Me for Queen
THE music Me for Queen is putting out there…
differs from anything I have heard! I have been speaking with her about the latest track, Loose End, and what its story is. She has been discussing her PledgeMusic campaign and funding the album of the same name.
I was eager to know which albums have influenced her most and what it was like recording in Portugal; how London affects her songwriting and outlook; whether female artists are seen as unequal and warrant more focus; whether she gets time to chill – the songwriter recommends some artists we should get our ears around.
Hi, Me for Queen. How are you? How has your week been?
Lovely, thanks! I’m just back from nearly a month in Germany and am enjoying some time at home…
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. I am a singer-songwriter and purveyor of ‘Soul-Folk’. I used to say ‘piano-led’ but the last two singles have been guitar-led so…
What can you reveal about the song, Loose End? What is the story behind it?
I wrote the song having thought I'd finished the album! Last in, first out…
I was just messing around on the guitar one afternoon then started singing the chorus then, about half an hour later, had finished it. I tried not to overthink it. Then, once I'd made a rough demo at home with drums/some backing, I really felt good about it and was singing it over and over again...so sent it on to Jim, my producer, then we booked an extra day to track it! Lyrically, it really seemed to pull together a load of things on the album as well; really satisfyingly and, basically, by accident, so I suddenly realised maybe I had an album title in there too...
I was thinking about the Desiderata poem, for some reason, as well as this general time in life where I find myself and a lot of friends having the same conversations. It’s easy to sit fretting about what direction you’re headed in/whether you’re on the right track in whatever walk of life. Having left London and a ‘proper’ job, even though I’m far away from friends and family, I strangely feel more available, emotionally – and this song is sort of reaching out to anyone that is in that fretting space (myself included!). It’s about trusting that if you carve out a bit of space in your life to let your mind noodle, even if it feels scary, that is often where the good stuff lies.
It is taken from the album of the same name. I know it is being funded through PledgeMusic. What has the response been like to the campaign?
Great, so far! We’re nearly at 40% (at the time of this interview) and it will be open up until and probably beyond the album release in September. This is my third PledgeMusic campaign and they’ve all felt quite different but, every time, I’m amazed at the way PledgeMusic has found a place where patrons of independent music can find artists to support. I think it’s such a great resource.
The songs were written back in Portugal. Does hearing the songs make you think of your roots and your family?
Just to be clear: I’m from Scotland, not Portugal! The adventure to Porto has been an experiment - we wanted to learn a new language and try something totally different for a while, with no distractions, and, a year later, here I am with an album!
How does London affect you as a songwriter? Is it a great city in terms of influence?
I loved living in London, but I feel like I can appreciate it more now that I’m no longer based there full-time. It’s such a buzzy place: you can’t not be inspired by it in some way. The record that feels most London-centric is probably Iron Horse, which is definitely set in a city (it’s a concept album about cycling) and I really like that. It feels part of a very distinct time and place.
Many sites and stations are celebrating female artists and putting them in the spotlight. Do you feel like female artists are overlooked and need to shout louder to get attention?
Yes! In all sorts of ways, it still feels unequal. I’m glad at least it’s getting some more air-time with more public discussions - for example, recently, regards festival line-ups. I look forward to the day when I’m not described as a ‘female artist’ but maybe, for now, quotas are the only way forward…especially in an industry where so many of these decisions are being made by men; quite often, unconsciously. We all do it!
Which musicians do you count as idols? Were you raised around a lot of different sounds?
At home, my dad would listen to and play lots of Blues stuff like Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy...but there was a real mix. Through learning Classical piano and cello I listened to a real range of things; my parents were great at taking us out to see live music as much as possible. My brother introduced me to Jeff Buckley in my late-teens and that was an album I became quite obsessed with (Grace).
Also; I remember a friend from orchestra camp (yes, I was extremely cool) playing me the Lauryn Hill album (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill) when I was thirteen and I was totally captivated. That led me to people like Aaliyah, Jill Scott/a more ‘R&B’ tip. So, yes, it was a pretty eclectic diet which continues to this day – I think it’s important to listen to as wide a range of stuff as possible.
Are there going to be any tour dates coming up? Where can we see you play?
Yes! I’ll be playing a London show on 30th July supporting Tusks at the Camden Assembly as part of the Warchild concert series. Then, I’ll be touring the U.K. in September, finishing at 1000 Island in London on 3rd October.
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
My ambition last year was to tour Germany, which has happened this year, so I’m pretty pleased about that. I’m so proud of the album - I’m just looking forward to the tour and giving the record the best launch possible!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Oooh; I have lots - from over twenty years of performing (I started young…). In terms of life-changing musical moments, the songwriting workshop I did with Gretchen Peters two summers ago is pretty high up there. I talk about it a lot. But, it really was a total game-changer for me as an artist and as a person! I’m normally sceptical about these things but I did genuinely have a vision coming out of that – like a semi-religious experience. It was extraordinary and just came at exactly the right time; inspiring me to just keep on trucking. I know this all sounds slightly insane but that’s what happened.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Björk – Post
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Jeff Buckley - Grace
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Keep writing. Write and write and write. Be as hungry as you can whilst not letting anyone take the piss. Play as much as you can. Work hard and get out there and meet people.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I don’t know what classifies as a ‘new’ artist. I love listening to the Fresh on the Net stuff, where I was lucky enough to be featured recently - there is SO much good stuff out there that doesn’t get enough airtime. Neither of them is ‘new’ but, this week, MELLAH and Kirsty Merryn sounded just brilliant on Tom Robinson’s most-recent mixtape.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kirsty Merryn
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Music is quite all-encompassing, particularly if you are an independent artist. I’m currently in the middle of a promotion-heavy cycle with the PledgeMusic campaign having now launched - and with a single to promote, and tours to book; all of which I do myself. But, switching off and/or hiding my phone down the back of the sofa and reading a book is a good start. Or going for a swim.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I recently discovered Will Stratton, an American artist who releases through Bella Union. My producer, Jim Wallis, has worked with him on his new record and I happened to catch his Celtic Connections show earlier this year and have since become completely obsessed with his song, Some Ride. I just think it’s so beautifully simple and eloquent.
At the peak of my obsession, I was listening to it around five times a day…
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