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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

MUSE speaks with Peggy Sue

Peggy Sue isn’t just “folk.” According to NPR, it’s “mountainous and brooding” — perhaps bluesy, pop-rock influenced post-folk, with catchy guitar rhythms and strong harmonies. Rosa Slade, Katy Young and Olly Joyce have been making music together since 2005 and have toured with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Jack White and The Maccabees. Their third album Choir of Echoes dropped Stateside on Jan. 29.

Of the album, the band wrote, “Choir of Echoes is an album about singing. About losing your voice and finding it again. Voices keeping each other company and voices competing for space. The call and response of the kindest and the cruelest words. Choruses. Duets. Whispers and shouts.”

The Brighton, England natives will be playing at Third Space in Davis on Feb. 8.  MUSE had the opportunity to talk to Joyce on the phone.

MUSE: Choir of Echoes sounds far more confident than your previous two albums. Did anything trigger that?

OJ: In between making the two albums we actually recorded a compilation of songs, an all cut up soundtrack. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the film Scorpio Rising, but there’s no dialogue [in the whole] film, just these songs, and we recorded covers for them. That influenced Choir of Echoes quite a lot. We learned what you can take out, as far as instrumentation, and what you can leave in. That added to the confidence, that understanding. One of the guitarists that played on the original recording actually came to a gig of ours, he said he liked our covers a lot.

This album is getting comparisons to big names, like Warpaint and The xx. Are these welcome, or uninteresting? Are they among your influences?

I always think it’s interesting when we get comparisons to particularly female artists, especially Warpaint and The xx. I think it’s sort of lazy journalism, really. They’re flattering, for sure, but kind of lazy. We’d like to think we’re more individual than comparisons like that. We’re influenced by Bob Dylan, for example, and other strong lyrical songwriters. But that kind of goes back to the previous thing — we work as a band to create our own music.

Has Peggy Sue been recording Choir of Echoes over the three year hiatus, or is it a relatively new production?

I suppose we were writing the songs for perhaps a year, and then the recording process was maybe a month at the most. We lived at the studio, and recorded there, but the girls [Slade and Young] are always writing songs, and they always have lyrical ideas. When they bring them to the band I don’t think you could ever guess when it was written or who it was written about or where it actually comes from. Then, when it comes to the band, the timeframes get a bit skewed, but definitely the songs were all new save for one, which Rose and I had from the Acrobats [Peggy Sue’s second album] demo.

What was the highlight of recording — was it your time in the studio?

Yes, staying in the studio was brilliant. Black Sabbath has recorded there, tons of people that we all admire, and the setting was really great. Ben Rubinstein, who plays bass on this record, didn’t play on Acrobats. It was really nice having him and the cohesion of having a bass player the whole time — writing songs with someone and performing and recording with him. This album felt really complete, from demo-ing to finishing it, recording it. To me, that felt like the highlight. We had a clear vision, and that vision was completed. We recorded with Jimmy Robertson, who recorded the covers album which I was speaking of. He’s a really great guy to work with. The whole thing was so fun. The setting is amazing, though. It’s in South Wales; there are rolling hills and horses there. It was brilliant.

It has been said a couple times that the theme of this album is “singing.” Is this building upon an established base or divergent from past work?

I think the first and second album we’ve wanted to be a band, together. The guitars have always been a big thing. [Slade] has always been an amazing guitarist, really underrated, in my opinion. I’ve seen a lot of people play, and she plays really well. They [Slade and Young] always were quite shy about admitting that. That took over a bit, the instrumentation. What they both have, though, is that they’re both great singers. When it came to this album, we were going to make a show of the vocals. I think it’s really great that they can show off a vocal aspect to this — it was definitely a conscious decision to put vocals at the forefront, and in my opinion, it definitely worked.

Peggy Sue is about to embark on a tour of the United States before heading to Europe. Do you have any other projects during or after?

That’s the next thing coming up, really. We’re going on tour with Mandarin Orange. Ben, who plays bass with the band, has his own project The Mariner’s Children so he’ll be supporting at some of the shows, but we’re super excited to come tour in the States. We always get on really well in America.

 

For more information on Peggy Sue, go to peggywho.com. Tickets for the show at Third Space cost $10, and can be purchased online at thirdspacedavis.com/event/peggysue. The show starts at 8 p.m.

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