Hailing from Falmouth, Cornwall, and at only 17-years-old, Polly Money is writing music and singing songs that are making the acoustic community sit up and take notice. 2013 is the year for Polly Money.
How did you start out on the guitar?
I had piano lessons first, and I decided that I really wanted to play the guitar because my Dad played, so when I was 10 I started guitar lessons at school.
Most people who go on to be successful musicians find that they pick up things pretty quickly, is that how it was for you?
It was, yes. I started off learning a few chords, and the progressed to a few songs, and pretty soon I discovered that I was developing my own fingerpicking style and I wanted to improvise a little bit and test out some chords that I didn’t know. Because I had a real passion for the guitar, I practised a lot, so obviously that did help as well. It is about being passionate about music, and being willing to learn and to practise.
What was your first guitar?
I actually started on electric guitar, because I thought I was going to play rock and roll stuff and do all that, but I pretty soon swapped to acoustic. My first acoustic was my Walden which I still have and I still play. It was my Dad’s, he bought it for himself before I got really keen on guitar myself and I sort of, took it over!
What other guitars do you play?
I’ve recently got a Walden Mini, it’s a T550 model, and I love that. I have just got hold of a Gibson Les Paul Standard as well, because I am getting back into some electric guitar as well. I want to incorporate a little bit of electric guitar in my set. I love the bluesy feel that an electric sound gives, so I am going to put some of that in, but not distorted or rocky, I will be using a nice clean tone.
When did you start writing?
I started to write not long after I had my guitar, when I was 10. I grew up in Cornwall, and I love the beach and the sea, so there was always lots of inspiration around me. I found writing songs came quite naturally to me; I have always had music around me growing up, so it felt very natural to write songs.
When did you realise that you were writing good songs which you could play in public
That has come over the last couple of years really. When I started writing, it was never with the intention of playing my songs for an audience, but it was all part of the process that has led me to write songs, that I started to think maybe I could play them for other people. I did start to play them, and got some good feedback which is just fantastic, so I am always developing more as a writer.
You use a looper pedal when you play, which is a tricky thing to get right. You loop very quickly don’t you?
I think if you are setting loops at the beginning of a song for too long, you can really lose the attention of the audience. I think if you get a couple of loops started, and then get into the song, you can add more in as you go. One person who uses loops and has been a big influence on me is Ed Sheeran. I think if you get the song started and then add loops in, the momentum of the song is there and so no one is waiting for things to get going.
It is a little nerve-wracking to do though isn’t it?
The first time I tried looping I was so nervous, because only my family had heard me do it before but I had heard people do it and thought it was so cool, so I thought I would add a couple of songs with loops into my set and just vary it a little. The reaction from my family was positive, so I thought I’d try it. The thing is, a loop can go very wrong very quickly; you just have to hold tight and go for it, because it is such fun to do.
How is your college course going?
I am doing a B.A. honours degree in songwriting at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London. I am in my second year, and it’s great. It is giving me the space and time to develop my writing, and how to play with a band, stagecraft, and an all-round appreciation of the music business. Every week they give us a brief and we have to write a solo song around it, either directly, or in a subtle way, it has to include the subject of the brief we are given. I used one of those for a song in my set at the Acoustic Festival of Great Britain last summer. I really enjoy the focus that gives me with writing.
What reception do you get from your lecturers?
I am part of a course with 16 people taking part and everyone is really talented. As a whole, I think they enjoy our music because we play different styles. They are very supportive and encouraging in our development.
Has your appearance at the Acoustic Festival Of Great Britain (2012) increased your profile?
It was my first festival appearance and to be honest it blew me away. Everyone was so friendly and supportive and it has really encouraged me to get involved in the festival circuit. As a result of that appearance, I was invited to play at the London Acoustic Guitar Show which was just incredible! I played at the Looe Music Festival in Cornwall, and I have been invited back to the Acoustic Festival at Uttoxeter again for 2013, which I am very excited about.
Are you getting any approaches from management or agents yet?
Well I see myself as being in the early stages right now, so I think all of that is hopefully going to come in the future. The audience reaction to my material is good, which is really encouraging, and I am taking lots of advice and honing my craft as a live performer. I have an awesome mentor and we have some exciting plans for 2013 so keep an eye out!
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I am really enjoying listening to Taylor Swift, John Mayer (who is an influence as a writer and as a guitarist), and Jason Mraz. There are artists in different genres that I enjoy listening to and I think their influence does work its way through into what I write, but not in a way that’s obvious to anyone else
Do you write within your range, or do you experiment?
I love going out of my range! I love to try little vocal riffs and going higher or lower that my normal range and pushing my way out of my comfort zone.
Do you have any career plans in place yet?
Well, as I have said, I am in the early stages of my writing and playing career, but I am going into the studio in April to record my first EP and I am so excited about that. I am meeting loads of great people and having such fun. I am gigging as much as possible, and focusing on writing, and just loving it!