At just 18 years old, Liv Dawson’s story thus far suggests that it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. She was born and raised in Shepperton, a sleepy commuter-town with unlikely links to Hollywood (the latest Star Wars, James Bond and Harry Potter movies are among the many blockbuster names to pass in and out of the local studios). The closest Liv came to finding stardom on her doorstep was singing along to the ‘Dreamgirls’ soundtrack in the car, one of her earliest musical memories and the catalyst to subsequently starting to write her own music aged thirteen.
Performance ran through the family’s blood, though not in the ways you might expect: Liv’s father was a boxer from his early teens, learning to spar in the army and later competing at middle-weight level (before opening the local gym and training up Liv’s younger brother to follow him into the ring). On nights off, Liv’s Dad would dutifully accompany his daughter to local pubs and clubs, where she road-tested her work and found a confidence which starkly contrasted with her awkwardness in the playground (“I’ve always been really shy, and was never in the popular group at school or anything”). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Liv increasingly found herself drawn not just to soulful vocalists, but strong female role-models who were unafraid to be different. (“I used to listen to a lot of Beyonce, Lauryn Hill – particularly her Unplugged album for MTV – and Etta James on my Nan’s old record player”).
As her life (and live) experience grew, something clicked for Liv Dawson when she wrote ‘Tapestry’: an intimate, elegantly modern torch-song, inspired not only by the weaving together of good and bad experiences into your life but a frequently reassuring phrase from her Mum (that everything will be fine, because it’s all part of your tapestry).
Having signed with Method Records, Liv’s early tracks have likewise interlaced girl-next-door confessionals with contemporary electronica. The propulsive two- step groove of ‘Still’, for instance, is about “someone that makes a huge impact on your life, so when they leave you notice everything that they’ve left their mark on”; elsewhere, ‘Open Your Eyes’ is a sweetly disarming call-to-action in a relationship, before the inevitable parting ways; the wise-beyond-her-years ‘Reflection’, meanwhile, considers the possibility that maybe you’re the one who’s changed, after all. Vivid snapshots of young adulthood, it’s a sound which continues to evolve as Liv does, assisted by mentor-like collaborators like Jimmy Napes, Tobias Jesso Jr, Bruno Major, SG Lewis and Disclosure – who have produced Liv’s latest single ‘Searching – “Guy and Howard have been so supportive – because they’re young too, their big thing is to allow artists to grow. They just told me to keep doing my own thing, take my time, and text them if I need anything!”
With millions of streams, radio support from Annie Mac and MistaJam, shows alongside the likes of HONNE complete and an already sold out debut London show at Omeara coming up, becoming comfortable in the gaze of others is an ongoing process for Liv Dawson – but her allies remains close to home. “My little brother had his first boxing match about a year ago, when I was starting to do gigs again: it was so scary watching him – I wanted to just run on and tell the other boy to leave him alone. My brother comes to watch me play, I go and watch him fight…he was telling me everything that goes through his head before a match, and we can relate to each other in a way on what that feels like.” A stand- out new voice in Pop,LivDawson’s open, honest and heartfelt songwriting nonetheless packs a punch that looks set to resonate through 2017 and beyond.