Iona Woods is a guitarist and singer/songwriter from the North West UK. Inspired by a range of styles including classic rock, 80s metal and pop punk, she is making a name for herself in the live scene in Chester. With lockdown impacting the music industry and a potential end in sight, I asked her about her experiences, new music and thoughts on the live scene’s return.
1. What inspired you to become involved in music?
Music has always been a huge part of my life! I knew I wanted to do something with it for as long as I can remember, but I was painfully shy about it for years. I couldn’t even sing when people were in the house, let alone a crowd! But it gets to a point where if you really want to do something, you have to just jump in or you’ll never get started. We always want to wait until our craft is “perfect” until we share it. But allowing ourselves to just start and be vulnerable is the best way to grow.
2. How long have you been performing?
It’s been almost 2 years since I started performing, but a huge chunk of that we’ve been stuck in lockdown. So I suppose that would balance out to about a year with that in mind!
3. You’ve become involved in the live music scene in Chester, what is your favourite part of it?
I love the fact that every time you go to a music event in Chester, you have no idea who you’re going to meet. Before lockdown, I noticed lots of new people coming out to the Chester open mics, to watch and perform. It’s amazing! There’s regulars of course, but some nights you meet the next new person you’re going to collaborate with, an old friend from years back, or a whole new group of people who become lifelong friends. I love the social aspect of it.
4. Has the lack of live music impacted you?
Definitely, going from playing live every week straight to nothing has been difficult to be honest. Every time I finish a live performance I think “What went well, and what could I improve for next time?” I was always preparing for the next gig, eager to play again and keep pushing myself. I had a focus and drive for it, something to look forward to every week. So I struggle to know what to do with that energy now sometimes, because the stage is where I’m most comfortable! But it has given me chance to improve my craft, and focus on my visual art too.
5. How do you choose which tracks to cover, and how do you add your own spin?
To be completely honest, I don’t think about it too much! If I really resonate with the song, I’ll have the drive to learn it. If it’s a song that the audience wouldn’t expect to hear, that’s always fun too. I try not to stick to just one genre, so whether it’s Rammstein, Backstreet Boys or Green Day, if I love the song enough I’ll make it work with my playing style!
6. You released a live recording of the original track ‘Moving Day’ a few months ago. How was the reaction to that?
Honestly, the reaction I got for ‘Moving Day’ completely exceeded my expectations. It’s the first original song I’ve ever shared, and I thought it would just get a few listens, and that would be it! So many people ended up sharing it about, and giving amazing feedback. I truly didn’t expect such a wonderful response, but I’m so grateful for it.
7. Do you have more original music in the works?
Yes! I planned to do some studio time earlier this year, but then we got hit with the lockdown so it had to be put on pause for now. But I’m still writing new ideas when they come, and am very eager to finish some more original songs when places are open again!
8. How do you feel about the prospect of live music returning (potentially) in a few months?
If it can go through, I can’t wait. Gigs are my absolute favourite place to be. We still have to be careful and make sure it’s safe to do so, but I can’t wait to be singing with friends in a crowd watching our favourite bands again when the time is right!
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