Without a doubt Ren Harvieu is a definitive artist to watch in the increasingly imminent new year, she has a stunning and unique voice that has garnered attention from Nas, Elbow and Glasvegas to name a few. Currently on tour with James Morrison reports have been heavily praise worthy, describing a Salford gal with a huge amount of gumption and soul.
She was due to release her debut single 'Through The Night' this year but following an accident that very nearly left her paralysed the release was put back to January next year. Ren was told she would never walk again, at school her teachers told her she would never get anywhere with her singing, yet here she is, fully recovered and ready to take the world by storm.
To begin with, tell us a little about your musical upbringing and how you started singing?
Well I'm from Salford and I started singing when I was about twelve, it just went from there really. I didn't start singing at a really young age, I just got into it a bit late but I've always loved music. Lots of my mum's music was a big inspiration for me, she was into a lot of the Manchester stuff, Morissey, John Cooper Clarke and all that kind of stuff.
We've heard that you had and still have a penchant for all things Disney is that right?
I love Disney! All Disney with the beautiful orchestrated music and the heroines of the films that almost sound like birds. I was definitely inspired by them. I love Snow White, she's got a weird voice though, 'Cinderella' is also amazing, 'The Rescuers' as well. I was obsessed with the woman who sings the soundtrack to 'The Rescuers', I found out that she's called Shelby Flint, I actually tracked down everything she's done. It all turned out to be quite different, there's only a tiny bit of music put out by her but she's absolutely amazing.
We saw you covered Roy Orbison's 'Crying' is that a favorite of yours?
Yeah I used to have a couple of cassettes that I used to listen to when I was a kid and that song used to make me cry. There's something about the track that has stuck with me. When I met James from Glasvegas we were like "shall we do a tune", he suggested we do a cover so I said do you know 'Crying' - he just knew it straight away, so we just recorded it in his flat.
You went to the same school that Elbow came from, did that inspire you at all?
Yeah Guy Garvey went to my high-school, it definitely inspired me as I've been a big fan of Elbow for years. I did a gig last night in support of them at St. Johns Church last night which was a bit mad!
How did you find the performance, did you enjoy it?
I was absolutely sh***ing myself! It went really really well though, I think when you're that terrified before you go on you just have to channel it into the performance. But it went brilliant, I've never sung in a church before, the acoustics where amazing. It felt quite special...
We've heard that some of your teachers put you down at school, saying you'd never sing properly. Have you found finding recognition a vindicating experience?
It's great because I kind of decided when I was 18 that I wasn't going to sing anymore because so many people had told me that I wasn't any good. So whenever I get recognition it still feels like the first time, I love it.
Have you seen any of them since?
No I haven't but one of teachers who told me I'd be dropped from the year tried to add me on Facebook, I was so tempted to write something horrible but then I thought "nope, I don't want to sink to his level". I didn't add him as a friend though, I mean that is so cheeky to try to reach out to me after he made my life hell?
Do think you'd be in the same place now if they hadn't put you down?
The thing is it knocked my confidence a lot, so it took me a long time to build myself up to expressing myself, it took a while for me to even sing because I was so nervous. But I think I was 18 at the time I'm 21 now, I think I've gained a lot of confidence since then, you've got to turn some stuff like that into a positive at the end of the day.
If you don't mind talking about your accident, what was it that spurred you on through the time in hospital?
I'd say knowing that I had this fantastic opportunity awaiting me if I got better was great motivation. I couldn't move so I used to do a lot of visualisation, spending hours picturing myself being able to walk, move, sing and all that. The prospect of such exciting things on the horizon really helped me, I think if I was just working in McDonalds I wouldn't have recovered as quickly as I did.
You were due to work with Nas beforehand, are you still planning to hook up?
I hope so yeah, we've sent tracks back and forth to each other so it's definitely in the pipeline, we've just got to pick the right song. It's dead exciting, I think he's amazing, I've met him a few times, he's dead laid back and such a nice guy.
Do you view the accident and subsequent recovery as a set back or a second chance?
Well I think with anything that massive, that traumatic happens to you, the only thing you can do is look for the positives. I guess if anything it's made me even more determined to do well and get myself out there, I've now realised what I really want in life is to sing. Although I'm still amazed that I can walk about!
Johnny Marr rung you in hospital, is there any new on what you guys might be collaborating on?
We had a chat and he said he'd like to do something in the future, I mean bloody hell, I would jump at the chance to do something with him, he's a legend. Any time that he wants to do it I am willing and able.
The release of 'Through The Night' has been put back until next year, are you not raring to go?
I'm beyond impatient, beyond... If it was up to me it would be out right now! Although no-one really knows who I am right now so I've got to promote the thing!
How have you found the touring schedule following your recovery?
Yeah it's fine, I get time to do a lot of physio as with the sound checks and stuff you are always waiting around for ages so there is a lot of time to chill out and make sure that I'm not overdoing it. Touring is great I'm really enjoying it.
You've been supporting James Morrison, have you been enjoying the slot?
The dates were good because he's got a lovely crowd so there was always a nice atmosphere when you go out on stage. Before that I was doing Glasvegas, their crowd is kind of a rock crowd so they were much harder to win round, but I did really enjoy the challenge of winning them over.
Finally, seeing as you're big on the collaborations, if you could with any artist alive or dead who would they be?
Judy Garland straight up, or maybe David Bowie!