The post-Mormon electro-popstress from Utah who trained in musical theatre before moving to London with $300 and a backpacker’s guitar
Location: Ashby-de-la-Zouch, UK
Style: “Musically, I would describe it as post-Mormon electro-pop”
Look out for: The debut EP London out now and her first album I Said Yes To Everything
Although relatively new to the scene, Wrenne is an artist with an interesting story that started many years ago. Raised a Mormon in a family of musicians, she left her home in Utah at the age of 22 years old and jumped on a plane to London. “I studied musical theatre, so I suppose the next logical step would’ve been to go New York and audition for Broadway, but my upbringing was quite conformist,” recalls Wrenne. “By the time I was graduating from university, I thought, ‘The sky’s the limit. I’m going to go to the edge!’ And London was as far away as I could imagine.”
She got off the plane with only $300 and booked a hostel for two nights in Bayswater. At that point, a music career wasn’t on the cards, but she had brought a little backpacker’s guitar that her brother gave her, so started writing and working out how to play chords. “I just put my fingers in different positions to find the sounds that I wanted and started composing songs. Lyrics just spilled out of me. The way I look at my creative process is that I see what comes out and that teaches me. I know some songwriters will decide what to write about and try to craft that, whereas I express something, then look at it and figure out what it was that I said to myself.”
Wrenne decided to focus on songwriting and felt compelled to sing live, so eventually found a few gigs and continued on her artistic path. However, after several years on London’s acoustic circuit, she found the soul-searching, Joni Mitchell-inspired ‘girl with a guitar’ persona was at odds with her vision of a more theatrical performer. That’s when she started networking with labels and publishers, and collaborating with producers to create songs that would merit a bigger performance.
Wrenne explains: “Originally I was a performer so that’s my craft: connecting with an audience on stage. But I tried to bring the personal songwriting message into the pop sentiment. When I was the girl with the guitar, people would pull me to one side and say, ‘Careful in the music industry, don’t let anybody change you!’ But in my journey through collaboration, I actually wanted to be influenced. I’ve really enjoyed working with people who put my voice in a soundscape that I never would’ve thought of.”
And so the girl put down the guitar and ended up working with a whole host of world-class collaborators, including Tim Gordine, Gregor Philp, Jonny Latimer, Paul Statham, Jerry Abbott, Jim Irvine, Johnny Tomlinson, Berenice Scott and Jon Rydningan. Even the actor Idris Elba is one of the talented individuals who helped create her debut album. “I never would’ve thought of doing an electro-pop song, but I really enjoyed working with producers who could influence me,” she admits. “I never listened to pop music, growing up – my influences would be church hymns, choirs and jazz standards. James Taylor and Bobby McFerrin were the most mainstream. But I’m an artist so I wanted to explore.”
Now settled in the small Leicestershire town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Wrenne is also a proud mother to a six years old girl and is inspired to write by her daughter. All the material from her co-writing sessions, being recorded for the album, spans those six years and one of her most recent songs, You Are More was written specifically about a mother’s love.
Having settled on a sound she is comfortable with as well, Wrenne is ready to launch her career as a solo artist and has even started picking up the six-string again. “Now I’m entering a new interest which I want to more of, which is to take my guitar in. I’ll maybe even have a composition done and then utilise the producer’s skills to make the most of that. It’s kind of putting me back in the driver’s seat, where I want to be the one who’s influencing them now.”
Find out more about Wrenne at wrenne.ninja and watch the video for her latest single Hope below. Also look out for Wrenne performing live throughout the UK and Europe, as well as a potential Asian tour, all planned for 2016.