Minutes before she is due to sing, Bo Bruce is found in the corner of a room backstage. It's heaving with chaos. The pre show noise is epic - yet Bo is silent.
"It's the same at night" says 26 year old Bo. "if there are people around and I can't get to sleep, I will go where the sound is - it calms me down."
Insomnia and stage fright were always two secrets Bo was able to keep hidden away. Yet surely the more musical exposure she gains (she's had over 250,000 listens on myspace and a Number One video on Youtube) the more emotionally exposed she becomes?
Strangely, this seems to comfort rather than intimidate her- "It's about communication" she explains "before doing a gig I know I'm about to be as honest as it gets, and slowly, that's getting easier". A PR nightmare at times? "I hate doing interviews- i'm incapable of lying. My heart has always lived on my sleeve."
Bo's songs speak to people on an intimate and personal level. Her soft, husky voice conveying the story of a once complicated and broken soul.
The product of an eccentric and painfully dysfunctional family, Bo
had a turbulent upbringing, as unconventional on the inside as it appeared traditional on the outside. Asked to leave school early, she moved away from home as quickly as she could, in a bid to escape what she saw as a life of convention and tradition, amid a crumbling relationship with her father. "Never feeling like i fitting into the right camp- created a wanderer in me."
"I didn't know at that point where I wanted to be - but I knew I needed to go away for a while." It was around this time that Bo's life nearly gave way to a quickly spiraling mess of drugs and alcohol. A warren of treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals quickly followed, Bo being moved around like a party game in the system, until the call was made to send her to Arizona, the desert, and a residential treatment center dealing with issues holistically rather than individually.
These years were incredibly formative, enabling her to experience and reflect on the darker side of the human condition - this process had a profound effect on Bo, and is an integral part of, her music. "I'm grateful to be one of the few people that came out of those holes - finding some kind of peace is something I now realize has to be worked on every day."
It was here that she struck up a friendship with a recovering addict who was the inspiration for "Fighting Arizona". The song was a heart felt plea to her troubled friend after he was nearly lost to the US federal prison system. It won popular acclaim after her performance on the "Orange Unsigned Act" competition on Channel 4.
Bo was handpicked by Radio 1's JO WHILEY in the final stages of auditions for the show, and went on to stand out like a sore thumb against the pouting indie bands that knocked her out in the semi final. That she didn't win Orange Unsigned was merely a footnote. By then, she had gained an ever-growing number of fans nation-wide. Off the back of this exposure and the strength of her material, she was inundated with offers of record deals, receiving them with the same grace and humility with which she did the momentary disappointment of not winning Orange Unsigned - eventually deciding that, for the time being, it was better to keep her head down, keep writing and working on her craft. There had been an acknowledgement of her talent and a confirmation that her journey was well underway. That was enough for now.
After releasing her debut EP "Search the night" (with producer/songwriter and founding member of THE ROBOT HEART Tom marsh) a 6month stint in New York followed-where Bo garnered attention from JIVE records and even award winning producer of The National , PETER KATIS (who after hearing her song BLACK ICE drove from upstate New York to hear her sing at the well know venue LE POISSON ROUGE.)
Bo has now returned to the UK to work on her debut album.
Meanwhile, Dance, Trance and House producers are scrabbling to feature her vocal- Bo has written with Simon Patterson/Greg Downey on their debut collaboration 'Come to me' ( which reached number 9 in the Beatport charts) and was constantly played by number 1 DJ ARMIN VAN BURREN in Ibiza throughout the summer of 2011.
Her musical influences are as contradictory as ever - Sigur Ros and Massive attack- to David Guetta and Muse- She hopes to combine her love for 90's trip hop and the soaring orchestral electronics of Sigur ros- with "radio friendly hooks."
With a secret venture underway (to be disclosed this March) one might imagine these are nail biting times for the girl that used to sleep in a room full of people. And so confirms Bo, It appears the fear is still apparent and the black dog hasn't given up chase entirely - but something inside is most definitely shifting.