You’ve probably heard the (Tim Burtonesque) name Mechanical Bride being slung around a fair bit in recent months. MB a.k.a Lauren Doss is not only a supremely talented singer, she’s also an incredible instrumental musician with an arsenal of skills to back up her vocals. Her album Living With Ants has just been released, and we took time to chat to her about her favourite song on the album that stands out as something special…
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us… firstly we’d like to ask which track you’d pick as your favourite track you’ve recorded. What makes it so special to you?
Magpie is a song I’m really happy with. The sound of the recording turned out so beautifully and because it’s so simple it really glows with the analogue sound and warmth. The cornet part that Alistair plays is magical. The simpler songs came together the most organically and were really fun to record.
Is there a back-story to the song, or an event that inspired it? What led you to writing the song?
Originally I wrote Magpie as a four-part accapella song, with weird dissonant harmonies and it was intended to be like an old folk song and lullaby. I came up with a piano piece a few years later and just tried singing the tune along with it, and it clicked into place. It was the first time that had happened for me with writing where I’d reworked something old, with something new, so it was a nice moment for me.
What was the song writing process like for the track? Do you tend to follow the same rules when writing, or did this song dictate its own tract?
No I don’t have any song writing rules, it’s always a bit of a fumble in the dark then something glimmers! Magpie was the result of a little poem that I’d written and then I initially recorded it with just my voice and the harmonies that worked a bit like polyphony on creating the melody. I had just discovered medieval chamber music and that time!
What influences were going on around you when you wrote the song and how have they played out in the track? We were thinking in terms of other artists you were listening to at the time, a book you were reading or even the people you were hanging out with… Looking back, can you pick elements of the track out?
It was a culmination of two times several years apart. The melody and words were written when I was just about to finish my degree and had been researching a lot about the voice, sacred and secular music, polyphony and folk music. I’d been seeing a hell of a lot of magpies and took it as a bit of a sign and liked the idea that they were following me and looking out for me like guardians. They are quite a superstitious bird and they also already have that folk connotation. I wanted the vocal piece to be sweet and comforting like a lullaby and create a melody from just the voice in harmony. The later addition of the piano part, on reflection, In Rainbows had come out and I think I was really influenced, and always have been, by the style of Thom York’s piano playing, it’s something I can relate to.
Finally, we’d like to ask whether there’s a big difference between a liveperformance of the track and the studio recorded version? If there is, is this an ‘enjoyment’ thing, or more about the sound?
The live version has different instrumentaion; we lose a cello and exchange a cornet brass part for a flute or an accordion. It’s purely logistical reason, none of the four of us play brass, so we just use what we’ve got which has the same airy timbre to it. It definitely changes the sound from a slightly jazz feel to much more folky. It’s also fun to do different arrangements for different occasions, it can bring different elements of the song out, and keeps it new to us.
Download your free copy of Mechanical Bride’s track Colour of Fire at her website here or stream it above.