Photo: Amelia Read Photography
Me Lost Me is the project of Newcastle based electronic folk innovator Jayne Dent, recent recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers and former Artist in Residence at internationally renowned concert venue The Sage Gateshead. Described by BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson as a “brilliant peculiar noise”, Me Lost Me delights in experimenting with genre and songwriting, taking influence from folk, electronica, art pop, ambient and noise music to create a beguiling mix of soaring vocals, synth, field recordings and hypnotic rhythms.
With a new album, RPG, on its way in July, we thought it was about time Me Lost Me was found! So we asked Jayne to pick three records that have greatly influenced her music, and tell us about them. . .
Joanna Newsom – Divers
This album means a great deal to me, it arrived at exactly the right time and saw me through a period of grief and huge change in my life. It’s massive and luxurious production totally swallows the listener whole, there’s this real sense of being inside an impressionist painting and totally at the mercy of the forces around you – and then when the storms clear and we’re left with these moments of tender harp and voice, it is so crisp and serene. I love her lyrics, her surreal and mysterious poetry is endlessly fascinating to me, and every time I hear this record I can’t help but let myself be absorbed into her vividly descriptive and emotional world.
For me this album reminds me of the sudden odd feeling of when you’re struck by the vastness of the universe and the massive forces around you while you’re going about your day-to-day life, I find the lyrics of this album so moving and I hear something new that stands out to me each time I listen.
Laurie Anderson – ‘O Superman’
When I was studying art, I felt my work shifting more and more towards “music” – and hearing ‘O Superman’ was such a crucial moment that bridged that gap for me. Laurie Anderson’s work was like the permission I needed to just make the work I wanted to make, not worry about if it was art or music or something in between, and to be playful and experiment, above all else.
I’ve always been drawn to writing in a more improvised way, allowing the narrative and music to flow naturally into whatever shape it needed, rather than thinking too hard about the need for a bridge or chorus (or even chord progressions!) – and her work is just this, poems, collages, both strange and ordinary, funny and serious. I was also beginning to alter my voice using electronics at that point – pitch shifting it, looping it, using FX – and to hear how she used vocoders etc to alter her voice and form her signature vocal sound was so inspiring for me.
Richard Dawson – Nothing Important
I’d been in Newcastle a year or so when this album came out, and I remember picking it up from the record shop I worked at, taking it home and just being absolutely gut punched by it the first time I listened, not least because I recognised so many of the geographical references in the lyrics in and around my new adoptive hometown.
I absolutely love the tone of the guitar on this album, it’s like this demonic folk devil jester character all of its own – it’s tripping over itself, dragging you in, suddenly tender for a moment – and just when you think you’ve settled into the pattern it’s laying down, it jerks you awake again. I was so instantly drawn to these lyrics too, there’s something about how the extreme levels of detail in the description of such ordinary things and references to real places that makes it feel increasingly surreal as the stories go on, like a hallucination you’re having rather than a story you’re being told, like I’m sleepwalking or having some out of body experience as this character.
It’s simple, stripped back and folky – but folky in an experimental way that I’d not really come across before; it felt more relatable than a lot of contemporary folk I’d heard at that point. This was a big moment for me in working out what elements of folk I liked, how I wanted to use ideas of folk in my own work.
Me Lost Me‘s forthcoming album, RPG, will be released on July 7 2023 via Upset The Rhythm, and can be pre-ordered here.