Laura Kidd aka She Makes War looks happy. She’s about to embark on an exhaustive Spring tour but is still playing shows less than a week before it begins; on this occasion at the new home of the 12 Bar Club on Holloway Road. This kind of work ethic has constantly impressed me and many others, not least because she’s always cheery with it.
The set Laura played at the 12 Bar Club was a very decent taster of what you can expect on her tour. Ukelele favourite ‘Scared to Capsize’ and loop behemoth ‘Delete’ framed a few new tracks from Direction of Travel, all of which were unmistakably from the She Makes War canon but showed progression. They showed that Laura still has lots to give. Splendid news all round.
In November 2012, coincidentally also after supporting, as tonight, The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, we ran down the Uxbridge Road, all her gear in tow, in pursuit of a 148 bus that would just about enable her to catch the last train home. Having finished her set at 8:45pm, she’d stuck around until long after the 11pm curfew to enjoy the headliners and talk to people.
Tonight, that person she spoke to was me.
(((o))): Hello! Firstly, just to introduce you to our readers who may be unfamiliar with your work, could you please describe your music in ten words or fewer?
Grungy gloom-pop, sunshine with the threat of storms. Yes!
(((o))): Your third album, Direction of Travel, has been crowdfunded. What motivated that decision and how has it gone?
I wasn’t intending to crowdfund again – I did it for my second album Little Battles and it was a great experience but I wasn’t sure about making it a regular thing until people kept asking me after gigs how they could get involved with the new record. I was moved that people actually wanted to support my new music and since I had all these plans to get special guest musicians on board (and pay them for their contributions) it worked out really well. It’s an incredible feeling knowing there are a few hundred people patiently waiting for this new album to be finished – and now I’m in the home straight with it they won’t have to wait for much longer either.
(((o))): Among what might be termed more ‘regular’ gigs, I’ve also seen you support a Steampunk line-up and play at the opening of a Mayfair opticians. Is it necessary to be as open as possible when accepting shows? Have you ever turned down a gig because it was an unsuitable offer in terms of the potential audience?
I think being strategic is important, but it’s not so much about the potential audience as the location and the conditions. I think most bands play far too often in their home towns and that makes it hard to actually grow your audience because people can’t go to everything you do. I’m always happy to play to a new audience, one of the best skills you can learn as a performer is how to win over a crowd (or not care too much if they can’t be won over).
(((o))): After your run of shows in the UK, you’re going to Germany for a bit. Have you found attitudes towards independent musicians differ on the continent? The DOV work well to ensure the rights of orchestras and ensembles, but there doesn’t appear to be a similar overarching mechanism to the Musicians’ Union, of which you’re a member, over there.
I’ve found Germany very welcoming indeed – there’s a whole network of small venues with a budget for touring acts. It’s a massive country with a very lively music scene and lots of pockets of people who live for live music and respect it very much. There’s a higher proportion of people who will pay attention to you when you’re playing, even if they’ve never heard you before, and they really enjoy buying CDs afterwards to support you. These people also exist in the UK – I’ve met many of them – but I think in this country the majority of people need to see your face on TV or on a billboard to take a chance on coming to see you.
(((o))): You’ve represented the independent music scene admirably over the last few years. But has your approach been inspired by anyone in particular? Who do you look up to most in that regard?
I was very inspired by my friend Bass. He fronts London alt rock band called Djevara and as well as running his own label, releasing independent albums and putting on alternative music nights in London he’s been touring Europe twice a year for as long as I’ve known him. He’s an extremely focused and hard working person and the very first music night I curated was a co-production with him called Re:Dress at a tiny venue in Stoke Newington. I haven’t seen Djevara for a while but I hear they’re still fighting the good fight.
(((o))): Lastly, your dog Benji has become a minor celebrity in his own right by appearing in your videos. Does he have any plans to take on the tragically human-dominated Hollywood?
I’m happy to say appearing in four music videos hasn’t gone to his head – he’s more impressed by sticks than the bright lights of the stage and screen.
19 March // LONDON – POWER LUNCHES
20 March // HASTINGS – ST MARY IN THE CASTLE
21 March // NORWICH – OPEN
24 March // BIRMINGHAM – ORT CAFE
25 March // WREXHAM – CENTRAL STATION
26 March // SHEFFIELD – ROCKING CHAIR
27 March // MANCHESTER – THE WONDER INN
28 March // COTHERSTONE – CLUB COTHERSTONE
29 March // NEWCASTLE – HEAD OF STEAM
30 March // YORK – BASEMENT BAR
31 March // NOTTINGHAM – BODEGA
1 April // LEEDS – GAMES ROOM @ THE BRUDENELL
2 April // SWINDON – THE VICTORIA