Nerina Pallot - Interview

30 March 2005

Nerina Pallot

Nerina Pallot - Interview

Contactmusic caught up with Nerina Pallot to talk about her new album. Plus, life, the universe and everything else.

How are you?

I’m fine thanks. It’s a lovely day it’s all bright and warm. I have a showcase later on so that should be fun, i'm flying to LA in the morning so I really ought to start packing but I can’t be arsed to get started!

How long are you over in America for?

5 days in total, I’m doing a show over there and I have a couple of meetings because my management is now in America. On the day I arrive back in the UK I have quite a lot of press things going on, so the next few weeks are going to be quite busy for me.

How long were you recording for in America?

Well I did a lot of recording over there. Gosh I started out in 2003 so I will have to cast my mind back. The first session lasted about six weeks; I then came back home and faffed around with some of it and

Nerina Pallot - Interview
Nerina Pallot - Interview

didn’t like some of it so I went back. The bulk of it was done in America either with me there or me being sent the files and stuff. I go back quite often because my boyfriend lives in Los Angeles and we’ve been in a long distance relationship for about 2 years. It’s worked out quite well though because I have been moving a lot of my work related stuff over there, as I said my manager is over there and my publishing company also has an office over there. I keep on trying to twist my partners arm into coming over here but I think he really wants to stay over there.

So you prefer the UK?

I like America but I’ve got a feeling that if I pitched up there I would miss home really badly. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I go over I have a brilliant time but I don’t know if that’s just because I’m passing through. I’m going over for a while in the summer so I will have to see how it goes!

How did it all start out for you?

Every since I was little I have been musical, my family aren’t professional musicians or anything but they are very musical, so they always encouraged me. I then went to a school that really concentrated on music that was followed by Music College, I then just fell into jobs doing backing vocals, doing stuff on dance records, I worked in a record company for a little while, then I got signed to Polydor/Universal about 4 years ago and put out my first record.

Dear frustrated superstar?

Yep, every time someone says that title to me now I just want to put my head in a box and never come out again! I must have been high! I thought people would get the irony but it was an irony all of my own that no one else got. I can’t think of a worse title! The first album was really long; I think I could have taken at least 4 tracks off it. I went through a faze of thinking, oh my god, what was I thinking but then I think that about most songs at some point or another, now I listen to it and think that it’s quite sweet. Some of the songs I wrote when I was 17 so now it’s nice.

How old are you now?

I’m 30! Yeah, I’m really old! I could have made three records in the time it took me to make this 2 nd record.

So what do you draw inspiration from?

Life really, when I write songs I’m not very conscious of what I’m writing about. Thoughts just pop out and then I can visualise a scene, I also come up with dummy lyrics that have a vibe or sentiment of what I want to write about. But I don’t ever start and say I’m going to write a song about this.

Are people a thing you base a lot of your music on?

Absolutely! I think the majority of my songs are to do with people or relationships. Even when I write songs about bigger subjects they always come from a personal experience through people I know. So yes, my music is very much rooted in people.

Do you play any other instruments other than the guitar and piano?

Yes, I play a little bit of bass, I’m not too brilliant at it yet. I play it on one of my new tracks. At heart I am a piano player, I am feeling a lot more confident about playing guitar and I’m playing it more and more frequently on records and things. I always think of myself as a piano player who dabbles with other things. The piano just comes as 2 nd nature to me, I can play the drums…. badly! I love playing different things because you can get such a different vibe. I write songs in different ways on different instruments.

How has Fires progressed since the first album?

I think I have got better as a songwriter, I hope I have got better as a song writer! I feel more comfortable now because I have been doing it for a little longer. I think it’s a slightly darker record. Because I had such a lot of time to make this I was able to be very creative and try new things. I tried about three or four versions before I settled and had something I was happy with. The whole thing was done very slowly and carefully. I worked with 3 different producers on the record, Wendy Melvoin who worked with Prince on a lot of stuff. We actually wrote enough material to make another record but in the end we only used Damascus from that bulk of recording. I worked with Eric Rosse who has worked with Tori Amos. I also worked with Howard Willing who's worked with bands like the smashing pumpkins. It was really good fun, it was nice to work in America because they have a very different take on stuff.

Which of your songs sums up your mood today?

Wow that’s a hard question, Idaho I guess. I’m feeling a little stressed today and I want to run away!

Are you doing any UK tour dates?

Yeah I’m going on tour with Paddy Casey, He’s an Irish singer songwriter He’s really popular in Ireland and he is coming over here to do a tour so I’m going to open for him which will be great. I also have my own gig in Shepherds Bush the week when my record comes out, hopefully after that we are putting a few more things together so I’m just waiting for those dates. I never like to say something is happening until I know what’s happening because things change from day to day!

Do you prefer touring or recording?

I think most people take time off touring to record. I loved recording but I can’t wait to get back performing and playing live I love doing it all. I’m just so incredulous that I have finished this bloody record it’s been such a long time! I have to pinch myself everyday.

What sort of music are you listening to?

I’m listening to a girl called Joanna Newsom, I love her! I think she’s barking but I still love her! I’m going to see her next week; I’m so excited I’ve got her impression down to a T! Someone was telling me about her last year and I was just disagreeing saying it would be a little too weird for me but then I heard it again and I found myself really enjoying it and I couldn’t stop putting her record on! I’m addicted! She’s an amazing musician; she plays the harp really well.

Can you play an instrument like that?

I played violin when I was younger and I then took up cello but I’m not really any good on either, I could scrape away in the back of an orchestra but that’s about it! I keep on thinking about taking up the harp because it’s very similar in the way it works to a keyboard instrument.

If you were going to create a super group who would be in it?

It would be a totally bonkers band! I wouldn’t play in it I would just watch the gig! Keith Moon on drums, I guess Joanna Newsom would be good to front it, Paul McCartney on Bass and Keith Richards playing Guitar. That would be a really weird gig.

Who was the last band you watched and thought it was a great gig?

I went to see a lady called Jonatha Brooke last weekend, she was amazing. I also opened for Ray Lamontagne and he was amazing. I think that was the best thing I have seen all year. He’s a really nice chap and he has made a really lovely record, it’s one of those records that you can put on and listen from start to finish without skipping any tracks, it feels like a really classic record to me. I also want to go and see the Kaiser Chiefs but I just haven’t got my arse into gear and done it yet, they just look like such a laugh

How do you unwind?

I don’t really, I guess wine and fags, it has to be red wine I got really pissed on white a few weeks ago and now I can’t drink white anymore! Fags, wine & chocolate altogether!

What are you bad at?

Car maintenance, I have a Beatle and I don’t even know where the fuses are in it. I am completely clueless with cars.

Have you any other passions aside from music?

I really love reading; I read anything from directions on household products to a big long book. I have shelves full, I’m just sitting in my lounge and it’s just a disgusting mess of books falling off shelves. It’s such a good form of escapism and I now prefer it to telly because everything on TV is so literal. When you go and see the movie of a book I find it really boring, when you read a good book you create your own universe and make it what you want. has an area on the website dedicated to unsigned artist, what advice would you give them?

Be prepared to do a lot of it yourself. Enjoy doing it all yourself because you will learn a lot. A lot of people start out and think they will have someone to do it all for them, now more than ever you have to do it yourself. Majors are scared of signing things. Use the internet; you can reach so many people in such a short amount of time for very little money. Don’t put up tracks unless they’re really good, because you don’t want to put people off. You don’t want someone to hear a demo that isn’t so great and get the wrong idea. Be polite and remember people’s names. When I worked in a record company there was one or two bands that made me not want to do any work for them because they must have met me like 10 times and couldn’t remember my name so they just used to call me cutie or whatever, I used to think to myself that I wished they’d just ask me my name instead of pretending.


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