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LISTEN: New Kate Jackson + Interview
The Quietus , February 29th, 2016 13:04

Former The Long Blondes singer speaks about her new album; listen to a track from the album below

Former The Long Blondes singer Kate Jackson has been fairly quiet since the group disbanded in 2008 but now she's back with a solo album having spent some time in the studio with Bernard Butler. You can listen to 'Metropolis' taken from the album above right now.

Entitled British Road Movies, the album has come following years spent away from music focusing on painting and other activities. Below, she tells us about the album, what she has been up to in the interim between the split of the Long Blondes and now and her art.

You can pre-order the album here. You can also catch Jackson playing live at Brighton's The Great Escape on May 19.

Hullo Kate, what have you been up to since The Long Blondes?

That's a big question, considering it's nearly eight years! I spent a year in London working with Bernard, which was the start of this record. I spent nearly four years living in Rome on and off. When I was in The Long Blondes I used to crave time to paint and I guess I got it! It was in Rome that I really decided to fulfil my ambition to paint and I made a very conscious decision to do that every day and develop my own style. I moved back to Suffolk, where I'm from originally, in 2014, and started getting jealous of people in bands...

How did working with Bernard come about?

We met years ago at an after show party in Kings Cross. Pretty seedy no? I liked him and thought he was funny even though usually I hate meeting people who I consider to be my musical idols. He is and always has been my favourite guitarist. After The Long Blondes I wasn't sure what to do but Geoff and Jeanette at Rough Trade asked me who I'd like to work with and I said Bernard. He said yes.

What inspired you to get back to music?

I actually had no intention to when I first came back from Rome, but I still had all these songs on my laptop that Bernard and I had written together but that weren't properly finished. Funding that record had been an issue in the past which is why it remained in stasis and I found the prospect of diving back into the business side of the music business very daunting. There was a moment though. I was on a walking holiday in Devon but took a detour to Taunton to watch the live screening of the Nick Cave docu-film '20000 Days on Earth'. At the end of it I knew I had to try. I just wanted to be back in a practice room with a band again creating something new. If you do that, a world of possibility opens up. Somehow the universe aligned and within a week I had a band, I'd spoken to Bernard, who had also by coincidence been working on our songs again, and we decided to finish the record.

Tell us a bit about your excellent paintings of East Anglia.

I look at structures that become sculptural within the landscape, usually concrete structures such as motorway flyovers or Brutalist buildings and then treat them as portraits. They are not solely within East Anglia but as I live here it's easier to photograph this landscape. The starting point is always a walk, and the subject matter is not always pre-determined because walking by it's very nature throws up the unexpected. You see the landscape in a different way on foot and my paintings are about that. Lingering far longer on a subject matter that normally would only hold the attention for a second or two if you were driving or even cycling past.

Does your visual art connect with your music at all? How so?

Yes, completely, although I have only recently come to realise how much. Lyrically many of the songs on 'British Road Movies' deal with the same themes as my paintings. The search for home and belonging. An understanding of what home means. The trace of peoples' lives in the landscape, in buildings and on roads. Each song on the album is a cinematic starting point for a short film. The characters within are all around, in moving cars as they pass us on the M1 or sit next to us on the M25. In my paintings the characters are absent, but their traces remain in the portrait of the building or the lines of the concrete underpass. The sleeve artwork for the album is a series of motorway flyover paintings also entitled 'British Road Movies'.

What are your musical plans for the rest of the year?

First and foremost to enjoy the release of 'British Road Movies' and to play those songs live with my band The Wrong Moves. I am also recording a new EP with The Wrong Moves and starting to write again after a long, long time. I've just been lent a Roland Juno 106 to write on, again a weird coincidence as I was obsessing about them after seeing John Grant playing one live - it turned out that Reuben, who plays bass in the band, happened to have one lying about in his bedroom! So the next step of this process for me is to pull the ideas behind the visual art in closer to the sounds within the music. I'm going to make music about walking. Or walks about music. Or painting about walking. Or....