Q&A with Lynsey Berry


Lynsey is a singer, songwriter and worship leader based in London. Originally from the North of England, Lynsey has a big heart and a wicked sense of humour! Her debut EP released last year reached number 29 in the iTunes pop charts.
In this Q&A Lynsey shares her experiences of song writing, the differences between live performances and studio work; and overcoming obstacles in the music industry.

If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Honest, Real & Melodic.

What is your earliest musical memory?

My mum teaching me a song on the piano and then showing my dad with delight at how good I was when he came home from work! I must have only been 3 years old. I also used to have a rocking horse that my Dad would sit me on and put on music and there I’d rock back and forth on it singing away for hours!

What was the last song you listened to?

A song called ‘Chocolate’ by a band called The 1975. It has an awesome guitar rif intro and a really great vocal.

How do you like to approach song writing?

It depends! Sometimes if I am asked to write for someone for an occasion or a particular theme, I have to start with lyrics. Then I will sit at the piano and work out a rif or a few chord sequences. If I am co-writing with someone else, one of us will usually have a musical idea or chord structure to start with then we work together in building the song. Then we work out what we want the song to be about and write lyrics afterwards.

On occasion, I’ve had a rif or melody line pop into my head at random times and had to sing it into my iPhone – these moments you have to record, no matter where you are at the time! Sometimes they come to nothing but usually they are gems that make their way onto an album.

How important is collaboration to you?

Very. I love working with people and I love to get feedback whether it be positive or negative. We always need to remain humble and teachable in everything we do, especially in our creativity.

How does performing live compare to working in a studio? Which environment do you prefer?

They are completely different environments. Let me try to illustrate the difference. Being in the studio is like baking a cake or painting a picture at your leisure, knowing you can erase, start again, throw it away and sometimes take your time at perfecting it. Performing live is like being on Master Chef with one shot to get it right with the chef watching and critiquing you and within a time frame. Or like painting a portrait of a person on the street, with again just one shot to get it right, knowing they want to see true likeness of themselves and get what they paid for! Even though you have put the work in beforehand you are under a certain amount of pressure to do well.

I actually love both environments. I learn a lot when I am in the studio on how to use my voice to get the best sound possible by listening back and doing it over and over until I am happy. After all, the vocal is there forever on a CD! Singing live however is a lot of fun and you can let your personality shine out more when you are present in front of people. So for me, both environments have major advantages. In a live environment you just need to love your songs and be very well rehearsed.

Which of your songs do you love to perform the most?

This is a really difficult one! I love doing the worship songs because I love to see people worshipping! However, my song ‘Crossfire’ seems to be a favourite with everyone, young and old and I love seeing kids dancing to it! Then there’s “I’ll Go” which makes me feel incredibly vulnerable every time I sing it. The lyrics are very personal and it’s just me and the piano so I feel very exposed, but the response is always really positive.

What have been some of the obstacles you have faced with your music? How have you overcome them? Any advice you can pass on?

My age has always been a factor. When I first started singing I was too young and my voice wasn’t developed enough. Now my voice is probably the strongest it’s ever been but I don’t necessarily have age on my side anymore! However, I don’t believe that age can get in the way of talent, hard work and determination. It can close some doors but not all of them.

Location can be difficult as well. That was the reason I moved to London. I grew up in a very small town where I couldn’t even take performing arts at school or in further education and I felt I needed to be stretched more than what I was already doing and involved in at the time. I became a very little fish in a very big pond over night, but it’s what I needed to grow and learn and where opportunities in music were more likely to arise. If you feel it’s the right thing to do, considering and definitely praying over a move is something that I would advise. It can feel like a big deal, but if it’s right, it works out.

Not everyone is going to love what you do or even like you! Especially if you are not willing to conform to the music industry ‘ideals’ or compromise on who you are. Never compromise who you are. You shouldn’t need to. However, you have to really want to be in this field of work, and not see yourself as doing anything else other than music, for it to become a passion and stay that way.

You have to be really focussed even when you feel like giving up. If it’s deep within you and the excitement of doing and making music never dies, you will make it a part of your life and it will work. You don’t have become rich or famous, you just need to do what drives you and what you love, that’s what makes you successful. It’s about not giving up too soon and believing in yourself even when on one else seems to!

What’s next for you?

I’m leading worship at Spring Harvest in April again this year which is always a privilege and a challenge. It’s hard work but really amazing to see people entering into God’s presence by offering the little you have and serving Him. I’m currently writing songs for Spring Harvest and I.m also writing with TV, film and other artists in mind. It’s very diverse but it keeps me on my creative toes! Another recording project for myself as an artist may also be in the pipeline towards the end of the year.

If you have not come across Lynsey’s music before I really cannot recommend her EP enough, especially ‘I’ll Go’, that one will stay with you for a long time.

You can check out Lynsey’s Soundcloud and find out more about her music via her website at www.lynseyberry.com

25 tips from history’s greatest thinkers

Many “ARTISTIC” types have been known for their quirky behavior, which is nice to know that I’m not alone. We all have our little rituals, collections and preferred working environments. If things aren’t right for us, we can see that as a potential barrier to our productivity. Below is a list from Mental Floss of secrets from some of history’s greatest thinkers.

  1. Like many of us, Beethoven started his day by making coffee. He insisted on using 60 beans per cup.
  2. Benjamin Franklin was “early to bed, early to rise,” and in his later years, early to take it all off. Franklin’s morning “air baths” consisted of reading and writing completely starkers for about an hour. Then he put his clothes on and got back to work.
  3. Many famous writers and artists made sure to eat breakfast. Victor Hugo preferred his eggs raw.
  4. Before Freud went into the office, he got a daily house call/beard trimming from his barber.
  5. Agatha Christie never owned a desk. She wrote her 80 novels, 19 plays, and numerous other works wherever she could sit down.
  6. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up.
  7. Thomas Wolfe also wrote standing up, using the top of a refrigerator as his desktop. (He was 6’6″.)
  8. Some people actually get work done at Starbucks. Rainbow Rowell, author of the critically acclaimed YA novel Eleanor and Park, has written all of her books at the coffee chain.
  9. Richard Wright did all of his writing, rain or shine, on a bench in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park.
  10. Maya Angelou is incapable of writing in pretty surroundings. She prefers working in nondescript hotel and motel rooms.
  11. It wasn’t that Frank Lloyd Wright necessarily worked well under pressure. He just wouldn’t sketch anything until he’d worked out an entire design in his head.
  12. Truman Capote told The Paris Review, “I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” Neither could Proust.
  13. When composer Igor Stravinsky felt blocked, he’d stand on his head to clear his mind.
  14. Woody Allen gets in the shower—sometimes multiple times per day—when he needs a mental boost. (Here’s why his habit just might work.)
  15. Classical pianist Glenn Gould fasted on days he recorded music. He thought it made his mind sharper.
  16. German poet Friedrich Schiller insisted that the smell of apples rotting in his desk drawer stimulated his creativity.
  17. Sometimes focusing is the issue. While writing The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen worked at his computer wearing earplugs, earmuffs, and a blindfold.
  18. Stephen King writes every day of the year and aims for a goal of 2000 words each day. (It usually takes about five hours.)
  19. Starting in 1950, Vladimir Nabokov wrote first drafts on index cards. This way, he could rearrange paragraphs and chapters with a quick shuffle. Once the author knew what order he wanted, his wife Vera typed them into one manuscript.
  20. When Anthony Trollope finished writing one book, he immediately started another. Henry James did the same thing.
  21. Theologian Jonathan Edwards, most famous for the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” didn’t have the luxury of Post-it notes or a portable pen. When he had ideas while horseback riding, he’d associate a single thought with a section of his clothing and then pin a piece of paper to that area. When Edwards returned to his desk, he’d unpin the papers and write down the thoughts.
  22. After dinner, Mark Twain read the day’s writing aloud to his family to get their feedback.
  23. While writing Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice appropriately slept all day and worked all night. She likes to follow this schedule to avoid distractions.
  24. Writer Jerzy Kosinski got eight hours of sleep each day, but he didn’t get it all at once. He woke at 8 a.m. and then slept four hours in the afternoon. Then he woke again, continued working until the wee hours, and slept four more hours before starting the next day.
  25. Night owl Willem de Kooning often wore a hat and coat while he painted—his studio turned off the building’s heat after 5 p.m.

Let us know your tips!

List from Mental Floss »

24 hours of Happy

I really enjoy this site, it’s 24 hours of no-stop video all synced to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” The site has 24 videos of Pharrell, with 14 other videos per hour. This creates 360 individual videos to cover the 24 hours of the day. Each section follows a person dancing towards the camera, which looks to be one continuous shot, then each segment seamlessly transitions into the next.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

You can expect to see a few familiar faces, Steve Carell is just after 5pm, Jamie Foxx, Magic Johnson, The Neptunes and Chad Hugo can be found in there too!

Visit 24 hours of Happy »


The Encounter

Stephen Kenn explores the significant act of passing an object on from one generation to the next. It is in this exchange, accompanied by words of wisdom, that a boy is often called to a life of courage. While aware that everyone’s life experience is unique, and often painful, this film focuses on the experience of a boy losing his father and yet retaining the love and passion that was intended for him.

Source: Vimeo »

Are we being educated out of creativity?

Our education is based on industrialism. So any subjects that are related to the industrial industry are stacked in order of importance. Is this system still relevant today and for the future?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.