The emotive electropop of Caroline McLavy will be one of the treats for the forthcoming Silicon Dreams event this July. The Electricity Club sat down with Caroline for a few questions about her life, music and plans for the future….
Tell me a little about your music background in running rehearsal rooms in Leicester. What did that involve?
Still very much involved in providing rehearsal space for bands in Leicester. We have 9 fully equipped hourly rooms. Most of my time is taking up managing the rooms and equipment and dealing with boys in bands!
What bands or artists have had the biggest influence on your tastes in music?
Pet Shop Boys have been a big influence. I was able to attend the NME Awards this year to see them win the God-Like Genius Award. Other influences would be bands like New Order and Faithless. I feel a great reverence to synthpop forefathers like Gary Numan, Human League and Eurythmics; it was first hearing those timeless classic synth sounds on the radio that really embedded into my DNA.
How did the process of writing and recording the songs for Electrostatic get started?
I’d been ‘song writing’ as a teenager, where I would write lyrics and melody simultaneously. I knew at the time that the songs I wanted to produce were synth and electronic based, so I found a cupboard at work (it was literally my arm span in width and depth) and built a little studio. My friend at the time, Mark Spivey, who was a DJ and had produced and engineered various artists in the ’90s, worked with me as an engineer to create the bones of Electrostatic. I then finished the album with Richard Henderson in his studio, where we produced the end project.
At times, there’s a focus on darker, personal topics on some of your songs, but the tracks on Electrostatic, on the whole, have an up-tempo dancepop approach to them. Was this a deliberate contrast of styles and approach?
Yeah, I do have a fondness for an upbeat tune with deeper more complex or darker lyrics. I think it allows the listener to feel the song in their own way. As a surface dance pop song in a club or more meaningfully in headphones. It’s about personal interpretation and I like that in a song.
‘Miss Perfect’ is one of the standout tracks on the album. It’s apparently inspired by housemates in the past. Are there any funny stories you can recall from those days?
Thank you. Yes, it is inspired by people who I have lived with or generally had to deal with in my life. It’s easier to stand back and put a mirror up against someone else’s life than it is your own. The song describes several different ‘Miss Perfects’ and I would often find myself thinking; ‘Man, if I was as pretty as you/had your job/had your opportunities/had your boyfriend, I would handle things in a completely different way.’ But then I suppose they would say the same thing about me if they ever bothered to have that thought process.
What are your thoughts on performing live?
I feel it’s important to me to get out there and play live as much as I can. Often electronic music has a human disconnect by its nature that playing live can put back into the music. It puts blood into the veins of the songs – if that makes any sense.
Are there any contemporary electronic acts that you’ve been impressed by recently?
Recently, I discovered Future Islands, I love their passion and sentiment. Other bands I find myself going back to regularly are Hurts, Owl City, The Killers – I’m a real fan of Brandon Flowers solo albums. I’m so looking forward to playing with Parralox and Future Perfect at Silicon Dreams in July.
What’s next for Caroline McLavy?
I have some more live shows coming up but generally next I’m working on some new material. It’s early days, but I’ve been back in the studio with Rich with some new ideas. I’m still feeling the approach of this next album and it’s very exciting for me to be writing again.
Caroline McLavy will be performing live at Silicon Dreams Festival 8th-9th July 2017.
Silicon Dreams is an electronic music festival taking place at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall Music Room and will feature performances from Parralox, Avec Sans, Future Perfect, Berlyn Trilogy, Caroline McLavy and Voi Vang. More details: www.silicondreams.org.uk.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.