Interview with ICMP songwriting tutor and mentor Isobel Anderson

Our new tutor tells us what it takes to be a successful female indie artist


As an acclaimed artist, innovative songwriter and mentor, Isobel Anderson is one of the UK's most exciting.  

It means we're delighted that Isobel is one of the latest additions to our teaching faculty for the 2018/19 academic year.   

In her music, Isobel combines a uniquely creative approach to writing, taking sonic pointers from her surroundings, balancing this with original productions and ambient field recordings. Her 2017 album, 'CHALK / FLINT' , is her latest release and was warmly hailed by critics as her best yet.

Alongside her releases, Isobel has performed at Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and also has an MA and PhD in Sound Art. Her work has received support from the PRS Foundation while she also mentors independent female musicians via The Female DIY Musician Tribe. 

In between her myriad projects, Isobel found time to talk to us about her career and what it takes for indie artists to succeed in 2018...  

How did you begin your musical journey?

When I was in secondary school, l I started to realise it was about the only thing that came naturally to me, and so I began to start singing and playing in bands. I also learned guitar and clarinet, and started writing my own songs and studied music for my undergrad. That’s when I began learning to record and experiment in the studio.

What was your big break with music? Was there a moment when you knew this would become a ‘career’?

There were a couple of times I wondered if things might take off, when my songs were played on BBC Radio 2 or BBC 6 Music. But it’s wasn’t until my songs started getting listens on Spotify that it felt like a career. 

You've been the recipient of support from the PRS Foundation in the form of the Women Make Music initiative. How important is this kind of backing when it comes to breaking down gender stereotypes in the music industry? And what should the sector be doing as a whole to create more opportunities for female artists and music creators? 

It’s really important to me that the music industry becomes more inclusive and diverse in general so that all musicians, regardless of gender, disability, race or age can pursue a career in music."  

As a female musician, I have experienced misogyny and a gender imbalance throughout my career. It wasn’t until I started self-releasing my music that I started to find some success and a feeling of autonomy. It’s for this reason I’ve started a Facebook group called The Female DIY Musician Tribe, which offers weekly resources on how to self-release music. We are a community of over 200 women from all over the world and always welcome new members. You can find us here: 

For our students, what's the best piece of advice you could give them about working in the music industry? 

Always listen to your gut. If something feels wrong it’ll tell you, and if something feels right, you won’t be able to ignore it. Your gut always knows better than your ego or anyone else for that matter!"

Have you got any tips on music industry professionals can sustain themselves? How have income streams diversified and changed? 

It’s definitely more important to have a constant stream of digestible content. It’s no longer viable to work away alone in your studio for months and months and then drop an 11 track album. People do it, and different things work for different artists, but sharing content like singles, videos and gigs regularly is the key. 

Have you any advice on beating creative blocks? 

Take yourself outside for a walk. It’s amazing what some time away from a project can do. 

Aside from teaching at ICMP, what other projects have you got lined up? 

I recently premiered a new composition for choir and electronics in Belfast, in partnership with the BFI’s 50 year anniversary. I also have plans for developing the Female DIY Musician Tribe into face-to-face workshops and online courses while I've just started a counselling course. As well as joining ICMP's faculty. So there's lots going on...  

Visit to find out more. 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship,  learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

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by Jim Ottewill
October 10, 2018
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