Emily and The Faves Interview
The long awaited debut album by Emily and the Faves is released through the band’s own label next week, with a launch party gig taking place this Friday at the Static Gallery. Nerve met up with front woman Emily for an interview.
By Richard Lewis 15/6/2011
In The Shipping Forecast, empty except for some enthusiastic but borderline useless Table Tennis players who keep volleying their ball behind the bar, Emily Lansley is sat deep in concentration in front of her laptop.
Designing the artwork for her band’s forthcoming debut album, as well as the attendant gig posters, the singer has to utilise every minute of the day wisely. Following today’s interview she has to attend rehearsals for Stealing Sheep, the other band she plays guitar for.
The band she fronts Emily and the Faves are about to release their long awaited debut long player, comprised of songs she has written over the past two years.
An obvious question to start with then, what inspired the band name? ‘Because it’s my music we thought it should be ‘Emily and the Somethings’’ the singer/guitarist begins. ‘I’ve got a picture I drew years ago of a little girl which says ‘My Fave’ next to it and Andy Dell said ‘We should be called Emily and the Faves.’ It’s also from the Pixies’ song with the lyric ‘She’s my fave/Undressing in the sun.’
The song in question, ‘Ana’, from Bossanova flags up a major songwriting influence, one in a bewildering list. Considering the core of the Faves have such broad-ranging listening tastes, taking in sixties pop, prog, psych and indie-jangle, Emily’s songs find the players united in a common cause. Listing Love, Captain Beefheart and The Beatles as immediate influences, these are joined by The Millennium, Sagittarius and Bubble Puppy, an ultra-obscure US rock band akin to The Thirteenth Floor Elevators.
The eponymous debut album, taking in straight-up indie pop such as ‘So Long Sucker’, jangly sunshine guitars on ‘I Never Saw’ and angular Krautrock riffs on ‘Golden Hair’ reveals more intriguing details with each listen. ‘Is it Still Nighttime?’, a song described by Emily as ‘mediaeval sounding’ goes some way to demonstrating the number of sources tapped for the record’s creation.
More startling band references include cerebral Krautrock band Amon Duul in addition to avant garde innovators Can. ‘I’ve never really been a big ‘guitar head.’’ Emily explains, ‘I love the guitars in Can, they’re probably my favourite guitar parts.’ Sheet-metal guitar manglers Pere Ubu are also cited, along with the early guitar driven work of Yes, before pomp got the better of them.
The pop sensibilities that surface throughout Emily’s songs however can be attributable to more slightly more ‘mainstream’ tastes, as the Pixies evince. The brief but wonderful phase when US college bands were the toast of the music press following the grunge upsurge, the Faves’ seemingly pay homage to the female-fronted likes of Belly, The Throwing Muses and The Breeders. ‘I had a phase of listening to loads of Eighties indie like The Smiths and The Throwing Muses when I was younger and it filters through’ Emily nods.
Formed in 2008, the Faves have undergone several line-up changes. First to join the ranks was Andy Delamere, affectionately known as Andy Dell, a long-standing family friend and veteran of several Liverpool bands. ‘My first meeting with Andy was when we watched The Wicker Man together.’ Emily recalls, an apt choice, given that the film’s unsettling rural backdrops inform Faves songs like ‘White Nights’.
Andy Dell didn’t become a fully-fledged band member until later however, his induction into Favedom done as an eleventh hour request. ‘Liverpool Music Week asked me if I wanted to play and I had to get a band together’ Emily says. ‘I just asked Andy, not really knowing him at all and just did it as a favour for me kind of thing. When we actually played he thought it was brilliant. He’s played ever since then.’
In turn the band increased to three in number, ‘Andy then suggested Andy Frizz (bassist Andy Frizzell) and he was really into it, so he joined. The musician’s arrival proved to be crucial as he has handled production duties on the album with Emily. ‘There’s a few core people, if there’s someone who can’t do it we can change the way we do things’ Emily explains of the band’s shifting line-up. ‘I’ve been really lucky with all the musicians I’ve asked to join the band, they’ve all said yeah’ she laughs.
After her family settled in Liverpool when she was twelve, Emily has unwittingly followed in the footsteps of John Lennon, attending Quarrybank secondary school and the Liverpool School of Art (now part of LJMU). Studying a Graphic Design BA, specializing in Illustration, Emily created the artwork that went on to form the basis of her blog Kaleidoscope Eclipse.
A series of vivid, highly imaginative pieces, her artwork will form the basis of album number two. ‘I’ve got my next album pretty much written to start working on and that’s going to be called Kaleidoscope Eclipse. That’s all gonna be about that whole world. When I was doing my degree I was looking a lot at folk tales and what things symbolize, things to do with the sun. I like creating different worlds, then they can be anything at all. Different things can grow and exist in it.’
Many of the pieces feature a character called Orly, yet Emily is quick to distance herself from the notion that the character represents her. ‘She’s like me, she’s not an alter ego’ Emily stresses. ‘She’s a character who’s experiencing things and all the work is about those experiences. Some of them are invented, some of them are related, but they’re not specific. I’ve got a song on the next album called ‘Demon Sun’ that is totally taken from a character on my blog.’
The site also provides ideas for side projects the songstress plans to create. ‘Within the world there’s other bands like The Telepathic Dinosaurs and The Oval Spheres and I think that they’d be two good bands to develop’ Emily says, grinning at the prog rock potential of the two names.
‘I’ve been trying to balance music and art at the moment I’m doing a mixture and I don’t think they’re clashing too much. I did my foundation course when I was nineteen and I really got into making my own world. I really got into artists like (Austrian painter) Hundertvasser, stuff with quite psychedelic-looking visuals.’
If trying to be an artist and a musician at the same time might be time consuming (Emily also does commissioned artwork on occasion), the singer is also of course member of another band.
Recruited into much-admired folk-psych band Stealing Sheep by group founder Rebecca Hawley eighteen months ago, the trio have spent almost all of the present year recording and touring.
Working around this however with concentrated forward planning has ensured
the two bands don’t find themselves with conflicting schedules.
Stylistically, while the ‘Sheep and The Faves understandably share some similarities, they are two entirely distinct entities sonically, Emily’s guitar playing in each band differing significantly. ‘I was worried about it at first, I think with Stealing Sheep I’m playing more melodies, with guitar picking. With my own stuff there’s more chords, because I’m writing, I’m playing the structures too.’
Emily’s unusual style, alternating between bar-chords and arpeggios, has an undulating sound, achieved by using the whammy bar of her Fender Strat guitar. A technique utilised by Kevin Shields in his groundbreaking work with avant indie band My Bloody Valentine, the practice creates the effect of the sound being gently pulled out of shape and recast into new forms.
Aside from this, there is another explanation on how the guitarist arrived at her sound. ‘I played the bass for a long time and I really got into playing a lot of chords and melodies on it’ Emily says. ‘I taught myself how to play guitar and I think ‘cos I played so much on my own I developed a way of playing it where it sounds really full. You start filling in the blanks all the time. Whereas now, the songs I’ve been writing recently I’ve been writing them with a bit less of that.’
Another stylistic development is Emily’s burgeoning interest in lyrics. ‘I’ve never really listened out for lyrics’ she admits. ‘I think more recently I have. I always just wanted things to sound really good. The overall sound of it was more important.’
Once the launch gig and festival slots are out of the way, the band are lining up a tour to take place in September. The head-spinning velocity of Emily’s schedule continues apace with the Faves second album, ready to be recorded ‘soon’. As she explains, ‘It’s all written, I just want to record it in a really good way. I wanna do it really differently to how we recorded this album. The artwork gives it life and being in Stealing Sheep does as well, it all feeds in to it.’
The launch party for Emily and the Faves album is on Friday 17th June at The Static Gallery. Tickets available OTD. The album is released on Monday 20th June.
To view Emily’s artwork visit, www.kaleidoscopeclipse.blogspot.com
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