Scene from the Sofa – 5 minutes with… Nicky Mitchell

Graham Robson July 1, 2020

‘Warm, funny and immensely talented’The Guardian. Nicky Mitchell is a guitarist, singer and performer specialising in jazz and slide blues who has performed in America and all over Europe, with top names such as Dana Gillespie, Taka Boom and Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges. Here, she slides up alongside Graham Robson to talk lockdown blues, silver linings and moving her work online.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am Nicky Mitchell, uber dyke, blues person, songwriter, guitarist, piano player, activist and all round unapologetic butch type lezzer and trans ally (sad I have to spell that out really isn’t it?).

How have you been spending your time in lockdown?

First thing I did, was cancel all my shows. Second thing I did was talk to venues. Third thing I did was contact all ticket holders and offer refunds or rollovers. No judgement, no argument. Then I signed on for Universal Credit 🙁 Since then I have done livestreams via Facebook, mostly for charities and I have been writing songs.

What’s been the biggest impact to your creative output?

Well actually, I know it is misery, misery everywhere, but I have been grateful to have space to think and feel. It felt like the pressure to be constantly productive was off and I could breathe and think and that has felt lovely. Because I am a creative, I have had the means to entertain myself. I’m very, very present to the fact that it’s not like that for everyone. Also, I had a big show planned for the Fringe, Bella Ella, a ‘showumentary’ about Ella Fitzgerald and I have been able to spend lots more time on it.

Have you been watching much online?

Shit loads.

Do you think the LGBTQ scene will bounce back stronger than ever?

Hopefully if the venues can survive. We are ALL desperate to see our chosen families again, so I’m pretty sure we will be OK.

What do you miss the most?

Performing live. No doubt. A brilliant audience is a wonderful thing. I have also missed working with other musicians and singers. I had some absolutely epic collaborations going on and that really has been my deepest grief and loss. Particularly Emma Kilbey and the Joni Journals, which was scheduled at the Latest Music Bar.

Do you think the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community?

I think the isolation is very bad. Lots of us live on our own and experience ‘family’ in a way that is very different from heteronormative families. I’m lucky in this respect to have a very comfortable shared living environment with dear, dear friends that I call family. Unfortunately, I don’t live with my partner and the separation has been very difficult to say the least.

Plans for the future?  

This won’t be all over. This is now a new way of life. I immediately started to do things online, and have started to equip myself for online recording/streaming etc. The quality of most online streams/concerts is absolutely shockingly bad, it’s a steep learning curve we’re all on. I’m determined to get my quality up as high as I can as quickly as I can. I’m planning a big writing project and am in talks with festival coordinators I was working with to find ways and means to raise funds for them and keep people engaged.

Any words of wisdom to see us through?

We are ALL in extremis. Be kind. Try not to judge anyone, we’re all doing our best… Oh, and for performers who are struggling with live streaming/technical stuff, check this guy out! His name is Shane Hennessy, and I had to trawl through an insane amount of video tutorials to get to this guy, who pretty much covers all of it…


Scene Magazine