Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Eleanor Hickey on storytelling, her musical influences and defining her sound

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Words: Hannah Parkinson (she/her)

1841 coffee. 2pm. Wednesday afternoon.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Glasgow-based Singer-Songwriter Eleanor Hickey, ahead of her playing GUM’s ‘Prosper’ launch party next month, on the 18th of May at Alchemy Experiment.

Originally from South Uist, Eleanor grew up in a musical family, who have always supported her musical passions. She tells me how her father managed bands in London and played in a band of his own. This led to Eleanor standing at the doorway to her family’s music room watching her Dad practice for gigs, taking in the sounds and absorbing the energy throughout her childhood. Although surrounded by Trad music which imbues the cultural heritage of much of Scotland, and certainly the Hebridean Isles that Eleanor calls home, she found herself immersed in not only Gaelic singing and playing fiddle, but – through her father’s musical influence – the world of powerful female musicians such as Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, and Linda Ronstadt. It was these musical influences which inspired Eleanor the most. 

Eleanor tells me that as a child, she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She was constantly writing stories, and as life went on and she got older, she had less and less time to narrativize her thoughts. The natural progression of this habit became song writing, combining both of her respective longstanding passions for music and writing. She describes to me how, when you grow up and real-life sets in, it gets harder to tell the stories you want to tell, to put down on paper or out into the world all that you have to say. So, now, she writes it down in her lyrics. Her songs in effect act in lieu of journaling, she tells me, and her process is less formulaic than it is fuelled by emotion and real-life experience. This shines through into the authenticity of her songs.

Eleanor was recently invited to play Little House Sessions down in London earlier this month, which she describes as a dreamy gig and supportive creative environment. She was in her element playing alongside seven other artists and chatting with them and the organisers of the event beforehand. She describes how it can be difficult to categorise her sound, and how the other artists she played alongside agreed. Indie Pop feels wrong, but so does Soft Rock, which have both been used to describe her released music in the past. When I asked about her musical influences, she cited Wolf Alice and Florence and the Machine as having the kind of sound she envisions for herself. A dreamy voice and lyrical song writing, but one that fuels the energy of a crowd at a festival, almost, was the closest we came to defining the genre in a sentence. It is this sense of defying categorisation that is the true defining force of Eleanor’s unique sound.

She is at a somewhat transitional time in her process, she tells me. While she has had the privilege of working alongside music producers in putting out some of her music so far, she talks of how she has been enjoying the creative act of recording and producing some of her own songs herself, with the help of her guitarist Andrew. She was asked recently to record a song for a wedding video after it was seen on an Instagram video and described how it felt authentic and freeing to be able to fully realise her musical vision from start to finish.

We can hope to hear an EP from Eleanor before the year is out, as she intends to work on more material in this manner, writing and producing her own music and moving into a new era of her sound. She tells me of how she is proud of the songs she has put out so far, but is constantly evolving in her vision of the music she feels represents where she’s at as a musician and as an individual. Marrying up that vision and producing her own music will certainly produce an EP that I am eagerly anticipating, alongside her other listeners and ever-growing audience. I also excitedly await her performance at our Launch, which I urge our readership to come along and enjoy!

Updates and gig dates can be found on Eleanor’s Instagram: Eleanorhickey_


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