First Published May 2020
THE GOLDEN VOICE OF TWINNIE
There’s something almost mesmerising about that moment when you hear an undeniably special voice for the very first time. What you find yourself listening to somehow catches your attention at the deepest level possible. It quite literally stops you where you stand. What that moment creates is a marker in your life, dividing your days and nights into all that happened before you heard this voice, and everything that will happen after. I had one of those moments earlier this year when I heard TWINNIE sing for the first time.
In a way, such moments are intoxicating, life-affirming in every possible regard. All of a sudden, from just a moment earlier when you didn’t even realise what you were missing by not being aware that this voice was out there, everything changes. And you find yourself setting off in search of every song you can find this person singing, because you need to hear them all. Everything. Now. One after the other. And then all over again, from start to finish.
That was me after I first heard Twinnie (full name, Twinnie-Lee Moore). And let me tell you, every song I found made me love her voice of gold all the more. Life after Twinnie is but life after discovering her. From now on, as far as my life in music goes, Twinnie is coming with me, all the way. That voice, her songwriting, and not forgetting, of course, the instantly lovable lady herself as a human being. Her heart is made from the same stuff as her voice. Life after Twinnie is life with Twinnie forevermore!
And to that end, the brilliant news for music lovers like me is that Twinnie’s debut album is here at last! And that very album, Hollywood Gypsy, was the reason Twinnie and I found ourselves having a chat last week. Now, there’s no doubt that it’s a crazy time for everyone in the world right now, but I was wondering what had it been like for Twinnie, an artist arriving at such a huge moment in her life – a dream that she’s been working so long and so hard for – and it happens to coincide with a chapter like this in the history of the world…
“Well, I mean at least I’ll never forget it! [laughs]. To be honest, I’ve looked at the positives. Obviously it’s really bad timing. But I didn’t want to postpone the album release because I’d already announced it and I needed something to look forward to. And I think everybody needs music right now, it’s the only thing that’s getting us through. That and Netflix [laughs]. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been difficult, especially as a new artist. Because you build up so much momentum, and then this is THE moment, and you want to celebrate with your friends, you wanna do a listening party, you want to play it for fans. I was meant to be playing the O2 Arena and going on my first headliner tour, and supporting Rick Astley, and then going on another tour. And then…all of that gone. But I mean, thank God, I’m healthy and all of my family are healthy, and that’s the most important thing. But it makes you think. It’s interesting, though, I feel that me and my team have been really adaptable, and it’s pushed us into a new area of being online. So I’m doing my writing sessions in Nashville and L.A. on Zoom calls. And that’s something that I can continue after this. So it’s had its ups and downs. I mean, I can’t do anything about it. And my mum always says you should only worry about what you can control. And what you can’t, just let it be. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Otherwise I’ll just get down about it. And it’s not a thing to be down about, because I’ve got an album out that I’m really, really proud of that I’ve poured my heart and soul into. And that’s always gonna be there. I am a new artist, so people are still discovering me, and it’s all still building. I didn’t expect to just release this album and everything to just ‘blow-up’. But on the other hand, I did expect to be on tour. But it will all have its moment when it’s meant to have its moment. I’m trying to see the positives it it really. Like I get to spend some quality time with my mum, which is great, because I’m isolating in York. And I’m getting to write my second album as we speak. Having that time, I think, is really amazing, because you wouldn’t normally get that.”
Songwriters always say, especially if they’re artists as well, that finding the time to write while on the road can be very tough. So has Twinnie found that this is actually turning into a very creative time for her as well, in spite of everything?
“Yeah, most definitely. I’m writing all the time, every day. And it’s cool because there’s no pressure and I don’t feel any guilt. I’m a person that just wants to do, do, do, ya know. I don’t rest. I live and breathe this [music], because it’s not just my career, it’s my life. I always want to be achieving. So the lock-down process has been very interesting personally for me, because it’s tested my patience, but also made me slow down in a really constructive way. I’ve used my time well. I’ve been writing and I haven’t felt any pressure or guilt if I don’t finish a song. I’ve found an enjoyment, like I’m a bit of a kid again. Possibly because I’m living back with my mum! [laughs]. I’ve been falling back in love with songwriting rather than feeling that pressure of, ‘Ohhhh this record’s gotta be done!’ I would have been in Nashville right now because we’re doing an American EP to take to country radio which is super exciting. But I don’t know when I’m gonna be able to travel again, so in the meantime, like I said, I’m writing my second album. So when I go over to do the EP I’ll be further ahead really. then by the time the tour comes, everybody will know the words to my songs! [laughs].”
Twinnie’s album is entitled Hollywood Gypsy, both words reflecting different parts of her background, that of showbiz and entertainment which is the public side of things, and the more personal side of her Traveller heritage. With story-telling being such an important part of that heritage, I wondered if that helped draw Twinnie towards country music, given that it too has story-telling at its core? In other words, as Twinnie has such a gorgeous voice that she could sing anything…why country?
“Aw, thank you. I don’t really believe in genres. There’s a misconception, especially in the U.K., that country music is all about cowboys and hats! It’s not. To me, it’s about great lyrics, and telling a story. And I feel you see that more often these days with pop acts collaborating with country artists. Dan and Shay with Justin Bieber, and Diplo with Cam, it’s kind of crossing over because people realise that a great song is a great song. It doesn’t need to be wrapped up in production. A great song is when you can strip it down and just sing it with acoustic guitar or piano. then you know. Because it should still move people as much as with the full production. But yeah, I definitely feel that being a traveller – my dad’s a gypsy and my mum’s a Gorja, which is a settled person – I always felt like I was in two worlds anyway. I really did think about the concept of the album and how ‘Hollywood Gypsy’ as the title track, it reflects me. Literally, that’s about my life, and about the people and the town that made me, and going over to America. And I feel like I’ve reflected that in my adult life, because again, I’m in two worlds. I’m a British female doing country music in America, Nashville, and going to country radio. And I’m here, and I’m back and livin’ at my mums and I’m a different person. But I really wanted to tell that story. My dad is a great story-teller. All my family are really. And I grew up on Hollywood movie musicals, that’s another aspect. I was obsessed with Judy Garland and the fact that they could do everything! Dancing. Acting. They were great story-tellers. I was so intrigued by them. And I’ve been on-stage since I was four. What attracts me to any performer or musician is the fact that they can draw you in with their own truth. And it’s authentic. So when making this album, I just didn’t want it to be a straight pop album, or follow a trend. I really thought about the production, and what it was that I wanted to say. Because my journey was that I’ve been wanting to get this album out all my life. I come from up North, and nobody knew any record producers or anybody in the music industry, so I truly had to find my own way in. And I think all the songs on the album are a different story that I’ve told, and they’re all a piece of me. I’ve just tried to be really honest. I’m an honest person anyway. So I’ve tried to do that. Hopefully people like it.”
And like Twinnie’s songs, her videos are on-point, and immensely creative. Twinnie has a massive acting background as she alluded to earlier, having mentioned being on-stage since the age of four, and also having spent time on Hollyoaks. I wondered if that experience allowed her the freedom to kind of ‘go-big’ and really push things a bit when it comes to her videos concepts?
“Yeah, I mean, ‘Type Of Girl’, I don’t know whether you’ve seen it, that was based on a movie called ‘On The Town’, and Vera Ellen does this whole dance that’s really creatively shot. Like she’ll go through a door and then come out in a different outfit. And ‘Type Of Girl’ was basically about me showing all the different sides of my personality. You’re going to get the fact that I’m hormonal and I’m crazy one week [laughs]. Or I’m in a mood, and then I’m not [laughs]. I wanted that song to be like; this is what I am, take it or leave it. And that’s what I tried to do with the video. I always try to make fun of myself in videos. Probably ‘I Love You Now Change’ was the only serious one. That was a bit more mature, a different side of me. But in ‘Type Of Girl’, in that one I’m drunk. I just like being a fool and telling a story. And making people laugh! So a lot of thought does go into it. I think being an actress as well, I generally, when I write, I’ll picture the music video as I’m writing the song. It’s so much easier for me because I’ve got such a visual mind, then the words just fall out and I write them on the page. So I already know the music video before I even get to the label and go this is the brief that we want for it. I pull on different references and ideas even though they might be ridiculous. I have the confidence that acting brings to do those sort of videos. I’m not naive to it, I know where to stand, I know where my mark is. We shot eight characters on a twelve-hour day and that’s just unheard of! It was run like a military operation, it was amazing [laughs]. Yeah, I do have some wild ideas and people are like, ‘Hmmm…not sure that’s gonna work! You’re not exactly Taylor Swift yet!’ And I’m like, ‘I know, but is there like a small budget that we could do something with?’ [laughs]. And they’re like, ‘Twin…you gotta walk before you can run!’ [laughs].”
On the subject of Twinnie’s songwriting, so many of the comments and reviews I’ve seen around the album refer to the songs Superhero and Lie To Me as being peoples’ favourite tracks. Both songs are beautiful, but full of heartache nonetheless. Might there be a lot of personal experience wrapped up in those two songs for her? And in her songwriting in general?
“‘Lie To Me’ was written seven years ago and still can make me cry now, even when I do it ‘live’. I’d just broken up with someone. And the person that I wrote it with is one of my best friends. It was very traumatic. ‘Lie To Me’, you can actually hear if you listen closely, I actually cried on the vocal. You can tell. You can’t tell that I’m crying, but I think if you know how I sing, it sounds like I’m a bit choked up. But I think it’s cool to keep the emotion and keep it a bit raw. ‘Superhero’ I wrote with one of my best friends, Lucie Silvas, whom people will know, she’s had huge success in the U.K. Now she lives in Nashville. She’s a very prolific writer. ‘Superhero’ doesn’t really say whether I’m heartbroken or I’m in love. It’s more matter of fact that everybody can be touched by love, and it doesn’t matter how brave that you think you are, or strong you think you are, love can bring you to your knees. And I don’t like feeling vulnerable. So I wanted to kind of express that in a song without sounding too heartbroken. If you listen to the album, there’s those two [that are similar], and all the rest are upbeat. Because I want to keep people upbeat. I don’t like being sad. For ‘Superhero’ too, I watched a film called ‘Hancock’, Charlize Theron and Will Smith, and they’re basically superheroes. But when they come together, they lose their power. So I came into the session [songwriting session], and I was like, this is the only thing that I can think love does to me…it makes me lose my power. I can be super-human with everybody else…but with that one person I love, they can paralyse me with one word! Yeah, Will Smith and Charlize Theron inspired that one! [laughs].”
Twinnie has often cited Billy Joel as being one of her big influences. So for my last question, I put this scenario to Twinnie. If she could duet with the New-Yorker on one of his songs, which one would it be, and why? But also, if the chance came along to have him join her on one of her own tracks, which song would she pick?
“I think I would…uuuugh! [laughs]. There’s so many of his! Here’s the thing, there’s two. ‘She’s Got A Way’ is incredibly well-written, that’s one of my favourite songs. But it might be quite weird if I was to duet with him on that, ya know, singing about myself! [laughs]. So it would have to be something like ‘New York State of Mind’, because it’s so iconic. And the first time I saw him was at Madison Square Gardens, too. So that one. And I would have him duet on…hmmm…it would be a bit weird having him duet on ‘Type Of Girl’, wouldn’t it [laughs]. Probably ‘Lie To Me’, because I think he could do some really cool piano. And I feel like that song could be sung from both perspectives. He could take the first verse, I could take the second, come in in the bridge together! [laughs]. If YOU know him, or know anybody that knows him, put that idea out there! I would love to do a duet with him! [laughs]. He’s incredible!”
~ HOLLYWOOD GYPSY, the awesome debut album from TWINNIE, is out now and available on all digital platforms.