Paul Mosley and The Red Meat Orchestra
I have been talking with Paul Mosley and The Red Meat Orchestra’s…
lead about the new single, Wintertide, and the story behind it. Its video is out; so I have been asking about it concept and process. Mosley discusses how the group got together and the themes that have gone into the new E.P., Wintertide; whether there is going to be any further material next year; the music that inspires Mosley (and the band) – and the new artists we should all check out.
I discover how the music comes together and what sort of gigs are coming up; albums and songs that have made a big impression; Mosley’s favourite song from the E.P. – advice he would offer any new songwriting emerging.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hallo! Manic, but lovely, thank you. I can no longer deny that Christmas is coming - and must be dealt with…
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Paul Mosley. I’m a composer; singer-songwriter. I tend to write concept albums and story-songs - and rope in all of the brilliant and talented musicians I have met to make up my ever-evolving Red Meat Orchestra. I’m a big fan of 1970s singer-songwriter vibes and soundtracks - and Folk music - so those things tend to shine through in what I do.
Wintertide is your new single. What can you tell me about the song’s origins?
It was one of those where I had a title and refrain kicking about for ages - then I saw there was an arts festival also called Wintertide in my home-town of Hartlepool - and that gave me the push to finish it off. So, although it was started about five years ago; it was pulled together very quickly in the end from lots of little separate sections. Our engineer called it a ‘folky festive Bohemian Rhapsody’!
I wanted to get it released in time for Christmas - and I got to play it at the Wintertide festival this year, too.
Its video is out. Was it a fun experience putting it together?
It really was, yes, thank you - our camera-woman Tina Rowe is a brilliant: very arty, reportage photographer; very insistent on natural light, doesn’t even own a digital camera. Then we rocked up with our captain’s uniforms and random junk instruments and, essentially, fannied-about until we had enough footage to tell the story. Jack Harris, who sings a big section of the song, does some excellent dramatic ‘jack-ting’ and I always particularly enjoy seeing Josienne Clarke - who’s well-known for her seemingly very dark and serious, melancholy music - get together with Darren Allford and Esther Dee to knock out a dance routine to a 1990s Rave anthem.
All of us take music properly seriously but the aim of everything else is to enjoy ourselves - and I think Tina did a great job of capturing that.
The Wintertide E.P. is out. Its title-track is an updating of I Saw Three Ships. What is it about that song, and older visions of the ocean, that appeals to the band?
I grew up right on the sea-shore; so, as well as being a bit of a classic device for songwriting and storytelling, the sea was always just there…so it does pop up a lot in my songs. I decided to do something that referenced an existing Christmas tune - and that one worked as it had the sea in it. I’m working on a new album for next year which will be more ‘proper Folk’ - possibly using existing Folk tunes within new songs - and this was sort of practice for that.
I am really chuffed with how it turned out...
White Crow and Wintersun look at love in different ways – both vivid, classical and imaginative. Do you think modern songwriters are rather bland and predictable when it comes to talking about love?
Thank you. The Orchestra will roll their eyes at me because I’m quite a big defender of Pop writers; because I can’t do it: I’ve not got a clue how to make those choices that result in a song that makes its intentions obvious. I always think I’m being blatant and everyone says ‘So…what’s that about?’ and I’m like…’It couldn't be clearer!’.
But, that said; yes, of course, there are a ton of - not even Pop - writers out there who - for me - would benefit from sticking a few metaphors into their songs. ‘Dear Diary’ stuff has to be pretty special to resonate; otherwise, it is, as you say, bland and predictable - and not even like a song. It’s just an idea you could *potentially* express in a song - if you compared it to a hurricane or fighting fires; or a wolf or swimming; or maths or a parachute…anything! (Just a bit more than "I feel… ").
Also having said that; hopefully I *AM* a modern songwriter - and there’s room for my version of songwriting out there, still…
Is there a favourite song (for you all) from Wintertide? What has it been like working with Folkwit Records?
Wintersun, for me, because it started out as a technical exercise: Can I write a song in 5/4? But, it ended up being lyrically very sincere and quite emotional; plus, it sounds really warm and West Coast Americana; lovely and melancholy - and I got a fantastic email from a new fan saying how much that song resonated with her (so that meant a lot). Also: new fan! Conquering the world, two ears at a time!
Being part of Folkwit really helped us get on more peoples radar. I’d self-released five albums before that and I am terrible at promotion (one album I actually forgot to put on my website at all…or tell anyone about. Ideal). So; it was brilliant to suddenly be getting reviews from all over Europe and getting to play with other Folkwit bands who have become friends: Cajita, Laurence Made Me Cry, Martin Callingham…
How did Paul Mosley and The Red Meat Orchestra get together? What was the spark that got the band united?
In 2015; I wrote a Folk-Opera called The Butcher - a ghost story told over twenty songs - because Folk-Operas are so hot with the kids right now, obviously…it was very ambitious and I didn't want to make a low-fi version: I wanted the full wish list. (Singer) Esther Dee and I had been friends for a few years - so I wrote it around her and my friend Jamie Lawson as the ‘romantic leads’ – then, I pretty much went through my contacts from composing theatre music and my old band Moses to pull together what I needed - from Flamenco guitar to bassoon and concert xylophone. The lot!
Come the live shows; Jamie had had a hit with Wasn’t Expecting That and wasn't going to be available; so I asked Jack Harris, who I had seen many times at London Folk clubs and was a huge fan of, to step in and, brilliantly, he did. Similarly; from the same scene, I had met Josienne Clarke a few times and had written the part of Delores with her in mind - so, I was quite determined to get her and again, thankfully, she said yes. Catherine Earnshaw I had met at a variety/acoustic club we both regularly played at called The Village Green Preservation Society ran by Piney Gir…she had always sang a cappella Folk songs and had packed it in to have her son - and now wanted to sing again. So; I wrote her into it too….and, so, The Red Meat Orchestra assembled.
Thankfully, for me, they all seem to have stuck around (and be up for more)!
What kind of music did you follow as children? Do you all have similar tastes in music?
We were pretty much a Beatles household when I was a kid: I was never a massive fan of the 1980s, even, DURING the 1980s - but I had phases as a teenager; some terrible (T’Pau - I cannot justify or explain...) some I stuck with forever (Nina Simone, Throwing Muses and Harry Nilsson).
The Orchestra have wildly varying tastes, but a similar attitude to quality: Darren knows a ton of Disco…but it’s good Disco. Catherine, Katy (Violin) and Josienne know a lot of the Trad-Folk; Gav (Drums) and Sam (Bass) are Men of Rock but, again, good Rock. Metal, essentially. Proper.
Esther and Colin (Guitars, Saxes) both know a lot of Soul and Jazz-ers; Anna (Cello) knows all the Broadway stuff - she actually runs a Show-Tunes-for-toddlers business! Xylophone George is our Psych./Alt/Avant-Garde queen - and Jack Harris’ knowledge is just ridiculous.
He is encyclopaedic - about everything!
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have lined-up?
There will be some full Orchestra gigs when the next album is out late-2018 but, as everyone also has their own projects, you’ll have to catch us individually for a while, first. Me and Jack are off on a pretty hefty U.K. tour together (in March/April); Josienne has tours with both her duo partner Ben Walker and her new band, Pica Pica, in spring. Esther is touring with her Soul/Funk band, Crowd Company; Catherine is *Always* at Cecil Sharp House - and I have a London show doing something dark and mysterious on Saturday 24th February at The Harrison (in Kings Cross, London).
Oh…and we *might* just pop up on New Year’s Eve Eve (30th December) for a London show. Keep your eyes on www.facebook.com/paulmosleysongs
Is there any advice you would give to artists coming through right now?
Honestly? None. It’s always an exciting time to make music - and it always seems, to people who went before, that their time was the proper time …
I have no idea what will work for the next lot coming through…but they’ll love it. I hope I am part of it.
IN THIS PHOTO: MOULETTES
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
I pretty much pinch and co-opt everyone I like so, obviously, check out all the individual members of The Red Meat Orchestra - and we have two new members joining for this year’s project: Raevennan Husbandes from Art-rockers MOULETTES and Trad-Folk player Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne. Also; check out spacey Sad-Core Oh Sister; super-arty-bonkers Tom O. C Wilson.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
We are having an office party! Well…a band party with other halves and kids (and everything) - I think I may have underestimated how big a pub we’re going to need…
Do you have all your shopping done?! Is this a time of the year you all enjoy?!
Enjoy? Yes, definitely. Shopping? Not so much…Amazon a week before and a last-minute dash around the big Asda as per, probably…
What do you have planned for next year? Will there be more material?
There will - and I am very excited about it. The next album will tell the story of The Loneliest Whale in the World. It’s a true-ish story - you can look it up if you wish - and that is turning into a really lovely collection of songs about family and ‘having your voice heard’…I also have another theatre show brewing and, possibly – hopefully, if I can find the time - another E.P.
Plus; everyone is doing their individual projects too - so lots of music to come.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a couple of songs and I’ll play them here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Thank you so much. It was lovely to answer questions which are actually about the music!
If I can cheat slightly and request a song from the other projects of a couple of Orchestra members, that would be great. Please play Jack Harris’ Molly Bloom and Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker’s Darkling Bird
Or, if not, then Walk Away Renee by the Four Tops - as it is my favourite song
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