Interview: Ty Jeffries

By - Monday 17th October, 2016

Prior to the transatlantic cabaret star’s appearance at Hoodoo’s Live Music Bar, Matthews Yard, Paul Dennis chats to Miss Hope Springs’ musical director, Ty Jeffries

Ty Jeffries is bringing Miss Hope Springs to Croydon.
Photo author’s own.

It was at the luxury four star hotel, The Rubens at the Palace (opposite Buckingham Palace mews), that I met Ty Jeffries, songwriter, musician, comedian, and alter ego of Miss Hope Springs. Not being familiar with the location, I arrived early and made myself comfortable in the Cavalry bar, noting the presence of a piano in the corner. It did cross my mind that this setting was perhaps a more natural environment for Miss Hope Springs than Matthews Yard’s Hoodoo’s Lounge, so when Ty arrived, I asked him – why Croydon?

“Why not?” was his reply, adding: “actually I know quite a lot of people in the Croydon area, and the venue is ideal. Croydon has a great history in the performing arts and I’m delighted to play there. I prefer to play small rooms, because it’s like a private party. I really enjoy the closeness of the audience and the interaction, it works really well with the music”.

Ah yes, the music.

Ty Jeffries’ musical chops are well developed. A student at the Purcell School, he was later signed by Elton John’s Rocket Record label and was taken under the wing of Vangelis.

“I played the piano from a very early age and I’m sure it drove my parents mad, because I simply couldn’t leave it alone”, said Ty, whose father, the great character actor and director Lionel Jeffries, recognised and encouraged his son’s musical talent.

Ty developed an impressive musical portfolio, producing a well received instrumental album

“He enrolled me at the Purcell School to help my musical development – although I’m sure he was also relieved not to have me hammering away on the piano at home every hour of the day”, laughed Ty.

“The Rocket Records deal didn’t really come to anything, but I did get to be in the studio with Vangelis when he was working on the Blade Runner film score, which was incredible. He took me under his wing and was a huge influence”.

Ty developed an impressive musical portfolio, producing a well received instrumental ‘album’ (Dusk at the Luxembourg Gardens) as well as writing songs, several of which didn’t fit into any contemporary category.

“The songs are written in the classic cabaret lounge style of the late ’60s and early ’70s”

This, it transpired, was the inspiration for the character of Miss Hope Springs.

“As a frustrated songwriter I created Miss Hope Springs to sing my material because there weren’t opportunities to have them heard elsewhere. It’s turned out to be a sort of Tootsie [the Dustin Hoffman film] experience for me, but it’s working out very well”, revealed Ty.

“The songs are written in the classic cabaret lounge style of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and are reflected in the character of Miss Hope Springs. They reflect her journey in life and are part of the show”.

Ty namechecks uber divas Judy Garland, Liza Minelli and Peggy Lee as influences

Alongside the songs and music – all original compositions by Ty – there are anecdotes from a life on the road and no little humour, delivered in a wistful, slightly melancholy but engaging style.

“In some ways it’s a bit Chaplinesque – the sad clown who can still make people laugh. It’s funny but poignant”, explained Ty.

Ty namechecks uber divas Judy Garland, Liza Minelli and especially singer/songwriter Peggy Lee as influences on Miss Hope’s style, and her delivery does share some of the timbre of the great Peggy Lee. But, you know, I  think there’s a bit of the vulnerability of Kathy Kirby in there too.

Get down to Hoodoo’s at Matthews Yard on 22nd October and see if you agree.

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

An award-winning journalist, Paul has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail and 4 years as editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine. He is a regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject.

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