Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Folk, Adam Green, and Butternut Squash: An Interview with Lail Arad

Lail Arad is an amazing up and coming singer who writes brilliant songs which often bridge the gap between delicate, sincere folk, and extravagant show-stopping Broadway tunes, if not heralding an age of catchy folk songs with captivating, witty stories to tell; in short she is truly worth having a listen to. This is an interview I did ages ago, A-levels are taking over my life hence the lack of blogging recently - apologies!

Anyway, enjoy this and do listen to her, you won't be disappointed. She's a 26 year old with an obsession for classic folk music (think Joni, Woody et al) and once was picked from the audience to perform on stage at a Devendra Banhart concert. Thus the story begins...

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the music you make? How did you decide to pursue music? 

Well it wasn't so much a decision as a natural progression. I sang a lot when I was growing up, school concerts, musicals.. I loved it. On my gap year I started trying to write songs - i wouldn't let you hear any of them now! But I didn't want to go to music school.. I went to study theatre, and I knew that when I graduate I'll give music a real go.. and thats exactly what I've been doing. So the music I make isn't hugely trained.. I can play piano and a bit of guitar, but i approach song-writing quite naively.

Where does your song-writing inspiration come from? With 'Who Am I' and 'Winter', for example, it's sort of hard to discern between whether you're singing about personal things or they're just stories you're making-up? 

I'm not sure it really matters, once the song becomes a song, because everyone reads what they want into it and, hopefully, relates it to their own experiences. But actually for the most part the songs are very autobiographical and close to my reality. Who Am I is maybe an exception, I got carried away with the character somewhere around the 2nd verse...

Your parents are originally from Tel-Aviv; to what extent would you say that your heritage has had an impact on you and your songs? 

My upbringing certainly influenced me, our house was very fun and laid-back, I don't know whether to attribute that to my parents' nationality, or to their hippy sensibilities - probably both. I've never lived in Israel, yet people always ask me (after about 11 seconds) where I'm from, where my slightly strange accent is from.. I quite like being a little bit of an outsider. Having said that I went to english schools, I was born and raised in London.. Lyrically maybe this funny combination comes out, in how I see the world - but musically my influences are English - or American.

You've done some interesting cover songs - Sexyback for one [click here to watch] - what's your favourite song to cover and is there a story as to why? 

Sexyback was funny, with my cousin Galia. We were just fooling around.. There's something great about covering a song from a completely different genre. I loved doing 'Lets Talk About Sex' by Salt'n'Pepa. Uh-oh, all these songs have sex in the title. Maybe I have to cover Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll next. Recently my favourite cover to sing is 'Brand New Key' by Melanie Safka ("I've got a brand new pair of rollerskates") - the story there is that since I cut my fringe I've been trying to model myself on her.
How goes the pursuit of Adam Green? And how did the idea for that song/video come about in the first place? 

Well the idea came exactly as the song says, during his show: "i got the idea when you sang that song about Jessica Simpson." The pursuit goes well, I met him for the first time not long ago. He heard some of my album and said he was very disappointed that the song I wrote about him was not on the level of the new songs..

The Devendra Banhart incident. What made you decide to showcase your song, and what was it like being up there? 

I can't answer this question very accurately because the whole thing is a bit of a blur. Lucky someone caught it on camera and put it on youtube! Devendra specifically asked if someone wanted to sing a new song they'd never shared before.. so I took him very seriously and sang Winter that I'd written 3 days earlier. It all happened very fast. The crowd were so amazing. It was a crazy thing!

What can you tell us about the upcoming album?

Its colourful. And friendly. And mountainous. And a little sneaky. Some new songs, some older. Some trombones, some Fender Rhodes.. I can't wait for you to hear it!

Could you recommend us some music? On a sort of related note, I checked out your Q mixtape [click here to listen] and really loved it; yesss to the Little Joy love, they are under-appreciated. 

Little Joy are wonderful, I'm glad you agree! Hope I see them live somewhere soon.I recommend everyone I put on that mix. What else.. check out some french bands - Moriarty, Coming Soon, Herman Dune.. Ils sont merveilleux!

Well, that's it - any final words while we've got your attention? 

No because I'm cooking and I have to run before I burn the butternut squash!!

Thanks so much to Lail for the interview, I can't recommend giving her a listen enough. You can get a free download of her song, 'Who Am I' HERE, and her debut album 'Someone New' is out on June 14th on Notify Music.

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