Carrying the torch for the next generation of Nottingham talent, Tilly Greentree possesses the maturity of an artist twice her age, crafting relaxed lounge pop soaked in the neo-jazz movement made so popular by Tom Misch and Gregory Porter.
Growing up, music was drilled into Greentree from an early age. ‘I played a lot of music when I was young. My mum and dad are massive music fans,’ she says. ‘My whole family were musical enthusiasts but then I started to develop my own music tastes as well. My mum and dad listen to a lot of pop and indie stuff but I found the more modern versions of that, a lot of modern jazz like Tom Misch as well.’
Having started playing guitar at the age of seven, with the help of her uncle, Greentree self-taught herself later on, picking up ‘the more jazz-infused side to it all, the different chords and everything. When I first started writing original music I started out with a few songs I wrote for GCSE’s and then within Year 11 and 12 I wrote another three.’
"I don’t want people to alter the way I think about the music."
Whilst the influences of her immediate family played a key role in Greentree’s musical mind, her sound is resolutely modern and moulds around the sounds of the moment. ‘I do what sounds best to me and what I’m most comfortable in playing but if I hear a particular kind of sound, I’ll use it to my own advantage. A lot of Tom Misch’s stuff, his chords are jazzy and inspiring,’ she explains. ‘I find myself writing a lot more freely now than I used to.’
Being introduced to new people and different crowds and surroundings has influenced Greentree’s musical direction and helped develop her writing to the point where her unique take on chilled, laid-back lounge music has the potential for meteoric success, given its ability to resonate with a vast array of the population. ‘It’s more about the vocals and the sound, it’s stripped back and basic, with a guitar and vocals,’ she dissects. ‘The new single has keys, bass and drums as well and has a jazzier, swing-styled tempo. There’s a definite progression there.’
"I find writing quite therapeutic so in my spare time I’ll write a lot."
It can be easy to forget the singer-songwriter is still in full-time education, balancing her time between school and her record label commitments. ‘I think just knowing that I’ve already been put in a label, that helps me to push myself on a little bit,’ she highlights. ‘It’s definitely a supportive barrier. It’s kind of a fight between Sixth Form and music at the moment because towards the end of this year I had a lot of work with mocks and the last little bits of coursework that had to be in, but also I had commitments to my record label. It’s kind of fitting that and academic work in, but I do like it.’
Speaking to Greentree, it is apparent just how much of a cathartic process songwriting is, and the comfort of a label behind her as a supportive network only goes to bolster the foundations in order to let the singer-songwriter flourish. ‘I find writing quite therapeutic so in my spare time I’ll write a lot. Most of it doesn’t get finished, so I’ll write a verse and then won’t think about it. It’s mainly at night but now it’s getting to earlier points in the day whenever I kind of get a chance. There are times I doubt myself but most of the time I’ll sit there and mess around with songs. A lot of my songwriting is very natural. I’ll write a lot of the music, like a verse and the chorus in a night and then I’ll spend the next couple of nights going over it and building that up. It’ll take roughly a week.’
Despite her youthful complexion, Tilly Greentree possesses the motivational and business canny streak of an industry professional, knowing what she wants and how to get it. She doesn’t often seek the advice of others, she’s direct, knows the direction she wants to move in and sticks to that path with an assuredness that many artists her age struggle to find. ‘I don’t want people to alter the way I think about the music,’ she proclaims. ‘A lot of my songwriting is very natural. I’ll write a lot of the music, like a verse and the chorus in a night and then I’ll spend the next couple of nights going over it and building that up. It’ll take roughly a week.’
"I’m just making music and seeing where it goes really. I’m not planning anything huge. I’m aware this might not all happen."
Whilst the singer-songwriter breaks down her structured writing routine, Greentree confesses how she handles reaching occasional writing blocks. 'If I’m getting a writers block or I’m struggling a bit, my dad will sit there and he’ll tell me words and because they’re so crap, I’ll naturally think of better words! That sounds so bad I know but it sorts the process out and filters things out.’
A wise head on young shoulders, Greentree approaches music with an honest and realistic angle. ‘I’m making music to just be myself and if people like it, that’s better I guess. I’m just making music and seeing where it goes really. I’m not planning anything huge. I’m aware this might not all happen. Obviously I’m optimistic but I’m seeing where it takes me because it might not be that big but I do like gigging and I want to continue doing that.’
Even with the supportive comfort of a label behind her, the singer-songwriter is ferociously independent with her brand, her direct approach seeing the musician taking giant strides forward within the city over the past twelve months and if the same mentality is kept up, a great future lies in store for the young artist.