An assortment of trinkets fills the bedroom of singer songwriter Poppy Trevelyan. The bric-a-brac is emblematic of a girl who is simply high on life, a life that would appear to draw on a great breadth of experiences and cultures (not necessarily the traits one might associate with a south London teenager). A clothes rail jammed with vintage goodies in one corner, an antique chair reupholstered by her mother in another and her guitar, which she tells me she collected from the menders today for her travels, sits on a leather cushion, also made by her mother. Tomorrow Poppy will fly to St. Lucia for the second time this year. Like the perfect young lady, she is multitasking, packing her suitcase, talking ever so charmingly, showing off her impressive vintage collection and debating what to wear for her Platform shoot.
She hands me a delightful cup of tea and then begins to rummage through her wardrobe, giving me the back story of each of her most precious vintage pieces. Obviously these are all designed by the great fashion houses. ‘This is from a charity shop around here actually,’ she says. She holds up an eighties Christian Dior shirt, ‘I won’t tell you where though.’ Round here is South West London, where Poppy lives with her English mother, an ex London College of Fashion student, property developer and photographer. Poppy’s St. Lucian father, an entrepreneur in the leisure and tourism industry, moved back to the island when Poppy was eleven to continue his business ventures. It was inevitable that her ties with the island and her St. Lucian heritage would deepen once her father moved back home. She took her first flight alone when she was just eleven years old and has since become a frequent solo flyer.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing my dad –I miss him,’ she says with a hint of nostalgia. Her flying habits resemble that of an expat, visiting home for all the festivities and holidays. How does she find spending her holidays away from her friends in London? ‘Sometimes I take friends with me,’ she says. ‘It’s nice for them to see the other side of me. I feel like I have a double life.’ Poppy admits she likes travelling back and forth, particularly to St. Lucia. The diminutive Caribbean island still remains relatively humble in comparison to Jamaica or Barbados. ‘I think I’m lucky,’ she says, without sounding at all boastful. In fact, for someone as talented and beautiful as she is, she has the modesty of a grownup, complimented with an endearing youthful inquisitiveness. ‘It must be lucky to get to travel as much as I do and have a second home somewhere like St. Lucia,’ she decides, ‘But I miss my dad, so –.’ Her voice trails off with her thoughts. Her loyalty to her father is sweet. Every time she revels in her love for St. Lucia and her travels, she makes sure to mention that she misses him. It’s as though she doesn’t want to take her situation for granted or make her travels about anything other than seeing him.
When Poppy is on the island and isn’t hanging around with her father or helping out at any one of his businesses she is catching up with her friends. They are a wealthy set of expat kids that have become devoted followers of her music. ‘ My friends are really supportive, here and in St.Lucia,’ she says gratefully. Her musical talent, her well known father and friends in high places has landed Poppy a gig in the Cotton Bay Hotel, belonging to one of her friend’s parents. ‘This will be my scariest performance ever. I played to a St Lucian musician last time I was there and he said I was really good,’ she says, with that completely unassuming nature, ‘but typical St. Lucians don’t really get my music. I suppose expats are more worldly.’
In London, Poppy has accumulated a small fan base from playing at local community and open mic events. She sings witty, cleverly written poetic song lyrics. She sings in a voice that is enchanting and multi – dimensional. Rich layers of texture, at moments gentle and velvety break into strong thick tones. In London people tell her she sounds like Diane Vickers, Adele, Florence and the Machines and one she winces at, Kate Nash. ‘I am flattered that I sound like recording and selling artists,’ she reasons, ‘It’s hard because I don’t try to sound like these singers, I want to be unique. In St. Lucia my sound is definitely different.’
Poppy defines her music as Indie, poles apart from the Calypso, Socca, Souk and Ragga music which the Lucian people may be known for traditionally listening to. ‘I don’t mind being different. I like not being able to be defined, people really use music and fashion to pigeon hole you,’ she says, with a slight hint of annoyance in her voice. Even though Poppy is an Indie artist she has an eclectic and somewhat refined musical taste. ‘Ultimately, I am inspired by people that make me feel things. Amy Winehouse, John Legend, Al Greene, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, but I also like other artist.’ She lists Rihanna, Mumford and Sons and Plan B.
Her music preferences have found herself in contrasting friendship groups. From a young age Poppy has loved legendary Jamaican Ragga and Reggae and is famed at school and amongst her friends and family for her Caribbean dance abilities. ‘It’s only because of the complexion of my skin why people make such a fuss,’ she says dismissively. However she can’t help but show a little delight in the compliments and attention she receives for her dancing.
She pulls a dress on over her black cutaway shorts, tights and Breton stripe t-shirt outfit. She stands in the mirror and contemplates whether to put the dress into her now over flowing suitcase. ‘A friend from St. Lucia sent me this, but I’m not sure if it’s my style – it’s very girly.’ She decides against it. For a London girl the fashions of the Caribbean may not get the juices flowing the same way the music might and in this respect, Poppy is a bona fide London girl. ‘I love London, I love the shopping – I will always love London.’ Is she tempted to move to St. Lucia? Can she ever see herself packing up at the age of eighteen and moving to St. Lucia like her mother once did many years ago? ‘I have the best of both worlds,’ she decides. ‘You can do everything in St. Lucia that you can here in London, just at a much slower pace. But as long as my mum is here I will always live in London and as long as my dad is there, I will always fly to St. Lucia.’
Poppy Trevelyan’s album is in the making. Listen to Poppy sing on YouTube.
- St Lucia resort wins Conde Nast spa award | British Airways – Travel Industry News (travelnews.britishairways.com)
- Amy Winehouse was adopting St Lucian girl (repeatingislands.com)