Interview: Lydia Prettyman - 'Picture Frames'

In light of the announcement of her upcoming debut single Picture Frames, Features Editor Gemma Cockrell spoke to Mic alumna Lydia Prettyman about her musical journey, navigating the music industry as an independent artist, and her lasting connection with the local Nottingham music scene.

Before we delved into the exciting topic of her new music, I decided to take Lydia on a trip down memory lane, and ask her about her favourite moments from her time at The Mic. “I can think of two things,” she ponders. “Two years ago we did the Mic Amnesty gig at Bodega. That was really fun, Bodega is a really cool venue, so I loved that. Then, I did an interview with Mr Jukes and Barney Artist, which was really cool. I was so nervous! I loved the experience; it was a big one for me. When

you like an artist and you get to chat with them, it’s so much fun.”

Now, Lydia has swapped roles, becoming the interviewee rather than the interviewer. She has now moved on from Nottingham, returning home after finishing her masters last year. “I kind of wanted a bit of a break after three years of my undergrad and then a year of my masters. I’m working at the moment, saving up some money. I’m based in Bedfordshire. It’s quite different from Nottingham!” A lot of great musical projects have come to life on the University of Nottingham campus: Blondes, London Grammar, Don Broco, Amber Run, to name a few, and despite no longer residing in the city Nottingham greatly shaped the origins of Lydia’s music career, after she began to write songs in her first year of university. “It was something that started more seriously at uni. When I joined, in 2017 – ages ago! – I was in halls and I had my guitar and a keyboard. For me, I struggled quite badly with homesickness, and I felt halls could be quite lonely and isolating. So, that was when I started taking song writing more seriously. It was something I’d do when I was on my own in my room, and I started to do it more frequently.”

At the time, she had no plans to record or release any of the songs she was writing. “I wasn’t thinking about that, I was doing it because I liked doing it. Then, I got into my third year, and started actually recording a demo. I took it more seriously then. Since starting uni it became more serious, and then when I left uni I thought that if this is what I actually want to do then I need to do it now! It was always a procrastination from uni work, but now I actually need to do it as a job.” Lydia is now getting ready to release her debut single 'Picture Frames'. In terms of her influences for the track, she declares herself a “massive Coldplay fan”, as well as citing 70s artists such as Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder as further inspiration. “I wouldn’t say these artists directly influenced the instrumental side of the song, but I think I like the way they tell a story.”

“In terms of more modern music, I like Arlo Parks and Bruno Major. I listen to a lot of vocal-led songs. I’ve gone more towards their sound, with a jazz style of chords and soul vibes with a bit of a pop spin.” Lydia then goes on to tell me that she was lucky enough to be on a Zoom call with Arlo Parks last year, after subscribing to her mailing list and winning a competition to take part in a virtual

Q&A with her. “It was my biggest flex!” she laughs.

Lydia’s lyrics successfully incorporate the storytelling nature of her influences. In her own words, she summarises the song as “a reflection on a relationship when you’ve broken up. I liked the concept of talking about baby names with someone, and then breaking up and not doing that anymore. So, I wanted that as the main line of the first verse. It all started from that. Reflecting on memories and pictures. That’s the story behind it.”.

Having heard the track, it is a beautiful introduction to Lydia’s artistry, and will be released on 25th March 2022. It's early days, but Lydia has nevertheless considered what life holds for her after the single has been unveiled to the world. “I feel like its going to feel so good on the day, and then the next day I’ll be like ‘what’s next?’” she laughs. “I’ve been trying to push it on playlists so hopefully it continues to get attention in the weeks after its release. I also want to plan some live stuff, but I don’t have my own band, so I’m hoping to secure things like that a bit more. I also want to write more stuff. I recorded another song back in October, so I’ll release that in the next couple of months too. I also have a lyric video and an acoustic session of Picture Frames to release.”

"Nottingham will always be a home away from home for me. How long I lived there, the people I met, it's always a very comforting place to be for me"

Lydia is the true definition of an independent artist; with no label, band or management, she is learning to navigate the music industry solo. “I’m sure those things will come with time, as I get more experience in the industry. I’m very new to the independent artist scene, so I think writing and practicing the songs, making sure they’re ready to be performed live, is the most important thing for me right now. I work a bar job right now, so I have the flexibility to book time off and make music whilst also making money, because when it’s so early I’m not earning a wage from music.” Lydia is also looking forward to returning to Nottingham to play live at some point, having performed at many open mics back when she lived here. “I used to do a lot of open mics at Percy Picklebackers, and I also always wanted to do the Rescue Rooms Acoustic Rooms one, but I haven’t got round to it yet. I’d love to do some more open mics in Nottingham at some point! I’ll keep you all updated. I value any experience playing live, and anyone who wants to come – you never know who’s going to be there listening.”

Both myself and Lydia went on to marvel at the uniqueness of the Nottingham music scene, and how supportive and uplifting the local music fans are. “I noticed it at Dot to Dot last year,” Lydia points out, and I quickly agreed having attended the festival myself, “So many of the people that went to watch were local people who just want to go to a venue and see new music, even if they aren’t familiar with the artist. I noticed it at the open mics too. People are willing to come up to you afterwards and tell you that they enjoyed your music, and chat to you and give you nice feedback. They were always so welcoming and made me feel calm after I’d performed, when I was nervous.” Despite not living in Nottingham anymore, Lydia still feels connected to the Nottingham music scene. “Even when I left, I messaged Miles who runs Percy Picklebackers, to let him know I was leaving and to thank him for the opportunities, and he let me know that I was welcome anytime. When I reached out to The Mic, you guys were instantly willing to support me. I instantly felt so welcomed back, which was nice, as it can be quite scary when you’re doing it all yourself. Messaging all of these people, emailing magazines, you know there’s a chance you might get rejected. Nottingham will always be a home away from home for me. How long I lived there, the people I met, its always a very comforting place to be for me.”

Picking up on Lydia’s struggles with facing the music industry as an independent artist, I asked her if there was any advice that she’d give to other people also in this situation, or any life lessons that she has learnt along the way. “I’m still understanding it myself, but the biggest thing I’ve found to help is talking to people who have been in that situation. It doesn’t have to be music related. My sister went to drama school, and I’ve also talked to the Blondes boys quite a bit. They’re a bit more experienced than I am, so it reassures me that I’m beginning to understand what’s going on. Just talking to people and reaching out to other creatives, it doesn’t have to be music, because you’re in a similar situation at the foundations of it. You’ve got to be open to the fact that it will be hard, and it takes a lot of work, and half the time it’s just luck – that’s what I’ve had to learn. With enough hard work, it does work out.”

As the interview began to wrap up, my final request for Lydia was for her to summarise exactly why people should listen to Picture Frames. “If you want something that is chill and easy-listening, then it's nice to listen to, but equally if you want to get into the lyrics and understand what its about, then you can analyse it yourself and connect with it. The song provides the reassurance of knowing that someone else has gone through what a lot of people have gone through. Also, it’s been a long time in the making, it’s been two years, so just listen to it for that reason!”, she laughs.

'Picture Frames' by Lydia Prettyman will be released on 25th March 2022.

Access all of Lydia's content here:

Gemma Cockrell


Featured and in-article images courtesy of Lydia Prettyman via Instagram. Video courtesy of Lydia Prettyman via YouTube.