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AN ANNOUCEMENT – VAN LIFE LOY

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Okay… I have an announcement to make – I’m under taking a new ‘challenge’!

You know how I like a challenge! If not, well, previous challenges include: Becoming a full-time muso!! Writing 52 songs in a year and posting them all on Youtube, creating a proper album of the best ones, taking part in dance competition Strictly, converting my entirely undeveloped attic into a home studio myself, a 40 day fast (Yep, no food for 6 weeks – let’s not go into that!), and living overseas, to name but a few.

So the latest one (the craziest yet) probably seems like a sudden and impulsive idea. For the most part it is, but it’s actually been bubbling away for a good few years… All the years I have been ‘on the road’ as a regularly gigging musician, all the times I have read about ‘Free Range Humans’, all the moments spent gazing longingly at the Instagram photo of folks already living the life.  But also there have a few other contributing factors…

After the intensity of creative output that was the song challenge, and then the quiet fallow period of turning those songs into real records to make an actual album, then came the breakdown of my personal relationship and the inevitable change of dwelling… I have reached a place where I just can’t bring myself to pick a room and a town to ‘settle down’ in. I am itching for pastures new, some adventures and a hell of a lot of shows to promote my new album!

Yes! I have bought myself a panel van and, with the help of my parents, I am converting it into my own ideal camper (challenge one) and then I am going to take it touring around the UK and Europe (challenge two)! And then maybe swap my van and do it in North America (challenge three). And of course, as with every challenge I undertake, I shall blog it and vlog it as I go.

It’s been a few weeks since this idea seriously took hold and just a fortnight since I bought the van. I have slowly been telling my close friends and family what I am up to and quite to my surprise, everyone think’s it’s a great idea! I honestly thought I would meet with a lot more opposition, scepticism and naysaying but no, it seems the counsel think this is just the right plan for this phase of my life. Oooooeeee!!

I confess I am not entering into this lightly, I have fear… Especially of announcing to you all so publicly that this is what I am up to. I feel I am making myself pretty vulnerable, but I take my lead from the great Amanda Palmer who rather than fearing strangers and strange places, instead threw herself headlong into similar such adventures and found that the people and the world around her stepped up to catch her and help her, rather than take advantage. I trust that my experience will be the same. Besides, the more of you that know about it, the more of you there will be to look out for me along the way!

You can follow my progress on all my social media channels of course! #VanLifeLoy

So here I am, right at the beginning with an empty van and idea… Let’s get this show on the road!!!!

Love,

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WMF GIG COMING UP ON THE 9TH OF JUNE!

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Catch Phil Heard and I doing a headline acoustic set of my own tunes for Witney Music Festival on the 9th of June at Hacketts in Witney. Music starts at 7pm and we’ll be on sometime after 9pm! Hope you can make it along. :)

Love,

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PLAYING THE FIRST THURSDAY MUSIC CLUB SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE

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By now no doubt you’ll have heard me rave about Thame’s First Thursday Music Club. Essentially it’s an open mic night but it’s actually so much more than that attracting solo artists, duo’s, bands and even choirs from near and far! It’s popular and packed every month! So much so that founder Johnnie Littler decided there’s room for growth! He’s added the FTMC Members night. It’s a little different from the normal FTMC, this is a showcase in an intimate space with a silent listening audience that gives the songwriter time and attention not only to play their original material but also to talk about the songwriting process, the influences and the inspiration for each song.

I had the pleasure of playing the Songwriters Showcase last week, accompanied by Phil Heard on percussion, and enjoyed every minute of it. It was fab to play my work in that kind of environment to that kind of audience – Special!

Neil Wetherell filmed the whole set and chose this song to share with you. Thanks Neil! This song is called Hold Me Now (written during #52Songs52Weeks, when I first got a looper!)  Hope you enjoy it!

I shared the evening with Bromley based band Van Susans who were charismatic funny and similarly honest and open about how they write their songs. You can watch their performance here.

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The First Thursday Music Club Songwriters Showcase takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month and is held in Thame Town Cricket Pavillion. I encourage you to go along, it’s a really great night!

Love,
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IT’S OH SO QUIET… OR IS IT?

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Hello! Happy New Year!

I’ve bumped into some of you around and online recently and the burning question seems to be ‘Why so quiet right now Nikki? That’s not like you!’. I agree, it is very unlike me not to be gigging left, right and centre. I haven’t stopped performing entirely. I am still playing the odd gig here and there… And it’s January!? But whilst this would usually a be a quiet month anyway as we all recover from the end of last year.. That’s not reason this time. If you missed the bulletin, I have been recording an album! I’m sooooo excited by this! It’s the most ambitious piece of work I have undertaken yet and I’m proud of what we have achieved so far.

After the 52 week song writing challenge, it had been my intention to record the 52 songs into Naked part 1-4 before doing a studio album, that was only because I had thought that the process of getting into the studio would be a lot longer and more complicated than it actually turned out to be… But I’ve always believed that if you set your heart and mind to do something that people, circumstances and events will conspire to help you achieve it – And they did! I am so grateful! So Naked 2-4 is on hold while we work on something bigger and better!

I have been blessed with the opportunity to record regularly with record producer and engineer, George Shilling at Bank Cottage Studio deep in the Cotswolds… We’ve been having a fabulous time taking my naked blueprint versions of the songs and turning them into records. We’ve made a really good start on about 8 songs now and are due to begin a few more this week to complete the collection.

Reducing the amount I perform in order to concentrate on recording has really helped improve the quality of my work. I am really excited by the results and can’t wait to share them with you later on in the year. For now though, I thought you might like to see some photos I have been snapping along the way… You can follow more closely on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, I usually post every time we’re working on something.

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Phil Heard has been over and laid down drum parts for me…

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Keys player Matt Baker (with the colourful taste in socks), has been helping me out with piano and electronic parts.

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Ryan Robinson has been ripping up the riffs adding guitars to numerous tracks…

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And we have made sure that George’s cello makes an appearance in several places… He’s pictured above though playing an old skool WurliTzer – A real one, that we dug out from his crazy collection of instruments and dusted off. It’s adding some lovely warm tones to one of my tunes.

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One person who is not going to make the final cut is gorgeous Sybil Shilling, studio dog, who is highly entertaining as she tears about the studio, a glorious distraction but musically she has very little to bring.

So don’t worry about me! (love you for that though!) Everything is really good in Nikki Loy Music land! If you’d like to be one of the first people to hear about the release of these new tunes and maybe even sample them before everyone else, sign up to the mailing list below!

Love,

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MY FAVOURITE LIVE MUSIC PUBS – THE COTSWOLD ARMS

Cotswold Arms

Boasting a 39 year history of live music (Wow!! Isn’t that awesome!?), this recently refurbished picturesque Cotswold pub with it’s beautiful old architecture and gorgeous hanging baskets, is a favourite with the tourists and music lovers alike!

Although the pub dates back to the 18th century, Chris and Kizzy (an outgoing, charismatic pair in their thirties),  have been successfully running the place for some years now and continue to build it’s reputation, making sure that they have lots of events timed to co-incide with Burford’s social and cultural calendar. There’s always something going on!

When you first walk in, it seems pretty little but as with many of these old buildings it’s actually much larger than you think, stretching out back past the restaurant and function rooms, to the garden. You’ll be surprised how many people this place can hold when it’s busy! They even manage to fit in 6 piece bands!!

One of the reasons I liked to play there so much is that you are never really sure what kind of crowd are going to show up! It could be a rally of locals, a bunch of ramblers, a girls night out, tourists passing through, a convoy of gypsy travelers off to the Stow Fair, even bodyguards to the rich and famous. In fact, Jamiroquai has been known to pop in and sing along too. So it’s always different! I have known it to be anything from intimate and chilled, to rammed and roof raisingly raucous! I don’t mind what kind of crowd it is because I always select my sets once I have checked out the audience, then I tailor it to suit, but I do love it when the locals rock up and call out for the well known Nikki Loy numbers! :)

The acts that the pub attracts are as diverse as the customers, they have all sorts! From the artistic singer-songwritery types with their original music, to high energy covers acts. There could be jazz, soul, punk, make-it-up-as-we-go-along folk, and even the occasional Elvis Tribute!

Music aside, it’s also popular because of it’s welcoming atmosphere, great pub food and traditional ales. It has woodburner in winter, and in the summer it’s walled sun-trap patio garden with fountain and fishpond, is a lovely place to hang out! If you are Burford way on a Wednesday or Saturday evening, go and check out the live entertainment!

For more info about the pub in general, see their website: www.cotswoldarms.co.uk

I return to play a Christmassy set at the Cotswold Arms on Wednesday 16th December at 9pm. I think you should come along!?

Love,

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Have you been? What did you think? Can you recommend any other great Live Music Pubs? Leave a comment below. :)


QUICK GLANCE: WHAT’S ON IN SEPTEMBER AND SOME EXCITING NEWS!

September Gigs

Hello! I’m sorry, it’s been an uncharacteristically long time since my last blog post. I had intended to celebrate the end of the song challenge and then write you a little round up post a few days later but what actually happened was that I finished the song challenge, had a few days feeling euphoric, then had car trouble which took three full days of searching for elusive parts before it got sorted out and then, in the midst of that I got ill, big time! I got some kind of virus that gave me Tonsillitis and a bunch of other infections too. Maybe writing 52 songs in 52 weeks was a bit much because I have been in bed poorly for pretty much the whole of August! I did just about manage to honour my bookings and had a particularly great time at Towersey Festival with the band but today is the first day where I can say I actually feel normal, motivated and can think straight! Yay!

So that wasn’t the August I had in mind for myself but hey ho… I got a lot of rest! :)

In other news, I have decided that after five and a half years of near constant gigging it’s time to take a break… I don’t mean like Awful August above, I mean a proper break from my gigging schedule to shake things up and make some changes. This means that for the next six months I will be scaling right back on my public performances so that I can concentrate on developing some of the songs from the song challenge into an album, releasing a single and music video, and building a new show with my band. There will still be the odd gig here and there but not the usual 15 or so a month.  So if you wonder why my gig list looks thin – it’s because I am busy behind the scenes working on new things! Isn’t that exciting?!!! :)

I’ll still be active on social media keeping you in the loop as things progress so don’t be a stranger!

You can find more details about coming shows on my Live page or by signing up to the mailing list below.

Thanks for your support and love,

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Image credit: Damion Halliwell at Towersey Festival


QUICK GLANCE: WHAT’S ON IN AUGUST?

August Gigs

Hello! Here’s this month’s quick glance gig list. It’s festival season and the band and I are excited to be making appearances at Towersey and Astonbury Festivals, amongst all the other gigs that are going on! :) And if you catch this in time we are also going to go and play a few tunes at The First Thursday Music Club in Thame on the 6th.

I’d love to see you if you can make it along to a gig, and please do share this list with anyone you think might be interested in coming along too?

More details can be found on my Live page.

See you at a gig real soon!

Love,

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TUESDAY CHALLENGE ~ WRITE 52 SONGS IN 52 WEEKS! WEEK #52 ~ PIVOTAL

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Tuesday Challenge

Well now, would you look at that. We’re here. The final week of the 52 week songwriting challenge. I’m feeling pretty over whelmed by it all now actually. It’s been a pretty life changing experience. But I’ll tell you all about that another time. For Now it’s the turn of song number 52, Pivotal… You know… When sometimes life just seems to be hanging on a single moment.

I’m gonna sign off here and go, relax and celebrate. It’s been a reaaaallly long day so I’ll come back and do a proper chat blog later. For now, thanks heaps for tuning in this year. For sharing your thoughts and favourites with me and for cheering me on. :) xxx

Lots of love,

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 Play me the lot!!!

#52Songs52Weeks Introductory Video


TUESDAY CHALLENGE ~ WRITE 52 SONGS IN 52 WEEKS! WEEK #51 ~ EMPTY SPACE

Song 51 Empty Space

Tuesday Challenge

Well folks… Just because I have done 50 of these doesn’t seem to mean that I get to bypass the difficult days. This was a difficult day! A very difficult day. I like solitude when I write songs… I didn’t have solitude. I also didn’t have a lot of time but I gave it my best shot.. Don’t be put off! Some great songs have come out of the difficult days and I like the vibe of this one.. It’s kinda catchy but I feel like verse two will be getting a re-write in round 2 of the song challenge.

Round 2? Yep, that’s the stage when I take all these songs I have written and re-write them so that they are absolutely the best they can be before I make Naked recordings of them!

So this is a tune called Empty Space.

And now, I am going to pack my bag for a week off down to my home territories in the South West. :) Yay!

Anyway… There is now only ONE song left to write! Weeeehaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!

So thanks again for listening and being on this musical adventure with me! If you’re enjoying the song challenge please subscribe to my Youtube channel ’til next week…

Lots of love,

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 Play me the lot!!!

#52Songs52Weeks Introductory Video


TUESDAY CHALLENGE ~ WRITE 52 SONGS IN 52 WEEKS! WEEK #50 ~ DO THAT AGAIN

Do That again

Tuesday Challenge

Well it’s been an intensive weekend of gigging again… and I got to go and review the morning papers on BBC Oxford which is always challenging particularly after gigging the previous night! We have to be in soooooo early cos we actually have to read all the papers before we (try to) talk about them! I hung in there and just about managed coherency thanks to help from fellow reviewers Phil and Ken! ;) If you missed it you’ll still be able to listen to Will Gompertz show on BBC iPlayer until the end of the week.

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So today’s song has been written! Yay! Song number 50!!!!! Here it is, another happy little number that really needs little explanation! Wink wink, nudge nudge! It’s called Do That Again!

Anyway… There are now only 2 songs left to write! 2!!! :)

So thanks again for listening and being on this musical adventure with me! If you’re enjoying the song challenge please subscribe to my Youtube channel ’til next week…

Lots of love,

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 Play me the lot!!!

#52Songs52Weeks Introductory Video