wears the trousers magazine

words in edgeways with laura veirs
February 11, 2010, 2:01 pm
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“Playing in here could turn me into a religious woman!” Laura Veirs jokes from the stage of the majestic Union Chapel in north London. It’s the last UK show of her tour to promote her seventh and, in the eyes of many critics, best album, July Flame. It’s a fine venue with, naturally, incredible acoustics and imposing architecture. And, tonight at least, it’s really cold. Lip-numbingly cold. The entire audience is clad in hats and scarves; they’re even selling hot drinks alongside the merch table in the foyer. For this entire leg of the tour Laura and her band have been travelling through a country in the grip of its biggest freeze for a hell of a long time. In stark contrast the album she’s showcasing every night on stage evokes a totally different atmosphere. Taking its name from a variety of peach, the album serves as a springboard into a sultry, sun-saturated world full of the magic of midsummer: Will o’ the Wisp, fireflies, Chinese lanterns and heady, sweltering nights. It’s joyous.

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indigo girls: why music still needs lilith fair
November 12, 2009, 3:29 pm
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words in edgeways with indigo girls

While Sarah McLachlan’s recent announcement that legendary women’s music festival Lilith Fair is to be resurrected in 2010 was greeted with elation in several quarters, certainly within these pages, it also had its critics. “Hop aboard the marginalising train,” sneered St Vincent’s Annie Clark in an interview with online magazine Spinner, claiming it doesn’t serve anyone to view music in gender terms. In its three year lifespan, from 1997 to 1999, Lilith Fair was repeatedly in the firing line; it was too folksy, too white, too mainstream. Yes, the headliners were often women who had achieved massive commercial success, but how else were McLachlan and co. to get enough people through the gates? As for being too white, if it wasn’t for Lilith Fair, we might not have heard about acts like Bic Runga, Lhasa de Sela or Yungchen Lhamo until much later, while established artists like Queen Latifah, Angélique Kidjo and Meshell Ndegeocello were no more ‘token’ than the few women you would typically find on any other festival’s playbill.

With the debate no doubt preparing to rage once more as the 2010 event gets underway, who better to add their voice to the clamour than feminist royalty and Lilith Fair veterans, Indigo Girls. Touring the UK after a two and a half year absence to promote their latest, independently released, album Poseidon & The Bitter Bug, Emily Saliers and Amy Ray sat down for a chat with Wears The Trousers in an airless, strip-lit dressing room in London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, and I waste no time in cutting to the chase. Is there still a place for a women’s music festival in 2010? “Yes!” comes Emily’s emphatic response. “It’s still a male dominated industry; it’s still a male dominated world in terms of who’s got the power in politics, power in money. Not that those are the most important things, but that’s the reality.

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brandi carlile: give up the ghost (2009)
October 6, 2009, 1:24 pm
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Brandi Carlile
Give Up The Ghost ••••

Brandi Carlile’s exceptional vocal range just expanded. Third album Give Up The Ghost takes the Washington-born singer-songwriter’s greatest asset and pushes it way beyond its already wide parameters. Still present is her characteristic half-yodel, the way she can leave her voice to slide up or down a scale, knowing she will hit the note perfectly when she gets there. But this time she takes her voice further, stronger, longer, higher. Much higher, actually. Gone are the growls, gone is the angry teenage attitude, and in their place is a calmer, wiser woman, contemplative and full of acceptance, of letting be and letting go. First, though, a reminder of those early days in the form of album opener ‘Looking Out’, a song which could sit happily on either of Carlile’s first two releases. Here, her familiarly defiant delivery is augmented by the gravelly backing vocals of idol-turned-friend Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, creating an exhilarating torrent of sound. It’s a signpost for the confidence of the album as a whole, charging at full pelt with its head held way up high.

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kate walsh: letting off the happiness
September 15, 2009, 1:12 pm
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words in edgeways with kate walsh

After recording his BBC Radio Four show Loose Ends, legendary broadcaster Ned Sherrin used to treat his production team to a slap-up, boozy, lingering Saturday lunch in an old-fashioned, un-gastro’d central London pub. In tribute to Sherrin, who died in 2007, the team have kept on the tradition. This week Kate Walsh is joining them, having appeared on the show playing tracks from her excellent new album Light & Dark. Braving the clatter of glasses and the boisterous “It’s the weekend!” whooping (literally) of the merry punters, she sits down with Wears The Trousers for a chat.

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paloma faith: in the land of faith, believe
September 14, 2009, 9:50 am
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words in edgeways with paloma faith

“Someone introduced me to someone the other day and said, ‘This is Paloma, she’s a lovely bunch of people’.”

Paloma Faith is one of those people who you meet and you just know it’s gonna happen for them. A face on the London cabaret scene for many years, it seems like it was just a question of time before she found herself where she is now. That is, sitting in the plush airy offices of the mother of all media conglomerates, Sony, whose record label Epic she signed with last year. Exhausted from a rapturously received show, and afterparty of course, the previous night, she’s lounging (well, almost) on a couch, as the media turnstile clatters round and round before her: journalist in, journalist out. Never one to let her appearance guard down, even today Paloma is dressed to the nines, sporting a floor-length spangled skirt in rainbow colours, red/orange heels and tights, and a bright yellow top with matching beret. Perfectly manicured and painted nails protrude from already long, slim fingers. Just another day at the office really.

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hafdís huld: interview with the “vampire”
June 17, 2009, 9:05 am
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interrupting yr broadcast: hafdís huld

Yet another export from Iceland’s thriving music scene, Hafdís Huld Þrastardóttir is most definitely one to watch. Sitting, or more likely skipping, somewhere between Sia and Björk on the lovably barmy scale, she released her debut album Dirty Paper Cup in 2006, though you may also know her through various collaborations with Tricky and FC Kahuna, her whimsical cover of Sam Brown’s ‘Stop’ that beamed into millions of homes across Europe as the soundtrack to a Mercedes ad, or even from fronting 4AD favourites GusGus (who also spawned Emilíana Torrini) as a teenager. A collection of pure, sweet pop, Dirty Paper Cup revealed Hafdís to be, yes, sugar and spice, but thankfully not necessarily all things nice. There’s an edge to her lyrics, an impishly wicked streak that reveals the self-proclaimed Glittery Fairy Princess of Iceland to be far more sussed than first meets the eye. She’s just finished recording her much anticipated second album in a barn in Scarborough and is currently on tour across the UK. As effervescent as a Tizer float, Hafdís loves a story and loves to talk. Wears The Trousers caught up with her at Monkey Chews, North London, where she took a break from soundchecking in the dark, sweaty upstairs room to talk to us. We even managed to squeeze in a few questions!

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tift merritt: renaissance woman
February 24, 2009, 5:24 pm
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words in edgeways with tift merritt

OK, so, picture the scene. You’ve been performing alone on stage for the past half hour. You’ve nearly finished your set and all is well. The crowd are warm and settled. You’ve overcome the annoyance of inconsiderate chat, the venue blowing porn smoke onto the stage and idiotic security guards oblivious to the noise of their radios. It’s time to end with the title – and best – track from your latest album and you plan a neat dovetail into the main act by inviting them sing with you on stage. You thank the audience, you thank the main act for having you along and look to the wings: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr Teddy Thompson!”

But there’s nothing. No one. Silence. Teddy is nowhere to be seen. The silence continues, with obligatory laughter. It’s hard to ride the awkwardness. Left with no alternative, we are given the benefit of another song and then finally, finally, Teddy steps onto the stage. He doesn’t even have the decency to look sheepish. In fact, as he ends the song he gives the audience a cheeky grin. What a rascal, eh? What a loveable rogue! What a jerk. It’s not the best of finales for Tift Merritt’s latest London show, but the mood mercifully changes as, together, Tift and Teddy sing the song and it’s pretty magical: Tift on main vocals and piano, Teddy harmonising beautifully. He’s gracious with his vocals if not with his manners.

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