Laura Sheeran - witches, harps, and Gothic lullabies

LAURA SHEERAN has two reasons to celebrate this month. On April 19 she celebrate sher birthday and two days earlier, on Sunday April 17, she will launch of her debut album - The Fresh Blood/Lust Of Pig.

The album launch will take place with a concert upstairs in Kelly’s, Bridge Street, at 8.30pm. Although Laura is now based in Dublin, launching the album in Galway makes sense as Laura grew up in both the city and Tuam.

Over the past couple of years, Laura has become one of the most prominent and interesting voices on the Irish indie/avant-garde scene, through her music for theatre, short films, and above all for her experimental songwriting, the fruits of which are now collected on The Fresh Blood/Lust Of Pig.

The Fresh Blood/Lust Of Pig is a dark, atmospheric, sometimes sinister album, full of hypnotic musical motifs, Krautrock-esque electronic drones, choral sections, string quartets and saws creating foreboding and eerie soundscapes, and Gothic minor key passages, before closing with a haunting Goth/alternative rock acoustic guitar ballad. Throughout it all, Laura sings of dark and mysterious things.

The eclectic array of instruments to be heard, and its myriad musical styles, including Goth, avant garde, electro, and indie no doubt comes from Laura’s parents, who have a wide and varied taste in all kinds of alternative and world music.

“My parents had good music playing all the time in the house and they have interesting tastes,” Laura tells me as we sit for the interview on a Monday afternoon. “They weren’t into mainstream music. They liked soundtracks, African music, Brian Eno, Erik Sati, and Bulgarian singing. They were friends with musicians so I was always getting to have a go on their instruments and my parents nurtured that. If someone was giving way an instrument they would say ‘Oh Laura will take that.’”

Laura’s parents also make an appearance in her music, being featured in the arresting opening line of the song ‘The Fresh Blood’: “Today I saw the world through a hole in the floor/my mother was a witch, my father was a girl.”

“When I first came out with that I thought ‘What the hell!?! I can’t use that!’,” says Laura. “I had all these memories of being a kid and being in bed and getting scared. I would be dreaming that my mum, as soon as she left the room and went downstairs would become a witch and be cooking up a potion in her cauldron and that I was her prey. It’s so weird because my mum is lovely!

“I also remember seeing this picture of my dad when he was younger wearing this floral shirt and it was interesting to me to see a man dressing up and making a statement and I wondered why there were no shops where men can buy lovely things like that.”

The lyrics also reveal much about Laura’s approach to composing music.

“When I looked at those lyrics again they made sense as they were related to memories,” she says. “The lyrics are often improvised on the first go and more often than not that’s what I keep. It’s more a stream of consciousness thing and only later when I look back at them I see what they are about.

“Music comes before the lyrics for me. I’m not attracted to the idea of songs. I’m more into music for the sake of music. My friend Dervla Troy plays harp and she let me play it. I hadn’t a clue how to work it but I just tried stuff until I found what was good to my ears. I believe that if you can play it or attempt to then you can make something beautiful, and I just experimented and it became fruitful.”

Experimental and improvisational The Fresh Blood/Lust Of Pig may be, but its atmospheric sonics will envelop the listener and draw them in to appreciating what is a highly impressive work. Why though is the album split between two titles - one CD/LP called The Fresh Blood, the other Lust Of Pig, each with seven songs?

“The album was always going to be called The Fresh Blood. I was wondering who would do the design for it but a friend of mine said ‘Laura you’re visually aware enough to do it yourself, let the fresh blood in!’ She meant it in terms of new blood, fresh ideas, but other people look at the title and think it’s something sinister,” she laughs. “There was always more music coming and I already have the next album written - hopefully I can have it out in February - so rather than release The Fresh Blood with 12 songs, I selected the songs that best created their own worlds and Lust Of Pig was the same.”

For her show in Kelly’s, Laura will be accompanied by Intinn’s Catriona Cannon (harp, accordion ); Tony Higgins (drums ); Dave Redmond (electric/double bass ); The Crash Ensemble’s Kate Ellis (cello ); Cora Venus Lunny (violin, viola ); Marc Aubele (keyboards, guitars, electronics ). Laura herself will sing and play bowed saw, ukulele, and sansula.

Admission to the show in Kelly’s is €10. The Fresh Blood/Lust Of Pig is available on double vinyl, double CD, and download. For more information see www.laurasheeran.com

 

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