Anyone who knows me well will have heard me singing the praises of Union Music Store in Lewes over the past 12 months. Of the many artists they have introduced me to, local girl Zoë Brownrigg has proved one of the most interesting. Obviously standing out as the only female in the excellent Early Ghost, Zoë has also released her first solo EP ‘Not Once Did I See Your Face’. Her strong yet ethereal voice, ear for a great melody and always interesting songwriting, make the EP a real gem.
Zoë very kindly agreed to have a chat with someofitistrue. I hope you like what you read and please do give Zoë’s EP a listen.
How did the solo EP come to be?
Well I had been gigging the songs for a couple of months, when I managed to secure an in-store at the Union Music Store in Lewes – a shiny, new shop selling country/folk/Americana CDs, instruments and their paraphernalia. I played my usual set with my partner Sam Allan accompanying with various instruments (mandolin, second guitar, hand clapping, etc) and apparently caught the attention of the owners, Jamie and Stevie Freeman. Pretty soon after we were discussing recording and releasing me on their label. Following a couple of months plotting, scheming and recording it was released on September 10th 2011.
It has a very fine cover – did you design it yourself? What does the mask symbolise?
Why thank you! Sam took the cover shot in his living room and then edited it to get that floaty misty-pink feel. I’m wearing the mask to mirror the title ‘Not Once Did I See Your Face’ (which is a line taken from the song ‘Ahead of us Yet’) which reflects on how, certainly in my dreams, people’s faces tend to be ever-changing or perhaps not there at all and yet you can have a really strong sense of who that person is.
What, to you, is the pivotal song on the EP and why?
Although quite a simple song, I think ‘Smooth Edged Stone’ has a particular significance on the EP- it has quite a strong message of independence and determination. I think it also sums up the sound of my first couple of years as a musician with the use of harmonies and finger picking.
Your song writing seems way beyond your years – any ideas why?
Isn’t it true that everyone’s maturing quicker these days? However, I have read a lot from a young age; fantasy or period novels taking centre stage. I think I learnt quite quickly that sometimes you don’t want to read or hear about normal, every-day stuff, that poetic language provides a beautiful escapism. I love finding my own meanings in other people’s songs and I hope people can find theirs in mine.
What is going to be your next musical output?
Well, alongside recording a debut album with my other musical project Early Ghost- a six piece experimental-folk-rock-type-thingy band, I’m writing for a second solo EP which I think will have a slightly different sound; I want to experiment with different instruments and effects and try and give a bit more ‘atmosphere’ to my songs. I think I’ll also go under a more inclusive name, like a band name, as I want to start collaborating a lot more and think ‘Zoe Brownrigg’ is too limiting almost, I want it to be a group effort.
Is Lewes a good place to be for an aspiring musician?
It’s certainly a nice, safe little cubby-hole to incubate creativity in- there are limited venues (some pubs, a converted church and the Union Music Store’s shop window), but they’re comforting and familiar and there’s a strong community spirit in Lewes- especially when it comes to music. There’s also a convenient rail line to Brighton or, if you’re feeling really brave, London. But it’s always nice to come back to Lewes.
Who are your key influences as a songwriter?
I honestly don’t know, as I don’t think I can hear much of the artists I listen to in my songs! But I suppose it must come from somewhere, so I’ll list some of the artists I’ve listened to a lot over my song-writing years so; Jose Gonzales, Johnny Flynn, Beirut, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Laura Marling. Of course, I didn’t grow up listening to these songs so they are recent influences, I could play the usual ‘The Beatles, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan’ cards as they were frequently played by my dad in the times before I discovered S Club 7 and the usual pre-teen rubbish. But I think I preferred jumping and dancing on the table to his various compilation albums such as ‘We Love Life’ or the 60s classics ‘Peace and Protest’.
What were your favourite Albums of 2011?
The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy
Paul Thomas Saunders – Lilac and Wisteria
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Ever thought of auditioning for X Factor?
Any New Year’s resolutions you are still managing to keep?
What are your hopes and fears for 2012?
I wouldn’t want to start the year with any fears! I never think about limitations, only what I want to achieve. Over this year, I’m hoping to release a second EP and be part of a house concert tour of the UK.
Zoë’s EP ‘Not Once Did I See Your Face’ is out now on the Union Music Store record label www.unionmusicstore.com
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