Beth Orton Residency: Meet the Musicians

Brighter Sound and Band on the Wall are delighted to announce the 14 specially selected musicians for our fourth Wall of Sounds Artistic Directors Series, to be led by the brilliant Beth Orton.

Over 350 female musicians applied to take part in the residency, eclipsing the total applicants for the first three residencies combined.

The group will meet for the first time on Monday next week.  For five days they will work together to collaborate and push creative limits in what promises to be an incredible week of music making.

The new material they create will be performed live for the first time at Band on the Wall on Friday 20th February. We look forward to welcoming the artists to Brighter Sound next week.

From Monday, you can follow the residency and keep up-to-date with the week’s activity on social media, where we’ll be posting daily pics and updates.

Resident artist biographies

Sonia Allori

Sonia Allori is a Scottish/Italian composer, musician, writer and music therapist. After gaining a PhD in Composition and an MSc in Music Therapy with Nordoff-Robbins, she is now developing several projects as a composer and performer. She has recently started new part-time research in disability arts practice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Funded by The Unlimited Fund, which commissions new work by disabled artists, Sonia is currently developing the score for Seasons 4.0 – a mixed media re-imagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as a dance-music fusion work. Sonia performs with The British Paraorchestra and toured nationally in spring 2014 with a new production of ThreepennyOpera (Brecht/Weill) as an actor/musician.

Janileigh Cohen

Janileigh Cohen is an exciting, up and coming talent.  Her main instruments are piano and guitar and she mostly plays and writes songs in her bedroom. Influences include Leonard Cohen, Jackson C Frank and John Martyn. First gig venues include Gullivers and Band on the Wall.

Vanessa James

Vanessa James is a Yorkshire-born, London-based motion picture composer. She began composing and playing music aged five, and studied with acclaimed composers Philip Wilby and Mic Spencer at The Leeds School of Music, where she graduated in composition. Since 2004, Vanessa has scored a mixture of films, documentaries and adverts, which have been screened and broadcast worldwide.

Independently, Vanessa writes, performs and records her own work. In 2011, she released Paintings on Piano, a collection of short stories told on piano. Her alternative-folk album Mermaid City is in the making and due for release 2015. Vanessa also writes, orchestrates and performs with the band Starling. She is also co-owner of Peak Studios UK, a professional recording studios in the North of England, and has co-wrote an international best-selling book, The Girl With No Name, which inspired a two-hour National Geographic documentary.


Ione-Mai is a talented singer-songwriter from Manchester who started to carve out her career in the music industry at the age of 14 with her first session with 80s soul singer Ruby Turner.

Ione-Mai went on to sing with Gorillaz, folk singer Adam Green, Errol Brown of Hot chocolate and on various gospel and jazz albums. In 2013, Ione-Mai released her debut E.P. Fighting fear, which draws on her influences of acoustic, soul, electronic and classical music.

Ione-Mai has recently been added to the BBC introducing Manchester family that supports local unsigned talent where she is dubbed as one to watch. Building on the success of her first E.P , Ione-Mai released her second single Back in the day last summer. Next, Ione-Mai will be supporting various acts in the UK, gigging around the country and continually making new music.

Natalie McCool

Born in Liverpool, Natalie is a singer-songwriter and guitarist, whose talents first became recognised from winning a national competition judged by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, music producer Steve Levine and Live Aid Promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Her music has gone on to be praised by every single music blog that has crossed her path including NYLON, Hunger, Wonderland, The Line of Best Fit and Pigeons & Planes.

Natalie studied at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and won Female Artist of the Year at the Liverpool Music Awards in 2013. In the same year, she released her debut album to critical acclaim with a long list of national radio stations recognising her undeniable guitar artistry including Chris Hawkins, Tom Robinson, Steve Lamacq and Huey Morgan of BBC 6 Music, XFM’s John Kennedy and Hattie Pearson, and BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary, Janice Long, Richard Allinson and Steve Wright. Natalie’s latest single, PINS, was released last month and was featured as one of the top five songs to listen to by Q Magazine.

Josephine Oniyama

Born to a Liberian mother in Manchester, Josephine grew up enjoying a colourful West African culture. She recalls from a young age, soaking up a diverse range of musical influences from all over the world. Her Mum bought her a guitar at twelve years of age and three years later, she performed her first gig. An intense period of songwriting followed, and in 2012, Josephine released her debut album, Portrait, to critical acclaim. She has since toured with Paloma Faith, enjoyed appearances with Michael Kiwanuka and George Ezra, and performed on Later with Jools Holland and The Andrew Marr Show. Her UK headline tours were greeted with excitement and shining reviews, with The Independent saying ‘Mancunian born Josephine Oniyama is a welcome addition to the new music scene with her folky, neo-soul songs that captivate with their honesty and maturity.’ Josephine is currently writing and recording her second album, which will be finished later this year.

Jote Osahn

Jote studied violin at the Royal Northern College of Music and in Switzerland with folk/classical violinist Volker Biesenbender. She has gained extensive experience and knowledge of recording and playing live, as well as performing on numerous TV and radio shows in the UK and worldwide. Throughout her career, Jote has been lucky to have worked with a diverse range of artists, such as Ryuchi Sakamoto, Joan Armatrading, Gloria Gaynor, Massive Attack, The Cinematic Orchestra, Gorillaz, Duran Duran, Sia, Nick Cave, Bonobo, I am Kloot, Tired Pony, Snow Patrol, Spector, Josh Kumra, Ian Broudie and Roots Manuva.

Jote divides her time between playing live, composing, recording sessions and string arranging.

For the past ten years, Jote has worked and toured extensively with Elbow, playing on their breakthrough album The Seldom Seen Kid. More recently, she set up Manchester Session Strings, which has involved projects such as Concrete Love, the new album by The Courteeners, and the soundtrack to the film Set Fire to the Stars, featuring music composed by Gruff Rhys.

Kayla Painter

Bristol based musician, producer and visual artist Kayla Painter has spent the last few years carving a strong reputation for herself around the UK with her distinctive, layered soundscapes and compositions. Heavily influenced by Bristol’s legendary bass heritage, Kayla’s sound draws from techno, garage and post dub but hastily deconstructs and re-contextualises her influences into fascinating, complex and beautiful new forms.  She crafts her experimental soundscapes from intriguing and restless rhythms, surging deep bass lines and warm washes of cloudy ambience, complemented by a hypnotising visual show. With several well received releases since 2012, Kayla continues to be one of the South West’s most enticing producers, with 2015 anticipated as her biggest year yet.

Avital Raz

Jerusalem-born Avital Raz lives in Manchester where she teaches singing and Indian Classical music. She regularly performs her own material and is half of the up and coming electronica duo Dirty Tactics. Avital started out singing classical music, and after completing degrees in vocal performance and composition, she went on to study the ancient art of Dhrupad singing with Prof. Ritwik Sanyal of Benares Hindu University.

She recorded her first album in India with local musicians. Titled, Sad Songs About The End Of Love, the album is composed in Raag syle and is based on James Joyce’s Chamber Music poem cycle. Avital has recently gained notoriety for her taboo-busting song lyrics. Her latest release The Believer, a collaboration with Scotland based cellist/ producer Pete Harvey (Meursault, The Leg), was reviewed in The Herald Scotland as ‘likely to be one of the most compelling things you hear all year’.

Fiona Soe Paing

Fiona is of Scottish and Burmese origin and lives in rural Aberdeenshire. She is an electronic producer and vocalist and creates surreal and hypnotic audio-visual shows, through combining electronica, projected 3D animation and compelling live vocals. Her first demo, sung in phrasebook Burmese, was found on Myspace by BBC world music DJ, the late Charlie Gillett, who included the track on his radio show and in his Sound of the World 2007 compilation.

More recently, in 2012, Fiona was granted funding by Creative Scotland, which led to the EP Tower of Babel been released on the Edinburgh based Black Lantern Music.   Gaining a Four Stars review in The Skinny, the EP was included in Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing podcast on BBC 6 Music and on BBC Radio Scotland by Vic Galloway. Fiona has performed at a wide range of festivals and events in Scotland including most recently a widescreen performance at Cineworld for the Aberdeen International Film Festival, incorporating music, animation, live vocals and twirling ballerina music box

Gina Tratt

Gina Marie Tratt is a 23 year-old London based singer songwriter, whose sound is a progressive union of pop, soul and velvet electro. She enjoyed the saxophone, guitar and keys from a young age and draws inspiration from all ends of the spectrum such as Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman and Fleet Foxes. Over the past few years, Gina has worked closely with bands such as Hannah Williams & The Tastemakers who are regular performers on the BBC 6 Craig Charles Funk & Soul radio show. Gina also plays guitar for the up-and-coming Ever Hazel and is a front member of Kieran & The Iguanas, a ‘tropadelic’ Bristol five piece. Currently Gina is working on a new album for release later this year, in which horns take a lead role and Gina’s Jazz saxophone roots come shining through.

Elizabeth Vince

Elizabeth developed a passion for music through singing and playing the piano from a young age. In 2013, Elizabeth graduated from University of Central Lancashire in Music Practice. It was through her degree that she developed an interest in experimental music genres and extended vocal techniques, heavily influencing her own music style and songwriting. Her recent focus on electronic music can be heard in her debut EP, Our Loving Cage, which uses electronic instrumentation and the voice to explore both traditional vocal harmony and layering techniques. Elizabeth is currently working on new material for an album to be released this year.

Becca Williams

Described by BBC Manchester as writing “thoughtful, emotional music that cuts to your heart and feeds your soul”, Becca Williams is a refreshingly honest voice on the UK folk circuit. Her timeless songs are full of catchy melodies and down-to-earth lyrics instantly resonating over and over again with critics and audiences alike. In recent years, she has shared the stage with the likes of The Magic Numbers, Lau and Roddy Woomble. She has also collaborated with Louis Barabbas, Snowapple and Richard Barry and was road partner to Kirsty McGee on her recent Contraband European tour.

Cally Youdell              

Cally Youdell is a light soprano originally from Chester and currently in her fourth year of study with Sandra Dugdale at the RNCM. Cally works as both a soloist and choral singer. She is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service and a founding member both of the RNCM’s Monteverdi Singers and the choir in residence of the National Portrait Gallery London. Cally’s recent appearances on the concert platform, include Messiah (Handel), Dixit Dominus (Handel) and Weihnachts-Oratorium (Bach). Operatic roles include Second Woman in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), Fairy 2 in The Fairy Queen (Purcell), Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring (Britten) and Angelica in Orlando (Handel).

Cally is particularly interested in singing baroque repertoire due to its innately expressive and subtle nature. She regularly performs in baroque ensemble Abbandonata. Cally is extremely excited to be moving to The Netherlands in September to study for a Masters in vocal studies and early music at The Royal Conservatoire in The Hague.