Band Spotlight: Vesper Walk

For our next artist spotlight, we chat to Lisa Marie Baker of Vesper Walk about the band’s ideas and inspirations, and most importantly plug their forthcoming NCEM show, Fallen Angel. […]

For our next artist spotlight, we chat to Lisa Marie Baker of Vesper Walk about the band’s ideas and inspirations, and most importantly plug their forthcoming NCEM show, Fallen Angel.

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Image: Yellow Mustang Photography

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S] What inspired the Fallen Angel show?

L] “This show all started with the song ‘Auntie Sarah’. It was the first song we wrote together and it became the basis of the whole show! The song, as well as drawing on pop and classical music influences, incorporates folk rhyme and melody. Here the lyrics are based on a Glaswegian nursery rhyme called ‘Murder In The Chip Shop’.  This rhyme was taught to us by our Glaswegian Nan, who always sang to us.  She planted the seed.

In the Fallen Angel Show we also have cameo appearances of other folk tunes  like Ring A Ring O Roses and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – but you have to listen out for them! Perhaps it was a short hop then from folk melody and rhyme to the genre of the Wonder Tale, which presented its own abundance of artistic possibilities. It enabled us, for example, to explore, with a 21st century perspective, the ancient questions about identity and transformation. When Aunt Sarah values herself on her skills and beauty or is persuaded to see her ageing self as ugly, she experiences distortions deeply embedded in our contemporary culture.

Free from the boundaries of realism we were also able to draw attention directly to the redeeming aspects of our world, the magic inherent and pervasive in every day life and particularly, in music.

The title Fallen Angel resonated with us for a few reasons.  It describes Aunt Sarah’s destructive attempt at achieving eternal youth, which leads her to be flung from the Eden of the first scene. (The show is peppered with references to the number nine which in mythology is the number of days it takes to fall from heaven.) But the show also hopes to ask the question, what would happen if women were less reverent towards our culture’s intractable standards of physical beauty. How would our lives be different if we weren’t obedient ‘angels’, manipulated by the domineering cosmetic companies that help create and then exploit our insecurities? Working forwards and backwards from each song, one coherent story started to materialise. So we wrote a book too! ‘The Fallen Angel Wonder Tale’ is currently being printed and is a collaboration with wonderful The Art Hutch. We’re especially excited to be joined by spoken word artist Stu Freestone, who in addition to performing his own set as our support act will be adding narration to our show'”

S] What have been some of the most enjoyable moments of pulling it together?

L] “We had a lot of fun adding certain extra elements to the show.  As we wanted it to be a multi media show we’ve added  slides, VTs and sound samples. And also magic.  We think there’s a real power in different art forms working together. Photos, with music, with illustrations, with acting, with dancing – it’s very fulfilling artistically.  And collaborations mean you meet lots of talented, like minded people.  So it’s a win win! And our secret guilty pleasure HAS to be in choosing costumes, accessories and make up etc.  We create loads of boards on Pinterest for inspiration.”

S] What are the band’s main inspirations outside of music? 

L] “We’re really inspired by so much.  We love making videos, so films are a real inspiration to us.  Art, photography, literature.  All of it is inspiring really.   Last year we wrote music to the lyrics of Wilfred Owen, the stunning war poet and it was rewarding but also frightening as we knew the music had to do  justice to the amazing words of Mr Owen. We’ve also most recently been inspired by Sia’s videos and the amazing choreography of Ryan Heffington.  It inspired us to add a few moves of our own into The Fallen Angel Show.  Don’t expect too much on that score though. We leave the hard stuff to our wonderful dancers, who join us for bigger shows.”

S] And of course, what about musically? Think people, places and things? 

L] “Musically – wow! We’ve been inspired by so many musicians and so many different genres of music it’s hard to know where to start.  We were brought up listening to the stunning retro sounds of Ella Fitzgerald and Doris Day; and there’s many fabulous contemporary female artists out there today who we admire and respect so much – and they’re so young! People like Lauren Aquilina, Kina Grannis and Orla Gartland!

We love the kookiness of Ane Brun, Emilie Autumn, Regina Spektor, and of course Tori Amos has to be mentioned as she has always been a big influence. But there’s also bands that have inspired us  – from the amazing Freddie Mercury and the theatrical style of Queen; to contemporary folk group The Moulettes for their skill and captivating performances!

We’re also (perhaps a bit more bizarrely) really into System of a Down. We’ve been desperate to cover one of their songs for a while, but haven’t had time! It’s on the list!”

S] Who are your collaborators and the integral people involved in Vesper Walk?

L] “As we mentioned before, we’ve collaborated with a lot of people, from video and film makers, to magicians, photographers, dancers, artists – that’s a core part of who we are and what we do!  But that aside, our integral people are our fabulous and rather lovely band!  So as well as us two, our core band consists of Ed Simpson on the drums, Alex Staples on bass, Lucy Charnock on cello, Kieran O Malley on violin and Amie Robertson on backing vocals.

For larger gigs such as our upcoming Fallen Angel Show at the NCEM we’re also lucky enough to be joined by the gorgeous and talented Joycey and Gracie Falls, who will be adding lush vocals for us.  And I must also shout out to choreographer Rebecca Welburn for creating some beautiful dances in the show.”

S] What are your other plans for the rest of 2015? 

L] “We’re taking the Fallen Angel Show  to the Edinburgh Fringe!  It’s our first time there so we’re really excited.  We’re doing a 9 consecutive night show at the wonderful Merchants Hall which is situated in the heart of the Fringe activities.  Good times. We also aim to get two more music videos made and another EP recorded. Oh – and to cover a System of a Down track! Mmmm…think it’s going to be a busy year!”

Dom Smith

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