Interview: Meursault

Seldom have the words Albert Camus and folktronica been spoken in the same sentence. Allow us to introduce you to Meursault. Hailing from Edinburgh, Meursault utilises a unique combination of traditional acoustic music, such as guitars, harmonicas and banjos, with electronica derived from samplers and synthesizers. Meursault’s low-fi harmonies are a popular favourite on the BBC radio station circuit and here we talk to the front man Neil Pennycook to garner some insight into the band and their influences.

Who started the band and how did it come together?

I started writing songs under this name about six years ago, after a short while of playing solo shows and then started to recruit friends to help fill out the sound. Over the following years, the band solidified and at some point became what it is now – whatever that may be. We work more as a band now than we have done in the past and I think that’s something that comes with time –  to have the trust in the others guys in the band to contribute and help shape the songs.

Who are your musical influences and has this changed over the last three albums?

As I’m sure any musician with a half decent record collection will tell you, the stuff that ends up influencing the music that I write changes all the time. During the recording of this album I was mainly listening to old country records, stuff like The Louvin Brothers. I’m not sure how much of that filtered into the song writing but I guess it must have in some way.

Where do you see the future of Scottish music heading? Which other Scottish acts should we sit up and take notice of?

I haven’t listened to loads of Scottish stuff recently but there does seem to be a lot of interesting things going on. I really enjoy PAWS, I was very late to the party with those guys. I’m really excited about the album that eagleowl have made as well; I’ve not heard anything yet but I’m looking forward to it.

The name of your band is derived from Camus’ main character in L’Etranger. What prompted this choice? Has Camus and the Absurdist philosophy movement has had any particular influence on your music?

It came about when I was at college and was reading a lot of Camus and generally following the stereotype of the ‘sensitive artist’. I like the reference and I think that the name suits the music but it’s not something I spent a lot of time considering. What’s in a name etc…

Do you think it’s necessary to have experienced the things you write about? Do you think it’s possible to write believable lyrics on a subject that you have only witnessed rather than living it yourself?

I don’t think it’s all that essential, no. It just depends on what kind of song you’re singing. I think most songwriters probably embellish their work to some degree. I think if you dramatise something in any way then it kind of alters the truth of the matter anyway. Some songs will always be a little closer to home though.

Do you have any plans for a European tour in the coming year?

Yes, we’ve planned a European tour for October and a number of shows in the UK, we’ll announcing the dates on our website (www.meursaultmusic.com) over the next week.

Words: Kerenza Evans