S O S
German Shepherd Records
9 January 2015
The debut single from Welsh songstress Alana Bondi appears this Friday via Amazon and I-Tunes courtesy of German Shepherd Records.
Based in Manchester UK Alana produces that very rare type of music which makes you feel more aware and more alive after each listen. With sparse musical accompaniment and a voice capable of both great power and fragility,she pursues an ethereal folk rock sound of her own making.
Alana has a further EP and album due to be released in 2015.
She plays Club Academy, Manchester on 30th January.
I took the opportunity to interview Alana on the eve of her first release:
How did you get into performing and writing music?
I’ve always loved making music but it wasn’t until moving to Manchester in 2007 that I took the dream of making it into a career seriously. I was working in a bar and my eye was caught by ‘Front woman needed’ on a naff homemade poster, I called right away. The project was by local musician and All FM DJ Jack Baker and was called Bluehand and within weeks of performing at open mics I was addicted to the way it made me feel, performing made me happier than anything. Initially Jack wrote all of our material but soon I took it upon myself to start writing, and enjoyed finding my own voice. The collaboration with Jack didn’t last long but it was a great springboard into the Manchester Music scene.
What instruments do you play?
I play an Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro and occasionally dabble in a little bit of bass guitar. I use a Vox Dynamic Looper to create percussion tracks with instruments like a Kalimba and Djembe but class my main istrument as my voice.
What are you are main influences for writing music and writing lyrics
Lyrically I really admire Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley for their poetic, melancholic love songs but also more abstract writers like Kate Bush and Thom Yorke because although their songs hit you it’s not always immediately apparent what they are about. I love digging deeper into the meaning of lyrics. Musically I love the dreamlike sound of bands like Cocteau Twins and Warpaint but also the stripped back raw sound of P.J Harvey and Nirvana. As a solo performer I work hard to create a more layered sound by looping different instruments.
Where and when did you play your first gig? What other gigs have you played?
When I was with Bluehand we played 2-3 open mics a week, but our first proper gig was in Summer 2010 at Jabez Clegg. Since going solo I have played Mozfest, an annual summer festival held at The Angel Pub in Manchester, in 2012 and again in 2014. In November I played at The Marble Arch Halloween Festival organised by the same group. In October 2014 I headlined at the Ramblings Online magazine launch at Bangkok Bar and The Art of Tea in Didsbury. I’ve also played Mono in Chorlton twice in addition to numerous open mic events across Manchester and Liverpool.
What current music are you listening to? Who is your favourite artist? What is your favourite album?
At the moment I’m really into Nadine Shah who writes candidly about mental health issues and has a jarring moody sound that has really drawn me in. As for an all-time favourite, It would have to be Kate Bush. She is such a singular artist. Her recent material seems to have become more mournful and introspective, but she still delivers the occasional belter. Favourite album is a tricky one because it depends on my mood, but at this present moment let’s say P.J Harvey ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’. However a more recent favourite would be Gonjasufi’s ‘A Sufi and a Killer’. Everyone should hear it!
You have a strong visual image – is this important?
Along side my music I’m a commercial graphic artist, so I’m always struck by strong design, particularly album artwork, which is something I strive to achieve in my own work. As performer, costume and make up is important to me because it makes the live music experience more visual. I’ve always admired artists like David Bowie and more recently Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes who seem to inhabit a role and make their performances more theatrical.
Which artists/designers influence your graphic design?
The first time I was struck by a piece of design was the album artwok by H.R. Giger for ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ by ELP. I bought the record having heard of neither ELP or Giger. My design influence often comes from art movements of the 20th century, art nouveau, surrealism and pop art. Three artists I always seem to refer back to are Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo and Roy Lichtenstein.
Other than the Club Academy gig have you any other gigs planned?
I’m working on getting more gigs but at the moment I’m booked to play The Art of Tea in Didsbury on the 26th February, and then I’m supporting a band called Vision Fortune at Soup Kitchen on the 6th of March.
You are currently a solo artist? Any ambitions to play with additional musicians when playing live?
I wouldn’t rule out collaborating with other local artists, possibly as a side project, but at the moment I’m happy flying solo. My loop pedal is my band ha ha…
What are your ambitions for your music?
Playing live is important to me so gigs here there and everywhere is high on the agenda, but I’m also really excited about working with a producer to record an EP and then my debut album later in the year. Also, a collaborative music video project to promote my EP release is in development but I won’t say anymore just yet!
Other than the new single Alana has a number of recordings available on Soundcloud.
So exciting times ahead for this talented singer. You can order the new release via Amazon here