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Paul The Girl - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 9 / 3 / 2004

Paul The Girl - Interview


Clayhill is the new project of Ted Barnes and Ali Friend, both of whom play with Beth Orton, and former Sunhouse singer Gavin Clark. With their new six-track mini-album 'Cuban Green' just out, Anthony Strutt talks to them at their first London gig

Clayhill are Ted Barnes (Guitar), Ali Friend (Stand-up Bass) and Gavin Clark (Vocals). Both Ted and Ali work with Beth Orton on her recordings, and Ted is her regular guitarist on all her live dates. Ali was also in the dance outfit ‘Red Snapper’ ,while Gavin was the singer with Sunhouse who released just one album, 'Crazy on the Weekend' before splitting in 1998. Clayhill have just released a 6 track mini album. 'Cuban Green' on Eat Sleep Records. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Clayhill at Bush Hall, before their first live show. This is our second interview with Ted Barnes. Pennyblackmusic spoke to him last year at the time of the release of debut solo album, 'Short Scenes'. PB: The band features the three of you, but when you play live you are planning to have more people, aren't you ? TB: Yeah, we started writing together, so we wanted to treat ourselves as the core of the band and then to hire and fire accordingly. PB: Which is fair, enough. TB: No, we don’t fire anyone. We are far too diplomatic. We are soft touches. PB: Originally the project was going to be called ‘Karvastone’, wasn't it ?? TB: But Al wasn’t mad about that name so we cancelled that one. AF: It’s actually the name of my road, so it’s a bit close to home. PB: So why Clayhill then ? Is that someone else’s road? TB: No, we liked the word. That was it. GC: Ali said he liked the word ‘Clay’ and Ted said he like the word ‘Hill’. PB: So it fits. (To Ali and Ted): You two have known each other for a while. TB : Yeah ! PB : (to Gavin): Was it an honour then when Ted tracked you down ? Ted isn’t on the internet, so it must have been quite a trek for him to get a hold of you. GC: An honour ? PB: Because you were in Sunhouse who broke up a while ago, and since then have been out of music GC: I guess it was sort of an honour. PB: And being dragged back into the music industry? GC: I t wasn’t really like that. After Sunhouse went, I didn't do anything and I stayed at home and looked after the kids which I really enjoyed. PB: Up in Stoke. GC: So when Ted first contacted me , I was focused on other stuff, At first I was a bit scared. I don’t know if I was honoured initially , but I definitely am now. PB: (To Ted and Ali) Do you find it it weird the way you work because, if I am correct, you two are based in London and write the music and then Gavin , who is still in Stoke. adds the words ? TB: It is a bit more organic than that. It comes from a lot of different areas. It’s usually a coupling. It’s sometimes me and Ali. Ali might come up to my digs and write the top line or I might come up with a song and then Al might bring some music. Al and Gavin have, however, formed a new lyrical partnership as well which is great, so it’s a very much a three way thing. PB (To Ted) : How does this differ from ‘Short Scenes’. TB: It’s very different . It’s much more band focused. I tend to write very melancholic waltzes and that’s my thing. PB: I was going to say it’s more moody. When I was listening to the mini album, I was listening to the vocal and it reminded me of lots of people but I couldn’t put a name to it and the name that I came up with and I hope you don’t take it in a bad way is ... GC and AF: Here we go! PB: Dave Gilmour. TB: Wow! Dave Gilmour that’s a new one. AF I can live with that. GC: Is he an influence ? No. PB: No, I’m not saying that he is an influence. I’m just saying your voice sounds like him. I would also say that your voice sounds like Tim Buckley, Mark Eitzel and Leonard Cohen, but not in a bad way. TB: They are all great. PB: Why ? Who else has been thrown your way? AF : I would have been shocked if you had said ‘Cilla Black’. TB: There has been some weird ones actually. There’s Jeff Buckley. His name has come up a few times. It is an honour, but I don’t see it myself . The strangest thing to me about 'Cuban Green' is that writing is a three way thing , but not a single thing brings in Ali’s influence who comes from a dance background. PB: I do like all six songs . They are all, however, very different from each other. You're now working on a full album. Is that going to be in a similar sort of vein with each song sounding different ? TB: Yeah, we seem to write tracks that are different from each other. PB: To me, the only thing that sounded familiar was the first track. ‘Figure of 8’, which sounded like the work you do when you play for Beth but the rest I wouldn’t associate with you at all TB: Really? PB: It didn’t sound like what I have heard you do before TB: Right. PB: You used a trumpet for the first time on this one I thought that worked well. TB: I think you just adjust your plane to suit really. A: The new batch of songs, we have done for the album, which youwon't have heard yet ,are really varied. I think we may have trouble deciding what goes on the album because there is some really full on things and there's some broken down acoustic things. All of them come naturally from us. PB: Where is the album being recorded ? TB : It’s being recorded in the drummer's house and my house and it 's getting mixed in a friend of ours house. PB: Your new label ‘Eat Sleep’. Is that part of E.M.I.? TB: No, it’s part of Ministry Of Sound. PB: I was looking for 'Cuban Green today in record shops. Where would you think it would be apart from being under C? TB: Do you mean what genre you would find it under ? PB: Yeah, because it’s sort of folky but it’s not it’s not chill out. It’s not dancey.... AF: I really like the fact that it can't be easily fitted into a category PB: I think that it is cool It’s a bit jazzy and there are strings which are beautiful. I would describe it as cinematic, especially having heard everyone together at the soundcheck. Are there things that you want to do with Clayhill that you haven’t done, (To Ali) especially with you coming from a dance background and Red Snapper? AF: Red Snapper were quite cinematic as well. I think it was only in the latter years we went more dancey. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that was more vocal lead. I want to be in a situation with Clayhill where we can write really good songs but maintain an element of beautiful uplifting melancholic music and marry the two things. PB: Could you see Clayhill becoming more cinematic still and maybe using an orchestra? TB: Yeah, when we don’t use strings, and just use 2, 3 or 4 parts , we go in the complete opposite direction and achieve an intimacy. Our producer has said that, after hearing the finished version of 'Cuban Green', that we could in any direction, which is a great feeling. There’s so many avenues which we can slot down PB: And you two are still working with Miss B? TB: Yeah. Miss B is having a little sabbatical at the moment. PB: So album no 4 is not on the way yet? TB: She has started to dabble. It’s just up in the air which way it’s going to go. Our relationship is as good as ever. PB: Well, that’s it. Thank you.

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Paul The Girl - Interview

Paul The Girl - Interview

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