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Baker's Dozen

Zoning Out: Meemo Comma's Favourite Albums
Manu Ekanayake , November 6th, 2019 14:33

From Pan Daijing and Destiny's Child to Kate Bush and Venetian Snares, Lara Rix-Martin, AKA Meemo Comma, discusses 13 of her favourite albums, as well as her new album on Planet Mu, 'Sleepmoss'


Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald - Porgy & Bess
Both my parents are very into music and they love the blues and jazz. I was born to the sound of 'Summertime' so my dad used to sing it to me a lot. That album means a lot to me and has done my whole life. It's written by a Jewish man, George Gershwin, so my dad connects with that. And now there's a lot of controversy about it, which I didn't know about until recently, saying 'Is it right that a Jewish man was writing for all these Black characters?' Well, I don't know - it was at the time I guess? I mean he did an all-Black opera; you can't just discredit that…

But a big part of my growing up took place where my grandmother used to live, near Freshfield in Brighton. There was a small African American community there, and one of the musicians who lived there was Joe Lee Wilson, who was quite well-known in jazz circles. So we always went to our friend Mae-mae's house, who had married an English guy who was really into blues. He was like landed gentry or something but he went over to the States as he loved blues so much and fell in love with Mae-mae, who was this this amazing, joyous African American woman. She'd always cook these massive meals for all their friends and we'd all sing blues and soul music and this was a huge part of my upbringing from when I was very young. Me and my mum, especially, would stay there and sing all night long. It would end up being gospel songs [we sang] and my dad would say, 'Oh the Christians are terrible; they did terrible things to us.' And I'd say 'Well, they also did terrible things to Black people dad and they're here singing.' Because that’s just what I was like as a kid, couldn’t tell me anything…

It was quite weird as well, because we all went to Mae-mae's funeral a few years ago and Mike came and Mike really fancies Jessica Stevenson from ‘Spaced’ [now known as Jessica Hynes, most recently star of ‘Years and Years’], so he was very surprised indeed to see her there. She was older than me so I knew her family more, but we'd all party together as they only lived next door. Frank, Mae-mae's husband, would say there was a party going on and then Mae-mae would say she didn't really want to do it, but then you'd walk in and she'd have made a mountain of amazing soul food from the Deep South. She was originally from Mississippi but her family moved out to Chicago and then she came over to England with Frank. And they had a son called Frank, whom we called Little Frank, who ended up becoming taller than Big Frank, but it's all that kind of familial relationship. So soul music and blues is definitely a big part of my life – and it's a big part of Brighton too, because of the mods. My mum was a mod, with the clothes and the scooters and everything.