Izzy Thomas’ musical journey has taken her from Hull and Leeds to London but on Sundday August 4 she’s looking forward to returning to her Yorkshire roots.
The pop/rock singer-songwriter is due to play at Leeds Pride, the county’s biggest celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans life. She’ll be appearing on the Manchester Airport Los Angeles Direct Stage on Lower Briggate, on a bill that also includes Tulisa and Sandi Thom.
“I moved to London five years ago just to play with more people, but I’ve lived between Hull and Leeds a lot of my life,” she says.
Thomas’ latest single, Trouble (Pull That Trigger), recently caught the attention of Billboard, the American music magazine, who wrote a feature on her. She says: “I’ve always been writing but this is the first single that’s been promoted with PR and put out there properly.
“It kind of went from a bedroom studio to Billboard. I just got a call saying Billboard would love to feature it and then next minute I’m speaking to a guy called Gary [Graff] in America over the phone.”
The song itself “came from a very real place of frustration”, she says. “Sometimes you get people with very tunnel-minded, 50s-style views of what female musicians should wear, how we should act. Our clothes aren’t our consent, you know, we’re just a human like anyone else.
There have been a lot of female musicians I know who have been a target of sexism.Izzy Thomas
“There have been a lot of female musicians I know who have been a target of sexism, like Lauren Tate from [the South Yorkshire band] Hands Off Gretel, and so many other female musicians who’ve faced criticism for just being who they are – a sexy female artist but with something to say. It seems like you’re not allowed to be sexy and having something to say, which is crazy in 2019.
“But that’s just one of the things where it came from for me. I like to think it’s an anthem for anyone that’s been discriminated against – whether you have a disability or of the LGBT community – and that’s why I’m so excited to play Pride because for me the LGBT community are the strongest people, they really have to fight for who they are and they face discrimination every day. These people have to look over their shoulder before they kiss their girlfriend or boyfriend in public. It’s crazy that they have to still feel like this in 2019.
“I have a lot of LGBT friends who have told me their stories and it really breaks my heart what some of them have to go through but I also have huge admiration for how strong they are.”
Thomas has also been touring schools, spreading her messages of autism awareness and anti-bullying. “I’ve been doing a school tour where I go around places of education in the UK, it’s mainly secondary schools, but I’ve been to colleges as well. I will open my set with a few songs, playing them acoustically, and then I will talk about topics which are close to my heart which are not only discrimination and cyber-bullying but also autism awareness.
“My brother has Asperger’s syndrome and he got bullied a lot in school not because the pupils were bad people but because they didn’t understand it. I feel that people are more aware of it these days because it’s more common but there is still a percentage of people who don’t really understand it and don’t know how to how to handle situations where a person with autism might be in discomfort. I think if we all learn how to be compassionate human beings then frankly the world would be a much better place, if we just learnt how to work together, no matter what kind of person, because everyone’s different.”
Leeds Pride will be Thomas’ first show in the city where she once lived for some time. “I’m super happy to be playing the show because I feel like I’m going back home again,” she says, adding: “I’m hoping that it’s going to open the door to some more shows. I really do want to play Yorkshire more. I’m really excited, I’ve planned something very special for the live performance that I’m currently working on in London with my live band.”
With another planned for late August and an EP in the works, the next few months look set to be busy. “I’m just planning logistics with the Izzy Thomas team at the minute,” she says.
Izzy Thomas plays at Leeds Pride at 3.15pm on Sunday August 4. izzythomas.com, www.leedspride.com