‘Colour Of Fire’ By Mechanical Bride.
To the avid fan, music will always be something more than merely the soundtrack to doing the dishes. To suggest ‘it’s just a song’ is similar to suggesting to the devoted football fan ‘it’s just a game.’ Music can conjure many emotions, joy, sadness, nostalgia, it can inspire, it can calm and it take you away from the mundanity of the 9 to 5.
Mechanical Bride, AKA 25 year old songwriter Lauren Doss’s music may not exactly have you throwing wild shapes on the dance floor , but it will certainly sooth your soul and transport you into a fantastical world populated by strangely ambiguous characters whose motivations are never entirely distinct. Her debut album ‘Living With Ants’ is possibly best listened to alone in a sun dappled forest, far, far away from the hurly burly of city life. It is what one might describe as ‘on the relaxed side of ‘chilled’ but there is always a slight hint of implied menace beneath the seemingly innocent pastoral tales.
Whereas some artists may scream ‘LOOK AT ME, I’M SO ESOTERCIC’ whilst jauntily wearing a piece of rump steak on their head (and little else,) Mechanical Bride’s debut album is played with a straight bat, there is none of the affected girlish kookiness of Regina Spektor or the tiresome pseudomystical babbling of Bjork. It’s just Lauren’s voice and a piano for the most part. ‘Living With Ants’ is sparse and stripped back with the occasional flare of a cello, a trumpet and flute, but it is Lauren’s soft seductive voice that really carries the album and serves notice that here is a young performer blessed with astounding talent who is able to convey a whole range of emotions without the need for artifice or gimmicks.
‘Living With Ants’ is a surreal, occasionally dark but ultimately uplifting album, Tori Amos, Bat For Lashes and even Clannad may all be occasional points of reference as you journey through the dreamlike bucolic world of Mechanical Bride. It’s an album that requires a degree of input from the listener as it could, should you not give it the attention it deserves, wash over you. But like many things in life, if you put in the time and effort you will certainly reap the rewards. You get the feeling that ‘Living With Ants’ is merely the tip of the Mechanical Bride iceberg and that Lauren’s talent will continue to blossom and bloom for many years to come.
We spoke to Lauren about the album, musical comparisons and prog rock….
VP: Hello, so your full debut is just about to be released, has it felt like something of an epic journey to get to this point?
LAUREN : Yes it’s taken a few years to get this one out and the material stretches even further back, so it’s a good feeling it’s here.
VP: So would you describe ‘Living With Ants’ as a concept album , what are the themes and ideas behind it .
LAUREN : I wouldn’t, but there are concepts in the songs. There are individual stories and characters and scenery, and there seemed to be a common thread that popped up regularly, which was the idea of overcoming things.
VP: And ‘Mechanical Bride’ seems to be a character central amongst an array of colourful and somewhat off kilter characters?
LAUREN : Mechanical Bride was something I chose, when I found the term used as a reference to a person and the record player and female voice that came from it. The imagery was striking; I liked the idea of musical companionship. It’s nice to have a music title for my project, gives you a little more room to move, and creatively and musically it can change and not define me so personally.
VP: You previously sang in Larrikin Love, but how did you first become involved in music, was it something you’d always wanted to do?
LAUREN : I have always had a strong musical connection, within my family there is a lot of music and I had a lot of musical friends as a teenager, Ed Larrikin was one of them, we’d put on gigs and started bands and were among a lot of talented people that started to do exciting things. I went to study Music and visual art as a degree and started Mechanical Bride then too.
VP: Does it bother you that you get the inevitable comparisons, women with a reflective style of song writing often get compared to Laura Marling, if the music is a little more jaunty it’s Kate Nash ? Almost as if nothing ever existed before these artists! Have you heard any funny comparisons or descriptions of your work?
LAUREN : No it doesn’t bother me too much, we’re young women that play a guitar and write and sing, but it’s pretty lazy comparisons really, I like Laura Marling, but we’re quite different. Not had any funny comparisons that I know of, hopefully I’ll get some!
VP: Who were your musical heroes as a teenager and have they changed as you’ve got older?
LAUREN : I’ve gathered more and more heroes as I’ve got older and am still gathering. When I was a teenager I loved PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, they were very important figures in what got me into making music and singing.
VP: Your mum is described as a former professional singer who performed with bands all over the world during the 1970s and early 80s? Is your family supportive of your musical ambitions?
LAUREN : My mother is very supportive of me and my ambitions be it music or whatever, I am very lucky. She’s had experience in industry, she understands the drive.
VP: Obviously the internet has changed the world and how we consume information but how important is the internet and modern technology to musicians?
LAUREN : It seems quite a double-edged sword. It’s been so massively important in opening up opportunity to musicians and linking what was formerly impossible, to possible, in the sense of being able to create and publicise music to an incredible audience. Myspace played a huge part in launching my music for example. But it seems to also have created such a culture of immediacy and disposable media. We have everything at our finger tips, that’s harder to get investment for a durational period. The whole downloading for free with media is crazy, people are stealing other’s work, I heard someone say once I don’t know any occupation where you work for free, why should you give your work away? When you’re just starting out, it makes it so hard to make a living. At the same time the internet is indispensable in so many ways. It’s definitely a beast to be wrestled with and I think now a few people are starting to get a handle on how to use it properly with regards to music.
VP: You covered Rhianna’s “Umbrella “ and turned it into something rather eerie and poignant , maybe in the same way Scala & Kolacny Brothers have recently done to the KOL’s ‘Use Somebody’ . Do you find that if you’re going to do a cover it’s much more interesting to maybe try and bring out something that maybe even the original artist didn’t know was there. Are the any other songs you’d like to give the Mechanical Bride treatment to ?
LAUREN : I think it’s a lot more interesting if you cover a song, to make it different. Sometimes it does bring out a feature of a song that you don’t notice in the original. There is a song I’m trying to cover at the moment, belongs to a prog-rock band, but I’m keeping it a secret!
VP: And finally five worlds to sum up ‘Living With Ants?’
LAUREN : It’s not literally about ants.
- Songs To Learn And Sing – Birdland, Mechanical Bride, The Rialto Burns. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Emmy The Great – Dinosaur Sex (vynly.com)
- Laura Marling Beefs Up Sound on September LP (spin.com)