English Teacher recall overcoming imposter syndrome and “re-learning” how to be performers

5 mins read
Militarie Gun (2023)

English Teacher have recalled their struggle with imposter syndrome, and revealed how their growing confidence has allowed them to enter “a new era”.

The emerging Leeds band – comprised of vocalist Lily Fontaine, guitarist Lewis Whiting, drummer Douglas Frost and bassist Nicholas Eden – spoke with NME as the latest cover stars, and revealed how they have overcome moments of self-doubt over recent months.

In the discussion, the band opened up about their ongoing battle with self-doubt and recalled the ways that their slots at mammoth festivals including Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds have helped them evolve as performers.

The discussion also came in light of their recent single ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ – a track which was originally made in 2020, and reworked to be released last month.

“The song truly feels like the start of a new era for us,” said Whiting, reflecting on how the band have grown in popularity since 2020. “It’s amazing to have all these people behind us but it is quite jarring; it’s been a mad two years. It’s easy to forget how quickly all of this has happened.”

English Teacher on The Cover of NME. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

“The imposter syndrome is strong,” added Frost, and Whiting continued: “Seeing Lily grow in confidence, particularly when she’s on stage, has been amazing… We have had to learn how to trust our own instincts. We’re proud we know that. The moment you start second-guessing yourselves, that’s when you crumble.”

They continued, reflecting on how their recent festival appearances have shaped them. “Performing at Glastonbury made us feel more confident in ourselves… But it was weird to go into performing not long after lockdown; I’d just spent years finishing my degree thinking I was going to become a nurse,” explained Frost.

Fontaine agreed, recalling how the run-up to Glastonbury made her feel like she “had to re-learn how to be a performer”, particularly after the hiatus the band took during the pandemic. “I’m so glad that break happened,” added Eden. “I was so lost. So lost.”

Elsewhere in the NME cover story, frontwoman Lily Fontaine opened up about contending with her place as a mixed-race woman in a predominantly white space, as well as the ways in which the members have evolved since their original formation.

English Teacher (2023) by Andy Ford
Credit: Andy Ford for NME

In other English Teacher news, at the start of the year, the band spoke to NME about the importance of saving BBC Introducing – the platform that gives new artists a platform to develop.

The discussion was in light of the programme coming under threat following some proposed cuts to services from the BBC, and famous faces including Nile Rodgers have spoken out against the planned change.

In the discussion, the band’s guitarist, Lewis Whiting, said the continued support the band received from BBC Introducing was “invaluable”.

“It’s the main thing local bands strive for,” he added. “You can see that, from the past, local BBC Introducing airplay has produced results and made bands’ careers more tangible. It gave us a future.”

The band will tour the UK this autumn, with tickets and further information available here.

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