Artist Residency at Hawkwood: Wyse
"You get the sense here that you can be exactly who you are, whoever that is, which I think is what helps people relax so much here."
I experienced an artist residency week at Hawkwood, and here’s why it was one of the best weeks of my life!
I’m a non-binary, alt-rock musician from Portsmouth. People have previously compared me to Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos and Bjork. Prior to my residency at Hawkwood, I had just completed a 7 date UK tour. I was incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to create demos and write for my next project at this amazing place. And here was my experience…
When I arrived, I got the immediate sense that I was going to have an extremely productive week. The place has a way of completely relaxing my mind, whilst allowing me to hold an intense focus which I haven’t experienced anywhere else.
I arrived with a loose idea of what I wanted to achieve during the week. I had pre-prepared the bare bones of a few songs. I wanted to spend the week fleshing these ideas out and leave with some rough demos for pitching to my goal labels.
The room I was provided with, studio 2, was perfect – a large room with grand piano, and some incredible acoustics. I immediately regretted not having more microphones on hand! Luckily one of the other artists in residency leant me some, which is an example of the community experience at Hawkwood. Everyone just wants to help each other and it is unbelievably wholesome, and a great place to network.
I got on so well with the two other artists in residency – a novel writer from Wales called Charlotte, and a dancer/choreographer from Cirencester called Marie-Louise. We shared our meals and breaks together and bond was quickly established between us. It was so interesting to spend time with other creative people who practice different disciplines, and I found it inspiring to compare our processes.
You get the sense here that you can be exactly who you are, whoever that is, which I think is what helps people relax so much here.
The food needs a whole blog in itself! It was incredible. I felt so nourished and looked after throughout the week. This helped me to use my time effectively. My usual approach when I’m in a creative bubble is to forget to eat, sleep, go to the toilet or take breaks and so it was very effective for my sustained productivity to be looked after so well.
Normally the sight of broad beans would be enough to send me away, forever, but the Hawkwood chefs have a way of making foods I wouldn’t think I would enjoy into my favourite meals – like a quinoa broad bean salad, or a pistachio cookie.
I achieved more than I expected. 3.5 finished demos, and lots of other ideas too. Being at Hawkwood also helped me to achieve another goal I had set for the week, which was to completely let go of the outcome and expectations and simply enjoy what I was creating. And this comes across in what I created.
The only negative thing I experienced was having to leave…
“Growing up in a religious household, it was difficult to navigate my confusion surrounding sexuality and gender. In 2021, I made the decision to walk away from my family completely. In Holding On, I finally vent out my mixed feelings of relief, anger, and grief. I am still on this journey, and I don’t know exactly where I am heading. But at least I am free.”
Wyse’s powerful voice, somewhat reminiscent of Bjork, is an eruptive layer of searing depth. But the Portsmouth based artist’s intrigue doesn’t end here. Holding On, the single set for release in Spring 2023, is a sidestep from what we have seen from this artist before.
The rich rock riffs and untethered vocals in Holding On would be fit for an arena alongside AC/DC. The track would be comfortable within the ball-park of Alt-Rock, or even Rawk. But looking at Wyse’s holistic discography, you’d be hard-pressed to pigeonhole her anywhere. Influences across her previous work include Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Portishead, and even 80s pop.