Artist Interviews

Q&A: LoneLady

By | Published on Wednesday 27 January 2010


Armed with a Telecaster, a four-track and a drum machine, electro-popster LoneLady emerged from Manchester in 2005 with the release of debut single ‘Hi Ho Bastard/Fear No More’, followed by the EP ‘Have No Past’. Singles on Filthy Home Recordings and Too Pure followed before she signed to Warp Records in 2009. She’s to release her debut album, ‘Nerve Up’, on 22 Feb, preceded by a single, ‘Intuition’, on 8 Feb. Ahead of her gig at Cargo in London on Friday (29 Jan), we spoke to the Lady herself to ask the Same Six Questions.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
From a very young age I remember announcing: “I’m going to be an artist”. I meant, actually, artist as in Van Gogh. Art, and drawing in particular, was always my main passion, and I pursued this, did an art degree, and painted alone in a little rented studio. Somewhere along the way I started to play instruments: Nirvana and Hole made me buy my first electric guitar. Though I’ve never sounded like those bands, their energy and anger propelled me. At eighteen I decided to learn the cello. I wanted to know and be able to do everything; I always had the need to create, not just spectate. I then played in a band when I was nineteen or so. But things really started to coalesce for me when I bought a four-track and started recording alone in my flat. I became fascinated by the recording process. Layering and juxtaposing one sound with another. The four-track demanded I be resourceful, economic; it stained recorded sound with a sort of enigmatic residue… I made artworked singles and an EP and started sending these to the outside world.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Well, everything. Being my first album, it has songs on there that have been with me quite a long time. Other songs were only months old. It’s a document of endeavour; it was important to me to record the album in a place that had personal meaning, so I had a room constructed. Rather than opting for the relative ease of a recording studio, I recorded my album with a combination of lo- and hi- tech equipment in a sort of breezeblock cell hewn into a crumbling mill in Manchester, because it felt psychically right to do so. As for what inspires the music? Half-known compulsions, inner symbols, pursuit of the impossible, aggression, space, wilderness, mystery, energy, a catchy tune, a great beat.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Initial fragments come pretty easily; the drum machine is a useful companion as it never tires. I play along until something emerges. I compose songs in my head as I walk around a lot. The forward momentum of walking urges the song to develop; trains are also great for this. Honing and finishing a song can be protracted and torturous. Certain sounds fascinate; they have certain meanings or associations. To finish a song and feel it is successful is very satisfying. Writing a great, or even good song isn’t easy. (Very occasionally it can be. These moments are like gifts).

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
A lot of the bands that emerged after punk – the late 70’s, early 80s bands. The ebullience and intelligence in much of this music inspires me. The speed and rate of musical ideas that were flying around at this time makes for a rich period of music history. The – relatively – rudimentary technology of synthesizers and recording techniques lend this era a wonderful idiosyncratic sound. New discoveries? I’m not limited to one genre in particular, I don’t even really view music by ‘genre’. Judy Garland, JS Bach, Grace Jones, Colin Newman, Beyonce, and Joy Division all have fascinating things to say. A box set called ‘Extended Seventies: The 12-inch Era’ has been on high rotation of late and I am listening to Satie as I type. Tomorrow, I will listen to…?

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I don’t mean this in an arsy way, but making music …it’s an interior, egotistical world. I do it for myself. My first album only just exists ‘out there’, but for me it’s already gone; I am thinking about new songs. The music will always mean certain things to me, but the listener brings her or his own code of associations to it. I could explain the reason behind every strand of instrumentation, where every lyric derives from, but what would be the point in that? I can’t really tell someone how to experience my music… Having said that, when somebody seems to genuinely connect with the music, it is a strange, wonderful feeling. What would I say? Turn it up, loud.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
For me, a ‘successful’ album is a world you want to enter and return to again and again, each time uncovering some new insight or phrase or fragment you hadn’t noticed before. Also, longevity is important; there are a handful of songs in the world that I will never, ever tire of hearing. My favourite albums are like companions who grow with me through life. It’s a tall order to hope this for your own music, but those are my ‘ambitions’.