manchester; visionaries who are cultivating their own innovative enterprises; artists and designers creating inventive new visuals; musicians driving the heartbeat of the city. We're passionate about local people embracing and excelling in their own forms of craft, launching initiatives which have a wider impact for good, and choosing to pursue positivity in their work to inspire others.

Manchester is renowned for it's diverse, creative identity. So many famous artists, designers, comedians, and actors have roots here, not to mention the legendary musicians and singers who have called Manchester their home.

We caught up with singer and songwriter, Alice Gasson, to discuss how living in this city has influenced her sound, and shaped her career.

Made In Manchester Series - Part 2 - Alice Gasson

"I started to learn the piano when I was 4 years old; my dad taught me to play. Then when I was 5, I got asked to sing at somebody's christening, and really that was the start of my career!", she jokes, reminiscing about her journey to becoming a singer. Growing up in Manchester, taking school singing lessons, singing in local choirs, and studying music at the University of Salford, all set her on a path to eventually writing and releasing her own material.

"I started writing music when I was about 14. I liked writing music but I didn't like what I was writing. I used to write really bad pop songs and I was like "I don't like it... but I'm going to keep writing", she laughs. We're glad she kept persevering all these years, though; her new single, Future, is such a great tune. We're still curious to hear some of these "really bad pop songs" though... maybe another time, yeah Alice?

A fan of the likes of Jill Scott and Angie Stone, Alice's own music, all self-released on her own label "Sun Face Records", has a soulful, R&B flavour. "I'd describe my sound loosely as R&B, because that's generally what I'm into, and what I end up writing a lot of. But this new single has, I guess, got more of a sort of UK Garage and Pop influence" 

We asked Alice if she thought Manchester has its own sound. "I think if you were gonna look at Manchester from the outside, everybody would just say "Oh, Manchester music, yeah, Oasis". There is a definite sound that come from peoples' accents and there's that Indie / Rock type vibe that has been Manchester's sound for a while," she said. She talked about how whilst some of Manchester's most famous bands, the likes of Oasis, Elbow, and the Courteeners, all have that distinctive, easily identifiable Northern, gritty, indie sound, there's much more to Manchester's music scene; other "layers". And really, there's something about Manchester music that carries across any genre. 

"From my experience Manchester musicians really write from the heart. It's not your generic lyrics about, you know, "pimps and hoes"... we don't write about that in Manchester. It's from the heart. People write about real stuff, but they can do it with a good catchy hook and thats what I like about it."

The recent Manchester terror attack, and the phenomenal response from our grieving city, was such an obvious example of how its musical legacy, its "layers" those "real" lyrics and "good catchy hooks" have proven to achieve something truly incredible. "What has come out of that event, musically, is that people were referring to songs that have got real messages about positivity and community, and about being overcomers I guess. Being able to sing a hook, like a little chorus that everyone knows, and having people sing that together has a real impact."

We've all been overwhelmed by the way music united people in the aftermath of something so horrendous. "People were just singing Oasis lyrics, "Don't look back in anger" in front of the Town Hall and out on the streets. I think music is great at bringing people together, there is just something about music that says what you want to say without you having to say it. You can sing it or feel it in the music itself. Music can speak from the heart when you haven't got the words. People leant on that for support, to get hope back again."

   

It's remarkable that out of such a solemn, mournful time for the city, a truly positive, loving response has left us all with a deep sense of hope. This has been particularly inspirational, and moving to witness and be a part of. There's been such a sense of pride in our city of Manchester. The stirring poem from Tony Walsh, "This Is The Place", which he read at the vigil outside the Town Hall left us with goosebumps.

"Manchester people are really good at celebrating the stuff thats come from here. It's a big city but it's not so big that we all lose each other. We're really good at celebrating each other's successes. People are really good at rallying round and supporting each other." Alice sums up.

We asked her if she finds Manchester to be an inspirational place to live, "I think it's very inspirational, all the music and the different events; there's so much going on all the time. I think that people in Manchester are very real. Probably some of the most real people I've ever met are in Manchester, and I write a lot of stuff about people I know or people I've met, so for me there is a lot of inspiration in the city. And also its a very beautiful city to be in I think."

Alice regularly sings and plays at many of the bars and venues across Manchester, but touring with Billy Ocean as his support act for two years running in 2015 and 2016 helped get her some attention from further afield. "That was the first time my band and I really had to do any tour type gigs, so that was really exciting. We got to meet some really great people including Billy himself. And that created a whole load of new opportunities for us, as after that when I released a new EP, BBC Introducing got onto us and they loved the story about us randomly getting onto Billy Ocean's tour." she recalls. "It was really good as it just showed that amazing things can happen from people that aren't a big deal yet. If someone recognises talent or a message that they like then they will go for it." 

And in true Mancunian style, Alice has combined a "message" and a "good catchy hook" in her latest single. Knowing how easily a tune can get lodged in peoples' heads, she wanted to write something positive that would inspire people, and that they would end up singing themselves; something that would affect them and lift their moods. "I generally try to write very positive messages, whatever I'm writing about whether its little everyday things or big themes, I try and give an overall message of hope. The chorus,"I bless this day", was just for people to start their day thinking "this is going to be a good day". Future definitely has that sun-drenched sound of summer. And don't the lyrics fit so perfectly with the mood in our city, and even our nation right now? 

"I bless this day. Let the light in, whatever you're going through. I bless this day. Keep your head up the future is coming soon..." 

We shot these images of Alice next to one of Mateus Bailon's street art murals in Manchester's Northern Quarter

Alice Gasson Alice Gasson Music BBC BBC Introducing Billy Ocean Future Made in Manchester Manchester Manchester Music Mateus Bailon New Music Northern Quarter R&B Singer/Songwriter Song writing Soul Music Street Art This Is The Place Tony Walsh Tour

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