The Luxury Channel Meets Cecil By Fiona Sanderson

Cecil (image courtesy of Henley Festival and Garry Jones)

Cecil is an alternate indie pop artist from Berkshire. She released her debut EP in April 2017 which subsequently received support from BBC Radio 2, BBC Introducing, BBC Berkshire, BBC Oxford and many other regional radio stations. The resulting success saw Cecil take to stages all over the UK and led to her opening the main stage at Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival, where she was the only unsigned artist to play the main stage. She has since performed at BBC’s Carfest for Children In Need and headlined the O2 Academy Islington.

Cecil takes her name from her great uncle Cecil McGivern, who was a broadcasting pioneer for British radio and TV and who wrote several wartime radio plays during World War II for the BBC. He also wrote the original screenplay for the 1946 version of Charles Dickens’ famous novel Great Expectations and was later awarded a CBE.

With lots of exciting things planned for the year ahead (including the release of a new album), The Luxury Channel caught up with Cecil following her performance on the famous Floating Stage at this year’s Henley Festival to talk social media, alter egos and playing at The Royal Albert Hall….

What does Henley and indeed the Festival mean to you?

As a Berkshire girl, it has a special place for me – I was here last year and it’s absolutely amazing. Last year, I was in the Bedouin Tent and it was more of an acoustic set but this year, being on the Floating Stage is quite an experience. Personally, I would come to Henley as a guest and pay because it’s an amazing festival!

Which venue would you ideally like to perform at?

I have always wanted to play at the Albert Hall; I would love that. It’s such a special place, even though I have only been there once, when I went to see the Christmas Orchestra. But what I loved about it was the atmosphere.

One of your pieces that you played tonight, called Ceasefire, has some very meaningful content. Can you tell me about it and what it means to you?

At the moment, I feel like we are living in a very a strange world – I feel there’s a lot of fighting and negativity. I wanted to write something that says stop – ceasefire. We have got to be positive and be happy – that’s where it comes from.

You followed this with Toy Box, with its unique sound that you will be making a video around – can you tell me about it?

I am so excited about this one – I am almost giddy! We have made a human-sized toy box, so it’s huge, and there is a motor inside and I am going to be spinning just like one of those ballerinas. Then we have got these dancers who are going to be crawling out of the box whilst I am spinning and we have actors who will be depicting a range of emotions. It’s going to be really creepy and scary – bringing up all my creative energy.

Where does all this creative energy come from?

Some has come from my great uncle, Cecil McGivern, and some from my mum who plays the drums and was in a local band, so I grew up with music. I was always surrounded by music. Even when my mum was pregnant, she used to blast out music and I would be kicking away. So music has been the love of my life since day one!

Is the persona that you portray on stage the same as off stage?

No, it’s strange really as I feel that the outside personality that you see on stage is different to the person that you see off stage. The way that I write and perform is often quite dark but when I am off stage, I am Sophie, my real name – it’s completely different. I am always laughing and joking, a kid really – that’s a little secret! My alter ego Cecil is who’s on stage.

What do you like to do at home – any passions?

At home, I like to wear jeans and trainers. I love home, and I love dogs. When you see them in dogs homes, I just want to let them out and take them home. I am always talking about them, but I don’t even have one yet! I also love butterflies. I had a special experience once. One day, the winds were crazy loud and I was at home playing piano and I saw this butterfly which was trapped, and so I caught it in my hands and let it out of the window. The next day – no joke – the same black and brown butterfly was back in the house fluttering around me. A happy moment and I will never forget it.

Social media can be used to push positive and negative messages but how important is it to you as a professional and how do you intend to use it to promote yourself?

Social media is not in my DNA so it’s very hard to remind myself that I need to be posting every day and these posts need to be relevant and they need to be interesting and keep people engaged. With social media, it’s very hard to get picked out and get noticed because everyone is doing it. It’s anyone’s game out there – it’s madness. For me, it’s about the music, that one record that’s going to capture everyone and they love it. As much as social media is a great platform to get your music out there, for me it will always be about the music.

For more information about Cecil, go to www.cecilmusic.co.uk.