3) How do you feel that your background, where you grew up, your family & childhood have impacted on your music?
Laura Wolf: I don’t think my family and childhood have influenced my music much, but it was typical suburban disillusionment and boredom that drove me to begin ‘seriously’ making music when I was about 15 or 16. If I had grown up somewhere culturally rich and left wing I mightn’t have felt the need to express myself in this way quite as much. All my songs back then were overtly political and were a reaction to values and ideals I encountered growing up in a small, conservative town in Cambridgeshire. Obviously now I don’t write so politically but I still feel like writing songs is a way of communicating and expressing stuff that you can’t really talk to people about.
Paul Hawkins: I think probably the key thing that drives what I do is that I grew up with a disability in what was a very homogenous set of villages just north of Bristol. Pretty much everybody I knew came from a similar background, class, racial background etc. and it wasn’t an easy place to be different to everyone else. Which I obviously was on account of my disability. And that had a big effect on me, along with the fact that I was very aware I’d been written off by people quite early on.
The headteacher at my primary school wanted me to go to a “special” school instead, then up to the age of ten problems with my handwriting made people assume I was a really slow learner. Which wasn’t the case at all but I couldn’t write anything down. And I am aware that this sense of the need to prove yourself in spite of others reactions, and this sense of feeling different and alienated from everybody else, and both very much ideas that are quite central to the music I write. So, yes, I feel that the circumstances of my upbringing have had a huge influence on my music.
Spencer McGarry: What a deeply Freudian question! I feel a third party would be more qualified to comment, but lets give it a shot. Firstly I do not feel Welsh and I don’t feel that the landscape has affected me at all- if the commonality of Welsh bands can be surmised by a pastoral regard, bound to a folk idiom with a vocally harmonic American west coast influence, I don’t think I’ve done any of that yet. Similarly I am not enamoured with the rock end of the spectrum- be that with the emotional metal of the valleys or the punk aesthetic. I suppose thus far I have most in common with the blues based rock popular in Swansea where I grew up and the songs on our first album have followed that formula, broadly speaking.
I would have to attribute the most influence to my parents. As a boy, I was not really allowed far from our house, not allowed to play in streets, go to the shops and this extended to my teen hood in relation to school trips abroad, time I was allowed out at night etc. If Freud is right and the most important personality forming traits are developed before the age of around eight, then I believe my parents’ strictness, coupled with the fact that until eleven, I was an only child, may have made me slightly eccentric in my dealings with others as well as giving me a fertile imagination. Although I am keen to point out here (as is currently the British vogue for self depreciation), I was less Jane Eyre in her Red Room and more a young Andy Kaufman in the opening scenes of ‘Man on the Moon’. A (possibly) hyperactive child in his room inventing games, television programmes and songs.
Ill Ease: I think that everything about my background and experiences make up who I am, and directly impacts my music — both in ways I’m aware of and in ways I’m probably not aware of…. I think that the music I was surrounded by growing up, from my family and friends and where I grew up (DC), are the basic building blocks for the music I write now. They’re the horizon within which your vision of the world is created and realized. So much so that I think it’s really kind of impossible to completely see outside of it….
I see it as being like different accents –you can be in 2 towns in the same state or county (or, over there, say, Liverpool and Manchester) and hear really different accents. I think it’s the same way with music and it’s interesting that those differences are still so strong in the face of such globalized mass media and communication.
Capitol K: I grew up in a variety of scenarios, in different parts of the world among different cultures, religions in many different schools, my roots aren’t very tangible.
That probably explains a lot the general waywardness of my music and the fact that it jumps all over the place… I really don’t know where I’m from… or where I’m going…
Napoleon IIIrd: Everything that I have ever experienced has affected and influenced me in some way and I have a wonderful family who exposed me to a massively varied range of music from a very young age. It is however, difficult to say exactly what impact my upbringing had on me musically, I have no other upbringing to compare it to and would not be the person I am were it not for the upbringing that I received. So I guess really, my background, family and childhood are what make my music
Mat Riviere: I think I got played I’m Your Man era Leonard Cohen far too much when I was an infant. Also there wasn’t much to do in the countryside and music relieved a lot of the boredom. The plus side of living in the middle of nowhere was that we could make a lot of noise.
Hannah Miller: Within the Moulettes, and Modernaire, there is a range of different disciplines and musical preferences, we have all traveled about and dwell in different places. I think the Moulettes particularly have an Englishness about them. It is also fair to say that we were all encouraged from a young age to play, and supported by our families.
Personally, I think my family were of paramount importance to my way of playing- my father is an avid old folkie who plays bagpipes, passes on all sorts of incredible folk music from all over the place, and is also a luthier, so he’s made loads of lush instruments to play with. My Ma is immersed in classical music and has a vast fountain of theoretical knowledge that I struggle to understand, but i was lucky to grow up in a house where there was always some kind of music going on somewhere. Also I grew up near Glastonbury so there were always strange characters hanging about telling tall stories and embroidered tales. Its also riddled with good bookshops, full of the kind of occult tomes that you think must surely be forbidden for their excesses.
Jeremy Warmsley: Well, who I am determines what my music is. I think of the music I make under my own name as being an expression of my personality, or at least as being an attempt at the expression of my personality, or maybe the personality of someone I’d like to be. My personality is/was determined (in part) by background, hometown, family, childhood. Ergo QED etc: a huge massive fuckload.
What’s this all about?
links to other questions in this conversation are here
Tags: capitol k, hannah miller, ill ease, internet forever, jeremy warmsley, laura wolf, mass interview, mat riviere, modernaire, napoleon iiird, pagan wanderer lu, paul hawkins, spencer mcgarry season, the moulettes