polly scattergood, london 1/2013
photo: frank bauer

Oddly wonderful: Q&A with Polly Scattergood

Polly Scattergood taught herself how to play with a found guitar at the age of 12. Not something typical 12-year-olds do, quite frankly. Since then life has been kind to this singer-songwriter. Under the direction of MUTE, Scattergood spent the last three years writing a debut album due to drop early next year. The first track, “Wanderlust,” was released earlier this year and caught quite a bit of attention with its mystical musical composure.

We’ve caught up with Scattergood to talk about her music, life, and odd childhood memories.

Quip:  It’s been almost four years since you produced your last, self-titled album. What have you been up to?

Polly Scattergood: I just took some time out to write the new album, and once I had written it, I then took quite a long time recording it!   Sonically, I wanted it to be adventurous and filled with layers and textures, so creating that sound takes time. I am very lucky because Mute (my record company) gave me the time I needed.  The album itself was written at a very transient point in my life, and I think you can hear that in the songs.

Q: How has your style changed since the first album?

PS: I think lyrically it’s a little less introverted, and sonically, the sound is bigger and more epic. The highs are much higher and the lows are much lower. I have sculpted little worlds for each song.

Q: How long have you been working with Glenn Kerrigan. How does this shared creative process work?

PS: I met him at the beginning of the writing process. I was searching for a co-writer as I wanted to find someone who could push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me. When I did my first writing session with Glenn it just instantly worked. We have a similar taste in music, and he understood what I wanted to create sonically. He is classically trained on the piano and also has a studio, so the mixture of piano and the electronics really helped the writing process.

Q: The dreamy nature of your music makes us wonder what you wanted to be when you were a child.

PS: I think I was a bit of a strange child. I was quite a deep thinker and I didn’t ever really fit in at school. When I was really little I would only go out wearing three hats at the same time. I wanted to invent a flying machine when I grew up, so people could just fly around like birds. I once attached bin liners to my arm and jumped out of a window to test this invention out. Needless to say, I stuck to music after that. I was a very accident-prone kid.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your love of short film and art. Does that have any influence on your music at all? 

PS: One of my favorite places is the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank. I often find myself there when I want to feed my imagination with art. I have loved film from an early age, and I think it does have an influence on my music. I am a big fan of directors like Shane Meadows and Tim Burton. The cinema to me is the most magical place. When the lights go down, you just escape everything. I love soundtracks. The atmospheres they create fascinate me. My dream is to one day score a film soundtrack.

Q: What is your most memorable live show experience?

PS: Actually, one of my favorite gig experiences was quite recently. It was the first headline gig I had done in a few years, and it was completely sold out. The adrenaline was going strong, then in soundcheck, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong… My in-ear monitors broke, then my mic pack broke, and then the speakers blew up. The desk that my soundman was using also stopped working. It was all very stressful. I went on stage ready to punch someone. I was absolutely terrified, but it was probably one of my favourite shows ever. The energy in the room was electric.

Q: Are you planning on any large tours in the near future?

PS: Yes, I have a few very exciting things in the pipeline.

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