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October 2014

JUST five years ago she was a struggling single mum, scraping a living together for her and her son by working in a T-shirt printing shop.
Her dad had committed suicide, her mum and two sisters had moved away.
Lauren Henson was alone.
One lunchtime, she nipped into a smoothie bar in her home town of Loughborough, and met the man who would turn her life around.
“It sounds cheesy, I know, but it was love at first sight,” says Lauren Henson, better known as rising Nottingham music star Indiana.
“We couldn’t breath, he was dropping things... we couldn’t get out of each other’s heads.”
The 27-year-old is sat in Suede Bar in the Lace Market, co-owned by her boyfriend, who also, coincidentally, runs a T-shirt company.
As well as moving her and her son Harvey, now 6, to Long Eaton, James Alexander encouraged her to pursue her passion for music.
He entered her for the annual Future Sound of Nottingham competition in 2012, the winner of which would open the main stage at Splendour in Wollaton Park.
She made the semi-final, held in the Old Market Square, in April of that year - her first live performance.
Despite obvious nerves, other local musicians, music writers and Splendour boss George Akins, were blown away by her dark electronic pop. To reach the final, Indiana needed votes but as an unknown artist, she didn’t have the fan base to put her there.
No matter, she would play the final at Rock City anyway, as a special guest, such was the belief in this fresh music talent.
Since then she has signed to major record label Sony, played all the major music festivals, including Glastonbury, had her first Top 20 single, Solo Dancing, and played an intimate show at Radio 1’s Live Lounge with Irish chart-toppers The Script - in front of The Queen.
It was a one-song performance, of David Bowie’s Heroes and included her singing the line “and I will be Queen”.
She laughs: “I was told not to look at her when I sang that line. But I was so focussed on not looking at her, my eyes were darting around the room and they hit her a couple of times.”
HRH was on a tour of the BBC’s new Broadcasting House in London and Indiana’s three minutes were screened live on BBC News 24.
“She’s well sweet and little,” says Indiana, who was introduced to her afterwards.
“She reminded me of my grandma Mary.”
That was last year, a year that also saw her make her Glastonbury debut and play the main stage at Splendour, while heavily pregnant with second child, Etta.
This year she has been regularly playlisted and interviewed on Radio 1, had a No. 14 single, played summer festivals such as Reading and Leeds, Bestival and Nottingham’s No Tomorrow in Wollaton Park and finished her debut album, No Romeo, released this month.
So how does she combine motherhood and a music career?
“It’s been hard, this summer especially, because of all the festivals. After Bestival on the Isle of Wight, I got home at 4.30am and had to be up at 7am to prepare for Etta’s first birthday party,” says Indiana, a lean 5 ft 11 with model looks and tattoos snaking down her left arm.
James, who inspired her growing collection of tattoos, isn’t a stay at home dad as he has three businesses to run, including Suede Bar, three smoothie bars and the T-shirt company Some Kind Of Nature, which Indiana often wears for gigs and social media photos.
“He’ll kill me,” she says, realising she’s forgotten to wear a branded T-shirt for today’s photo shoot.
“We’re lucky that my mum has moved in to our house to help out with Harvey and Etta,” she says, returning to the childcare issue.
“She’s retired and she wanted to do it but she’s looking to buy a house so she won’t be there for much longer.”
Her mum and dad separated when she was six.
“I saw him every day and I was extremely close to him but I didn’t find out he was ill until I was 14 or 15,” she admits.
“He was a paranoid schizophrenic. My childhood is a very confusing place because there were two sides to him. He could be very loving and caring and a really fun dad to be around. But then he’d say some really confusing things to me.
“A young girl from our town had been murdered and the last person to see her alive had the same name as my dad. The police told him that they knew it wasn’t him but he invented this whole thing that he had killed this girl. He’d tell me that he was a bad man and a murderer.
“Even when they caught the guy who did it, he’d carry on saying that and I’d scream at him ‘what is wrong with you, you didn’t do it!’ It was very confusing. Very weird.
“He attempted to kill himself six times and I witnessed it. He stabbed himself in the stomach and we had to take him to hospital.
“He eventually killed himself because he thought me and my sisters would get bullied because of him.”
After that her mum moved away. Her older sisters, Joanne and Nicola, had already moved to Hampshire and London.
She became pregnant by a childhood friend.
Indiana admits that she went off the rails after her dad’s death, although she believes she was always off the rails until she found music.
“I was ungrounded, going from job to job, fixating on fitness or partying too hard or yo yo dieting... there was something I always had to focus on. Sometimes bad things. When I found music, I found peace. I have an addictive personality... I’m just glad that I’m addicted to something healthy.”
Early musical favourites included Marilyn Manson.
“I had a poster of him on the wall next to my bed right where my pillow was and I used to kiss it,” she laughs.
“What a weirdo!”
She adds: “I was a greb. I went through a bit of a bit of goth stage but reverted back to being a greb. I was into metal, punk and ska. I didn’t used to wash my hair, I’d wear baggy trousers... and I’d stink,” she laughs.
She didn’t make to the trip over the border to Rock City to see gigs though because she had a baby at home, whose dad is still very much a part of his life.
“Harvey’s heard me on the radio and he comes to rehearsals, so he’s getting it,” she says.
“He misses me when I’m away, as does Etta, but sometimes I see them more than the average mum because I can be at home for long periods.”
That won’t be the case this month when the album is released. There’ll be promotional duties to do followed by a UK tour that includes a home coming in November with a date at the Rescue Rooms.
She admits: “I’m the most contented and grounded and happiest I’ve ever been.”

No Romeo is released on October 13. Indiana plays the Rescue Rooms on November 7. Tickets are £10, call 0845 413 4444 or go to

Saint Raymond

October 2014

HE’S already played a dozen shows but Callum Burrows admits “it hasn’t quite sunk in yet”.

The tour supporting Ed Sheeran, whose latest album X is Britain’s biggest-selling of the year so far, will run to a total of 37 dates across the UK and Europe, keeping Burrows, aka Saint Raymond, busy until the end of November.

The 19-year-old from Bramcote is facing crowds of up to 20,000 people a night.

“It’s a crazy experience,” he admits.

“It’s harder to see faces in arenas so you don’t realise how many people there are... not until the moment in the set where we get everyone to light up their phones. That freaks me out a little bit.

“Smaller venues are more nerve-wracking in a way because you can see their faces and how they’re reacting. When it’s on such a big scale you kind of forget where you are for a bit, which is great for the nerves. It doesn’t really sink in until you come off stage.”

This is especially true of the colossal O2 Arena in London, where he played four shows with Sheeran in front of 20,000 people each night.

“Even as a support, when the place isn’t full because not everyone has left the bar yet, there are still 10,000 people there, which is crazy.”

Has the Bramcote teenager been bricking it, preparing to face such numbers?

“I’m usually kind of chilled before shows but I must admit I have been pretty overwhelmed by it. The crowd have been really welcoming. When you get a really good reception from that amount of people, it feels amazing.”

Most of them may have forked out to see Sheeran but many know Saint Raymond, as he’s discovered when he’s “busked” outside venues for people queuing up.

“It’s been weird seeing some of them sing along,” he laughs.

“It’s really random.”

Do any of them think you are a busker and throw money?

“I wish.”

He’s also been meeting fans after shows.

“We’re getting hundreds of people turn up.”

Burrows, who signed to Asylum, part of the Atlantic group, last summer, has been doing a 40-minute set with his band.

“We do the same set every night to keep it solid. That’s seemed to work really well. And I don’t approach these gigs any differently to what I’ve done before. It’s just about keeping the confidence I’ve built up in the smaller venues. I’m not changing anything too drastically.”

The effect of being on the road with such a big artist has been a sharp increase in his following on social media, topping 26,000 followers on Twitter and 23,000 likes on Facebook.

If they all buy his new single Fall At Your Feet, released at the end of November, he’ll be guaranteed a place in the chart.

It’ll be his first single release after a series of EPs that have all landed in the iTunes chart.

And the album?

“It’ll be early next year, I think, but I’m not too focused on that at the moment,” says Burrows, who has been amusing himself on the road by playing Fifa 2014 (“I play that on the bus, like a loser, but I love it”).

He adds: “I’m always cautious about saying the album’s finished because I’ve been speaking to a lot of artists like Ed and they’ve said they wrote the best song on their album a week before going to press.”

It is common for support artists never to meet the headline act but that’s not been the case with Burrows and Sheeran.

“The first few days he was super ill and then he came to hang out in the dressing room a bit and I caught it,” he says.

“So we’re both still on the mend. But he’s often asking how it’s going and we’re texting. I think for an artist like Ed Sheeran to do that... a lot of artists wouldn’t give a toss.”

His shows often attract celebrities but Burrows hasn’t been star-spotting a great deal, it seems.

“I think Brooklyn Beckham was at the show the other night. And I was stood next to one of One Direction watching Ed last night.”

Did any of the magic rub off... on him?

“(Laughs) Yeah. Probably.”

Does he know which one it was?

“Yeah it was Niall, the blonde one, the Irish kid. It’s how I roll these days.”

The tour comes to Nottingham next week, with two shows at the Capital FM Arena.

“There’s nothing like being at home,” he says.

“I haven’t been back for three weeks. It’ll be nice to go back to my own bed and see the family, all the nieces and nephews. Especially after the craziness of doing all this.”

This week Saint Raymond was confirmed to headline a show at Rock City, only the fourth Nottingham artist to do so, following local boys Jake Bugg, Dog Is Dead and – way back in the 90s – electro-metal band Pitchshifter.

Callum says: “It’s always been the dream – and it’s definitely something to look forward to.”

Saint Raymond supports Ed Sheeran at the Capital FM Arena on Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced from £36.40, are limited. Call 0843 373 3000 or go to to find out more details.

He plays Rock City on Wednesday, February 11 and tickets are £10 from the box office. Call 0845 413 4444 or go to

Seckou Keita

October 2014

WORLD music star Seckou Keita, a kora player originally from Senegal but now living in Sneinton, will join Welsh harpist Catrin Finch at St Mary’s Church in High Pavement tomorrow for a performance of songs from their acclaimed album, Clychau Dibon.

It has earned them Roots’ Critics Poll Album of the Year, Songlines’ Best Cross-Cultural Collaboration Award and two nominations for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, plus an abundance of four and five-star reviews. Neil Spencer from Uncut magazine described it as “intricate, ethereal and entrancing, an elaborate pas-de-deux... remarkable”.

But what brought Keita to Nottingham?

“My ex-partner was working here for a year and a half so we moved here nine years ago,” says the 36-year-old father-of-three, who stayed when they split up. “I like it here. It’s really friendly. It’s not like London with all the traffic. It’s less busy and I can walk everywhere.”

He’s also lived in Norwich and Bristol and taught African Studies in London, moving from Senegal in the 90s to work, as an expert in the kora, an African stringed instrument.

“It’s not an instrument to learn if you like noise. You can’t be disturbed by the noise from a TV or an iPad when you are learning the kora because it’s more of a classical instrument.

“It helps kids learn how to concentrate. I realised that with my son, who loves drumming and making a noise. When he started to learn the kora it really helped with his concentration.”

Keita doesn’t spend a great deal of time in Nottingham as he’s on the road a lot, currently around the UK and Europe with Finch.

Clychau Dibon topped the Amazon World Music charts, leading to a summer of festival dates, including Womad, Cambridge Folk Festival, Shambala and Festival Interceltique, Lorient where they double billed with Anoushka Shankar.

They have been working together for three years and performed 57 shows so far.

You wouldn’t expect the kora and the harp to work together.

“(Laughs) I know, if you think about it you’d say ‘what’s going on!?’. The instruments are from different worlds, different cultures but there are similarities, as Catrin and myself found out. The chemistry between us is huge.

“Although, because she’s classically trained, to start with she was writing notes down. She realised that it has to be done from memory and to go with her feelings. So she stopped reading and writing music.

“For me, I had to learn to have more structure because I was used to improvisation.”

The result is hard to pigeonhole as the music blurs the boundaries between world music, classical and folk.

Robin Denselow of The Guardian described a London show earlier this year as “one of the classic concerts of the year”.

The duo have talked about a follow-up album but prior to that they each have solo albums to release.

“We have enough material for another album already,” he says, some of which they’ll be playing at tomorrow’s concert.

“I’ve finished my solo album which will be out early summer, then a tour at the end of next year. And Catrin is the same, so it’ll be the year after.”

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, St Mary’s Church, High Pavement, Saturday October 18, 7.30pm, £15, 0115 989 5555,