Record Store Day interview with Hannah Peel
Singer songwriter Hannah Peel will be touring the South Coast during Record Store Day on Saturday April 16, when she performs live gigs in Brighton, Eastbourne and Bexhill.
She met with Nick Linazasoro to talk about her plans.
Q. Hannah Peel, your musical pedigree is second-to-none! Having graduated with a first-class honours degree in music and performance, you’re a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist (who can master the piano, violin, trombone, synthesiser and music box) and can sing to boot! So how exactly did the idea of Hannah Peel’s Music Box Tour come about?
A: Wow that’s kind thank you, I don’t feel like all those things but I do love creating! My manager Steve Malins has to listen to a lot of my crazy ideas, and this one started off on the back of a motorbike, so I was happy when he went for it and helped me put it all together with the shops so we could celebrate having a limited edition vinyl out on Record Store day by doing something a bit mad. The music box is also the only instrument I have that’s very easy to carry around and set up compared to synths and piano.
Q. The music box is an unusual instrument to use in this modern world. Did you build your music box yourself and how long does it take you to make all of the cut-outs in order to play it?
A: After producing an AV festival for Liverpool’s 2008 Capital of Culture, the music box was the only thing that didn’t involve anything except the cogs, a hole puncher and paper. It got me back into making music again.
A really good friend and artist David Ford from Eastbourne helped me build this version for touring after he found me taping it down onto an old mandolin! It takes around 12 hours to map and out and punch the holes for each song.
Q. Why did you choose a south east coastal tour when you are based in London and do you think that you will make it around all eight record shops in time?
A: I really hope I make it but it’s going to be tight! I’ve roped my father into driving so we get some good father and daughter time together... but I don’t think he knows what he is in for yet! After playing Bexhill last year, the Music’s Not Dead Shop invited me back to play in their store and with an overwhelming response from all the shops on the south east coast, it was great pulling it all together.
Q. I purchased a CD copy of your Rebox2 mini-album at your enjoyable De La Warr Pavilion gig in Bexhill in November last year. Why have you chosen to celebrate Record Store Day this particular release and why in glorious gold?
A: I’m a huge fan of vinyl. My first release Rebox 1 was initially put out on vinyl, and the excitement of holding and listening to a record for the first time will never fade. Rebox 2 came out on CD for a tour I was doing with East India Youth and to my surprise everyone kept asking for the vinyl version. It was great to be able to finally join in on Record Day Celebrations with something special and fun!
Q. Last month saw the release of another of your many projects, the enchanting, nostalgic Prospect Of Skelmersdale album by The Magnetic North. I think I get the whole idea of yearning for (better) times past and reminiscing of childhood, like rediscovering an old Ladybird Book, but why did you choose Skem and not your childhood home of Barnsley?
A: The independent coined us Psycho Geographic Explorers. What a title, but they were spot on to how we approach making music together following the Orkney album, so it will probably stick.
Skem is a really interesting place, a town of hope and ideals yet it all went horribly wrong as a lot of new towns did in the 80’s. What turned it around was the community and the influx of the meditators and Simon Tong’s (Verve/Gorillaz) family was part of that movement. We had a lot to write about.
I went to school in Barnsley but I’m originally from a new town in Northern Ireland much like Skem, so it was natural for us all to be drawn there. The next album will be a different journey I’m sure!
Q. On the nostalgia front, I see that one of your new alter-ego’s Mary Casio also harks back to childhood brass bands and 1970’s synths. What can we expect from her? And also to me Mary looks like the illustration on the cover of last weeks single release entitled ‘Diagram Girl’ by Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve. Do you concur?
A: She’s very similar yes, and that was complete serendipity. BTWS, didn’t even know about Mary Casio at the time!
I had been writing instrumental music using just my Juno 60 and Moog, her name was in my head for a long time as a character but when I discovered the star constellation Cassiopeia, then I knew where she was heading to. A Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire lady, now in her 86th year, this will be her biggest journey. What an amazing opportunity to be able to score for a brass band too for her. Another serendipitous occurrence.
Q. When will your full length Hannah Peel album see the light of day and will it include the synth version of All That Matters that you performed at the De La Warr and will you come back to Sussex to promote the album?
A: This autumn! I’ve been waiting a long time to finish and release it, yes it will include All that Matters... it’s the opening track to the album. Definitely will be back.