“Singing is one of life's great pleasures” - the Yorkshire Yankee Vikki Fielden ponders "interesting times" in her debut single
Two decades after moving from Motown to the Steel City, following many years within the Detroit area’s thriving folk community, Vikki Fielden finally releases her debut single, Interesting Times.
The award-winning folk singer and songwriter is best described as a mixture of American dialect, infused with a indisputably Yorkshire-inspired outlook, plus an added a sprinkling of lyrical wit none too dissimilar from the Flight of the Conchords and you’ve got the Yorkshire Yankee.
At least that's how Vikki amusingly refers to herself. We spoke a little about her single, her background, what makes her tick and many other things in an oft-deviating conversation about… Politics, NHS, the disparity between US and UK bus services, well, everything really.
“This is the first song I’ve properly released, I’ve recorded others before but this is my first actual release”, Interesting Times explores the idea that there is more than one malevolent infection causing problems in today's turbulent times. And she’s more than capable of articulating where exactly the ire of much of the pervasive negative mood around the pandemic, here’s a clue… it’s in the contagious spread of misinformation.
In her time in Sheffield, Vikki has fully embedded herself within the city’s renowned folk scene, which has seen her leading and performing at singing sessions at the likes of The Sheffield Folk Sessions Festival, as well as pubs and folk clubs throughout the area and beyond.
Though she may hail from the Detroit area, further reaching suburbs to be precise, the city of Sheffield is a place that is most definitely close to her heart. So much so she wrote the parody Don’t Know the Words for My Favourite Things, about the differences between US and UK English — it was even featured on Michel Rosen’s popular BBC Radio 4 programme, Word of Mouth.
“It’s all about the learning curve that I encountered when I moved here. I got the idea from watching British TV programmes. I (now) know it’s ‘lorry’ not ‘truck’ and ‘lift’ not ‘elevator’, but there was just so much more when I moved here and not to mention the Yorkshire variation of words”
Vikki shared some of the words from the song:
“Summat is not where you go when you’re climbing
Jumper is not someone into skydiving
Bob is Your uncle, the Beeb is your aunt
Don’t know the words to explain what I want”
It’s clear that Vikki’s outlook is where there’s confusion, or any other emotion for that matter, there’s an opportunity to inject humour to break the ice, or shatter illusions, if you will.
“I started off writing parodies in Kansas City, after graduating from the University of Kansas. I started doing some Scottish country dancing and they would host a monthly cèilidh. I started doing some songs and I got some really good feedback from people. And things just sort of went on from there. The parodies were really good practice for putting words together.”
Earlier this year, Vikki released "Get Your Vaccination", a parody of the 60s song Do the Locomotion, which has since been shared by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield Community Contact Tracers, and also Steuben County Health in New York State. It’s a simplistic and jovial take on what is a very serious topic, she’s keen to utilise her lyrical output as a means of sharing her take on the state of the world, societal confusion and more, through the medium of folk music.
“I always found parodies much easier to do, as I essentially repurposed original songs which could carry my humour in them”
Vikki channels much of her energy, and personality, into a community ‘sing’ for the Sheffield mental health charity Flourish. She believes that singing is something that everyone should take part in, not just the ‘good singers’.
"I know too many people who have been told as children they should not sing – by parents or teachers – and I find that incredibly sad. Singing is one of life's great pleasures, and it's good for your mental and physical health as well. What more could you want?"
Where next for the Yorkshire Yankee? I ponder aloud. Vikki says that she has a few more singles planned for release over the course of this year and well into 2022, which isn’t that far away come to think of it. But she really can’t wait to get back up on the stage and perform to audiences once more. Not too long now Vikki.
Interesting Times is now available on all streaming services and Bandcamp too.
You can check Vikki Fielden’s other work on: https://yorkshireyankee.com/