Thursday, 21 July 2016

Eight questions with Daisy Chute

(c) Rick David/Jana Tyrell of Pink Bird Recording Studios

1. Who is Daisy Chute? (a short introduction)

I'm a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who hails from Edinburgh but moved to London at 16 to study music at the Purcell School of Music and King’s College London. I play guitar, banjo, ukulele, piano, kora and anything else I can pick up to pluck, press, strum or strike. I was brought up listening to a wide range of music so I have an eclectic taste and range of influences, from folk and americana to classical and jazz. My American mother learnt jazz piano when she was pregnant with me and claims I came out knowing those jazz standards through some sort of pre-natal osmosis! No surprise then that my first record was a jazz album, recorded in my folks’ living room at age 15. I then became part of classical vocal harmony group All Angels, releasing 3 albums and touring whilst at school and university. I’ve been working for the past few years on multiple projects as an orchestrator/arranger, session vocalist, teacher and composer writing and performing new songs alone and in collaboration with songwriting partners and with my folk band three and me.

2. How does your solo music fit alongside your various other musical projects, and how does the experience of composing and playing in other groups affect your solo music?

I love the variety of jobs I do and learning different skills and insight from them. I was always told at school I had to choose one career path - one instrument and one style of music - but now the more I do, the more I value how everything helps everything else. I get to be involved in some amazing projects as a session singer and arranger/orchestrator/copyist - from Radiohead’s recent album A Moon Shaped Pool, to the Shaun the Sheep film soundtrack. Sometimes it means I have less time to sit and write and sing my own music, but it inspires me in ways that would be impossible if I just stayed at home all day writing songs alone. I learn so much from teaching too - having to articulate what it means and how best to sing or play instruments or compose can be difficult but rewarding. I feel like it’s a way of giving back some of the kindness and help from the teachers I had growing up.

3. When was the new track ‘I Left My Heart in Rio’ recorded and where? If there is an interesting story behind how you and any producers & session players met and started playing together, please do share.

I met my songwriting partner and producer Tim Baxter at the afterparty for the screening of The Snowman and The Snowdog, the sequel to The Snowman (we were both working on the soundtrack). We did some songwriting sessions together and as it was going well decided to do an album. This song was born out of an idea of Tim’s - I’ve actually never been to Rio! But Tim went there when he was younger and so the song is a semi-fictionalised story of an unrequited love. We looked into the idea of nostalgia in Brazil - did you know they have a national holiday for it? The term they use is ‘saudade’ and sometimes is translated as ‘the love that remains’ - so we used that as one of the lyrics. It’s about what might have been and who they might be now and how there’s a sort of enjoyment in that blissful ignorance and wallowing. 

We were lucky to have Will Collier on double bass (who’s playing the gig at The Slaughtered Lamb on Thurs 21st July) and Ben Reynolds on drums. We jammed the song a bit at Tim’s studio in Kent and then recorded it almost live in the amazing open plan wood-floored/beamed house.

4. Who is your audience and how do you connect with your fans? Any crazy, fun, exciting stories are very welcome.

…Ah crazy fun stories! Wish I had some gems up my sleeve! Trying to rack my brains now. Well I can tell you about some of the fans who were from All Angels days, some of whom are very loyal to me too and who come to almost all my shows if they can make it. I’m very grateful to have a good network of fans who I try and stay in touch with online when I can. I sometimes get autograph or photo requests, and sometimes gifts in the mail, though I think our management didn’t show us some of the letters/gifts we received (we were pretty young) so who knows what strange things were sent! I remember my first encounter with fans outside Cadogan Hall when All Angels did their first public performance. We had been called up very last minute because Hayley Westenra had to pull out due to illness, so we hadn’t really announced we were performing and yet when we arrived there must have been 15 hardcore fans waiting outside the hall when we went in to soundcheck. I hadn’t seen anything like it before so that was a crazy moment to realise we had fans who somehow knew about the show and got there in time for our soundcheck! Since then they started up a fansite and posted about concerts and articles and tv appearances before we even knew about them!

5. What should we expect of the upcoming Slaughtered Lamb show? Have you caught Tom Lowman playing before?

No I haven’t but loved his very topical Brexit song/video online! Looking forward to hearing him live. The show is going to feature some amazing musicians who I’m lucky to be sharing a stage with. We’ll have the aforementioned Will Collier on double bass/guitar, Zara Tobias on backing vocals and harmonium, Tristan Horne playing beautiful cello, Chris Brice on drums and a few guests - Tim Baxter on piano and Adam Lenson on harmonica. The set is a mix of originals from the upcoming album and a few folk songs. It’s quite a new set and a new ensemble so we’re still finding our feet but those guys make it sound like we’ve been playing for years!

6. With so much experience performing from a young age, in productions and concert venues of various sizes, how do you prepare for a show?

I try and make sure I know what the set will be and that everyone has music for it! I usually feel quite responsible for preparing the music for everyone involved and forget to take some time to get myself ready too! Though sometimes I give my best performance when I’m least prepared and just let go! I had a concert recently where I felt pretty ill before so had to let go of the idea that it would be as good as I wanted, and ended up relaxing into it a lot more and giving a better performance than when I’ve been well! I don’t have any particular routines, though I suppose I have one fan who buys me a neat scotch whisky (with one cube of ice) when he comes to my gigs so that’s a kind of ritual now! I find it helps my singing oddly! Must be the Scottishness reminding me of home.

7. What does the rest of the year (and perhaps looking forward to 2017) hold for you?

Well, first finishing the record. Have a few more songs to write and record, and then some showcases in London and in Nashville to prepare. Looking at publishing deals at the moment and hoping to get some song placements in future. But first priority is getting back to writing and recording in the studio. Would love to do a tour next year and love working with Tigmus, so hopefully they can help with that.

8. What does your dream gig look like?

Difficult one! There are a few different gig scenarios that appeal. I’ve often said small and intimate is my favourite. I love being able to perform completely acoustically - unadorned and unfiltered and where you can hear even a whisper. So it would need to be a small enough place for that! But also where you feel it is a really live, unique, exclusive experience for the audience. On the other end of that and for more traditional venues I love the Union Chapel and Bush Hall, and of course festivals like Glastonbury where you might be sharing the stage with some of your idols. But I also love interesting spaces not designed for concerts like the Brunel Tunnel Shaft (where I sang with a theatre company called Arbonauts a few years ago), and would love to do some more outdoor concerts with beautiful views - rooftops in cityscapes, or beaches with open fires and open skies. I’d like to make more of the overall experience of it, to make it a multi-sensory event that crosses the boundaries of typical concerts. I went to see Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker recently at the Barbican Centre which was truly like nothing I’ve seen before. I’d love to help create a musical event that was as surprising, innovative and forward-thinking as that!

Daisy Chute plays a London show for us TONIGHT at The Slaughtered Lamb, with Tom Lowman and Spy From Moscow supporting. All that for just £4 advance (here) and £5 on the door!

1 comment:

  1. I confess to being one of Daisy's hardcore fans, initially confusing Charlotte Ritchie with Daisy when the young Angels were being chaperoned in Sloane Square by producer Ian Tilley. Looking forward to tonight's performance.