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Tender Trap - Interview

  by Rachel Williams

published: 29 / 7 / 2010

Tender Trap - Interview


Rachel Williams speaks to indie pop group Tender Trap about their new line-up and first album in four years,'Dansette Dansette'

Indie pop group Tender Trap recently returned with a new line-up and their first album in four years, ‘Dansette, Dansette’. Originally a trio consisting of Amelia Fletcher (vocals), Rob Pursey (bass) and John “DJ Downfall” Stanley (guitar), Tender Trap expanded last year to also feature Elizabeth Morris who also plays in indie pop group Allo Darlin’ on guitar and backing vocals, and Katrina Dixon on stand-up drums and again backing vocals. Fletcher and Pursey were also in 80’s C-86/twee pop acts Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. Downfall joined them in the late 90’s to form Marine Research out of the remnants of which Tender Trap was formed in 2001. ‘Dansette, Dansette’, in contrast to its two more electronic-based predecessors, ‘Film Molecules’ (2002) and ‘6 Billion People’(2006), returns to Fletcher and Purser’s roots with Tender Trap and Heavenly and combines 60’s girl group harmonies with Riot Grrrl and shoegaze punk sounds. Pennyblackmusic spoke to all five members of ‘Tender Trap’ about ‘Dansette, Dansette’. PB: Tender Trap now includes a more female line-up. How do you feel this has changed Tender Trap’s sound? AF: It's great because it has finally allowed us to have lots of girl-group style harmonies. The way our voices meld together seems to work really nicely. Good and squelchy. RF: We've also turned Elizabeth from a sweet ukulele-plucker into an axe-wielding warrior of rock! Plus, having Katrina has meant that we have been able to throw our drum machine in the bin. KD: We're big on the squelchiness. EM: I have especially contributed several wrong chords! PB. The new sound has been likened to that of Riot Grrrl punk. Would you agree with this? What other influences did you have when writing ‘Dansette, Dansette’? AF: I think it is true that the album is a bit more Riot Grrrl sounding, although the lyrics are a bit more playful for the most part. We were more inspired, though, by the Shop Assistants and My Bloody Valentine, who were, I guess, some of the bands that originally influenced Talulah Gosh. Plus 60s girl groups of course. KD: The Shaggs and Lois Maffeo's Courtney Love Band for the drumming. EM: I was mainly influenced by Amelia saying it was impossible for my backing vocal part to be too indie. Be unafraid to be indie! RP: My bass-playing was influenced by Chris Scott( the bassist who replaced him in Talulah Gosh and before he joined Heavenly-Ed) DJ: I am mostly influenced by the 2010 Michelin Guide. PB: ‘Dansette Dansette' explores the ideas of feministic revenge and sisterhood. Are these beliefs you live by in reality? What’s the best revenge for a scorned heart? AF: I think I've always felt more vengeful on behalf of others than on behalf of myself. Not quite sure why! But this is mostly what happens in these songs too. EM: The best revenge for a scorned heart? Writing a song about them, which people sing. KD: The best revenge is not thinking of revenge. AF: You mean you don't think it would be better to ask a girl vigilante gang to go and shoot him? Why ever not? RF: Because that would be a parody of feminism. PB: It seems that the album is more of a return to your earlier sounds created in Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. Was this deliberate? What are the major differences in song writing? RP: Naked opportunism. AF: Ah yes! We're looking forward to lots of fame and fortune now. Actually, I think what was deliberate was that we refocused on what we really liked best about music. We forgot about trying to impress anyone else and just decided to try to make a record that we ourselves would really like. It worked - we do! RP: Actually I think we always talked about girl groups being important to us and finally we seem able to realise that. PB: Despite changes in line-up and outfit, there seems to be a traceable sound. Is it difficult to move on from songs and sounds that you thought were brilliant, leaving them behind? RP: It probably is difficult, but we've never really tried. AF: We have tried a bit. I even made a disco single which was a mistake. But I think it is hard to change to something outside the genre you actually like. People like the Pastels have obviously changed a lot more, but they like the genre they have joined. While we like our genre. The only direction I would quite like to have gone further in was longer dronier, more textural songs, in a Stereolab/Broadcast style. We did try this in Marine Research but we found that style too boring to play. PB: In which outfit would you consider you have made your best music? RP: My favourites are the final Heavenly LP, ‘Operation Heavenly’, and this latest Tender Trap LP. AF: That is exactly what I think too! Plus I am very fond of the ‘PUNK Girl’ 10" single by Heavenly. Oh, and while we're on outfits, I love my green furry dress! PB: Talulah Gosh have always been considered innovators of the indie pop genre of music. What do you think the key elements were that allowed you to do this? AF: I think any innovation was accidental really. We just nicked lots of ideas from other bands - the ones we already mentioned, plus Dolly Mixture and the Buzzcocks - and just shook it all up. I think the main reason it sounded innovative is that we were so totally inept that we couldn't make the music sound like it was supposed to in our heads. To give you a flavour, 'Steaming Train' was intended to be a Northern Soul pop hit. But we couldn't figure out how to play the rhythm. Or indeed any of the other elements of Northern Soul! PB: Do you feel there are any other bands that can be likened to Talulah Gosh in terms of revolutionary gusto for music at present or in recent years? RP: Shrag. DJ: Shrag. AF: Shrag. KD: Shrag. EM: Allo Darlin! Erm, what is revolutionary gusto? PB: Amelia, you in particular have collaborated with a number of other great musicians in the past including the Wedding Present, the 6ths, Calvin Johnson and Hefner. Which of these did you feel was the most successful? And is there anyone that you'd like to collaborate with now? AF: I really love that 6ths song, but I guess I am prouder of the Hefner stuff, both because I really like it and because I wrote my part. In the 6ths I was merely Stephin's puppet! In terms of collaborating now....hmmm....Grayson Perry. Not quite sure how that would work exactly, but he is fab! EM: Adrian Tomine or David Shrigley. Or Charlie Brooker. KD: I don't know how well it would work with Tender Trap, but David Toop. Or Mary Hampton. Or Alexander Tucker. RP: Geoffrey Hill. EM: Jeremy Clarkson. Just imagine it - it would be fireworks! Awesome! PB: Tender Trap have not been in the lime-light. Is the ultimate goal for you to maximise the audience that hear your music or are you content with things just happening? Do you feel like your music hasn't been given the push commercially that it should have? AF: We are so chuffed when we get played on the radio that I guess we must hanker after limelight to some extent. But it's never been that big a deal. Major labels made approaches to both Talulah Gosh and Heavenly and we were pretty uninterested. PB: It's festival season. Were can we see Tender Trap this year? DJ: You can't. AF: Yep - nowhere. We weren't asked. Boooo! I think we'd like to. We played Indietracks last year and it was very good fun. Maybe next year!* KD: You might see various of us as individuals at a few festivals, though. And Elizabeth playing with Allo Darlin’. PB: Thank you. Shortly after this interview took place Tender Trap did play Indietracks again, when they were drafted in last minute replacements after headliners Love is All were forced to pull out-Ed

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Interview (2002)
Tender Trap - Interview
One of the most influential figures in indie pop, Amelia Fletcher has fronted various bands including Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. She speaks to Anthony Strutt , with fellow band members Rob Pursey and DJ Downfall ,about her new group, Tender Trap

live reviews

100 Club, London, 15/12/2010
Tender Trap - 100 Club, London, 15/12/2010
Despite front woman Amelia Fletcher battling flu, Anthony Strutt sees Tender Trap play an infectious and summery set of indie pop at the 100 Club in London
Brixton JAMM, London, 22/7/2010

digital downloads


Ten Songs about Girls (2012)
Fabulous fourth album from London-based indie pop group Tender Trap, the band of former Talulah Gosh and Heavenly front woman Amelia Fletcher
Dansette Dansette (2010)
Girls with Guns (2010)
Fireworks (2009)
6 Billion People (2006)
Language Lessons (2005)
Oh Katrina (2002)
Film Molecules (2002)

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