It’s no great secret that Scotland’s music scene is a thing to be proud of. So we here at TSA have teamed up with Scotland’s very own New Hellfire Club to bring you a monthly pick of who we think are doing epically well right now. Keep your eyes out for these up and coming bands. This is TSA and New Hellfire Club’s ‘Pick of the Month’.
Our new POTM, is up and coming starlet Lisa Kowalski, we have been working with her for about 6 months now since we heard her play, then heard about the insane amount of charity work she does too. We really think, given a year, she is gonna go far!
Hi there Lisa! You’ve long been a favourite of NHC MUSIC so we just had to get you in for our pick of the month with TSA, and we are happy you had the time to chat to us to be honest, as you seem to be hugely busy these days! Tell us a bit about yourself to start us off then, how long have you been a singer songwriter for, and what made you start off on this path?
I wrote my first song when I was 13 and continued to write from there. It was a really cheesy song called “One Day” about my dream of being on stage. I wouldn’t ever perform it again because it was just very immature and clichéd but I still love the song since it’s the thing that got me started!
I love writing songs because it’s such a great way to express myself and get my feelings out there, I’ve not always been the best at speaking to people as I’m just a really awkward person so writing music lets me say what I want to say without embarrassing myself.
You do an amazing amount of charity work alongside your music, do you feel that more acts should contribute more to charitable causes? Can you tell us a bit about the ones you are currently helping out?
Do I feel that more acts should contribute more to charitable causes? Absolutely! I’m so lucky to be able to make a pretty good amount of money from doing what I love at such a young age and I’ve realised there are people who aren’t as lucky who need the money a lot more than me.
I love to be able to help out and I believe everyone who can should do so. I love donating to charity because happiness is so infectious. Making other people happy is what makes me happy, whether its by singing a song they like or helping their cause. The charity that I’m currently most invested in is Educate The Kids.
Their Scottish activities are run by a small group of local volunteers and they are such a lovely, giving, selfless group of people. They always put others before themselves and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
By singing at a fundraiser for them, I got a chance to meet a choir of schoolchildren from Mombasa, Kenya known as “The Singing Children of Africa”. These kids are such beautiful, talented, smart little stars and meeting them was one of the best experiences of my entire life. They really made me happy and changed my outlook on life. I love them so much and I want to do everything I can to help them. I hope to go to Kenya to visit next year.
We’ve known you for a wee while now and can, with confidence, state that you are a bit of a Taylor Swift super fan! So much so that you shamed a lot of long established promoters by nailing your first promotion of a large scale DIY event out of the park, tell us a bit about that, and why you decided to try your hand at the organisation of an event, rather than just playing one?
Playing events is what I’ve done for the past two and half years so I wanted to challenge myself and try out something new! Its good to switch things up and push yourself to new limits and see what you’re capable of, and it’s just a good opportunity to learn and grow.
It was a really great experience for me to learn new skills, make new friends and gain more confidence.
Tell us a wee bit about some of the other, younger generation, of up and coming acts that you have played alongside. Who should our readers be looking out for, along with yourself, over the coming months.
All of the acts I have asked to take part in my Taylor Swift night are hugely talented. I have singled out the three I have worked with the most and who are all working every bit as hard as I am to try to make their mark in music.
Beth Swan – She’s only 15-years-old yet she has such a strong, powerful voice that can draw the attention of everyone in the room. She’s also such a great performer. You can tell she has so much fun on stage and she’s great at keeping the audience’s attention.
Aidan Smith – He’s so creative and can figure things out within seconds. He could hear the first couple seconds of a song and already know harmonies, chords and riffs for it. He’s just a natural at what he does in so many ways.
Matthew Gibb – He’s got a very unique voice and is great at playing an impressive variety of instruments. You wouldn’t expect such a bold voice from someone so young but it’s great. All these singers are amazing songwriters – their lyrics are very eloquent and moving.
I’m willing to bet that a fair amount of TSA readers are either in a band, considering being in a band, or playing some form of instrument! What advice would you give them about starting off in the music world, have you been given any great advice yourself that you would pass on?
I would just say that it’s very important to keep going. Even if you’ve been playing small open mics for ages and feel like it’s not getting you anywhere, just continue. Every little gig counts for something and as you keep singing, the opportunities get bigger and you also improve a lot and make a lot of new friends.
All the small gigs are worth it, trust me. Sometimes the smaller ones are the better ones. Don’t’ be scared to ask people for help and favours and if you aren’t being offered an opportunity, try and make it happen for yourself. There are lots of people ready to offer help and advice – for example the NHC folks!
So what does 2017 hold for you then? Any new releases in the works, or big plans coming up you can share with us?
I’ve applied for lots of festivals for next year which I hope to get into, so watch this space!
I’m also working on my debut EP, funded by Paisley 2021, with a producer down in London which is due to be released in early 2017 and then I’ll be promoting it as much as I possibly can! I’m so excited as the producer is super talented and I know it’s going to turn out to be amazing in his hands!
We also have “Ten Years of Taylor Swift” 2.0 happening on January 14th, except there’s a change in venue – it’s gonna be in The Mash House, Edinburgh!
We’ve also changed the setlist, introduced a couple of new performers and I’m so excited for another brilliant night that I’ll be able to call one of the best nights of my life.