From within the back bedroom of a little yellow house..........beneath the ghetto gloom of a Northern England ex mining area, eclectic soul artist, Jilly Riley, poetically fuses colours of funk, blues, rock, world, surf pop, hip hop and psychedelic soul...... creating a heterogeneous stew of unique musical flavour, to which her killer, soulful vocals are the kick ass dumplings. Rooted in love, with a healthy dollop of activism, her musical goulash oozes juices of passion, liberation and equality.
You could pretty much say that Jilly was born on the road and grew up on it, beginning her journey in Wakefield on 21st March 1982. Living here there and everywhere, always on the move, from house to house, to farm, to pub, to caravan, to house 16 TIMES, during which music became a much loved travelling companion. From age 6 Jilly has been playing music, writing her first song at just 8 and from 11 years of age began developing a personal playing technique on guitar and a quirky method of creating rhythm, bashing away on pots, pans and a biscuit tin filled with dried rice! Musical advancement came soon after becoming well accomplished in the art of tape recording before her teens, able to splice cassette tapes and make loop recordings using samples from old dance and hip hop tapes. Early recordings of entire compositions were made using the tape to tape method of sitting two ghetto blasters side by side, her own and occasionally her brother's, usually involving an act of bribery or pure stealth, but more often than not, the ghetto blaster of best friend and co musician Sarah Priestley. During a period of four years the duo created full albums, album art and promotional posters, a huge part of Jilly's personal development as a musician and artist. During high school years and well in to her 20's Jilly formed and performed with several bands and as a solo artist from age 13, experimenting in metal, funk, blues, hip hop, soul and psychedelic rock........the explanation for her multifarious broth of musical creation!
Music, art and poetry were all means of escape during a challenging childhood, sparked by the death of her Father, also a musician, at just 4 years old. The rocky road that followed in to adulthood was through Jilly’s eyes a blessing, providing much of the fuel that drives her relentless passion for activism and creation of liberating material. With all this is mind and heart, as a Mother, a voluntary teacher, a lover of philosophy, quantum and astrophysics, recycling and ecological living, Jilly’s approach towards lyricism is somewhat light, fresh and wholesome, with a fervour to inspire minds to question and hearts to open……..yet rooted in complicated compost!
Today she still uses her old school method of making organic beats with household objects, including, to name a few, a stew pan, a horseshoe, heavy duty chains and the latest addition, the OVEN! Using a percussion played sample machine to capture sounds and engineer them gives a more electro feel to recordings she's been experimenting with at "Back Bedroom Studios". Yes, it's actually in the back bedroom of Jilly's little yellow house!
As a self taught musician originally playing guitar in the left hand, upside down with just three strings...........eccentricity and Hendrix have earned her a sponsorship with Richwood Guitars. Jimi Hendrix introduced himself to 11 year old Jilly rather unexpectedly from within Mums wardrobe one afternoon. Life would never be the same after Jimi’s mind blowing performance upon the record player, robed in black vinyl……….it was love at first sound, soul igniting and the definite cause of Jilly’s beeline for Dad’s old 3 string. From that moment things were very different in music and life. The seeds of soul and rebellion had been sown, to be later nourished by the incredible sound waves, rhyme and reasoning of Sly and the Family Stone, Betty Davis, Rage Against The Machine, The Who, The Beatles, Ben Harper, Erykah Badu, BB King………the list goes on!
Combining individualism and passion, Jilly has delivered soul to many stages across the country, performing at countless festivals and venues, alone and as a special guest, opening shows for progressive rock legend Martin Barr of Jethro Tull, 1973 chart toppers The Strawbs and British Blues Award winner Rebecca Downes. She headlined Limetree Festival in 2011 as a vocalist for funk soul band "The Limetree Family Affair", a medley of world acclaimed musicians including Dan Goldman (Morcheeba) and Frank Benbini ( Fun Loving Criminals). After performing on stages of all sizes in many situations and types of venue, Jilly's favourite stage is still that of a grass based tent at a little hippie festival somewhere quiet and cosy where she can play acoustically, barefoot, to her hearts content!
Success began to flourish for Jilly after the independent release of her first single in 2010, "I don't see colours, I just see faces" which has been used by antiracism organizations worldwide and analysed by a university in the USA regarding humanitarian studies. Her debut album "Organic Soul", the first of Jilly's completely solo projects in which she performed, produced and created all music and artwork, followed in 2011, receiving national airplay and media coverage. 2013 saw the release of EP "Belly full o' Sunshine", a truly naked soul experience, the beginning of Jilly's back bedroom recordings, exposing butt naked soul at it's rawest, recorded on very basic equipment and with little production, a clever cure for Jilly's musical perfectionism............
Her very first professional recording began with a psychedelic funk rock project during 2004, at Diamond Studios, Wakefield, accompanied on drums by solo artist Will Richards and the backing vocals of Alan Slatter, Father of daughter Melody. Sadly after 4 years of hard work, Jilly's inability to draw the line at scrupulous criticism resulted in abandonment of the almost complete 13 track album...........BUT you can drape your ears in the fine funkery of "Kinky Hoodoo" the latest EP which features 6 re-mastered tracks from the original album it's self! Available to download Now!
Activism is a potent flavour amidst Jilly's soulful gumbo and has been at the heart of some of her latest work. The community made single "Without Love", featuring Skinny Living, Wakefield Community Gospel Choir and the young voices of Stockingate Mill J&I school was released in 2015 in support of the Zapatista movement in Mexico and has so far raised more than $1500 for organization "Schools for Chiapas". Just months later, in May 2016, Jilly visited and worked at the Calais refugee camp. The sheer horror of the dire situation was a smack in the heart, upon arrival, aboard a convoy lead by activist group "We are Wakefield", carrying supplies, and letters of support. Donating musical instruments and working at the little school was a heart breaking pleasure, made possible via W.A.W's invite after seeing her performance of "refugees" a song written especially for the concert "Rock for Refugees", held at Unity Hall, Wakefield. The camp visit inspired poem "What means Humanity" published in Helen Cadwell's book "Poetry from the People".
From within the cooking pot upon the stove of Jilly’s back bedroom musical kitchen, a new stew is always brewing……
Keep your ears peeled for regular single releases every couple of months!