I wondered if I’d left it a bit late to start getting into music, despite being young! says Unsigned 2022’s Maple Ward


We’ve four new, distinctive artists on board for this year’s Unsigned programme. Each delivering fresh and exciting music. We’ll be meeting each one over the next few weeks, starting with Maple Ward.

She’s a 22-year-old support worker for adults with special needs. Based in Norwich but originally from Southampton, her influences include Phoebe Bridges and Adrianne Lenker. She describes her music as a blend of acoustic pop and folk.

Q: Tell me about your song-writing process

A: It varies quite a lot. Most of the time I feel like it takes a lot of crafting to piece my songs together. Sometimes they just fly out of me. I love it when that happens! I use my phone to take voice notes but keep it on do not disturb mode as it can also be my biggest distraction.

I tend to find it easier to write when I’ve been consistently adding it into my daily routine, rather than stopping for days at a time. When I have a concept for a song, I like to mind map my ideas on paper. It can get messy and disorganised. But I like looking back at the scribbles to see how my ideas developed into lyrics.

Q: Where does your passion for music come from

A: I have always wondered what it would be like to have musicians in your family because for me that is not the case at all!

I don’t know where it comes from, but I have always loved singing. Like many people, listening to music helped me through difficult times. My passion grew as it became a cathartic means for processing my emotions.

Q: How old were you when you first started singing

A: My favourite thing about primary school was being in the choir. It made me so happy when I was assigned a solo for a performance! So my first memories of singing are when I was about eight.

Throughout school and college I focused a lot on studying so my desire to pursue music took a backseat. At 21 I taught myself to play guitar through YouTube tutorials. Through that I began songwriting and performing.

It’s funny now looking back that I wondered if I’d left it a bit late to start getting into music, despite being young! Even though it’s a vulnerable thing to put yourself out there, I’m so glad I did.

Q: Was there a specific moment in your life when you knew you wanted a career in music

A: I was not long home from travelling around Asia when lockdown hit. Thinking a lot about life in general while backpacking heightened my desire to pursue music and time spent in lockdown perpetuated this.

Lockdown forced us all to stop really. It gave us time to reevaluate. For me then it came down to the old cliché – I didn’t want to let fear or lack of confidence stop me from doing what I really loved.

I felt strongly that I didn’t want to get older and have regrets of not giving it a go. This was a time that I can remember feeling a real drive to get myself out there musically.

Q: How does performing make you feel

A: This one is quite hard to describe! I’m quite a shy and introverted person, especially around new people. As soon as I step on stage it’s like I go into my own world.

You can usually tell this from my face which is quite expressive! I get so nervous in the build-up to any performance. The buzz and adrenaline rush during and afterwards definitely outweighs this.

The main thing I get from the process is the raw interaction with an audience. My songs often come from a place of struggle. They are very open and honest.

When my lyrics engage or connect with someone, I really treasure that. It’s a really special thing, and it fuels my enthusiasm to continue writing and performing.

Q: Where might people have heard you perform

A: The main places you’ll find me are in and around the open mic night scene at the Walnut Tree Shades, The Louis Marchesi and elsewhere or busking in Norwich city centre. I’ve also performed at The Banham Barrel, the Music in the City festival, New Rock and The Merchant’s House.

Q: How did you find out about Unsigned

A: I was quite lucky to have spotted it when I was on The Garage website! I immediately knew it was something I would love to be a part of. It sounded perfect for where I’m at – considering a career in music and looking to develop my musicianship.

Getting an insight into what a music career entails from mentors who have established this seemed invaluable really. From the programme I hoped to gain some advice with songwriting, and help building my brand and artistry.

Q: What part of the programme were you looking forward to the most

A: It’s hard to pin it down to one thing! I’m really looking forward to the arranged studio time. I’m so excited to lay down a track which I’m planning to release as my debut single! I hope to utilise everything I’ve learned on the business side of things to promote it too.

I want to say a big thank you for the Unsigned programme! It’s been such an amazing opportunity which I am hugely grateful for.

The mentoring from Millie and Jasper has been so beneficial and I leave each session genuinely inspired. I’ve learned tips and tricks  and I’m looking forward to seeing where this knowledge takes me and to the opportunities that may arise in future with my music

Q: What happens after Unsigned

A: I’m planning to release my first song on all streaming platforms. I hope to gig more off the back of this. I also an unconditional offer to do a music performance degree which starts in September.

Find out more about Maple on InstagramYouTubeFacebook and Soundcloud.

Gabby Meadows is our Participation Programme Manager who looks after our musical programmes.

She said: “Our four performers have been working on their material, performance style and branding since they joined Unsigned in the autumn. They’re now gearing up to head into the recording studio to record their first single before Easter.

“They have already given us a taste of what’s to come in a café gig at the end of last term and it was so exciting to hear them live at that point. All of this hard work is building towards a final showcase gig at The Waterfront in July.

“We have four really distinctive artists on board this year – each producing really fresh and exciting music.

“They are being mentored on all elements of the music industry by Millie Manders, fresh from her UK tour with her band Millie Manders and the Shut Up. Jasper Milton is an experienced songwriter and producer and a member of the band White Rose Movement.”  

She’s grateful to Youth Music for supporting our music provision. Projects like Unsigned wouldn’t be possible without their funding and endorsement.

Gabby added: “Taking these artists on a journey from building up their skills and confidence, through to giving them the platform to really shine as musicians and performers is something we are extremely proud of. We can’t wait to see what the next few months has in store for Unsigned.”

Millie is also looking forward to watching our new cohort grow and develop at The Garage, with all the resources once again available.

She said: “While working remotely with our unsigned artists throughout Covid was largely successful, it was very challenging. 

“Being back in the room is exciting, enabling us to better get to know our artists and their music and delivering high quality sessions on performance, songwriting and music business.”

New mentor Jasper added: “I’m very excited to be working with these multi-talented songwriters on the Unsigned programme. All have varying strengths and areas to further develop throughout the year.

“Stagecraft, arrangement, sound production and hook lines are just some of the topics we will be covering while developing their live and recorded performance techniques.

“We’ll also be helping them to develop their branding and logos which they will be utilizing as they develop their online presence.”

We are now accepting applications for September. If you wish to considered for selection, please send links to your music, any performance footage, a bit about yourself and why you’d like to take part to info@thegarage.org.uk

Our summer term of classes starts on 25 April. Click here to check them out. Our friendly front of house team is happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email info@thegarage.org.uk. 

Keep up to date with everything we’re up to by signing up for our monthly newsletter. You can also follow us on on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

about youth music

Youth Music is a national charity investing in music-making projects that support people aged 0-25 to develop personally and socially as well as musically.

It works particularly with those who don’t get to make music because of who they are, where they live or what they’re going through.

Projects funded by it break down barriers at all stages. It helps children develop an early love of music, provides diverse role models, introduces young people to a wide variety of potential career paths and works with the music industry to make its practices more inclusive.

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