The UK is renowned for its festivals. Every year we are welcomed to this season of monstrously muddy fields, loud music and stupendously drunk people; the best time of year. However, the smaller festivals seem to be shaded from the limelight but can be arguably better than the festivals crowded with famous musicians. Barn on the Farm is a festival that welcomes its campers to an intimate festival family. This intimacy is something that is rarely captured in larger festivals and something that is appreciated by both the festivalgoers and the acts that perform.
The festival itself has a line up that consists of indie, folk and pop music. Over the years it has managed to acquire a number of musicians to its stages that have gone onto inspiring achievements with their careers. Ed Sheeran, Ben Howard, Bastille and James Bay are just a few acts that have later gone onto enormous success after their performances at Barn on the Farm.
During my time at Barn on the Farm, I was able to talk to another musician from the line-up that has a blossoming future ahead for her: Lauren Aquilina. The 20 year old singer/songwriter has gradually gained popularity throughout the past 3 years, whilst independently releasing a trilogy of EP’s. Her music is beautifully constructed with peaceful melodies and intricate lyrics. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask her a few questions about her inspirations, experiences and what we can expect for her debut album.
Q. Firstly, how are you enjoying Barn on the Farm? You’ve been here before haven’t you?
A. I have been here before yeah! It’s like one of my favourite festivals. It’s really, really nice and I always end up with loads of friends here, so it always feels like quite a community vibe.
Q. You seem to have worked your way up within the festival over the years…
A. Yeah, a few years ago I played this stage and today I’m headlining it! It’s very very weird, but really cool and such a privilege as well. I couldn’t really believe it when they told me I was going to be headlining it.
Q. Would you say you prefer bigger venues, or more intimate venues like this festival?
A. Um, it really depends on the audience. You can play at a big venue and the audience will be amazing, but you can also play a big venue and if the audience isn’t really feeling it, then it won’t be as great. I’ve played to about 50 people and they’ve all been loving it and it’s been amazing. I really like being able to do both. I’m at that awkward stage where I’m doing mostly intimate stuff but also a couple of larger things. It’s good to get the experience of both I think.
Q. You supported Taylor Swift at Hyde Park last week! That’s a massive venue, was that quite a surreal moment for you?
A. At Hyde Park there were like 3 or 4 stages I think. Obviously most people stayed at the main stage, but I had maybe 7 or 800 people at my set, which was really, really cool. Didn’t expect that at all! I was sandwiched between John Newman and Ellie Goulding, so um, yeah, very strange. It was so surreal to be on that line up with all those amazing people that I look up to, so yeah it was actually really nice.
Q. You’ve said previously that Taylor is quite an idol for you, are there any other people that have inspired your music?
A. Um, yeah I listen to a lot of music actually. I’m always discovering new artists, which I really love doing. Especially pop music coming out of America! There’s loads of cool stuff. There’s this girl called Ryn Weaver, who I absolutely love. Her album isn’t out here yet but it’s out in the US. There’s also a girl called Tori Kelly who’s massive in the US but hasn’t done anything here yet. When I was growing up though, I had a lot of Coldplay, Stereophonics, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, whatever my mum was listening to really. So I guess all of that has influenced me too.
Q. Your music has evolved so much over your three EP’s. What can we expect from your debut album?
A. Um, I would say the album is very different, in a good way for me because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I released three EP’s, so it comes to 12 songs, which is basically an album. So I kind of treated this as a second album, even though it’s my debut. Because of this, I kind of just went, “Look, I need to change everything. I need to be making music that I want to make”. What I figured with the EP’s is that I wasn’t enjoying playing it live as much as I should be. Whereas now, we’ve got two new songs in the set which are my favourite things to play! I’m just so excited for people to hear what I’ve been doing. It’s the music that I’ve always wanted to make but I’ve just never really had the facilities to do so.
Q. So you’re signed to Island Records now… What was it like before this, did you release your EP’s independently?
A. Yes, I am! So I released the EP’s just through my own label. Um, I had literally no money; I had to keep getting people to do favours for me. Then I signed to Island last year and I was really nervous about it because I’d heard loads of horror stories from friends about record labels like, “Don’t trust them” and all that kind of stuff. But I’ve had such a good experience with my label. They’ve been nothing but supportive with my creative vision. They’ve let me have complete control over what I want to do, so I feel very lucky.
Q. You mentioned on twitter recently that you were told to lose weight for your career, which is shocking. If you don’t mind me asking, how did this come about?
A. Yeah, no it wasn’t anyone from my label that told me I needed to lose weight. It was actually a conversation that I overheard. But that stuff happens, and those people aren’t really going to get very far in the music industry. The people that do really well in this industry are people that are genuinely really nice. Like Taylor Swift last weekend, she’s the loveliest person and you can tell that’s definitely part of why she is where she is! Everyone wants to work with her and wants to support her because she’s so nice. The same with Ed Sheeran, really really nice guy. So yeah, just being nice is really important! [laughs] I went on a bit of rant there sorry!
Q. Lyrically, your music is quite metaphorical. Do you have a favourite lyric from your own work?
A. There’s a song that, I’m afraid I can’t say the name of in this interview, lyrically it’s very short, it’s like one verse that is repeated twice in the song. That set of lyrics are my favourite set that I’ve ever written. It was the first song that I wrote for the album and just explains so much of what the album is about. It’s all about me escaping something. For ages, I felt so trapped and I feel like I’ve actually escaped why I felt trapped. So it definitely means a lot to me. From the EP’s, there’s a lyric in Talk To Me from my second EP, which says, ‘There’s a universe inside your head, constellations of the things you left unsaid.” Which is probably one that I’m proudest of, just because when I wrote it I was like “Wow! That’s actually quite good!” [Laughs] I was actually quite impressed with myself, so probably that one.
Q. Do you feel there’s been a definite turning point in your career? A moment where your dream of becoming a musician became a reality?
A. It’s like a never-ending journey! There hasn’t been a point where I’ve felt like, “Yep, I’ve done it. I’ve got there, this is all I wanted” because it’s constantly just appreciating everyday. Today I woke up like, “Wow I’m playing at a festival today, that’s so cool” and then another day I’ll be like, “Oh I’m writing with one of my favourite songwriters today!” So it’s like a never-ending journey of things that are just pretty cool. I mean, hopefully I never get to that point either. I think part of what makes an artist a good artist is just when they’re constantly aspiring to be more and be better. Hopefully I’ll never reach that point!