Nerina Pallot’s Songwriting Survival Kit
From her beloved Yamaha acoustic to her kitten Dave, these are things that Jersey’s alternative rock singer-songwriter can’t do without
Sharing is caring, which is why we’ve been encouraging you all to reveal your #songwritingsurvivalkit with us on social media. Whether it’s the tatty notebook that’s permanently attached to you or your trusty old guitar and amp, we want to see those pieces of kit that are essential to your songwriting life. Here, singer-songwriter Nerina Pallot talks us through the items which make up her up own #songwritingsurvivalkit. From her beloved Yamaha acoustic to her kitten Dave, these are things that she can’t do without…
1. YOUNG CHANG UPRIGHT
This is actually one of the worst pianos known to man. I have a rule that I will not write on a posh piano even though I also have two gorgeous Bosendorfers. If the song sounds great on a terrible instrument, then I know it will sound great whatever happens to it.
2. YAMAHA NYLON ACOUSTIC
I think nylon acoustic is the hardest guitar to play – super-wide neck, really unforgiving to middling technique. So again, when I write on this guitar and I can make it sound great, then I know a song has legs.
3. MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK
I love the little squares. I got into using them when I was a teenager because I loved a book by Bruce Chatwin called The Songlines and I read somewhere that these were the only notebooks he used. And so I have become attached to them as a result.
4. FOUNTAIN PEN WITH BLACK AND ONLY BLACK INK
I am a stationery obsessive. I get all excited when I see a stationery or art shop and there’s a certain pleasure from watching black ink scrawl across a page. The same with a brand new pencil. (I need to get out more.) One of my very lovely fans gave me this Mont Blanc fountain pen and it is by far my most treasured pen – and I’ve been collecting pens since I was little!
I record everything while I’m writing onto my iPhone, and couldn’t do without it. Sometimes when I am on a long walk I go back to voice memos from years ago and get pleasantly surprised (or horrified) by ideas and often retrieve songs never finished, or find the perfect bridge or chorus for something I’m working on now. It’s also really interesting to listen back to ideas from years ago and hear exactly what was influencing my writing at the time – it’s like a time machine.
6 & 7 PAINTING AND POSTCARD
The painting above my piano is a copy of a Rousseau I saw in my local framer’s. It inspired a song of the same name which I wrote after a bit of a block. I write so much from visual cues – paintings, postcards like this one of a fox from the Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition or old photographs. Pictures have probably influenced me as a songwriter as much as my favourite books or records. They allow me to go to another world and use my imagination more effectively.
I don’t know what it is, but the moment I sit down to play piano or guitar, one of my animals will insist on sitting on me or as close as possible to me. Usually, it’s my dog Maggie (she could probably claim 50% royalties on anything I’ve written in the last decade) but at the moment it’s my kitten Dave. Everybody needs a Dave to keep them company while songwriting, I reckon.