Sat Jul 27 2024

8:00 PM

Brewery Arts

122A Highgate Kendal LA9 4HE

£18.70

All Ages

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Doors 7.30pm | Tickets £17.00 + Booking Fee | Theatre | Support from Olivia Dacre

Brighton-based artist Bess Atwell and her new single ‘Sylvester,’ sees Bess contemplate and re-evaluate familial roles and relationships through the resurrection of the track’s namesake, an imaginary character from her childhood. The single is the first new music from Atwell following her critically acclaimed album Already, Always, which was released via Lucy Rose’s Communion imprint Real Kind Records.

For Atwell, ’Sylvester’ personifies the inner tension between the desire to be a source of joy and distraction to those we love, yet the subsequent dissatisfaction and loneliness these attempts can bring. In the liminal space between this conflict is the ever-present sense of hopefulness that these two feelings can co-exist. Although Atwell’s knack for capturing the nuance and minutiae of the human experience in her songwriting is well documented, in ‘Sylvester’ this takes on a new resonance. Shortly following the track’s recording at Dessner’s studio in upstate New York, she received her diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder, bringing with it a wave of validation for her both personally and artistically.

In her own words, Atwell shares; “Sylvester is a character I created on a family holiday as a child to make my parents laugh. It’s a song primarily about family, the roles we play to keep the peace, and the desire for a more genuine form of connection. Relational dynamics have often felt like a performance to me which has left me feeling lonely, acutely aware that we’re mostly just going through the motions of connection. This makes more sense to me than ever before with a recent diagnosis of autism, and it’s where the cyclical, relentless imagery of running on a track comes from. Aaron (Dessner) did a brilliant job in bringing out the essence of the song with his production and instrumentation. The ambient lead guitar was one of the first things we recorded, his intuitive first instinct capturing the expansive, beautiful – but ultimately uncontrollable – essence of family and history. My only real non-negotiable was that the song had a sense of urgency and drive in the choruses which Aaron nailed with repetitive and ascending patterns.”

Bess Atwell

  • Bess Atwell

    Bess Atwell

    Singer-Songwriter

    Bess Hildick-Smith, known by her stage name as Bess Atwell, grew up in the English countryside, one of four children to an eclectic family of artists, songwriters and doctors. Growing up Atwell dabbled in acting, musical theatre, and fine art. She says “the love of singing is something I think most people realise at a very young age. I grew up in a creative household; many of my extended family are musicians, my dad a songwriter himself, and mother an artist”. She explains how her earliest years were spent assuming she’d follow in her mother’s footsteps, and still considers fine art her first love. She discovered song-writing a little later; “when I was ten my dad bought me a Spanish guitar and we both took lessons with the same teacher. I didn’t like being given homework and didn’t see much fun in the instrument on its own, so it was a few years later that I picked it up again and decided to sing, and eventually write my own songs”.

    At the age of thirteen, just as she was finding her footing as a songwriter, Atwell was offered a drama scholarship to a competitive private school. While acknowledging the privilege she’s had, she cites her experience at school as the cause of a substantial loss of confidence; “It was a difficult few years for various reasons, and at school I was either invisible or in a lot of trouble which didn’t help. I didn’t fit their cookie cutter ideal, so I was constantly getting the message that there was something wrong with me”. After graduating from school, she enrolled on a music degree at Falmouth University but soon withdrew to pursue music nearer London.

    In 2015, not long after dropping out of university, Atwell garnered the attention of major news outlets after a slew of showcases for The Great Escape Festival. The Independent and The Guardian were amongst those who were impressed by the artist’s performances, describing her as “a promising folk poet of suppression and inner anxiety” and “a gifted singer-songwriter with a voice like slow, cool water”.

    The new music is the first since her 2016 debut album. The record included the single ‘Cobbled Streets’ and saw Atwell attract the attention of critics and public alike while picking up radio plays on BBC Radio One, Two and Six Music together with live sessions for Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley’s shows. Atwell spent the following year gigging, including several sold out headline shows, and returning to festival favourites such as The Great Escape and Green Man.

    Two years on, the former solo project has evolved into a full band sound soaked in four-part vocal harmony fulfilling Atwell’s desire to create a more dynamic live show, with traces of traditional folk music. The band took some time out to work on new material in their hometown of Brighton. Though the prospect of taking a step back was a daunting move for the songwriter, it provided the necessary space to re-evaluate and create. On speaking to Pure M Zine about the new material she expressed that there were a few years she felt the genre ‘folk’ had become almost a dirty word; something that had been taken from “timeless to something fashionable, and the problem with fashion is that it goes out of fashion eventually”. The time off allowed the songwriter to develop a more refined, assured sound by falling back in love with folk music and learning to incorporate it with newer indie-rock influences.

    Atwell’s latest single ‘Grace’ is the more restrained, intimate successor of her August offering ‘Swimming Pool’, both of which have been playlisted by BBC Radio 6 Music. Taking inspiration from the likes of The National, Fleet Foxes, Lucy Dacus and Soccor Mommy, to name just a few, the new music attempts to depict the friction between fantastical, escapist imagery and the realities of relationships. Atwell says “I’ll tend to take a more romantic, digestible subject as a starting point, but I admire artists who’re able to get very personal and specific, lyrically – it’s a muscle I’m learning to flex. While Grace is fundamentally a love song about accepting someone at their worst, I think all love songs ultimately say much more about the writer than the subject”.

    Having written ‘Grace’ almost two years ago, Atwell’s demo attracted record label attention. After being re-imagined by a couple of producers and labels, the band decided to record and release the single independently with producer Giles Barrett (John Grant, Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman, Goat Girl) at Soup Studios in East London. On comparing the recording process to her debut, Atwell said “with these new tunes it was an entirely different experience - I have an amazing full-time band now who worked on these songs with me outside of the studio and so when it came time to record we just went into the studio and played the songs essentially

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Bess Atwell

Sat Jul 27 2024 8:00 PM

Brewery Arts Kendal
Bess Atwell

£18.70 All Ages

Doors 7.30pm | Tickets £17.00 + Booking Fee | Theatre | Support from Olivia Dacre

Brighton-based artist Bess Atwell and her new single ‘Sylvester,’ sees Bess contemplate and re-evaluate familial roles and relationships through the resurrection of the track’s namesake, an imaginary character from her childhood. The single is the first new music from Atwell following her critically acclaimed album Already, Always, which was released via Lucy Rose’s Communion imprint Real Kind Records.

For Atwell, ’Sylvester’ personifies the inner tension between the desire to be a source of joy and distraction to those we love, yet the subsequent dissatisfaction and loneliness these attempts can bring. In the liminal space between this conflict is the ever-present sense of hopefulness that these two feelings can co-exist. Although Atwell’s knack for capturing the nuance and minutiae of the human experience in her songwriting is well documented, in ‘Sylvester’ this takes on a new resonance. Shortly following the track’s recording at Dessner’s studio in upstate New York, she received her diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder, bringing with it a wave of validation for her both personally and artistically.

In her own words, Atwell shares; “Sylvester is a character I created on a family holiday as a child to make my parents laugh. It’s a song primarily about family, the roles we play to keep the peace, and the desire for a more genuine form of connection. Relational dynamics have often felt like a performance to me which has left me feeling lonely, acutely aware that we’re mostly just going through the motions of connection. This makes more sense to me than ever before with a recent diagnosis of autism, and it’s where the cyclical, relentless imagery of running on a track comes from. Aaron (Dessner) did a brilliant job in bringing out the essence of the song with his production and instrumentation. The ambient lead guitar was one of the first things we recorded, his intuitive first instinct capturing the expansive, beautiful – but ultimately uncontrollable – essence of family and history. My only real non-negotiable was that the song had a sense of urgency and drive in the choruses which Aaron nailed with repetitive and ascending patterns.”

Bess Atwell

Bess Atwell

Singer-Songwriter

Bess Hildick-Smith, known by her stage name as Bess Atwell, grew up in the English countryside, one of four children to an eclectic family of artists, songwriters and doctors. Growing up Atwell dabbled in acting, musical theatre, and fine art. She says “the love of singing is something I think most people realise at a very young age. I grew up in a creative household; many of my extended family are musicians, my dad a songwriter himself, and mother an artist”. She explains how her earliest years were spent assuming she’d follow in her mother’s footsteps, and still considers fine art her first love. She discovered song-writing a little later; “when I was ten my dad bought me a Spanish guitar and we both took lessons with the same teacher. I didn’t like being given homework and didn’t see much fun in the instrument on its own, so it was a few years later that I picked it up again and decided to sing, and eventually write my own songs”.

At the age of thirteen, just as she was finding her footing as a songwriter, Atwell was offered a drama scholarship to a competitive private school. While acknowledging the privilege she’s had, she cites her experience at school as the cause of a substantial loss of confidence; “It was a difficult few years for various reasons, and at school I was either invisible or in a lot of trouble which didn’t help. I didn’t fit their cookie cutter ideal, so I was constantly getting the message that there was something wrong with me”. After graduating from school, she enrolled on a music degree at Falmouth University but soon withdrew to pursue music nearer London.

In 2015, not long after dropping out of university, Atwell garnered the attention of major news outlets after a slew of showcases for The Great Escape Festival. The Independent and The Guardian were amongst those who were impressed by the artist’s performances, describing her as “a promising folk poet of suppression and inner anxiety” and “a gifted singer-songwriter with a voice like slow, cool water”.

The new music is the first since her 2016 debut album. The record included the single ‘Cobbled Streets’ and saw Atwell attract the attention of critics and public alike while picking up radio plays on BBC Radio One, Two and Six Music together with live sessions for Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley’s shows. Atwell spent the following year gigging, including several sold out headline shows, and returning to festival favourites such as The Great Escape and Green Man.

Two years on, the former solo project has evolved into a full band sound soaked in four-part vocal harmony fulfilling Atwell’s desire to create a more dynamic live show, with traces of traditional folk music. The band took some time out to work on new material in their hometown of Brighton. Though the prospect of taking a step back was a daunting move for the songwriter, it provided the necessary space to re-evaluate and create. On speaking to Pure M Zine about the new material she expressed that there were a few years she felt the genre ‘folk’ had become almost a dirty word; something that had been taken from “timeless to something fashionable, and the problem with fashion is that it goes out of fashion eventually”. The time off allowed the songwriter to develop a more refined, assured sound by falling back in love with folk music and learning to incorporate it with newer indie-rock influences.

Atwell’s latest single ‘Grace’ is the more restrained, intimate successor of her August offering ‘Swimming Pool’, both of which have been playlisted by BBC Radio 6 Music. Taking inspiration from the likes of The National, Fleet Foxes, Lucy Dacus and Soccor Mommy, to name just a few, the new music attempts to depict the friction between fantastical, escapist imagery and the realities of relationships. Atwell says “I’ll tend to take a more romantic, digestible subject as a starting point, but I admire artists who’re able to get very personal and specific, lyrically – it’s a muscle I’m learning to flex. While Grace is fundamentally a love song about accepting someone at their worst, I think all love songs ultimately say much more about the writer than the subject”.

Having written ‘Grace’ almost two years ago, Atwell’s demo attracted record label attention. After being re-imagined by a couple of producers and labels, the band decided to record and release the single independently with producer Giles Barrett (John Grant, Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman, Goat Girl) at Soup Studios in East London. On comparing the recording process to her debut, Atwell said “with these new tunes it was an entirely different experience - I have an amazing full-time band now who worked on these songs with me outside of the studio and so when it came time to record we just went into the studio and played the songs essentially

Please correct the information below.

Select ticket quantity.

Complete the security check.

Select Tickets

All Ages
limit 10 per person
Allocated Seats
£18.70 (£17.00 + £1.70 Fees, excluding any delivery costs)

Delivery Method

eTickets