Interview with Daisy Chapman

‘Shameless Winter’ is the gorgeous third album from Bristol based musician Daisy Chapman. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Daisy via email to find out more about the record, her influences and performing live…

Cat On The Wall: Hello Daisy, how are you? Where are you and what are you up to right now?

Daisy Chapman: It’s a dark, dismal Sunday afternoon, the roast is settling in my tummy and the kettle is on. So I’ve snuck upstairs to the ‘office’ to answer your questions

COTW: ‘Shameless Winter’ is your third album. To me it’s a really confident record. Do you feel like you’ve evolved since your first release or changed musical direction at all?

DC: Yes, most definitely. My first release as a solo artist was a compilation of songs that I’d written with my (then) boyfriend – he wrote the lyrics. They were all recorded in one day and consisted of just vocals and piano. Very raw, rushed, but still from the heart. This most recent release sees me branching out with more ambitious string arrangements, plus a collaboration with Lizz on violin whom I let express her own creativity in certain numbers so it wasn’t so regimented. I wanted to keep the songs catchy and memorable whilst still offering a lyrical twist or an unexpected key change. I also think I’ve used my voice in a more varied way on this album, and pushed myself a little more than previous efforts. Lyrically, I’ve tried to offer my usual melancholia, but tapped more into a personal narrative. Thanks for seeing it as ‘confident’ – the illusion of confidence is difficult to convey!

COTW: You wrote the album whilst on the move. Was this a concept that you had in mind? What was your song writing process for the record?

DC: The first song I wrote was The Girl in Hannover – which was indeed about travelling. And the second song was Shameless Winter, which wasn’t actually written on the road, but draws upon experience of being away. I think once these two songs were penned, it became apparent that ‘travel’ (particularly in the winter) would be a good over-arching theme of the album, so the rest of the songs were tailored to that concept. The album wasn’t written in one go but in fact covered about 3 tours. Touring is important to me and a big chunk of my musical life so it made sense to draw lyrical content from my experiences on the road – there’s always a notepad to hand when I’m away!

daisychapmanpicCOTW: Nick Cave and Regina Spektor are highlighted as comparisons in the press release for the new album. How would you say these artists have influenced you? Who is inspiring you musically at the moment?

DC: Nick Cave is definitely an inspiration from a storytelling point of view. I love that there are always sinister undertones in his work. I love Regina’s piano style and how she uses her classical training when penning a modern song. I also love her confidence at writing a really weird song that on its own would sound so strange and out of place, but sits neatly into an album. I like to think of an album as an entire piece of work, but too often today, songs are separated from their neighbours and judged individually. I’m too scared to pen an obscure song like Regina for fear of ridicule when it’s listened to out of context! Who’s inspiring me today? I love Bellowhead’s use of thousands of instruments, it’s great fun to see live, and not too over complicated like The Polyphonic Spree back in the 00s! I’m loving Martha Wainright’s new album, and am also really looking forward to The Eel’s new release. I love how he is unapologetic for his drone sometimes, and you really have to listen out for the lyrics.

COTW: You’ve worked with Ali Chant from Toybox Studios on 2 of your records. What is Ali like to work with and are there any producers that you’d love to record with?

DC: I actually recorded my first EP with Ali too – the one mentioned above that was done in a day. But I didn’t really form a musical relationship with Ali until The Green Eyed album back in 2009. We really gelled in the studio – he knew how to push me, and came up with some good ideas for the songs. He also wasn’t afraid to say when something wasn’t working – and similarly I wasn’t afraid to disagree!! His studio is amazing, his knowledge is second to none and most of all we had fun making both records. I’d love to record with Rick Rubin – not just because he’s well know and highly esteemed, but also because you can record in his awesome house in the Hollywood hills (if he still has it). That would be something. I was lucky enough to get to record at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire when I was playing with Crippled Black Phoenix. That’s a reasonably well-known studio in the middle of nowhere. You get to sleep in the wonky little cottage attached to the chapel, and we spent the evenings watching films and cooking food. That was a great experience.

COTW: Performing live must be important to you as you’ve toured considerably over the last few years. What is it about the live experience that keeps you hitting the stage?

DC: I think any musician would agree that performing live is the real reason you’re a musician. All the rubbish you have to put up with, like day jobs, waitressing, no money, travelling, bad accommodation, crap food, hanging around etc. is completely wiped out when you get up on stage and perform your own music to a willing crowd. Of course, they won’t always be willing, but that moment when you realise you have an entire room of people in the palm of your hand is truly special. It’s not a power thing, or an ego trip, more a reward for the effort you put in to your craft, especially when you’re playing a city you’ve never been to before, and you see the room fill up from the wings and say to yourself ‘wow, these people are here for ME.’

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

DC: 2013 has got off to a slow start, not just because the end of 2012 was so hectic with a big tour, the release and a massive launch gig in Bristol, but also because I am getting married in 9 weeks (and counting) so my focus has shifted to that somewhat! However, I’m hopefully working with a new UK booking agent and will be getting some great gigs from the spring, some good festivals over the summer, and then more European touring throughout the autumn and winter. Plus, I’m going to be releasing a live album which was recorded by Ali at the big launch gig so we’ll hopefully add a couple of new songs to the CD too. Lots to plan for -there will be no post-wedding blues for me!

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