Interview: Jennifer Left

Jennifer Left, formally of Gloria Cycles, is breaking out and forging a new sound among Brighton’s hallowed history of sweet song birds. Bringing a fresh approach to melodic creativity with a genuine artistic hand, it wont be long before Left has us all her marinating in her world of dark, sweet, fairy-tale folk.

On the cusp of unveiling her new EP, Spindle picks the Brightonian’s brain to chat about her childhood inspirations, creepy ghost stories and how she covered a London pub in brown paper for a gig, among other things.

SP: Take us back to the beginning, what was the catalyst that pushed you to get your music out there?

JL: I have always admired people who can write and make music from a young age, so when the opportunity came along to make my own I jumped at it.

SP:  I imagine Brighton to brimming with new talent, tell me about the local music scene there at the moment.

JL: It’s MINT! Apart from the fantastic wealth of talent such as Abi Wade, Gentleman Starky, The Peppermint Beat Band, The Jazz guys on a Sunday in the Hand and Hand, 3 Little Birds and Milk and Biscuits…if it wasn’t for Brighton I’d be a very different person. It is the most beautiful tapestry of talent…I’ve travelled round a lot of the UK and I have come across massive rivalry amongst bands in the same town; Brighton bands seem to share their talents and support each other.

SP: You recorded your latest EP at Clockwork Owl Studio in Kemp Town Brighton, why did you choose to record locally?

JL: Tim, the producer at Clockwork Owl Studios, first came to my attention via a friend who had heard of Kate Walsh on iTunes. Tim and I later met at a party and became best mates and I have listened to all the amazing artists he has recorded over the years. When I said I was going to jack in music for good, he offered to work with me… whether he regrets that now, who knows! Ha ha, who says you should never work with your friends! Ah but seriously we work well and he’s really good!

SP: Tell me a little about your writing process.

JL: Tim and Ewan the guitarist would sit and work to a kind of loose brief that was set. Once the instrumentation was down, they would email it over to me and then I’d sit and record lyrics and melody and email it back. When ready, I would go in and record the final vocals and we would get fantastic session musicians to record flourishes. All of which are now in the band!

SP: I was fascinated to learn that you wrapped the inside of a London pub in brown paper and hung suspended origami animals from the ceiling for a recent gig you had. What was the inspiration for that rad idea?

JL: The track Paper Trails is all about the paper ornaments and notes I have left/hidden for my boyfriend to find. I love working with paper as I can manipulate an immediate model/ character/ keepsake. I have used paper and cardboard to create many creations/sentiments for many years. I find it a very humble and effective media to use…I think it harks back to a child like memory of improvisation, for example cardboard swords for playing pirates, that kind of thing. Paper things have a humble fondness.

SP: How hands on are you regarding visual side of your work? Are you often making things in the early hours before a gig?

JL: I am very lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of creative friends and band so we all chip in and brew ideas around a bottle of wine and if the idea sticks in the morning, we scamp off to make them happen. So far I have been really involved in the creative process, which I love. That’s a massive bonus to self releasing I would say. We don’t make things for every gig… Just now and again.

SP: If you had to describe the sound of your album to a deaf person, how would you go about it?

JL: Brilliant question… I know a fair bit of sign language, but this would still stump me..hmmmmm, from what I know from when talking to  my deaf friends, style and vibration hold a lot of weight in making a description…I would think at a glance you may think its 20s – 50s, but it has quite dark “fairy-tale” stories… ahhh it’s a really tricky question…I like it…

SP: You’ve mentioned being inspired by the songs that raised you, who or what do cite as your main inspirations?

JL: I say they are songs that have raised me as my dad would sit me down with a bunch of tapes and tell me all about the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, etc, and go through the track listing on the back and explain when it was written and the story of how it came to be made. That was before he would even play it.

SP: Your single Black Dog is said to be about sibling loyalty and sticking together after an encounter with a late night apparition, right? Tell me more, sounds creepy!

JL: That’s pretty much correct! My little sister has a little battle with herself at times she’s always fiercely fighting…and I changed her little battle into a story basically…she suffered really badly from night terrors as a kid and I’d always have to calm her down. Little sisters!

SP: This EP will be featuring remixes from The Wild Knights, Murder He Wrote and Restlesslist, what kind of sound are you going for or do they have free range to remix a new feel to the song?

JL: The remix artists have complete freedom to do what ever they like! That’s why we got them on board and to honest I had never considered remixing the track, so its really exciting to hear what they guys have come back with.

Words: Brent Randall

Jennifer Left will be playing at FestiFeel on the 4th  www.festifeel.com

Jennifer’s EP release launch will be on the 19th June in Brighton at The Blind Tiger Club.

For more information and dates, hit up Jennifer Left’s website. www.jenniferleft.com