Singer from Honiton talks about her life on the road
- Credit: Archant
Singer-songwriter Nikki Loy recently returned to her home town of Honiton for a one-off gig. Steve Jennings took the chance to catch up with her.
About one hour after arriving in Honiton, Nikki Loy is sitting in warm sunshine in the gardens of the Boston Tea Party and admits to feeling very nervous about the night ahead.
“It’s strange, last week I was singing in front of about 5,000 people and I felt fine. Tonight there will only be a fraction of that number and I am going to be as nervous as hell. I will be able to see all their faces. And this [concert] means a lot to me.”
It is Sunday, May 7, 2017 and Nikki is back in her home town for a concert at The Beehive, a gig she has sought for some time. “I’ve been trying to get The Beehive to book me for ages now. And it’s nearly happened a few times but things cropped up. But now it’s happening.”
Nikki is doing very well for herself. The night before the Honiton homecoming concert she was on stage in Torquay as the support act to Sam Bailey, one of 32 shows with the X Factor winner that covers the whole country; from Aberdeen down to Brighton and across to her native West Country. And Nikki has learnt from her host: “Sam is an example of how X Factor can work for you. She has had number one records. But what people may not know is that Sam was much more than just a great voice as she had worked the circuit for years. She did the pubs, clubs and social clubs. She already knew how to entertain and she can really build rapport with her crowd. And that carried her through.
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“And when Simon Cowell dropped her from his label she carried on and became an independent artist and released her album herself. She took the wave he gave her and rode it for years after. I have respect for that. And we got on well – she is lovely.”
Another high-profile support slot was a ten-gig run with Westlife singer Shane Filan, and this was another great experience if not always for the right reasons: “That was challenging. It was my first tour of this nature and a fantastic learning curve, but I was not the best fit for Shane. He’s male, his band are all male and all very handsome and talented. So there were thousands of females there wanting to see these good looking boys and I walk on stage! I took a fair bit of abuse.
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“But Shane was really nice and I was well looked after by the crew. I enjoyed the whole ‘being on tour’ experience and would have liked to have played more shows with Shane.”
Additionally Nikki has also supported the likes of jazz great Janette Mason, Americana artist Lauren Pritchard, Decca artist Krystina Myles, and Irish pop folk singer Wallis Bird plus more. She has played most of the established concert venues across the UK, including the legendary Ronnie Scott’s in central London.
But she is a performer in her own right, fronting her band of eight, developing a sound she describes as ‘pop music but with a rock and country edge’. But the sheer expense of moving her band around the country means she plays a large number of acoustic sets. She has released three albums, a live CD and two EPs. Her current album Pivotal is available in HMV. With some major radio stations starting to show interest things look set to get bigger and better for Nikki.
It is all a far cry from growing up in Devon after her parents moved to Honiton in 1977, when Nikki was just two weeks old. The family remained resident here with Nikki schooling at Littletown before Honiton Community College, where she sat her A Levels. She went to Somerset College of Art & Technology before heading down to Falmouth College of Arts in her late teens.
Music was an integral part of her upbringing with local guitarist Harry Pridmore, the major influence on a young Nikki. “I was best mates with Harry’s daughter and he used to run a market stall selling vinyl. I used to help him. So a lot of my early musical education came from Harry. He played a lot of music to me, particularly blues, and it stuck with me.”
And her first attempts at music were remarkably similar to Sam Bailey as she entered a famous TV talent show: “I entered X Factor in 2008 and didn’t get through the first round. I had no sob story; was too good looking to be one of the ‘dragged through the hedge backwards’ crowd but not drop dead gorgeous.
“But I decided not to go back. I don’t regret that this hasn’t been my path. At that time I wasn’t a good guitarist and hadn’t developed my song writing, so relied entirely on a good voice. So I vowed to become a better guitarist, upgrade my song writing and do it the old school way. So no regrets at all. I have done thousands of gigs now.
“And I look at those that came second or third in that show and their careers now. Most tour with a backing track and I would have been one of them, so I am in a better place doing things the way I did.”
Nikki’s current home is a self-build campervan, allowing her to pursue life with a new view from her window every night and this also gives great stimulus for her song writing: “When I first started writing songs I corrected a few things of the past. Put to shame some ex-boyfriends and sang about love lost and love that never was.
“But living on the road is a great inspiration. I love nature and feel close to nature and that inspires me. I spend a lot of time driving and songs come to me naturally as I travel. ”
Life on the road permanently means Nikki is rarely, if ever, in the same place for more than two days. And when she can she likes to head home: “I come back to Honiton quite a bit. I hang out with Harry but just enjoy walking up and down the High Street because every time I come back it changes.
“We had a school reunion last summer and I came back for that and that was fun. But I’m so different now than I was then that some people didn’t recognise me.”
Nikki Loy is one who broke from the mundane and living her dreams. She is a fabulous singer-songwriter with a strong voice and warm, positive nature. Her career looks set to move up again. And she is proud to be from Honiton. And Honiton should be proud of Nikki Loy.
•You can buy Nikki’s new album Pivotal and her growing back catalogue via her website: www.nikkiloy.com