FFS interview | Mechanical Bride

FFS met Lauren Doss, the creative force behind Mechanical Bride in the Transgressive Records offices in Islington. Her first album Colour of Ants was released on Monday.

FFS: Your album is finally being released after a really long wait, how do you feel?
Lauren: It’s been such a long process that it feels kind of like… It feels due. So I’m happy.

FFS: What was it that delayed the album’s release?
Lauren: So many things, there were logistical, Record company things, and then financial things and timings – is it a good time to release it and what’s everyone got in their schedule. There were just so many things that set us back and back and back and there was the weather at one point that set us back, when we had to cancel a photoshoot. There were so many things it was just bash after bash
FFS: Did you feel like it was never going to come out?
Lauren: Yeah! I did feel like that for a while.
FFS: And then when you got a release date, what was that like?
Lauren: Yeah, that was great… and then it went back and it went back. So I think I take everything with a pinch of salt. So until this album actually comes out. Until I see it on the shelves…
FFS: What are you going to do when it’s out?
Lauren: I think we need to tour the hell out of it, really. And also because of the backlog I’m ready to make some new music so it’s this weird conflict of needing to go out and do shows but I also want to do something new. So I need to figure out that balance I think.

FFS: Do you have a fixed group of people you play with now?
Lauren: Yeah at the moment we do, there’s four of us: Caroline Weekes, Tommy Heap who’s been playing with me for years and we’ve got a drummer Tom Mills. We’ve finally got a unit and it makes life so much easier.
FFS: Does that mean you feel like you’re in a band, rather than a solo artist?
Lauren: Yeah when we rehearse with a band you know what’s going on and we’ve made all the live arrangements just the four of us, so it’s more solid and more integral to Mechanical Bride.
FFS: You’ve said you write music by recording it, then take it into a studio to re-record the tracks. Do you have musicians who play by ear?
Lauren: Yeah I do. I tend to be drawn towards people who are intuitive. It just makes it so much easier to work because they understand that I am intuitive and I can’t necessarily articulate what I mean but they understand the emotion of it. It makes it so much more special, as well as easy for me to work with. Also if you can’t think of an arrangement and you can go ‘can you do something that feels like this’ and they do a beautiful job. And it just makes it such an amazing experience to make a record like that as well – rather than feeling like a dictator or bossy. And people have an input as well.

FFS: Do you still do visual art as well as music?
Lauren: Still yeah still at home, I do my own thing, but I don’t really have enough time to do anything on that scale. But I’m still doing my painting and things like that
FFS: Do you exhibit your work?
No, not at the moment, I’m just getting back into doing paintings, I might exhibit them if the opportunity comes up and I have some time off, but at the moment I’m just focusing on this.
FFS: Do you have a background in visual art?
Lauren: I’ve always done art and studied art at school. And then I went to university to do visual art and music. So it’s always been an integral part of what I do, but it’s changed somewhat.
FFS: Do the two inform each other?
Lauren: Yeah always, I keep scrapbooks of visuals and I do paintings and they always seem to integrate at some point whether it’s consciously or not. I like working that way.

FFS: You grew up in a musical family, didn’t you?
Lauren: My father was a musician. All the men in my family have all been drummers. My grandad was a drummer in the navy, my grandma was a big band singer in the navy. My mum was a singer. Yeah there was quite a lot of things. And my mum and I shared our house with a good friend who was also a musician and he had a studio, there were lots of people coming and going who were musical.
FFS: Did you ever get drafted in to do backing vocals or anything?
Lauren: I think I got drafted in to do baby noises as a toddler. After that, no, I wasn’t much of a performing child. I was a quiet, in-the-corner type. Observing everybody, that was my plan.

FFS: What’s your life like now, are you still working or have you been able to quit everything?
Lauren: Yeah, I’m just doing full-time music now. Since the start of the year.
FFS: How is that?
Lauren: *sigh* It’s nice, it’s nice to feel like you are doing that as an occupation. I’m not terribly good at being my own boss. I like to be busy all the time and I find I get quite frustrated with being by myself all the time. You don’t work with anyone so you just sit there trying to occupy yourself. I try and make music, but it’s when the mood takes you. I try to always do something creative to feel like I’m being productive.I have some kind of projects on the go
FFS: It must give you a lot of freedom…
Lauren: It does but I think when you have so much time you can be a bit complacent or not know where to start. I think when you’ve got a part time job you use your time really productively so it’s a weird marriage and I think it’s trying to get the balance right. I’ve done a few courses, painting courses and things like that and I’ve started dancing again.
FFS: What sort of dancing do you do?
Lauren: I started doing Ballet again. I did it from 2 to 18. It’s great. It’s good exercise. I love dancing. It’s just good to get back into it.
FFS: You should do a Kate Bush style video.
Lauren: …and recreate Wuthering Heights, that would be amazing. I think she’s freestyle.
FFS: Speaking of Kate Bush is there anyone you want to work with?
Lauren: Can you imagine working with Kate Bush, I can’t imagine it. I don’t know if I could, I think I’d be a bit intimidated. But she does seem like a really nice lovely woman. If I could work with anyone who would I like to work with… Nick Cave would be fun…
FFS: He’s in Brighton isn’t he? Fun and convenient.
Lauren: Yeah but you can’t just go ‘Hey Nick’! …also, Tom Waits.
FFS: There’s a theme emerging… gravelly-voiced men.
Lauren: Some kind of dirty sound…
FFS: There’s a nice contrast between a gravelly-voiced man and a sweet-voiced girl.
Lauren: *laughs* The corrupter! The Lolita corrupter!

FFS: You very much have your own sound. Do you have a lot of influences?
Lauren: I consciously try not to sound like anyone. I have lots of influences but I would cringe if I tried to impersonate someone. We had a moment when I sounded like Meatloaf when we were recording the album! I really try not to sound like anyone and just sound like I want to sound like.
FFS: What music do you really love?
Lauren: I listen to everything and I get bored quite easily of making the same thing in all kind of aspects, I don’t know I guess I’m just naturally drawn to variation and that’s what I love about certain artists like – off the top of my head PJ Harvey or Bjork they use the fact that there’s so much to be inspired by, there’s so many different sounds to make, why stick to one thing? And Tom Waits as well…
FFS: Is there anything really exciting
Lauren: I always listen to a mixture, the one band that I really love, and I could happily be in the band is the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I just love the arrangements and the instruments and it’s just such beautiful music.
FFS: It sounds like you’re not at all obsessive about bands or ideas or anything?
Lauren: No. There’s so much good music. I couldn’t just listen to one thing.
FFS: So do you think will your own music always be really creative and disparate?
Lauren: You’ve gotta be careful though and not go too far – it’s trying to keep that balance. I think the one thing that unifies it all is your voice. That’s one thing that Kate Bush has – her songs are so varied but her voice is still her voice.