Sophie Wales catches up with Abi Flynn, Brighton-based singer and songwriter.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

My grandad was a jazz singer in his day. He used to sing the greats whilst filling out his crosswords or serenade us at family weddings and parties. He had a beautiful baritone voice and used to tell about his days secretly singing in jazz clubs whilst my nanny thought he was out having a ‘normal’ job!

Name a track you wish you’d written.

There are so many, but what comes to mind this second is ‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell (the smoky jazz version from the 2000 album). Wow. The depth of meaning within the lyrics, the melody, the FEELING. Just goose bumps.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

I’ve been listening to a lot of music where world-inspired rhythm and percussion meets orchestral landscapes. Such as Michael Kiwanuka, Terry Callier, Minnie Ripperton, The Isley Brothers, Pete Josef, Snarky Puppy. I’m loving cranking up some personal favourites such as Chantae Cann, Stevie Wonder, Rohey, Esperanza Spalding, Fatima, Bobby Caldwell and Chaka Kahn.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Snarky Puppy live in Brighton. Every single song was like being caressed by about five different dimensions of delicious sounds! I was right at the front, so I soaked it all in and stared in total amazement at the musicality and pure heart that went into every bar.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

I can’t believe I’m saying it but I haven’t seen any livestream concerts! For me, lockdown has been such a time of introspection and redefining myself as an artist, whilst being a new mama in a bit of a love bubble. Lots of gentle experimentation with new sounds and exploring what I’m passionate singing about in this new chapter. I’m going to look into these livestream concerts after this!

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

Make it real. Make it felt. We are all feeling so much right now, in one way or another. Without so much distraction from the outer world, we are coming face to face with so much of our inner world. So much of our innermost felt expression usually goes under the radar, but in these illuminating times, we have an opportunity to embrace the discomfort rather than cover it up with more distraction. Inside the discomfort is the good stuff. My advice is to get deep, be with it, and make it into art. That is true alchemy. Also, trust is something magical. Trust that just being and experiencing the vast inner landscape, as apposed to the need to ‘do’, will actually move mountains beyond what you could have imagined in terms of creative expansion and bringing your dreams into manifest!

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

In a surprising turn of events, my partner Bradley and I have been writing beautiful songs together. He’s a wonderful songwriter and guitar player. Time will tell what happens with these! But mostly I’ve been falling back in love with singing just for the love of singing. I have so much music written that I didn’t get to release yet due to cancer, pregnancy, and the pandemic, so I’ve been creating a master plan to bring it all out.

Read more about Abi’s story on her website, and head over to her Spotify to check out her music. You can also watch her brand new music video here.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ is with Sheboshka, and will be posted on 29th July. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.