9th Annual Eclectic Album Winner
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HOMEBASE/COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Essex, UK
ARTISTS ON THIS ALBUM: Gemma Ray, Michael J Sheehy, Nick Foot,
James Fortune, Fiona Brice
WHERE WAS THE ALBUM RECORDED? In Michael J Sheehy’s tiny lounge in a council flat in Russell Square, London.
WHERE IS YOUR MUSIC AVAILABLE? In stores, the Bronzerat Web site www.bronzerat.com, iTunes etc…
DOES ECLECTIC DESCRIBE THE BAND OR JUST THIS ALBUM? Eclectic
describes both the album and me as an artist.
WHAT MAKES THIS ALBUM ECLECTIC? I think people hear many different
genres in the album mixed together in a way they’re not used to. I also think the sounds used to create the atmosphere are hard for people to place, it feels romantic and from a by-gone era, but quite unusual too, so people can’t quite put their finger on it.
WHAT UNITES THE SONGS ON THIS ALBUM? My voice and songwriting draw from so many genres of music, but the way I write songs and sing and produce them is very much a style of my own which is instinctive and naturally pulls them all together. I really wanted to use sounds that felt fresh, and to think beyond bass, drums, guitar etc and I think that idea itself pulls the album together sonically.
WHAT UNUSUAL INSTRUMENTS OR TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE ON THIS ALBUM? I try not to over analyze how I write songs and structure them, I prefer to keep some innocence and magic there – but there is probably some significance in the fact that I recorded most songs on my mobile phone to check that I was happy with the structure, and it automatically stops recording after 3min 33seconds. This became a useful annoyance which helped me become more ruthless in my structuring! I also record the moment the first idea comes about a song, so that I don’t lose my way and that the first primitive moment isn’t lost, so you almost have that “in the moment” freshness of improvised Jazz , but with obsessive compulsive precision.
I also embraced any elements I would normally avoid, which initially felt cheesy and let them sit alongside the dark themes. That juxtaposition was something that jarred in a really fresh way for me. I also used a lot of waves of atmospheric drones by playing my guitar like a cello, but with a kitchen knife instead of a bow, and I think that adds a lot to the overall feel. Other instruments used which stand out in the production are toy pianos, glockenspiel, and a huge array of percussive oddments played by Michael Sheehy. I also think the choral arrangements are quite unusual. I tracked up my voice to emulate choirs sung by an elderly ladies church choir, but it ended up sounded more like Star Trek, which was a nice happy accident!
DID FANS HELP FUND THIS PROJECT? In a roundabout way, Yes! My old drummer (from my band The Gemma Ray Ritual) started the record label a few years back when a label messed up the release of a 7″ we had made. He started Bronzerat Records to release it himself and
continues to release my music. In the process of that he discovered some incredible bands including Seasick Steve and Joe Gideon and the Shark. So yes, he was a fan and bandmate and if it wasn’t for him I’m not sure I would have made the album I made.
WHO IS SITTING IN YOUR AUDIENCE? Very mixed-which is great! So far, maybe 25to 45 years-old, maybe people who are really open minded and seem to make listening to music in a non-casual.
WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS UNIQUE? They seem to be so passionate about music.
WHERE CAN MUSIC FANS DISCOVER ECLECTIC ARTISTS? I find that most
great bands are excited by new music and therefore look for something special in the bands they ask to support them, so that can be a good place to start!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO PLAY? Small, atmospheric, old Jazz venues that smell musty and have plenty of stories to tell. There is a really great old venue in East London called Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club. It’s where we shot the video to “100 mph
(in 2nd Gear)”.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST EXCITING MOMENT TO DATE? Jimmy Page
came to see me play at the Hammersmith Apollo when I opened for Mott The Hoople – that was exciting! But adrenaline-wise, probably those gigs that feel like they’re really tough, and not many people are there, and then you break through the pain barrier and something magic happens – that’s really exciting as a performer. And recording full-stop, documenting moments that will be around forever – that’s always exciting, the best feeling in the world.
WHAT’S IN THE WORKS FOR 2010?Well, on New Years Eve I recorded an album with Matt Verta Ray of Heavy Trash in his studio in New York for just two days (it’s going to be an even more eclectic album interpreting covers and playing some of my own new songs live, just
voice and guitar – including a track which uses Sonic Youth lyrics with Krzysztof Komeda compositions). I have a David Lynch night in London in January, then some interesting gigs in Europe, like Crossroads festival and Orange Blossom Special, then SXSW in March and I’m not sure after that.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS….. Mid-cull.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS? To feel inspired and to keep producing music that make you and other people feel the way they need to feel. To always feel excited by the next piece of music you are writing!
WHAT’S ON YOUR IPOD THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR FANS? I don’t have an
iPod, but I’m not sure what would surprise a fan – everyone hears different things in my music so what would surprise one person may not surprise another! I listen to Sparks a lot and more recently, Suicide and Greek Folk music. Probably not all that shocking though.
NAME SOME ARTISTS YOU ARE CHAMPIONING: New Artists? I’m a fan of Joe
Gideon and The Shark, Dan Sartain and Mary Epworth.