Hi Sian, for those not in the know, can you tell us a little bit about you…
Hi there… My name is Sian Cross I am a London based, boat dweller and I’m addicted to music. I love all types of music but the music I write myself is electronic, spacious pop with haunting melodies and lots of delicious harmonies (another addiction of mine!).
Your lead single is Tell Anybody. We understand the song was inspired by a story someone told you. Can you fill us in…
It’s the true story of a man accepting his homosexuality. I take you through the entire journey; from his first kiss when he was a young boy to coming out to his friends and family as an adult man. The title itself came up a lot during his journey; initially, him not wanting to Tell Anybody, then his family wanting to keep it a secret and then the eventual and complete acceptance from himself and all his loved ones, proud to Tell Anybody who he was without shame.
Our understanding is that your upcoming EP was inspired by a range of conversations. What moves you to write a song?
I wrote a song called ‘Four Weeks’ around 8 years ago about losing my father to cancer. This song seems to have the ability to connect with people in a way that I could never have imagined. I received a number of messages from people revealing similar losses and expressing the comfort and strength that Four Weeks had given them. One person even said that they hadn’t been able to grieve for their mum but listening to Four Weeks had allowed them to release the pain they’d been hiding. This inspired me to delve deeper into people’s lives and tell their hidden stories; I wrote the entire EP this way and it has been one hell of a journey. The songs tell their tales of struggle through some incredibly hard situations but ultimately highlight the strength and courage that these difficult times have given them. Each and every person involved in this process has been an inspiration to me and taught me some valuable lessons that I will never forget. I hope that the music can do the same for others.
How difficult do you find it sharing the experiences of others in your own works?
It has been a very different process and it definitely has had its added pressures that I didn’t really consider when I started the project. I felt a real responsibility to the people who had given me their stories and do them justice, but in turn also create a piece of work that others could connect with and enjoy.
Do you present your songs to those that inspired them ahead of sharing them with the public? If so, how do they react?
Yes. I presented each of them with the song in its purist form. Usually a rough iPhone recording of Rhys [my co-writer] and I playing it through. This was by far the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever had to do but I am very happy to say the reactions were beautiful. Often tears but always smiles and warm hugs!
Your own personal story has shaped the record too. Do you feel more vulnerable when performing a song about your own journey?
Connecting with the lyrics of a song is important to me and it is something I focus on a lot when performing. I try to deliver each song from an honest emotional connection to the words. This is actually something I was worried about when I took the path of writing other people’s stories. I thought that I may struggle to connect to them but in fact, the very opposite happened; having sat down with each person, listened to their story, dried their tears and shared their laughs I feel a deep connection to every song and every lyric. Also as I have progressed through my journey, sometimes I find the songs change meaning and begin to relate to something I personally am going through, which is completely unconnected to the topic of the song but then that’s the beauty of music, right? It can mean anything to anyone. So in answer to your question; no, I don’t feel more vulnerable with songs about my life, they are all my babies and I feel equally as vulnerable letting them out into the world no matter how they were born.
The striking sound of Tell Anybody crosses genre boundaries. Who are your sonic influences?
Fitting into a genre is always something I have struggled with as I love so many different types of music. Its no secret I am a big fan of Michael Bolton but also I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Whitney Houston and more and I still listen to all of them on a regular basis. Now added to that playlist is James Blake (who was a huge influence in my change over to electronic music), The Staves (no one does harmonies like those girls), Oh Wonder, Ry X and more recently Christine and The Queens (I love her!).
If you had to define yourself as an artist, how would you describe yourself?
I tell stories through music. Lyrics are very important to me and I always hope to allow the listener to go on their own journey with every song. But it is not only the lyrics that must tell the story, everything plays its part and if you listen out you will hear each instrument and its purpose within the song. I love big orchestral sounds and I am obsessed with harmonies! Genre is not a word I am comfortable with and I think music should be categorised by the emotion it evokes within you. At least that’s how I categories my playlists!
What is the most moving feedback you have received since releasing the single?
It was from another singer who I was working with at the time; he asked to listen to my song ‘Tell Anybody’… After listening he confided in me that he was in a relationship with a guy and that they had been keeping it a secret and were struggling with the prospect of telling people. He said that ’Tell Anybody’ had made him feel like he shouldn’t be afraid and he should just tell people and not hide away. He said he felt empowered.
Helping people through music is my ultimate goal so this really meant a lot to me.
The music video is a rather compelling watch, while the artwork is truly thought provoking. How important is it to you as an artist for your work to be seen as more than just the music?
This is really important to me. For one, I am just not very good at doing things by halves and for two I love being creative and am always looking for excuses to do as much as I can within as many different platforms as possible!
As this project is fuelled with true stories of real people I really loved the idea of the artwork actually being painted on real people (where possible the subjects of the tracks themselves). I am very fortunate to have a good friend, Spinks, who is a World Champion Body Painter! I approached her and she was keen to get involved but instead of stopping at the single and EP artwork we decided to take on an entire art project. Together we worked out how we could portray the message behind each song through a painting. We spent days and days brainstorming, it was hard at times but worth every moment. We now have a piece of art connected to each song that displays the message in its own unique way! The same goes for the video; another super talent friend I am fortunate to have, Andy Biddle is an excellent stop-motion animator. I approached him for this track as I felt strongly that I didn’t want it to be a ‘music video’ as such, more like a short animation film. Andy portrays brilliantly the burden of carrying around a secret with you. I am very grateful to have so many amazingly talented people wanting to work with me on this project.
If you could achieve one thing with the song Tell Anybody, what would it be?
I would love for each song to in some way help or expose the subject of which it is written about. Whether that be on a grand scale or just helping one person… I would also love each song to be connected in some way to a charity for the topic. In this instance homosexuality, is still quite a taboo subject and having grown up in the creative arts I have seen so many struggle with coming to terms with who they are. I would love ‘Tell Anybody’ to help in some way.
Finally, what is your ultimate goal as an artist?
To make music for the rest of my life! And play the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury… of course!