Having just released her third album ‘Direction Of Travel‘, from which we featured the massive “Drown Me Out“, we caught up with She Makes War to discuss the album release, gigs in Hamburg and Picasso quotes. Check it out:
Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?
She Makes War: 5.30am – I’ve started going to early morning hot yoga classes, so I’d say that was out of choice…I always get up pretty early because I have two dogs to walk.
CM: Describe your sound to the uninitiated?
SMW: Tearstained, grungey pop music with a lot of love and hope for the future.
CM: What have been the highlights of your year (musically) so far?
SMW: Releasing my third album “Direction Of Travel” was a brilliant feeling, it’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a label so that’s exciting. I also travelled to Boston to make a music video with one of my musical heroes Tanya Donelly, who duetted with me on a song called “Paper Thin”.
CM: How do you kill time on the road when on the road? hobbies/games?
SMW: If I’m on public transport I catch up with a billion emails, if I’m driving there’s no free time on the road! I love exploring new places so when I tour Europe I make sure I get time to do that, even if it’s just by going for a run the morning after the gig before leaving for the next place.
CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any Venues you hated?
SMW: I’ve played lots of cool places, but some that stand out are Hasenschaukel in Hamburg, because everyone there is so friendly and there are zombie doll lampshades, Shepherds Bush Empire, because I’ve seen some of my favourite performers there and standing where they stood on stage was really exciting, and Thekla in Bristol, because it’s a big boat.
CM: you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?
SMW: There’s not a lot of time on the road to write, but I did write the verse riff of “In Cold Blood” at soundcheck in Hamburg because I’d bought a beautiful new Strymon El Capistan pedal that afternoon and I got inspired. I write down a lot of lyric ideas when I’m travelling as well and sift through them when I get into songwriting mode at home.
CM: Is there a song you are simply sick of playing live?
SMW: No! Playing my music to people is a great honour, so if people want to hear a particular song I’m happy to play it for them.
CM: What is the songwriting process like for you?
SMW: Sometimes I’ll sit down with an instrument (guitar, uke, piano, keyboard, autoharp, whatever) and see what starts coming out musically, then a melody pops into my head that leads where things go next. Other times I’ll have written down snatches of what could become lyrics, which will inspire a melody, which I then find musical backing for. The key thing is the Picasso quote “inspiration finds you working”. Songs rarely fall from the sky…they do sometimes, but usually when I’ve been putting the time in and working on other songs.
CM: Do your songs go through many revisions and demos before recordings?
SMW: Sometimes I take a whole to move on from having written one part of the song, so I’ll have different phone recordings floating around. I’m trying to get better at focusing and finishing songs within the first burst of enthusiasm rather than letting the process span over months, though.
CM: What came first, the lyrics or the melody?
SMW: It’s different for different songs.
CM: What is your favourite track of yours?
SMW: I can’t choose just one! My favourites from the new album are currently “Stargazing“, “Alone“, “Turning To You” and “Paper Thin“, and from earlier albums I’d say “Olympian“, “Slow Puncture“, “Delete” and “In This Boat“.
CM: If you could record any cover in the world what would it be?
SMW: I’m not massively into recording covers, but I’d like to do an anti-war covers album one day if I can find enough non-cheesy songs. So far I only have “Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello!
CM: What are your views on auto tune?
SMW: There should be no need for it.
CM: Any other artists/bands from your local scene we really should know about?
SMW: Jemima Surrender, Nasty Little Lonely and Ghost Of The Avalanche are well worth checking out.
CM: What is the most flattering thing you’ve read about yourselves?
SMW: Someone posted on Facebook the other day that he was really happy because he thought he’d lost all my CDs but they’d just been tidied away! He said he wanted me to know they were really important to him. That was lovely.
CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?
SMW: “Modern Life Is Rubbish” by Blur. Still a favourite.
CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
SMW: “Gardenia” by Iggy Pop. That whole album is brilliant. Josh Homme + Iggy Pop = YES PLEASE.
CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?
SMW: Minor Victories at Thekla.
CM: If you had to bring on artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down, which artist would it be and why?
SMW: I refuse to make that choice! Life is precious, let’s all do the best we can with it.
‘Direction Of Travel‘ is out now via The state51 Conspiracy.