Before our exciting gig at Café Totem on Thursday 7th, December, we thought we’d introduce you to the star acts who have kindly given their time and talent free of charge to support Musicians Against Homelessness. All funds raised will go directly to Crisis and we’ll be collecting on the night to ensure we are able to support our local homeless at this terribly cold and often difficult time of year.
First up is the wonderful Lucie Barat, musician, artist, actress and poet who is known for her support of mental health and homelessness charities. She is also sister of Carl Barat of The Libertines and took time off to chat to us about her creativity, her passions and future plans.
How would you describe your music to anyone who hasn’t seen or heard you before?
I’d say my music was the love child of Indie synth and low fi guitars on a drunken night out with some spoken word and kick ass drums and SPD pads!
What music did you listen to growing up?
An eclectic mix! My dad was into his guitar music, The Stranglers, Jimi Hendrix… and I also had plenty of Bob Marley and Simon and Garfunkel to sing along to.
Did you have any favourite writers or poets growing up that have influenced either your style or subject matter of your own writing?
I was always really captivated by lyrics, poetry, any use of the written word. As a young teen I actually used to read a lot of plays, the colloquialism of the language and different characters really spoke to me and from there I read a lot of free verse, confessional stuff like Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Every teenaged girl should read Sylvia Plath. Author wise I was obsessed with Daphne Du Maurier. She writes strong women very well and also Iris Murdoch, she has an edge which I’ve always loved and her ability to paint archetypes in everyday life.
Who are your influences now?
Kate Tempest is awesome, her turn of phrase and the way she’s so economical with her description but it’s bang on. She is a true master of language and an astute observer, her social commentary speaks to almost everyone – whether or not you like what she’s saying, she’s laying it out there. Like a lyrical Dickens I’ve been pretty inspired script wise lately too, there’s a lot of fantastically written drama on at the moment. I think it’s so important to be empathetic and to learn about each other, explore consistently and TV is one of the most useful tools in today’s world to communicate and essentially teach. It’s a lot more direct than music has to be but when you get the scoring right, the two are the perfect storytellers.
Which instruments did you learn to play when you were growing up? How does that translate in to the instruments you play today?
Um. The recorder I did my statutory angsty acoustic covers in the bedroom but have never been a particularly good guitarist. I was a dancer growing up! Constantly at dance class and singing. My siblings always played instruments and I’d sing along and bang a tambourine. I now write using the annoying method of singing bass lines and riff ideas at bemused musicians who have to transcribe them! I’ll often write the entire topline and build up from the bottom in the rehearsal room like a mad conductor. I’m lucky to work with very talented musicians who are used to my methods.
‘Be Uprising’ and your new release, ‘Take Me Away’, are new solo endeavours. How is it working independently these days?
Selfishly, being solo is awesome as I can do entirely what I like! I’ve been able to explore styles and idea that I would previously have to reign in on a co-write. Obviously, all my years working with a band is what’s enabled me to grow and learn what exactly it is that I wanted to go away and create as a solo artist.
Do you have plans to work again with your band The Au Revoirs?
I think the Au Revoirs have had their day and it was ridiculous fun while it lasted. We’re all still really good friends and may we’ll collaborate again at some point but in a different guise!
Can you tell us a little about the new anthology you’ve just released through your publication company Little Episodes, another cause close to your heart. How did the group come about?
Little Episodes was something I started to try and use poetry and music etc. to shout about certain causes. We did 5 anthologies and a lot of gigs, two plays and an art exhibition! Themes were from LGBT inclusivity and visibility to destigmatising addiction and depression and providing creative outlets for homeless people… I’m doing a poetry and acoustic set at Russell’s Trew Era cafe in Feb and that will be focusing on the recovery books, we’ll be selling them on the night raising cash for local charities.
The MAH gig you’re playing at on 7th December is a cause close to your heart. With the latest news that 1 in 200 are officially homeless in the UK what are your views on how things can improve for some of our country’s poorest and most vulnerable?
I think it’s shameful. It’s utterly archaic to have gone back to a time where the rich pull the ladder up and turn the other way. This government has a huge amount to answer for, the amount of covert funding cuts and syphoning off public services in a Sheriff of Nottingham style bullying of the poor. And the propaganda fed to the very working classes being robbed and made homeless is infuriating. It’s disheartening but it’s a reality and it’s everyone’s duty to make a noise and demand better care, more homes, more funding and a day in how public funds are spent.
What’s next for you? Upcoming releases or performance dates? Any exciting news you can share with us first?
After the 7th, I’m taking over Instagram for the day with a hangover! that is to say I’m answering questions over on the Future of Music. Then I’m writing! And eating mince pies and I’ll resurface in time to support Laurence Jones at the Borderline in London on 23rd Jan!