Singer and self-taught musician Yvonne Hercules spoke to us in the midst of the release of her new EP “Gladiolus”.
Inspired by old school blues, folk and alternative music, Yvonne’s music combines thought-provoking lyrics underpinned by haunting vocal/guitar melodies.
Her last single Roving, which also features on the EP, was inspired in part by issues relating to police brutality and Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary film ‘13th’ and received a wave of support across publications and radio.
Inspired by the changing of seasons, Gladiolus explores the movement of Winter into Spring and how this metaphorically corresponds to a journey from a place of death into a place of life or hope. Below she has listed five track that have inspired her.
Bessie Smith – Nobody Knows You When Your Down
I remember the first time I listened to this song I became enthralled with this woman and this powerful voice that she possessed. It was around the time that I really started to get into the Blues, especially from this period and Bessie Smith is one of my all time favourite artists of that Blues era. She just manages to capture and project the emotion of it and I guess it’s followed me and been something I’ve always wanted to portray in my own music.
Kings of Leon – Arizona
I just think this is such a beautiful song. The first time I listened to it I cried. Again just the emotion in Caleb’s voice was something I was always admired and really connected with. It’s like you can feel what he’s singing and the instrumentation and the songwriting only helps to further that.
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Leonard Cohen is one of my all time favourite songwriters and has massively inspired me in terms of my own songwriting. A few weeks after he died I went to Montreal and visited his home at 28 Rue de Vallieres where he had lived during his time there. I managed to leave a little note on the side of the door that expressed how much he had inspired me and how lucky I felt to be able to come to this place where he had created so much of his amazing art. Something I will never forget as its the closest I’ll ever get to saying that to him face-to-face. Suzanne is definitely one of my all time favourites.
Bon Iver – Flume
I just think Justin Vernon is one of the greatest songwriters/artists! For me, For Emma, Forever Ago was one my favourite albums of his and I listened to it on repeat when it first came out. The rawness and beauty of Flume was something I loved when I heard it and the fact that he’s singing about childbirth and wrote this beautiful song to express that. It’s a song that I always loved to cover and had an influence on me, so much so that I included my own version on my EP which I feel so lucky to have been able to cover. I also love how as a band, Bon Iver is constantly evolving and growing. That’s something I really admire.
Valerie June – Front Door
I’ve only recently stumbled across Valerie June, almost a year ago and this was the first song I listened to. I feel that I’m always looking for artists that I can relate to and to me she was just that. I love how on her albums you can hear a bit of everything thats influenced her from Country, to Afrofunk, Blues and even electronic music. She manages to balance everything perfectly and her sound was definitely an influence for my EP.