Q+A with burgeoning UK artist Jodie Nicholson

We sat down with acclaimed North East songwriter and producer Jodie Nicholson to chat about the release of her album Safe Hands, which aired on May 10th 2024. Exploring themes of escapism, nostalgia, self-reflection and changes of heart, Nicholson leans on musical influences including Daughter, Matt Corby, The National, Warpaint, Laura Marling, Ben Howard and Lucy Rose, with her new album heralding a refining of her synth-laden chamber pop style.


Stream Safe Hands and read our interview with Jodie below.



Hey Jodie! Which artist/s have had the most meaningful influence on your music?

Pink Floyd/Roger Waters, Daughter, Lucy Rose, Laura Marling, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Ben Howard. 


Tell us more about the inspiration and creation behind your most recent album, Safe Hands.

Safe Hands is, ultimately, an album centred around self-trust, both creatively and introspectively, and is a personal reminder to believe in myself more. 

When I set out to make this album, I had pretty big, non-negotiable aims to record it in a professional recording studio, collaborate with session musicians for the final recordings, be the sole producer across the entire record and for the album’s creation to have a strong foothold in the North East, as I’m very proud to be from this region. To many artists and maybe people reading this, these things might not sound all that ground-breaking, but, for me, it felt like taking a big trust fall onto my creativity and abilities as a songwriter, producer and musician.

The title was inspired by the lyrics of an unfinished demo during the writing process for this record; ‘I know my future’s in safe hands, safe hands with you… My future is safe’. I wrote it during a pretty low spell; my confidence was at rock-bottom and I felt quite lost, both in and outside of being an artist, so this idea was a reminder and affirmation that I can fall back on myself and trust that future me would steer me on the right path. The song itself didn’t stick, but the concept of being in ‘safe hands’ really spurred me on throughout the making of this record and became something I referred back to mentally as a form of self-assurance. It felt so right as the backbone for this project and this chapter in my career as an artist and a producer(!), so felt very fitting for the album’s title. It really became my holistic outlook on the whole project. 

The songs themselves reflect nuances in the different relationships we have in our lives: friends, family, with ourselves and, more personally, my relationship with music and how that’s changed over the years. Sonically, it takes on all the different facets of my sound and touches on the prog side of pop in the classic it-starts-off-slow-but-gets-bigger-at-the-end kind of fashion that I gravitate towards with my music. 


Were there any particular challenges that you faced during the making of this album, and how did you overcome them?

Making this album was a wild ride. I definitely underestimated how isolating and mentally, emotionally and physically challenging it would be to self-produce this album. It took over my life, and Christmas(!), and there were times where I wasn’t looking after myself or my relationships as much as I should’ve been. Looking back, it was definitely a bold move to tackle so many new experiences/ways of working at once, but at the time it really felt like now or never to make those changes and break the chain of how I’ve previously made music. There were SO many moments where I thought “I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew”, “whose idea was this?” etc.. It sounds very cliché, but the concept of ‘safe hands’ – and the record being in safe hands, in terms of its creation and my choices surrounding that – was an affirmation of sorts that all the hard work was going to be worth it. The biggest factor was the people around me; my partner, my manager, my family and wider team. Their support, belief, trust(!), advice and encouragement had a huge impact and, ultimately, pulled me through when it all felt a bit much. The album wouldn’t be the same without them.

It also definitely took me a while to get used to being in a studio space for recording my own music, particularly when it came to using instruments I wasn’t used to playing (such as the upright pianos in Blank) and recording lead vocals in a space other than my home. When you’re so used to recording in a little room at home, being anywhere else to record feels very different, and you could hear it in my takes – especially the piano takes – that I wasn’t fully at ease. I re-recorded the vocals for ‘Embers’ and ‘Bad Dream’ a couple of times, and re-recorded the piano takes on Bad Dream and You Wanted This about three times in total. The piano take in ‘You Wanted This’ was one of the last things I recorded throughout my whole time at Blank and you could really hear the difference between me still settling and being more used to that space/instrument. I owe a huge amount to Luke, who engineered the majority of the record at Blank, for encouraging me to experiment and find what made me feel most comfortable recording in a studio space. 


Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that you used in the making of ‘Safe Hands’. What was different between making this album and your previous releases?

All of the songs were written and produced using either my keyboard (Roland FA08), electric guitar (Fender Player Jaguar) or my keyboard used as a MIDI. All the demo vocals were recorded with my Shure Beta microphone, which I always use at live shows, and I produced all of the tracks on Logic Pro X. I’m not someone who delves into additional plug-ins, so all of the programmed instruments were found within Logic’s sound library. I like to keep things pretty uncomplicated in that sense! The vast majority of vocals were re-recorded in Blank Studios (in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) with very nice microphones that I can’t remember the names of, but some of the demo backing vocals, including ad. libs on ‘Embers’ andWhat If I’, and the large stacks of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in Bad Dream’ and ‘Situation’, were taken directly from the demo versions and brought forward for the final tracks on the album. They already had a lush warmth and texture to them that I didn’t want to tamper with. All of the drums, except ‘You Wanted This’, ‘Pity You Had to Leave’ and ‘Another Frequency’, were re-recorded with a live kit (by the incredible Francesca Knowles!). Bass was either re-recorded with a MOOG by me and/or on bass guitar (Joe Ramsey, Sam Griffiths and Luke Elgie), and I re-recorded all of the piano parts on the gorgeous upright pianos in Blank’s main room.


What is your personal favourite track off Safe Hands, and why?

My favourite changes all the time, but at the moment it’s ‘Embers’. It’s one of the boldest on the record and, to me, really captures the direction I’m taking my music in and what I want to say as an artist, songwriter and producer. It’s a particularly epic song to play live with my band; Fran’s drums are next level!!


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

My instruments are always within arm’s reach, a capo for my guitars and a setlist print-out by my feet (if it’s a headline show). I don’t really have any on-stage rituals, even a bottle of water on-stage feels quite extra for me. I guess I’m quite a boring artist in that sense! I like to keep things pretty simple.


Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year in the wake of the release of Safe Hands?  

I’m going on tour!! Mega-excited to be playing in these lush venues and cities across the UK with my wonderful band in June:

04 JUN | Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds

05 JUN | Lower Third, London 

06 JUN | Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham 

08 JUN | Crofter’s Rights, Bristol

09 JUN | Komedia, Brighton

11 JUN | YES (Basement), Manchester

12 JUN | SWG3 Poetry Club, Glasgow

I’ve also got something very exciting in store for later this year, but I’m keeping that a secret for a little while longer!


Famous last words?

Go buy/stream/listen to my album! Come see us on tour! It’s my best music yet and I’m super proud of everything it stands for. There’s a very cool, limited edition, violet marble version of the album on vinyl, available via Banquet Records(!) for any vinyl collectors out there! There’s also an exclusive digital download bundle of the album on my Bandcamp, which basically includes lots of behind the scenes goodies (studio vlogs, voice memos, lyric/liner note PDFs etc.) as a way of sharing more on the album’s creation. 

If you’re into receiving artist newsletters, I send one out each month as a little round-up of things I’m loving/discovering across life and music (music, albums, recipes, games, TV shows etc.), as well as the usual music-related updates! It’s the place to be if you want to keep tabs on all the latest news from me (sign-up via jodienicholsonmusic.com/sign-up).

Thanks so much for having me, I loved answering these questions!


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