Updated on August 13, 2016
It’s almost midnight on the 30th May, 2016. I’m sat in a hotel room in my birth town of Bristol, a strange sensation, my parents having moved to the coast and my usual bolt hole of home no longer mine. I’ve just finished sketching out my journal entry for the day. It recounts a lively conversation I had with Hannah Epperson earlier that evening prior to her mesmerising solo gig at The Louisiana supporting touring buddy Aidan Knight.
Words & drawings: Jo Whitby | Photography: Elissa Crowe
I was very excited and I’d arrived on time only to discover the doors had moved to much later and I was left to sit, awkwardly alone, drawing a picture of a worm in a top hat on the back of a used envelope – that was until I mustered the courage to shuffle over to Epperson who, hunched over a mobile phone when I approached, leaped into the air upon my arrival, arms ready to embrace. A glass of wine thrust in my hand, we chatted enthusiastically… at one point finding ourselves talking very seriously about the coolness of temporary tattoos and how they are completely under appreciated. I’m sure, if time had allowed, more wine would have been consumed and our chatter taken, much later, to the sleeping streets of the city.
Tired, I decide to ink my journal entry in the morning. I didn’t think it was possible to fall even more hopelessly in love with Hannah Epperson and her music. It’s possible.
//Let’s talk about the music for a moment//
Music, like people, can appear in your life just at the right time. Sometimes it’s a gentle introduction, a pleasant walk into a friendship that grows slowly but surely. For me, my discovery of Epperson and her exquisite musical outpourings was more like an explosion, a running jump into a sonic sea – blissful, intense, emotional.
The first song I heard was called ‘Brother’, shared by a friend on social media, one click and I was hypnotised. It’s rare for a song to grab me by the heart on first listen but this track and its words hit home with tears making an escape from my eyes on to the soft cotton of my jumper.
‘Upsweep’ is her long-awaited forthcoming debut album, five tracks of which I have heard and can confirm they are mighty fresh. Mighty. FRESH. I think it’s coming out in the fall as Epperson heads out on an extensive European tour but there’s an air of mystery as there always is when Hannah releases something so I will, for now, share her video of ‘Shadowless’ from her previous release ‘Burn’.
//I got a bit excited//
I’m not usually a wordy person when it comes to interviews. I tend to air on the side of caution but I felt that Hannah would perhaps be open to experimenting with me so I just went with the flow.
I ended up sending her an abstract story type thing and 4 essay headings.
As you do.
//Take a deep breath//
Dear Hannah, I’ve participated in a little research on you, scouring the internet for interviews, delving into the depths of Tumblr and finding myself entangled in your words. It felt as though I’d stumbled upon a diary secretly stowed but there was no lock, no key and the temptation was too great not to pull back the cover and flick gently through the pages. Electricity popped and crackled between paper and fingers as I discovered familiar connections, shared ideas and observations and the reassuring acknowledgment that we are both, hopefully, human.
// Shit. What am I doing? Something different. Yeah. That’s it //
As musicians we’re destined to be asked the same kind of questions, so predictable and yet, at times, comforting when we’re feeling overwhelmed by our circumstances. I could so easily reach into the collective music journo consciousness – regurgitate and paraphrase, decorate a typical question with a flourish of jargon and a side order of lingo that nobody ordered. It just… doesn’t feel appropriate. I want to experiment.
// Stories, you see, I like them//
So, I have compiled a list of subjects and words that stood out for me from your documented conversations over the years. Some personally resonated, others intrigued. I’ve chosen four areas I’d like to explore with you. Four seems like a good number. I’m not entirely sure how to approach this but it definitely needs to be organic.
//I talk too much//
Family (openness / Unitarian church*)
You speak about your family often and with such fondness. I’d love to know more about your upbringing, how you feel your family impacted your life growing up.
Hannah: One of my earliest memories (they don’t go back impressively far, like my father’s, who remembers looking – *marvelling, even – at curtains in the wind from his crib as a baby) is a moment of true toddler existentialism … I remember the sensation of full body, surging panic when it occurred to me that I had no way of confirming whether or not my parents were actually my parents. They could very easily be imposters, decorated as loving parents, but hiding some unspeakable, unknowable malintent, knowable in some indefinite future, only when it was too late. I clearly couldn’t engage them directly in my toddler inquisition, because if they WERE my worst fear – imposters, fakers, and thus superlative evil – then exposing my insights would surely put me in danger. I decided to proceed with caution and observe carefully … And here we are now. I’m very happy to say my parents have proved themselves against my skeptic’s heart to be most honourable and good, and that I am very much their kin. Why this approach to answering you question then. There is something about family that can be presupposed, sometimes morbidly, destructively so. Much of what I draw on in times of uncertainty, especially in a moralistic sense, comes from values that were practiced *religiously* – in earnest – in my family. And so yes, there is a tremendous fondness, a tremendous love and respect, that I have for my parents, my brothers, whose characters feel very much at the core of who and how I choose to be. There are many other ways to answer this question, but this one perhaps captures more wholly the filial catenary curve.
*this sparked my interest as my nana went to a Unitarian church in her later years. She had a harsh exterior and was prone to writing venomous letters to people she didn’t like. She was also beautiful and had a very generous soul. Such aggressive fronts are usually a shield, a way to conceal those pesky emotions that make you vulnerable. I think she must have felt great relief in the open acceptance the Unitarian church offered.
Hannah: The Unitarian church attracts a lot of scopic personalities … I’m not a church goer myself, but I could see myself going to a Unitarian church later on, in my own Nana Years.
Bjork (music and geography)
As I teenager I didn’t understand Bjork. My parents thought she was ridiculous – I have later come to understand that ridiculousness is a good thing and definitely something worth investigating. It wasn’t until my best friend thrust a copy of her greatest hits in my hand and said “don’t be stupid, she’s amazing” that I finally let go of my preconceptions and felt the magic wash over me.
There is a lot of earth and nature in Bjork’s music. It’s one of the reasons I love her art so much. I feel that it’s almost impossible not to be influenced by your immediate environment and the geography around you. What do you think? Do you have any favourite places that really set off your creativity?
Hannah: I love what you’ve said here. There is a huge element of geography, of landscape, in Bjork’s music… one of the reasons I was so transported by her music as a kid. I remember doing a research project on Iceland in 6th grade because I was so overwhelmed by a desire to know about the environment that could render such a creature! As for me, environments that ‘set me off’ … perhaps it’s not so much specific environments, but the mobility that I’ve experienced and continue to enjoy in those spaces in between. The move from Salt Lake City and its surrounding desert red rock formations to British Columbia’s coastal temperate rainforests at age 13 was a wrenching experience, and I feel like something in me has been agape ever since. Perhaps why I foster both a seemingly indefatigable desire to travel and also an exhausting strand of restlessness that doesn’t let me feel settled anywhere. Moments of intense creativity happen more and more when I’m alone in transit … big ideas gestate during short trips by bicycle, subway, or by foot, and then will explain themselves in full on longer trips, usually by airplane or train. Maybe for me, the movement of thought is aided by a physical passage through space-time.
Mental health (experience/ communities of support)
This is an important subject but not necessary one we have to talk about now.
Hannah: Yes, perhaps in another conversation. Too much unpacking for right now to address this one fully.
Soul music (relationship to instrument / that feeling like there’s a well in your gut that builds to overflowing and spills out through your chest*)
I love when an instrument becomes an extended part of you. When it’s so natural, you’re vibrating at the same frequency and everything just feels… good. It can be quite an emotional experience too when you’re fully tapped in. It’s like your soul is almost palpable dancing between the waves of sound.
How do you see your relationship with your violin? Is soulful music something that needs to be experienced primarily with others?
Hannah: It’s funny to have a relationship with an instrument. It’s so many things … there’s the materiality of it: the familiarity of certain curves and bends, sticky spots, wolf notes, intimate quirks that you can only know when you’ve spent some time together. Then there’s the discursive element, where you have to negotiate within the parameters of what the instrument can do to render the sounds and emotions you’re trying to express. i also have a wayward tendency to anthropomorphize things (it’s an exhausting habit), and so I get pangs of guilt when I don’t play my instrument for months at a time or leave it in the car alone in the cold at night. As far as soulfulness is concerned, god no you don’t have to be with others to experience that ‘passing through’ sensation. In fact sometimes being with others can interrupt one’s ability to hear through, perhaps because feelings of self-consciousness or being overly sensitive to someone else’s energy can interrupt the experience of the sound itself. But music experienced with and through others is also the most profoundly transcending experience, you don’t need me to tell you that. There’s evidence of that everywhere in the world, for infinity time.
*there’s a point in Shadowless, about 3.35 minutes in, where your violin makes my insides feel funny like when an aircraft ascends and you momentarily feel as though you are detached from your body. Happens every single time I listen to the song).
//Like I said. I talk too much//
Hannah: No, I don’t think so.
Tour dates: Sept 10 Santiago de compostela, is – wos festival _http://wosfestival.workonsunday.es/
Sept 15 Munich, de – einsteinkultur _ http://einstein-kultur.de/veranstaltung/?ee=1773
Sept 16 Dresden, – beatpol _ http://www.eventim.de/hannah-epperson-dresden-Tickets.html…
Sept 17 Erfurt, – franz mehlhose _ http://www.franz-mehlhose.de/index.php/ticketshop.html
Sept 18 Berlin, DE – Monarch _ http://www.eventim.de/hannah-epperson-berlin-Tickets.html…
Sept 20 Leipzig, de – heated hall _https://www.facebook.com/events/1554469204848659/
Sept 21 Osnabrück, – zucker _ http://www.kartenwerk.net/
Sept 22 Hanover, de – delicatessen lamp _ http://www.feinkostlampe.de/
Sept 23, Breda, NL – undertow _ https://shop.ikbenaanwezig.nl/ticke…/…/hannah-epperson-gauss
Sept 24 Hamburg, DE – Reeperbahn Festival _https://www.reeperbahnfestival.com/de/
Sept 25 Dortmund, de – highest of feelings _ https://love-your-artist.de/feinegesellschaft
Sept 27 Göttingen, – nörgelbuff _http://www.noergelbuff.de/tickets/index.html?a=4&level=1
Sept 28 Nuremberg, de – new museum _http://www.eventim.de/hannah-epperson-joasihno-konzertreihe…
Sept 29 Salzburg, AT – Rockhouse _http://www.oeticket.com/tickets.html…
Sept 30 Marburg, – kfz _ https://shop.reservix.de/off/login_check.php…
Oct 1 Vienna, AT – Waves Vienna Festival _http://www.wavescentraleurope.com/tickets2/?lang=de
Oct 2 Budapest, hu – a38 _ https://www.a38.hu
Oct 3 Graz, AT – Scherbe _https://www.facebook.com/events/1047807235305904/
Oct 4 Bremgarten, ch – step moose nights _http://www.stiefelchnaecht.ch/
Oct 5 Luxembourg, lu – de gudde waves _http://www.deguddewellen.lu/Agenda/HANNAH-EPPERSON-CAN-…
Oct 6 Brussels, BE – Huis 23 _ https://www.abconcerts.be/…/evenemen…/hannah-epperson/19865/?
Oct 7 Cologne, de – the roommate _ http://www.die-wohngemeinschaft.net/de/ticketshop.html
Oct 8 Münster, DE – Reset Festival _ http://avpicknick.wordpress.com/
Oct 10 Zaragoza, is – fiestas del Pilar _http://www.soydezaragoza.es/fiestas-del-pilar/
Oct 11 Oviedo, it is – the can of zinc _ https://www.facebook.com/Lata-de-Zinc-64403386773/events
Oct 12 Lisbon, po – house independent _ http://casaindependente.com/?lang=en
Oct 13 port, po – bad habits _ http://www.maushabitos.com/
Oct 15 lamego, po – theater ribeiro _http://www.teatroribeiroconceicao.pt/
Oct 15 Valladolid, is – vandia _ http://laikasputnik.blogspot.de/
Oct 17 Cordoba, is -‘ll _ no link
Oct 18 Barcelona, es – old factory damm _ no link
Oct 19 Paris, fr – house wise _https://www.facebook.com/events/266018077094868/
Oct 20 London, UK – The Slaughtered Lamb _ http://glasswerk.co.uk/…/Hannah+Epperson-The+Slaughtered+L…/
Posted on July 14, 2016
We are very pleased to announce a new release from label artist Laurence Made Me Cry. ‘Titans’ Daughters Remixed’ is an album containing 14 eclectic remixes of tracks from Jo Whitby’s latest EP ‘Titans’ Daughters’.
All funds raised from the EP will be donated to Trees For Life – an award-winning conservation charity working to restore the ancient Caledonian Forest to the Scottish Highlands.
Download your copy now on a ‘name your price’ basis via Bandcamp!
Posted on March 29, 2016
Hailing from the Scottish Highlands but currently making considerable waves here in Glasgow, songstress and overall piano goddess Josephine Sillars is destined for great things. In fact, she’s pretty great already. I caught up with Sillars via the wonder that is social media for a chat about her musical past, her upcoming show ‘Ripped From The Wire Spine’… oh, and we fangirl a bit…
Stitch In Time: I was introduced to your music a couple of years ago via a friend I met at a Doctor Who group in Glasgow. I seem to recall he included us both in a tweet and we promptly followed each other. The first time I met you in person was at XpoNorth last year, a brief meeting in which most of it was spent fangirling over Kathryn Joseph. We’re so cool, right?
Josephine Sillars: We are so cool. I love us.
SIT: Ok, let’s get the standard questions out the way… when did you first start writing and performing your own music?
JS: I first started writing music when I was really young, about 10 years old with a friend. But I started writing and performing properly when I was about 15 up in the Highlands, and I got my first gigs in the central belt and England about that time too.
SIT: I’m guessing your songwriting has developed quite a lot since you first started making music. Do you have a set process when writing? Where do you tend to draw inspiration from?
JS: When I was younger I used to take inspiration from sci-fi TV and film. I was really into science fiction as a kid (something that will be discussed in my upcoming show). But now that I am older and have more life experience, I tend to write songs as if I’m writing a story. Each song has its own narrative, and often (but not always) its own characters. It also takes me ages to write songs. I’m a total perfectionist and I’m often working on three or four songs at a time – but it will take months for me to actually finish one!
SIT: It’s good to know I’m not the only one to take ages writing songs (and is also a perfectionist)! Phew! We’ll talk about your upcoming show in a moment but first, I’m curious to know how you feel regarding perfectionism as an artist. Do you find it a hindrance or is it something that drives you?
JS: Aah, that is a really good question. Honestly, both. Being a bit of a perfectionist definitely drives me forward – I literally never stop planning and scheming; I’m always thinking ahead. There is the flip side of this however in that, a lot of the things I have in my head simply aren’t feasible because of money, or time or whatever, and if I do a gig or a project and I don’t do it as well as I thought I could, that can lead to being pretty negative. It’s definitely a blessing and a curse because as much as striving for perfection does motivate, it also means that the consequences of not reaching the goal or level you want are often quite harsh. Blessing and curse!
SIT: I agree. It’s quite easy to dwell on the negative too and not be able to appreciate what you have achieved! Regarding money, is this a hot topic for you? I certainly struggle and I’ve been grumbling about in the business for quite some time. I still can’t quite grasp why paying musicians seems to be a strange concept for most people…
JS: Oh yeah, money is a nightmare. I am always losing money on gigs. But since I’ve started playing gigs with a band, that has been happening less because I’ve had to be a lot more vigilant budgeting for three. I’m now not really doing gigs unless at minimum our travel is being covered – so that’s nice! But when I was younger I was constantly doing gigs for free, but it just isn’t really feasible now. Unless it’s for charity or something – the odd free gig is fine! Just not on the level I was doing it when I was younger.
As well as that – I cannot stand it when artists don’t get paid properly, and I especially hate ‘pay to play’. I don’t understand why paying an artist isn’t a given thing, and it really bothers me that it isn’t.
SIT: Now, to talk about your upcoming show, ‘Ripped From The Wire Spine’ which is technically a new show but it’s also not a new show, right? Hah! Can you tell me a bit about the history of the show? How did you come up with the concept?
JS: Right – the show was originally written for last years Edinburgh Fringe. It was written, promoted and performed within two weeks – I do not recommend this. The show came about because the venue at Fringe I was originally doing gigs with had a problem with its license, so out of desperation for performing time and emailed everyone running things – and the free fringe offered me some slots! As they were hour long slots and it was at an actual Fringe venue (Jekyll and Hyde), I wrote an autobiographical narrative linking my songs together, and it turned into a kind of coming-of-age story about childhood in the Highlands and adulthood in the Central Belt. The Fringe went really well. I had a full house each night of the run, and so I was very lucky that TwentyTen (a PR company from Inverness) offered to help me put on a Glasgow Show! Comet Creatives then came on board to help out, and because there were so many extra hands and more time, I decided to take the show further. This time round I’ve been working with film makers, other musicians and spoken word artists to make the show larger than just being autobiographical. The concept of storytelling with song will remain, as well as the coming-of-age theme, but this time it’s going to be dealing with larger themes/issues than it did before.
SIT: Are you able to reveal some of the larger themes/issues or would you prefer a bit of mystery prior to the show?
JS: Uuum – nope, mystery please!
SIT: Haha! Cool. You’ve already announced some of the artists that will feature as part of the show such as Finn LeMarinel and Emma Pollock (and many more). How did you come to work with them? Why did you decide to involve other artists/multi-media in the performance?
JS: I decided to involve other artists because I want to try and take the show away from being strictly autobiographical. While, that will definitely remain an element – having more people involved in the multi-media sections allows me to introduce new perspectives into the narrative. As for the individual people – they are all just artists who I respect and like. Most of them are friends (or were friends of friends, but are now friends). I’ve known Declan, Morgan and Chrissy for ages, I met Finn recently, I know Kyle through his manager and Emma Pollock owns a recording studio that I record in (Chem19). I met Emma for the first time at a Rally & Broad gig and she came on board pretty much then and there as I told her about the show.
SIT: It’s great when things come together like that. Are there any artists that you’d love to work with musically?
JS: Oh, that is a good question. Specifically in the local/Scottish scene, probably Pronto Mama or maybe Miss Irenie Rose because they are just brilliant.
SIT: How about internationally?
JS: Hmmm. Aw this is a good question! Like someone super famous internationally who I’d like to work with would be Regina Spektor because I just love her. Less famous probably The Tiny.
SIT: Have you seen Regina Spektor live? She’s amazing.
JS: I have! I saw her either two or three years ago in Glasgow actually!
SIT: I saw her back when Soviet Kitsch had just come out. It was in this tiny venue in Bristol and she had a cold but still put on an amazing show. ANYWAY, I digress… so I’m guessing Regina is a big influence?
JS: Ah, so cool. Yeah, she definitely is! Lyrically and musically, I really love her music.
SIT: See, we’re fangirling again! Haha! Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk with me. Apart from the upcoming show, is there anything else we can look forward to from you in the near future?
JS: I’ve started playing with a band recently (my friends Sam and Seaton on drums and bass) and we’re actually going to be recording as of early April. So with any luck, full band recordings coming soon!
SIT: Yay! That’s so exciting! Ok, finally, Slytherin or Hufflepuff?
JS: Uuh Slytherin. I got Slytherin on Pottermore
SIT: Me too! Haha!
Posted on February 2, 2016
We’ve been talking about it for some time now but finally it’s happening! Stitch In Time is becoming a label and will be releasing the forthcoming Laurence Made Me Cry records including the first single ‘Melete’ which is out 8th Feb. Not only that but we’ll be adding more artists to our roster over the coming year.
We’re very excited!
Posted on July 12, 2015
Stitch In Time is very excited to present our first guest mixtape from the superb Canadian electronic experimentalists Speaker Face. The mix reflects much of the music that influences the band and, boy, are there are some seriously good tracks. Jai Paul, Eden, Robot Koch and D’Angelo all feature and we’re also treated to a preview of the next Speaker Face release – a sweet slow groove going on this time, definitely a track to chill to.
You can catch the band live during their summer Canadian tour. They recently played some excellent sets in British Colombia at the Tiny Lights Festival and the Campbell Bay Festival. They will be heading to Toronto (22nd July at Holy Oak), Ottawa and Kingston next.
Posted on June 5, 2015
Our second Stitch In Time live session features two tracks by the beautiful and incredibly talented singer-songwriter Miss Irenie Rose. Such a pleasure to have her perform in our little Glasgow flat and I’m sure you’ll agree her songs are simply gorgeous.
We’re still learning making our live videos and apologise for the slight focus issue – didn’t catch it on the camera screen. The sound, however, is getting better.
Posted on May 24, 2015
I knew of Finn LeMarinel before I moved to Glasgow. He was part of a band I’d interviewed a few years ago for a zine and was definitely on my list of folks I’d like to see live once I reached Scotland. Needless to say I quickly nabbed a ticket to the launch of his latest EP ‘Love Is Waves’ when the date was announced last month at the CCA.
What an absolutely stunning night of music it was too. Armed with my camera I took photos throughout the event (which you can see here) but tried as much as I could to take in the wonderful and heart warming performances. I caught up with Finn via email for a quick chat about the EP launch, his unique style of guitar playing and his plan to create a highly advanced species of dinosaur/hummingbird…
Stitch In Time: The ‘Love Is Waves’ EP launch at the CCA was quite something! Really fantastic performances from everyone involved. Now that you’ve had time to reflect on the night, what were the highlights for you?
Finn LeMarinel: Thanks man! There were a bunch of highlights for me. It was a genuinely strange and overwhelming night in the sense that I didn’t expect anywhere near as many folk to come and see as there turned out to be in the end. I think the fact that I was able to provide an ok platform for some young people earlier on in the night to play was pretty cool! When I was a teenager, listening to and playing music made me who I am today. To be able to encourage young people that I have worked with in music workshops showcase what they are doing and get them to see how brilliant and valuable it is… it’s what makes me tick as a person. I am always worried I am going to sound like some holier than thou twit when I talk about this stuff…but fuck it, that’s the sort of stuff that makes me happy. Another highlight was having two musicians that I admire massively playing too, RM Hubbert and Kathryn Joseph, I think RM Hubbert is the only musician that has made me proper tear up while listening to a song (which is called Jumphang). It was also nice to play with a band of lovely talented people on the night.
SIT: Student run label ‘Electric Honey’ is behind the release of your new EP ‘Love Is Waves’. How did you get involved with the label?
Finn: They are great! Basically one of the students, a dude called Ryan, took some of my songs to the class and they decided they wanted to release it. It is such a good label, they have helped me so much in making the E.P and releasing it. The music industry is a bit scary in general so it’s nice to have lovely folk (namely Ken McCluskey and all the students) helping me out.
SIT: Every time I see you perform I am always enthralled by your very unique guitar playing. How did you develop your technique? Were you inspired by certain musicians?
Finn: I love hip-hop and gospel drumming…I want my guitar to sound like a mixture of these two things. Also I guess I want my guitar to tell a story as much of the lyrics do. I just hit it in various places and wait for it to sound like what I am thinking. I make up tunings…scratch, strum, hit and pick the strings or the body or the fretboard until something sounds right, the less time thinking about technique and stuff the better.
SIT: All of the artwork for your releases so far has featured the fantastic artwork of your mum, Jac Saorsa. Are the works specifically created for your releases? What is it about her artwork that really speaks to you?
Finn: Generally Jac doesn’t do specific pieces for my work, though she did do some one off pieces for each song of my new EP which we sold at the gig. To be honest, and of course there is element of bias in this, but I reckon she is the best artist in the world so getting to use her artwork works for me pretty well.
SIT: Now that the EP is out, what are your plans for the near future?
Finn: Frankly my plans for the near future are to bring to fruition my genius experiment of splicing dinosaur and humming bird DNA to create a highly advanced species, Humminsaurs. Acting generally in packs, not unlike land dwelling dolphins, Humminsaurs will encircle prey and by using their specially adapted vocal chords, literally hum it to death. Vicious and melodious in equal measure these fiercely intelligent beasts will elegantly harmonise their way to the top of the food chain. As king of the Humminsaurs my job will be largely admin based. I deeply suspect that the Humminsaurs will quickly turn on me, but not before I have the last laugh in the form of an existential crisis followed hastily by an emotional breakdown and a heart attack. After my death I intend to spend time with my children and teach them the folly of splicing the DNA of highly effective predators with unparalleled speed and cuteness. As the world slowly implodes around my ghost I intend to fashion the burning embers of civilisation into a handsomely decorated trombone, designed to sound only one note. The note which all Humminsaurs fear, the note which is the sound of our salvation.
Posted on May 7, 2015
There’s something quite magical and other worldly about the music of Mammut Is In Love. Gentle and intriguing, the songs, written by and featuring the beautiful and ethereal vocals of Linda Christine Drejer Bonde, are atmospheric and gloriously dreamy. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Linda Christine is in many ways an explorer, ever on the look out for an adventure and always keen to follow her heart. This passion for life and expression is certainly reflected in her music and I’m very excited to hear the debut album ‘Blossoming in Blues Skies’, due out on the 15th June, featuring guests such as Casper from Efterklang and New York based singer Ben Schapiro.
I caught up with Linda Christine via email for a lovely in-depth chat about the new record and what she’s been up to over the past few years…
Stitch In Time: I first came across your music in 2012 on an Incredible Niche Collective collection tape that I backed on Kickstarter! The track was ‘Magical Song’. Kind of a big question to start with… what have you been up to since then?
Linda Christine: I’ve been travelling a lot with music. I am very fascinated by the big apple – New York and how life and the music scene is there compared to little Denmark. So I’ve travelled back and forth between there and Copenhagen.
Also Mammut Is In Love did quite a lot of concerts in Denmark. Vega, one of the best venues in Copenhagen, was among the places and I remember being on stage feeling so touched by it, because I’ve been in the audience many times. So being up there on the stage, sharing my music was a dream come true.
As well as this I have made music with others and I have been recording a lot, which I also love doing. I feel privileged and happy when I play with other musicians – good and talented.
I for instance made 4 songs, all recorded on a piano at the Danish countryside, with a great musician. We went to the countryside and made 4 songs in 4 days. An apple plantation was one of the places we went for walks in. It was so nice and calming to be in the nature and to be inspired by it. One of the songs we named Applehunt. :- )
Last year I contributed to a music calendar with a Christmas Song. I’ve never made a song for Christmas before so that was a great challenge. It was a beautiful and intense musical Christmas last year as.
Besides this I’ve been singing on a film that a friend of mine made. She’s very talented and I’m looking forward to share the final result. It will be out soon!
So music, live and travelling. Music is always with me – as a good friend. Always.
Then I began the recordings of the album, which was great also.
SIT: You’ve definitely been keeping busy! Have your travels to New York impacted your songwriting at all?
LC: I think my travels to New York had an impact on my music and songwriting. First of all just to be in New York is for me reaching out for the ultimate; where would I like to be right now in the whole wide world? So it’s about reaching out for what you find is the best. And this confirms me in believing in my dreams and achieving my goals. I did it – travelled to New York. I’m happy and grateful for these experiences and the achievement.
I’ve met great friends and musicians in New York as well. Last time I was there I recorded with the singer Ben Schapiro, and he inspired me for example with his ways of playing and composing music.
SIT: I’m really pleased to see that you have a new album, ‘Blossoming in Blue Skies’, coming out in June. ‘Thousand Heights’ is the first track to be released from the record and it’s beautifully atmospheric, quite mystical even. What can you tell me about the new album?
LC: The album was recorded in a studio in Copenhagen, where I and the mixer/producer Brian Batz worked closely together.
The basic songs on the album are recorded in one-takes. The approach was to make it human, without editing, and to keep the nerve and presence of the songs.
It was definitely an intense experience to sit by the piano with the mic closely headed to my mouth and then go into the emotions and essence of each song all the way from the beginning to the end, hammering on the piano and singing my heart out. You can feel the atmosphere in the recording.
SIT: Where do you tend to find your inspiration from, both lyrically and musically?
LC: When I write everything usually comes at once, at the same time. The melody, the lyrics and chords comes to me hand in hand. I just sit down and begin playing. Usually the inspiration comes from inside, from me being in a certain mood, or something that is and has been on my mind for a while. There’s a presence when I sit down with my guitar or by my piano or just by singing I tend to forget time. It all comes out in a flow, I enjoy only being with and in the music. It’s beautiful to me -and I love it.
I sometimes get inspired by other musicians, their lyrics or choices of chords, melodies and harmonies. I admire them more than I think I actually use it. I just think, wow that is such a good idea, or that is so moving, and I get touched by it, and happy.
I also like lyrics that use the language and each word in a playful manner. Joanna Newsome and her letter rimes are great. I think David Bowie had an impact on me. He has lyrics that are both dreamy with lyrical escapades and stories as well, like in the song ‘China girl’. So I think I found a freedom in this – to say: I decide, no rules… I will feel free to make them, how I feel is right in connection to the music. This is what happens in the moments when I’m in the music. The words just arise in connection to it.
For example, one song ‘Hill me – On San Franciscos Bay’ from the album: I came up with while I was sitting in a car driving over Golden Gate bridge. My friend was driving and I felt far away from home. Then right on the middle of the bridge the beautiful view of the hills surrounded us, and it felt like a warm embrace. I immediately began to sing hill me.., hill me – on San Franciscos Bay.
I can sometimes have an ‘afterwork’ with the music that is more intellectual. Here I work with the lyrics and the language and look at it as an interpretation. How is the atmosphere, story or feelings best told? Are there changes that needs to be made and where does the poetry arise?
It happens that the music starts with a text or lyrics written before the music is there and then the process of making the music is different. I also enjoy that. It’s not a right or left way – like a either or. It is a great journey and pleasure, not a right or wrong! I enjoy making music all the time – music for me is a way to express sides of life and myself, and it’s a kind of beautiful and magical space of freedom, for me to grow and to feel free in.
SIT: I’m really excited to hear the new album! Will you be performing the record live? Do you have any dates coming up?
LC: Yes – I will perform the record live and I’m looking forward. I will do it in connection to the release of the album in June. I found an amazing place to have the concert. The release party is still secretive right now until everything is more settled. : )
I will do small intimate concerts as well during the late summer and fall. It will be in classical surroundings and aesthetics – and it will be special and beautiful.
SIT: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
LC: I will keep following my dreams and keep reaching out – for the ultimate. The music is always there with me – I will keep creating music as well as playing live. First there is the release Party that will be amazing and I’m really looking forward to share the music. So then there’s the rehearsals and so on.
I plan to travel as well: I would love to explore Canada – the mountains and the great nature and life there. I also have a friend there, a photographer and video artist, whom I’m planning to visit. Then I might go on a small tour in the north. I would just love to play concerts while I’m there. I heard Portland is a nice place music-wise, so if it’s possible I would like to play there as well.
I would like to use music in different ways. Not to follow certain ways but take it with me – as a natural part of me – on further ground.
I’m excited and looking forward to this year…
Posted on April 21, 2015
Touring can be an exhausting and intense experience particularly if you’re playing a new city every night, there’s little chance for relaxation and exploration of your new surroundings – which is why Rachel Ries is taking her time and giving herself space to breathe on this trip.
Hailing from South Dakota but currently splitting her time between rural Vermont and New York, the American musician is happy to be away from home. She is taking a slow tour across Europe, soaking up the sights and sounds while also trying to brush up on her French ahead of a month long stay in the country.
Fresh and rejuvenated from a day spent resting at the Arlington Baths in Glasgow – a venue she played the previous night alongside Zoe Graham and Jenn Grant to a busy and attentive crowd – we caught up with Rachel in our East End flat for an evening of music, chatter and laughter. She also took over our kitchen to cook up some extremely delicious fruit preserve to sell at her forthcoming shows.
We’re very proud to have Rachel as the very first artist to record a performance for the Stitch In Time live sessions. The track she played for us, ‘Pleasant Valley Reservoir’, is deeply personal and haunting, yet there is beauty in its resigned undertones, as if the finished experience remains a moment never to forget, a reminder of sorts of the path she has landed, a path she will not revisit any longer.
As I packed away the filming equipment, Celine Lux asked Rachel if she’d answer a few questions. There’s nothing quite like a late-night impromptu quick-fire interview and Rachel was game. Ensues banter…
Stitch In Time: This isn’t your first tour here. What keeps you coming back to the UK?
Rachel Ries: People in the UK clap for longer and they talk less. That’s totally not an honest answer.
Audiences in the UK applaud for much longer after songs but they don’t verbalise. They don’t whoop so much… that’s not really why I keep coming back though. I think I’m just suited to leave America as often as I can. I just like playing over on this side of the ocean.
SIT: What is one question that nobody asks you?
RR: No one ever asks me out on a date.
SIT: What is wrong with people?
RR: They’re scared of me. I’ve decided by now that it’s not because I’m ugly, I used to think that I was, I’m over that now but I think people are just scared of me. It is different being a female rolling around the world with her art. That can be intimidating and unapproachable.
SIT: Well, you might want to free a few dates in your calendar…
RR: [laughs] I’m up for it, an adventure!
SIT: What’s your must-have item on tour?
RR: Coffee. That is my quest everywhere I go, to find good espresso. It’s good to have a centrepiece of a day, something that forces you to engage in your ever changing new environment, to seek something out in a town, in a strange town. I guess for some people that would be a good beer.
SIT: Tell us about Ghost of a Gardener…
RR: Ghost of a Gardener is… I love her so much. I quit playing music for quite a few years and this album is sort of my return, my re-dedication to making music – kind of reclaiming this weirdo journey of song making and sharing.
SIT: What is it that you’re giving the listeners this time round?
RR: Well, I gave myself bravery. The process of making that album was so, so joyful for me and so fearless – no, not fearless, fear is healthy – it was just thoroughly brave. For the first time in my life I was making art and trusting myself, trusting myself to know the right decision from the instrumentation or the tempo – even if no one in the studio understood why I was determined to have a trumpet on this song – seeing my vision through and knowing it was the right one. Just trusting myself for the first time and that was so much fun. There was a lot of play involved: just playing with different instruments that were lying about in the studio which was a ball and I think I’m giving audiences/listeners cathartic music that is emotionally resonant and often from a perspective that is rarely heard from.
And that bravery still accompanies her as she retires to the kitchen to make her preserves. I can’t shake the feeling she is an enchantress and I’m convinced she added some magic to each pot. Either that or she put a spell on us.
You can find out about her forthcoming live dates and details on how to purchase ‘Ghost of a Gardener’ here: rachelries.com
Updated on April 16, 2015
Word of mouth is a beautiful thing and recently it’s been the way that I’ve discovered most of the new music I listen to. Speaker Face is one such discovery. The first track I was directed towards was their debut single release ‘Vertical’ which is a dark and moody electronic folk number – in it we hear a deep pulsating electronic heartbeat that flutters and jumps giving way to simple, mesmerising vocals then… then come the waves of bass and distorted violin that, played at the correct volume, will most certainly rearrange your insides.
There’s an air of mystery about the Toronto-based experimental electronic group. The mystery being that I know very little about the project except for a short biography on their facebook page. The creators are Trent Freeman and Eric Wright, both musicians and both with a love of modern electronic music. Freeman is most known for his astonishing abilities on the fiddle. He is also the creative force behind the epic ‘video with the levitating boxes’ for ‘Vertical’. According to a quick Google search, Wright is an elderly gentleman who writes mystery and suspense novels – probably not the Eric Wright I was looking for but interesting that the theme of mystery continues (delving a little further into the dark recesses of the mighty search engine I discovered that Wright is, in fact, a very talented cellist).
Already picking up two Vancouver Island Music Awards for ‘best music video’ and ‘best electronic/dance recording’ – Speaker Face are on the move and if you’re lucky, they might just take you with them. With the power of modern technology, I caught up with Eric Wright and Trent Freeman for their first ever interview as Speaker Face…
Stitch In Time: How and when did it all begin for Speaker Face?
Eric: Trent and I were on tour in Europe with our other band, The Fretless, when we got the idea. I had been producing a lot of electronic music in the van between gigs and would play them and other random weird tracks for Trent. Trent was playing me the rowdiest jazz and fusion tracks that he was into at the time, and there was just a moment where we realized we could probably combine our two styles into something really weird and new. We traded some ideas in Germany, and when we got back to Toronto we sat down and completed our first track.
SIT: The project seems very cohesive, both musically and visually. What is the overall artistic vision for Speaker Face?
Trent: The overall artistic vision stemmed from the music. What we started writing had a feel to it that really presented it’s own visuals for us, and that soon rose to become part of the project. For our work to be whole, honest and fulfilling we want to create not only the music itself, but also its platter for presentation.
E: We were listening to a lot of Atoms For Peace when we started Speaker Face. The style of combining live instruments and performance with electronic beats and soft-synths is one that really stood out to us. Production and the person behind the production has almost become its own instrument in modern music.
SIT: Why and how did you decide to work with Troy Moth?
T: Troy’s work really stood out to us as a match for Speaker Face. We met in Victoria where he was working on a shoot, and when I caught a glimpse his process, I was even more excited. What started as an album art inquiry quickly became the larger project of pairing each single with a shot from a series. We are big fans of his work.
SIT: Your releases so far feature some excellent female guest vocalists. How did you come to collaborate with Rachel Sermanni and Ruby Randall?
T: We’ve been fans of Rachel’s since hearing her at Folk Alliance in Toronto, and when brainstorming who we would love to hear sing on our music, Rachel was top of the list. Ruby is also a treat to hear. After listening to her band once we knew we wanted her on a track.
SIT: ‘Jasmine’ is your take on the Jai Paul demo. You haven’t deviated too far from the original but there’s still some real freshness to it. Why did you decide to rework this classic track?
E: Jai Paul is one of my favourite artists of all time. He is doing things with his tracks, musically and with his production, that neither of us has heard from anyone else. I think we always knew we wanted to cover Jasmine, but the song is nearly perfect and we didn’t want to make it unrecognizable. We thought changing the instrumentation and getting the vocals by Ruby on there would be different enough without changing what makes the song so incredible.
SIT: The video accompanying ‘Vertical’ is visually stunning and highly original. Where did the idea for the video come from and what was it like to film? Are you working on something for ‘Jasmine’?
T: I had had the idea brewing in my head for a while; the visuals, the boxes, the movements, the feelings of entrapment, escape, control and release. It really all came together when we built the set and started filming. We filmed for one very full, very cold day on Vancouver Island and came out the other side with material that I was stoked to work with. The image comes across very well. We aren’t working on a film for Jasmine right now, but we have some other projects on the go.
SIT: Speaker Face with be performing live in Toronto later this month. Are you looking forward to it? How will you approach the live setup?
E: We’ve been working non-stop to get ready for it and we’re really looking forward to the whole night. Trent will be playing his violin and keyboard through my system, where I run Ableton Live. We have effects and triggers, clips, synthesizers, and a massive amount of loopers that we use to achieve the full arrangements without skimping on the musical performance. The show is very live. We don’t want to be another group that just presses play. I use my own effects and triggers to manipulate the sounds, change the beats, and improvise.
SIT: Are you working on new material at the moment (please say yes) and if so, can you tell us anything about it?
E: We are in the process of finalizing our album right now and we’re really excited to release it. There is a lot of back and forth between us, adding a new sounds and tweaking things here and there, but all of the tracks more or less finished. The album as a whole is very atmospheric but also really funky and experimental.
SIT: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
T: Ya! Singles and art and videos and soon a full album. We are also playing some festivals this summer, with some shows in between. One I’m particularly excited about is Campbell Bay Music Festival on Mayne Island. Keep an eye on our website.
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