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Mikey Ball, Musician

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Musician Mikey Ball

Our newest interviewee is no stranger to the Bournemouth live music scene. We spoke to Mikey Ball as he recovers from the completion of his latest album…

Regulars at The Anvil in Bournemouth and the Cellar Bar in Boscombe will probably recognise Mikey Ball, but do you know his story. We tried to interview him back in the summer, but failed to find a time that would suit him. In his defence, he was quite busy at the time – producing his latest album, “Mikey Ball and the Company” (click here for the Spotify link).

Want to know his full story. Here’s what we found out…

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING THE BOURNEMOUTH BAR SCENE?

I have been playing in the bars that would let me play since I was 16, 17. But more predominantly since I was 18, so we’re looking at nine years now.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT THE GUITAR WAS THE THING YOU WANTED TO DO?

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment. I started to love music when I was around 14 or 15, which has nothing to do with the age I was when School of Rock came out. My dad actually played the guitar. So, it was the instrument I naturally saw around and wanted to get involved in. And I just took to it. I loved it as soon as I picked it up and never wanted to put it down again.

WHERE DID YOUR LOVE OF MUSIC COME FROM?

With my mum and dad, definitely. We would have these spontaneous evenings when the CDs would come out. They would start trading songs between them – I mean, we were kids so we didn’t really want to get involved. It was something that kinda meant a lot to them. They would be trading some old blues thing for some old motown thing, and progressively going backwards in time. My brother has also had quite a strong taste in music, so really it’s all come from them.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANYONE IN PARTICULAR?

When you start out, you definitely do. You use them as a framework to follow. Especially when you start writing and performing. I have my absolute heroes – Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Frank Turner. Now, I think it’s important to hold on to them as inspiring characters rather than frameworks for what you sound like and produce. The more you develop your own sound, it’s important to look to people like that. Any kind of influential or successful person who oozes a humility and is willing to talk at a human level is worth listening to.

YOU HAVE JUST RELEASED YOUR LATEST ALBUM, “MIKEY BALL AND THE COMPANY”. WHAT ARE THE KEY THEMES AND INSPIRATIONS BEHIND IT?

Tonally, a big influence was an album by a guy called Jason Isbell. It came out just as we were starting to record our album. I heard a couple of songs from that and thought, “Wow, I want things that sound like this!” That influenced a lot of the sound elements to what we have recorded. Because I thought it was such a welcome return of a very vintage sound with a modern production. I didn’t want to over-produce and make it too polished. Since we did it all ourselves, we were never in very much danger of that.

As for the actual themes and stuff; the songs themselves span a good few years of being written. The earliest one was written in 2014, through to those which were done literally a few weeks before recording. There’s a lot of themes of questioning a lot around us as we grow up. A couple of nostalgic ones in there; a couple of harder-hitters that deal with mental health and things like that. And still, we tried to round it out with more of a hopeful tune at the end. This played on everyone’s fears that their best days are behind them and trying to remind them that there’s more to come. To end it with a more rousing, optimistic viewpoint after we’ve questioned and looked back a lot in the other tracks.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG FROM THE NEW ALBUM?

My favourite has to be Bury My Love, because it was the first one we recorded for the album. At that time, I didn’t know if it was going to be an album or maybe a couple of singles. We thought we would just see how it goes. But we recorded that one and it felt really good and came together really nicely. And upon hearing it back, I had this childish enthusiasm – “Wow! Let’s go for it! We’ll record another nine or see how far we go!” So, that has to be the favourite because it was the one that made me realise, “We’re on to something here.”

WOULD YOU EVER PRODUCE A SOLO ALBUM? AS JUST “MIKEY BALL”?

I would have to be very brave! One of the things that happened with the recordings for Mikey Ball and the Company was trying to resist putting too many layers into a song. I would think, “I want to add a keyboard part here,” or “I want to go back and add a fourth guitar part in this verse,” or something like that. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things. But I think if I was left completely unreined by myself, I may end up putting too many layers on.

But I do definitely want to do it at some point! I would just have to be committed to it being very stripped back. To have something very raw as the outcome.

AS A LIVE PERFORMER, WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE KINDS OF VENUES TO PLAY?

This is going to sound quite particular — I don’t like the stage being too high. I like the performers and the crowds to be very much linked; I think it aids the performance a lot. When there’s too much separation, I think it leaves things a little bit cold. Small venues, I really like. When you pack them all in and they’re sharing the experience with you – it’s quite a unique thing.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN?

As a musician, to be able to thrive and survive off of music for income. To be able to share it with as many people as possible. Reaching people – as more of a moral and emotional goal. To have people say they really enjoyed the song, that they could relate to it or it meant something to them. It really does mean a lot. Even when people send me pictures of my songs on their running playlists or something (which I find a bit odd…). Or when the album came out, people were saying they were listening to it on their way to uni.

The actual reaching people is the most rewarding part of it. But from a success point-of-view, being able to live off it would be perfect.

Click below to hear a selection of songs from the new album “Mikey Ball and the Company”. Also like the album’s page on Facebook.

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Hannah Elkins, Musician

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Musician Hannah Elkins
Photo courtesy of Hannah Elkins

Ahead of releasing her first single, we had a chat with musician Hannah Elkins. Where did her journey in music begin and what are her hopes for the future?

Dividing her time between the hustle-and-bustle of London and the Bournemouth music scene, we were lucky to have a few words with musician and singer Hannah Elkins. As she goes to release her first single, it seemed like a good time to hear about her beginnings in music…

ARE YOU FROM THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

Yeah – I grew up in Bournemouth. I studied at Leeds University, and then came back to Bournemouth, before moving to London last summer. But most of my life has been spent in the area.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

My mum is a singer herself. She’s very musical and runs a choir in Bournemouth. So, in a way, I had no choice. I grew up singing and it was just what I knew to do. But it was really at secondary school that I realised that it was what I wanted to do for a career, and what I went to study at university.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANY ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?

My favourite artist is Lianne La Havas. She has very delicate, beautiful vocals, with quite hard guitar sounds. For me, it was the first time I had heard that kind of contrast in music, which I fell in love with. Another one is Jessie Ware. I just found out that she was classically trained, and I studied classical singing at university. I think that’s why I love her stuff so much – you can hear she’s just got this amazing voice in there. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GIG…

I started writing my own music probably quite late in comparison to others. A lot of them, you hear they started writing when they were 12. For me, that didn’t happen until I went to university. Because I studied classical singing, and then I went for a year abroad in the Netherlands to learn to play piano. And it really changed my perspective of music and how I wanted to approach it.

So I started sitting at the piano and writing my own stuff. And then when I went back for my final year at Leeds, I just thought, “I’ve got to do this!” Took a lot of courage, but I booked my first gig at Hyde Park Book Club. Lovely little intimate venue – it was actually quite terrifying because it was so intimate. We had about 70 people in this room. I just rocked up with my notepad (with my lyrics on it) in one hand and my little keyboard and sat in front of these people, who were the most attentive audience I’ve ever had. And that was it – I was hooked.

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING FIRST SINGLE…

It’s called After the Midnight. I don’t have a set writing method with any of my music. Normally, I’ll find this idea, work around it and build the song, but with this one, I had just a chorus – two lines and two chords that I knew I loved. Had no idea where I was going with it. Even when I stepped into the studio, I didn’t have the song in full! Bit risky, I know, but I like a challenge. I don’t know if I’d recommend it…

So, I worked with my friends Elliot Wenman, who plays guitar, and Niko Battistini, who is a Bournemouth-based producer. With those two, I created this song.

When I started writing this, I had started a different mind state of how I wanted to write. So, it was included in a couple of other songs I had written. There was the theme of this midnight, the stars, the universe; it just fit into this collection that I was working on at the time.

WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR SINGLE SPECIFICALLY IN BOURNEMOUTH?

I am really excited to come back and do the launch here. That’s because After the Midnight has been a collaboration with a lot of Bournemouth musicians and artists. The artwork was done by a girl called Amy Leonard, who is studying at the Arts University. She’s done some brilliant artwork for me. Plus the photography has been done by Alice Parmenter, who’s also Bournemouth-based. And then, as I mentioned earlier, the production from Niko. There’s such talent in Bournemouth, and that’s where this single has come from.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE BOURNEMOUTH MUSIC SCENE?

In Bournemouth, there is this real market of music-lovers. There is something called Sofar Sounds, which is run in Bournemouth. I performed for them a couple of years ago, and then I volunteered for their team afterwards. It’s a brilliant event where they basically get three acts and take them to an intimate venue. Audiences can apply for tickets, and they don’t know where the venue will be or what the lineup is until they’re emailed a few days before. They tell you at the beginning of the gig that they want you to pay attention to the artists and give them that respect, which I think can be lost in some of the bigger venues. London, for example, can be slightly saturated.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN

Ultimately, it’s to write music that people can relate to and want to listen to. As long as there’s someone there who is listening and says that they like it — that’s the dream, really.

Read more amazing and inspiring stories from the talent of Bournemouth in our Humans section. And find out more about Hannah on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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Stephanie Wyatt, Miss Earth 2019

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Learn more about Stephanie Wyatt, 19, from Dorset, as she has been crowned the new Miss Earth 2019…

At the end of last month, Stephanie Wyatt was crowned Miss Earth England 2019 at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham, sponsored by Millennium Balti in Leamington Spa. She got in touch with Humans of Bournemouth with full details on her story and what it’s like to be “Miss Earth.”

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MISS EARTH?

As Miss Earth, I will be representing England on an international platform of millions of people around the world. Since I have also been rewarded with the title of ‘Beauties of a Cause Eco-Ambassador’ for my accomplishments, my duties include working with environmental, eco-activities and other social causes.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVOCACY?

My main aim is to advocate the preservation and restoration of Mother Earth. From a young age, I remember being exposed to the harsh reality around me and knew I had to make a change. When I found out that I could make a difference, I knew I had to carry on doing what I was doing.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A STIGMA ON PAGEANTS?

Despite the stigmas, Miss Earth is different to your everyday beauty pageant. It is an environmentally-focused competition. A platform for change. For example, one of our challenges that was judged was to create an “eco-warrior” outfit. I decided to make mine completely out of real flowers. I believe that we are sending out a message here, showing the public that we all have a responsibility to preserve and attend to what the world we live in needs. Which fights against any stigmas.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO THE MISS EARTH FINAL?

I am extremely honoured to be put in the position to attend the final. Which is the third-most prestigious platform in the world to represent England. I’m also privileged to meet so many like-minded women. I’d like to thank the Miss Earth England organisation and I hope that I will do my country proud. This really is a dream come true for me.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROJECTS BESIDES FROM MISS EARTH?

I want to be socially and environmentally responsible for our earth. That’s why I created my own project in 2017. I investigated how I could tackle the world’s second-largest polluting industry, which is clothing. I thought of several ways to reduce this problem and also need those in need at the same time. That’s why I decided to aid those whom are struggle with period poverty. My first steps to making a difference were deciding to set up workshops at my local library, where the public could donate their unwanted clothes. Once generous individuals had donated, I was then able to up-cycle them into re-usable sanitary wear for girls in Kenya. This can make a big transformation on a girl’s life in Kenya since they can go to school now in comfort and not have to worry about their period getting in the way of their education.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DURING YOUR REIGN AS MISS EARTH?

I hope to set up a lot more like-minded projects, similar to what I have done before. I’m particularly interested in helping Third World countries; they are one of the main reasons why I put my heart and soul into the work I do.

Find out more about the Miss Earth pageant on their Facebook page. And for more inspiring stories about the locals of Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas, check out our Humans section.

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Jack Lenton, Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Jack Lenton

Meet Jack Lenton. His lifestyle is his career. As a personal trainer, he owns his own business and is able to train clients worldwide.

Learn more about how he decided to become a personal trainer and how his passion for fitness began. Jack also desires to help others develop their own career in the fitness industry…

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BOURNEMOUTH?

No, I grew up in the south of Somerset. Then I decided to go to Exeter University, so I lived there for a while. After that I lived in America for 18 months. I’ve lived in Bournemouth for the past year. My girlfriend lived here, so it made sense for me to move here with her.

WHAT DOES YOUR PROFESSION INVOLVE?

My day-to-day job is mainly online coaching and training. I also employ people to help with my business and coaching — I love being able to give people the chance to do what they love as a job. We mainly coach one-to-one sessions, giving the clients personal advice on themselves and how their body works and what suits them. Nevertheless, we also coach in groups as well; they don’t tend to be any more than 40 people. An individual’s ability determines what group they are put in. As a group, they will be supported as much as possibly needed.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO FITNESS?

Fitness was the only thing that kept my attention; I didn’t really enjoy school. All my efforts went into fitness and sports instead of education. Therefore, when choosing a university course, exercising science caught my eye. It was the only course that for fulfilled my desires at the time.

WERE YOU INTO SPORTS AT SCHOOL?

Of course! It wasn’t weightlifting or strength training — I was too young for any of that. I tended to play more standard sports such as football, basketball and I tried a bit of trampolining. As a kid, just being active was my priority. Fitness has always been a key aspect of my life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE A STRICT LIFESTYLE IN TERMS OF FITNESS?

I have made my fitness lifestyle strict because that is the how I prefer it. My mental and physical health has improved by working out daily. Although it never limits me in terms of my lifestyle, since I enjoy it so much, it’s more of a hobby than a chore.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO START SEEING RESULTS ON YOUR OWN BODY?

I was looking at photos of myself the other day. From when I was about a year into my training and my body was so different. It took me about two years to see a massive progress. For a long while, I wasn’t very sure on what worked on my body type in terms on fitness wise. I found that, I noticed what I was doing wrong before finding what I was doing right. Over the years, I’ve increased how much I train. Before fitness and training was part of my daily routine, I was working out about five times a week. My personality is quite addictive, so that certainly helped keep myself on track.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TOWARDS YOUR CAREER AS A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Social media makes a significant impact on my career since it allows me to coach worldwide. My personal trainer career is no longer restricted to local people; because of social media, anyone can reach out to me. It also benefits me in terms of meeting like-minded individuals from anywhere and everywhere. Those who share the same passions as me and are part of the fitness community.

WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?

Right now, I hope to carry on what I’m doing and making money from it. I also hope to keep employing more and more people for my business. This means I can help them gain experience and earn money from doing something they love as a career, just like me.

Don’t forget to check out Jack’s Instagram and website to learn more about his coaching!

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