Chelsea Monthly gets to talk to Siddy Bennett, the frontwoman, singer and writer for the band ‘Wildflowers’.
Hello Wildflowers, to give our readers some context could you introduce yourselves and excuse the pun, talk about the roots of Wildflowers?
Ok, Hi everyone, we are a country rock n roll band from Brighton, someone recently labelled us “Punky Dolly Parton” which is fitting. Wildflowers began in early 2012, The sound of the band derives from James (guitarist/mandolin player) and I, who have been playing live and writing songs together for around 4 years and also my sister Kit, who plays keys and accordion. Her backing vocals are very crucial and we have been singing together as far back as I can remember.
Siddy, you’re quite the lyricist. Are there messages behind the lyrics? What kind of things moves you to write?
There’s always message behind the lyrics, sometimes it’s as simple as; get out of my house, other songs are more complex exploring issues like religion, addiction, abuse, politics, all this with a fun bouncy beat behind it. (Are you getting the Punky Dolly Parton vibe now?). I guess the message behind the band is: don’t take any shit from anybody, have fun, and live life.
What kind of gigs have you been playing lately? Any festivals? Where’s your favourite place to play?
We are about to head to Brisfest where we are playing on the same stage as “De la Soul” (massive hip hop legends) I seriously can’t wait for that. I’m a bit of a festival addict, so they are definitely my favourite places to play. I played Glastonbury last year and that was just out of this world. It’s basically a city of tents.
What are the main challenges for an up and coming artist at the moment? What have you done / are you doing to overcome them?
The biggest challenge/ problem is bad promoters. They book young bands in from out of town, to a night they haven’t promoted at all, so nobody is there to watch them. Or they only offer the slot to a band that can guarantee bringing 50 people to the gig. Well if this isn’t in your local area how are you supposed to do that? I really hate small time promoters like that. They don’t have a passion for music; they just want to line their pockets with the venues money. I overcame this by promoting my own nights, I’ve just started a monthly night called Route 66 at The Prince Albert, Brighton) It’s inspired by the flower powers greats of the 60’s, like Janis Joplin etc. My aim is just to get like-minded music lovers together for a good time. It’s kind of a tiny festival, with handpicked great bands (including Wildflowers), bunting, hay bales and good cider.
Who are your main influences, if you could play a super gig with any artist alive or dead, who would it be?
I would have to go with the Levellers. We were brought up on them, and whenever I’m feeling down, I put “Levelling the Land” on and immediately sort my self out. I think Mark Chadwick is a poet.
Do you perform in public, busking, street performances, or anything different like that? Birthdays, schools, weddings?
All the time, when we were trying to break venues in Brighton, we went round all the open mics to get heard by the venue. One night, they couldn’t let us on because it was too overcrowded, so we just played in the street and everyone came outside. I am also known for stage crashing at festivals, I always manage to get a sneaky slot! At Strummer of Love this year we played for about 5 hours through the night. By the end people had made us repeat some of our songs so much that thy all new the words! It was amazing.
How do you and the band all balance life and music? Where do you find the time for rehearsing and gigging.
I don’t balance it! I live for the band. I literally put all my time into this band. I’m very lucky because all my friends and family also believe in it, so we all club together. My boyfriend does all the artwork and driving, My friend has designed the website, another has made our music video. Other friends always help promote it/ get people sign the mailing list at gigs. Even my mum has recently re located to Brighton so she can help me organise everything. I love that DIY ethos, I think you get what you want when its people who know you doing your work. I have always believed that this is what I would be doing, and never once tried to do or be anything else. I think life is about taking those leaps of faith, otherwise you will be stuck doing something you hate.
Finally, where can we find Wildflowers growing in the future?
America! Because wildflowers have country roots, (HA) we have had a lot of positive feedback from America, so we want to head there. We are planning to tour in Silver Bullet trailers, busses and campervans and stay in campsites instead of Hotels. I just want to live like I’m in 1966. Anyone who feels the same should come along, It would be so amazing to road trip round America with like minded people who just want to be free and have some fun.