By Laura Shields, Arts and Entertainments Editor. @LauraShields86
Getting your music out there can be difficult for any up and coming musician. However, when you are under 18-years-old you have age as an additional complication. Not that this has stopped 16-year-old singer/songwriter Rebekah Wilson from rising to prominence. With a powerful voice and more instrumental skills than most people 3 times her age, she is proof that age does not dictate talent. I caught up with Rebekah to talk about all-ages gigs and her blossoming future in the Belfast music scene.
As a musician under the 18+ age restriction imposed by many venues, what has your experience of the Belfast music scene been?
A few years ago I had no clue Northern Ireland had a music scene. I was introduced to [it] by friends who were in a band and it sprouted from there. I still complain about the number of gigs and venues I can’t attend due to my age, but I often find myself asking; “Are there more all-ages gigs [now]…or am I just becoming more aware of them?”. If you look in the right places you realise how many opportunities there actually are. Open mics are a great way to get involved and have been my main resource for getting my voice heard. Also, Volume Control and the Oh Yeah Music Centre have been ineffably valuable to me. The individuals involved have been fantastic in advising and supporting me.
Do you feel people often underestimate you because of your age?
I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and encouraging words I’ve had over such a short period of time. I certainly don’t believe I deserve it. I still doubt myself all the time but I feel like I’m proving that age doesn’t matter as long as you’re passionate. There are so many young people involved in music here and I feel we’re working as a team to get our feet in the door and make a mark.
So, who or what would you say influences your music?
I don’t think I sound specifically like another artist and I don’t consciously take influence from anybody else. I just get into a mood to write a song and do it. I mainly listen to alternative and pop-punk stuff and the acoustic guitar comes from listening to folk and indie. My music taste stretches across genres so I just pick up bits and pieces from all over. I tend to randomly come up with a lyric and try to incorporate it into a tune that I’ve written before. Actually, that sounds an awfully disjointed way to write! [But] it seems to work otherwise the song wouldn’t leave my bedroom!
Do you feel it is more difficult to be a solo performer than perhaps a band?
I’ve been making my own music from I was no age and always wanted to be in a band, but when bandmates seemed hard to come by I decided to start showcasing the music I had. I played my first gig in March and it wasn’t even planned. Volume Control was running an all-ages open mic and I decided to take the opportunity. [It] was so good I’ve been actively gigging and writing since! I still find myself looking for a backing band because that’s the music I want to write. I need that full band sound and there’s only so much I can do myself. I play all the instruments on my demos but I can’t play [them all] simultaneously live! I hope there will be developments in my live sound over the coming months.
While we are on the topic, have you any other plans for the future?
Music is my main goal – it’s the thing I’ve always wanted to do. [My immediate] plans are exciting me to no end! I recorded with Mike and James from Mojo Fury in Millbank Studios before Christmas and the months following that I’ll try to organise [an EP] release, hopefully for April 2015.