Abi Flynn is a musician from the UK with an encouraging story. Her single “Courage” is out on July 10th and an EP is coming later this year. Had the opportunity to get an in-depth look at her music and journey.
Everyone gets into the music business for different reasons. What, or who, inspired you to become a musician?
It may sound cliche, but music has just run through every fibre of my being since I can remember. It was my sense of belonging, my home. I just got rhythm and melody and harmony instantly, much more than I got social interactions! Haha. So it was never a question for me what business I would be in. Aside from retail on the side of singing to pay bills, I’ve never done or wanted to do anything but sing.
I detect notes of jazz and R&B in your music. How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as heart-drenched soul/jazz/r&b with catchy pop hooks that convey deeper meaning, and luscious instrumentation!
Your new single is called “Courage”. What can you tell us about the story behind the song?
I wrote this song when I was having chemo during a cancer journey that began at age 26. I had been exploring my deep passion to create in the face of adversity, and make art and music that inspired me and served as medicine in a time I deeply needed it. ‘Courage’ is essentially about alchemy. It is about the innate majesty we each hold, and the ability we each have to shine in our own individual expression, no matter what is going on. I am singing about the courage it takes to show up fully in that expression, through the dark and the light.
How did fighting cancer inspire your music?
My experience with having cancer was that although my life was threatened, nothing could take away my inner voice and passion. Nothing could touch my hunger for art and music, and the joy that brought me. I found in my healing journey that I had to get in touch with much deeper aspects of my inner self and learn to love parts of me I had previously considered unlovable. In doing so, I discovered more liberation and empowerment than I’ve ever previously known. This experience then became the thing I wanted to sing about. So I would say, it brought a deeper meaning to my music, a sense of wanting others to know their own inner power for themselves.
Creating an EP while undergoing cancer treatment must have been difficult. What was your biggest challenge during that time?
The most incredible thing about dying, is how motivating it is. We spend our lives hiding from our gifts because we feel undeserving or inadequate of living our true dreams. When you’re dying, there is a sense of ‘now or never’. For me, this aspect was inspiring in that I just got out of my own way. I had never dared to believe I could go ahead and create the music of my dreams, but When I did, everything effortlessly flowed, the musicians aligned, the studio, producer etc, it was amazing. I would say the biggest challenge, though, was having a 21cm tumour in my chest at the time we went to record these songs. My lung was almost totally squashed on one side and breathing/singing wasn’t comfortable at this point. I ended up redoing most of the vocals later. And the other challenge was having to accept the dark fact I may not live long enough to release the music. It was still important to me that I make it nonetheless. And 3 years later, here I am, finally releasing it!
What message do you want your listeners to take away from your music?
I would love for those who listen to my music to know how incredibly and innately worthy, powerful and beautiful they are, just by default. I feel like we humans have gotten so wrapped up in dogma and crippling self-doubt, that we have forgotten to celebrate ourselves, and life, in the full spectrum. Whether we experience insecurity or a personal win, sickness or vibrancy, heartbreak or deep love, there is beauty and art within it ALL. I also want to break the taboo on uplifting or spiritual art needing to be perceived as corny or cheesy. I feel passionately about marrying innovation and style with deeper transmissions of truth. Our depth and ability to feel a full spectrum of emotion is our birthright, our gift. We can have fun with it, and we can be passionate with it. And it NEVER looks one way.
There is a notable story to the video. What was your artistic vision in it?
We shot the video for courage 2 years after I had written the song, pretty much on my death bed. I had been told I probably wouldn’t live much longer, but despite this, I knew in my heart that only I could determine the quality of my reality, and I felt that pursuing my own heart-truth would be my personal healing. With the help of incredible communities of women around me, I did exactly this.
By the time I had pursued my own healing journey and the cancer had reversed, I was ready to live my dream, but fell immediately pregnant, despite being told I was infertile (even tested!) from so much treatment. It was a remarkable journey, and every step I wondered when the moment would come that I could finally bring my music to the world. At 8 months pregnant, I decided I would film a music video that would be my artist debut, and would tell my story within that video.
The artistic vision represents the cycle of death, to life, to new life, and artistically depicts the celebration and shining self-expression within every aspect of this cycle. The MAJESTY of it all. The women around me in the video are the real women (my tribe) who supported me in finding that true self-love, and therefore celebration of life, which in turn, SAVED my life. We are in sisterhoods that walk the vision that when one of us has the courage to shine and be celebrated in who we really are, we all do.
Does the appearance of Holly Wellington have a special symbolism?
Holly was on chemo at the time of shooting ‘Courage’. She brought her pure passion for art, creative expression and deep faith in the midst of adversity straight into the heart of the vision. Holly’s presence in the video speaks of our innate ability to shine in every step of the way, and alchemise the seeming darkness. I also wanted to capture the true journey we had walked in that when we dare to shine, we ignite one another in our own expressions, and we dance together ever more brightly.
Holly and I met in quite a remarkable way. She saw me singing with my band at Love Supreme festival in 2018, straight after my clear cancer scan, where I was buzzed up and sharing my own healing journey. Shortly afterwards, Holly was diagnosed herself. She had followed my journey which she told me gave her hope, and she went on to find her own path through healing and creative alchemy.
I later got a message from Holly and was blown away by her spirit, her beauty, her talent. She is an incredible artist, musician and singer. I went to visit her in Bristol and was totally in love! It’s hard not to be with Holly. . When it came to shooting ‘courage’, I was through the chapter of my journey in which I was undergoing cancer and treatment, but it has always been important to me that I honour and celebrate the beauty and power within every step, not just the end result (which for me at the time looked like an 8 month pregnant golden goddess!).
I wanted ‘Courage’ to be a testament to the beauty and power within it ALL. I had written the song when I was in the position Holly was in at that time, and her empowered radiance inside of the perceived darkness felt so resonant to my own experience in walking the veil of death. and so I had the idea to feature Holly in the midst of her own healing journey, showing up in her absolute full expression, dragon-babe self, representing that part of the journey, which I had come from myself.
Has the Coronavirus changed the way, or time frame, that you planned on releasing this EP?
Yes. Amazingly, after cancer, healing, miracle pregnancy, motherhood, and falling into a bit of an uninspired slump, the lockdown period gave me the integration and restoration I needed to finally make a release plan. Additionally, I felt that because my music is so heavily themed around empowerment and alchemy, the world could use it in these scary and darker times more than ever. I wanted to be of service by letting the world know that beauty still exists amidst the chaos.
What’s yet to come for you this year?
So many things...I didn’t for a second think that my creative phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes moment would be amidst a global pandemic, but here we are - my life has never been normal! Haha. I have a second single which we just shot the video to coming in August, entitled ‘Testament to Love’, it depicts the dance of co-dependency vs. self fulfilment in another artistic yet real-life narrative. Then my EP, ‘Get Deep’ drops in Mid september, for which I’m co-creating a music video with a womens online sisterhood called ‘Deep Inner Knowing’ which guides women into their own innate power. We will make a video with women in their own expression all around the world.
I’m also launching an online platform/talk show/community to ignite and inspire women shining in their full expression and celebrating themselves and one another. This is called ‘Your Majesty’ (Aka. YOUR majesty - within you!) I plan to marry my art and music with this platform for promoting the expression of inner truth, and it’s gonna get juicy! I’m also busy being a mama and a lover, as well as working on a bunch of collabs with other singers and musicians.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
The ability to use life experience as the raw material for your greatest creations
Can you tell me a little about your songwriting style and process?
Usually, I find that a song finds me. It comes to me and I have to catch it. I get the melody and then the lyrics, and I usually take this to my keys player who finds the chords (usually with me trying to convey them amateurly with my voice haha) and we take that to the band who then bring it to life. I can never decide ‘I’m going to songwrite now’. It finds me, and then I have to show up and get it down.
Any creative person will inevitably hit a wall of writer's block at some point. How do you overcome that?
I think I have a different way of looking at it. If I am not writing, it is because there is something inside me I am not feeling. So I go there. I go to the resistance, the numbness or lack of movement inside of me, and I work through it with emotional processing or I go do something that moves me or speak to someone who I connect with. For me, the song comes when the experience or emotions is ready to be expressed, and if music is not coming, I don’t write. I only write when it calls me, and the rest of the time I trust.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Fatima, Gregory Porter, Esperanza Spalding, Beyonce, Hiatus Kayote, Thundercat, Gretchen Parlato, Phony Ppl, Amy Winehosue, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Lianne La Havas, Moonchild, Little Dragon, Rohey, Snarky Puppy, Lala Hathaway, Chantae Cann, Chaka Kahn.
What song, or songs, can you not stop listening to?
Right now, Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Piano Joint’ - so delicious and deep! Also, Nai Palm’s ‘Homebody’ - tingles.
Are you a creative person with anything other than music?
I would say I am creative everywhere. I like to marry everything I do in a big creative frenzy, haha. I make life my creation. I put music to my experience, visuals to that music, usually featuring the real people involved in those experiences. I also create offerings to help embody more of ourselves based on those experiences and subsequent pieces of art. So I run courses and speaking platforms that can guide people within the topics I have walked myself. I’m also a self-love coach!
If you weren’t a musician, what would you have chosen as a career?
Probably working with children. Or gone fully blown cosmic/ self-love coach/ spiritual healer :D
What is a key piece of advice you would give to an inspiring musician?
Be true to YOUR voice, your sound. Make it real. Make it felt. Don’t only write what you think sounds good or what others want to hear. For me, music is connection. So much connection in music comes through in the alchemy. Alchemy is the act of turning whatever experience you are having into Gold, into art. Get deep enough, and vulnerable (courageous) enough, to really access that, and make it beautiful. Even if it’s something fun, light and cheesy, really FEEL it. My experience is that life wants music that connects to be heard,and the rest aligns once you align to your true inner voice. It’s that willingness to TRUST that when it’s real, it will find it’s way to those that need to hear it, however that looks.
Lastly, for something random and fun, what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Love this! Salted caramel, and mint choc chip!
Written by Amanda Epstein :
Amanda is an avid music lover and supports independent artists in various genres. She writes for music publications in her spare time to share her love of music with the world, as well as learning to be a musician herself. She believes that music has to be experienced and not just heard.
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