Flibber-ty-gibbet ‘A flighty teller of tales’…
F.T.Gibbet (a.k.a Fiona Lily) is a writer, singer/songwriter, producer and illustrator.
She lives in the Midlands with two cats, a fox and a family of squirrels.
When she’s not writing or making music or having SongStarz related shennanigans, Fi enjoys keeping up with new developments in science and technology and also doing a bit of organic gardening – for which she has more enthusiasm than skill judging by the size of the brambles in her garden.
Her website is here at www.fionalily.com
So onto the nitty gritty …
1.Where were you born?
2.Where did you grow up?
The Midlands – Mostly climbing trees and playing hide and seek type games in the street – and when I was a bit older Youth Club and Roller Disco (where I was a bit of a liability to be honest).
3.What jobs have you had? (Any jobs before you became an artist/musician etc)
Loads… yard sweeper, baby sitter, shop assistant, gift wrapper, till operator at DIY store, negative chopper in a photo factory, baby listener, waitress at different places, cleaner (I liked that A LOT cos I got to use a buffer machine and although it was crazy uncontrollable I got to listen to music while I was using it). Have also been an office worker, manager type too which was also a lot of fun– mostly because of the brilliant people I met and the friends I made.
4.What got you started?
I always made up songs in my head about different things, or to remember things (which really works – try it!), and would write them down on scraps of paper until I started carrying notebooks around with me in case I got any ideas.
I ended up with notebooks full of songs and eventually a friend got me a guitar so I could learn to play them. Am very grateful to that friend!
5. How old were you when you started?
We were always singing at home and I learnt a bit of guitar at school when I was about 12 but not much – I wish I’d stuck at it, I can tell you! Seriously – learn an instrument and keep at it if you enjoy it – it really doesn’t matter if your not good at it if you love it – that’s the whole point of learning – and you’ll be glad you did.
I didn’t start learning guitar again and pursuing arts as more than a hobby until much later – early thirties.
6. Did you do any training? Where did you study?
I’ve done all that a bit back to front really so I’d definitely say there’s no ‘right way’ of doing something – I recorded and released an album by myself before I had any training at all.
After that I had guitar lessons with a great teacher (proving it really is never too late – he was very patient with me!), and went on different courses to improve, then decided to learn a bit more about songwriting so did a course at Bath Spa University and then a Music Production Diploma to learn how to record vocals and instruments and create tracks – that was a lot of fun and a nice bunch of people and it means that I can record my own music now – which is handy.
With the writing I’d written SongStarz and some other books that will come out at some point and, and then put it all to one side and went to study writing, doing a course in Creative Writing at Loughborough University, and a ton of other courses. They were useful and lots of fun and I met some great people on them.
Putting the stories to one side, then coming back to them with a fresh pair of eyes to do the rewriting and the editing was really useful too.
For drawing the characters and the backdrops, I learnt how to use Adobe Photoshop by going to evening courses and practicing lots. I got books on drawing Manga from the library because I really liked that style and thought it would work well for SongStarz.
I don’t expect I’ll ever stop learning, there’s so much info online and in libraries that you can learn anything.
Lot’s of writers, artists and musicians didn’t do formal study so find your own way and don’t let anything stop you.
7.What was the first piece of work you did?
I suppose that first album I recorded in my bedroom. I did the artwork for it and released it online before I did any training at all, totally self taught. It was a great learning curve and the songs were all my slowest because I couldn’t play the guitar very fast, but it felt really good to finish it!
I’ve taken it off iTunes now to rework it, and will release the new version at some point – but I’ll always keep a copy of that first one 😊
For SongStarz, the first song I wrote is the one that the Cutie Catz will sing in the SongStarz final. I wrote it years before I started the project and it shaped some of the story.
8. What piece of work are you proudest of?
That’s a tricky one. I like everything I’ve done in different ways – even if it’s not perfect, it’s sprung from something and was fun to do or maybe doing it helped me learn something new, so, even if other people don’t like it, it doesn’t matter. You really can’t care about that too much – otherwise you’d never do anything.
I think probably doing that first album and finishing it gave me the confidence to carry on.
The first SongStarz musical performance at Shepshed High School (Now Iveshead school) was one of my proudest moments.
The teachers, cast, band and crew were AMAZING and I was very proud of them – it was a brilliant experience to be part of that.
9. What are you best known for?
I am VERY well known among my friends and family for my dubious ability to dance like a robot, and my love of ‘so terrible they’re brilliant’ jokes.
Other than that, SongStarz probably.
10. What do you like most about your art form?
I like to take something from an idea, all the way through to finish, whatever style or genre it’s in – it gives me a real sense of satisfaction.
Once I have them down I like quietly sitting with them, getting to know them, working on them and polishing them up until they’re something am happy with.
Sometimes they don’t turn out how you expected, which can either be a good surprise, or you might need to do some reworking. Was it Eddison that said that he’d not failed 157 times to invent the lightbulb, he’d proved that those ways didn’t work. Am probably horribly misquoting him, but I like that sentiment a lot.
I like the variety too, of writing, and music and illustrating. Creating the animation for the musical backdrops and the karaoke videos was fun because I enjoy using technology to be creative. It’s all good.
11. What are you working on now?
Editing the SongStarz books and working on the songs. I have some other books am working on too and songs – I like to have a few projects on the go.
12. Who were your arts inspirations growing up?
Margot Fonteyn was an amazing ballet dancer and that made me want to be a dancer when I was really young. I also loved all the old films and musicals, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Judy Garland – classics.
Favourites in my teens were Annie Lennox/The Eurythmics, Fairground Attaction, Erasure, Aretha Franklin, Human League, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Spandau Ballet, Madonna, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, INXS, A-ha, Climie Fisher, Wet Wet Wet. Bob Marley, Rick Astley etc etc.
All quite varied.
For reading, ‘Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was a favourite when I was younger. The characters really jumped off the page for me, Jo’s fiery independant character, Beth’s kindness, Amy’s vanity, Meg’s motherliness, their fighting spirit, their joys and their painful losses.
In my teens I read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings over and over – the films are great but the books are brilliant.
Who are your arts inspirations now?
I still like all my childhood and teenage favourites and also more recent pop, still like pop music; Kylie, Pink, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, John Legend,Take That, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Pharel Williams, Bruno Mars, Stormzy – they’re great songwriters and performers., – but I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate other genres such as country and classical. You’d have to go far to beat Dolly Parton or a bit of Debussy or Chopin, or some of the great operas – Carmen is a favourite (Check out my review for the Arts Award ‘Mission’ B section).
Also of course are the all time classic artists like Eva Cassidy, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Prince, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Bonny Rait – so many. Also like a bit of Britpop, like Blur, Suede, Pulp and Oasis and a bit of ACDC, Led Zepellin and Bon Jovi.
My taste could definitely be described as ‘eclectic’
What top tips would you give to someone starting out in your artform?
Follow your passion, whatever that is – it might be that you love working with numbers, or coding, or working with your hands to make or fix things, or working with people, whatever it is, if it makes you happy, that’s the thing to do.
I’d definitely say if you want to write, or make music or art, just do it, learn as you go. Listen to music to learn what you like, then work out what they’re doing. Read, and find out what you like to read, then ask yourself why you like it. Look at as much art as you can, what do you like, why, and how did they do it?
Also don’t stop yourself before you start, try it – and keep trying it you’ll surprise yourself. We’re all beginners to start with when we try something new and that’s a really fun part.
Get yourself a plan…
You can look at the Bronze Mission D planning video for more info on how to plan, but basically ….
Think of the end result you want because then you can work out how you’re going to get there
If you want something specific, you have to have it clear in your mind in full and glorious technicolour detail – what does it look like? what does it sound and feel like.
Work out the steps you need to take to get there – what skills you need to learn, how much you need to practice, if you need anyone’s help etc. Don’t be afraid of getting someone who already knows how to do something to show you. People are generally happy to help.
‘The secret of success is constancy to purpose!’ as Lily Diggins (from the SongStarz series) says. Keep at it, don’t give up and what you want to happen will happen – hooray for that!
ENJOY THE DOING of it at don’t be attached to the outcome – that’s the VERY MOST IMPORTANT BIT!
(In fact I’ve put that in CAPS just so you know that it really is the VERY MOST IMPORTANT bit!)
Good luck in all your artistic endeavours – whatever they might be!
Go get ’em!