One of the things that we’re most looking forward to about the music happening on 1 and 2 October is the fact that there’s so much that we don’t know. The magnificent possibility of what might happen when you have 80 artists spending a week collaborating and creating new music to be shared at the end…
However, that’s not to say some ideas haven’t already begun to crop up! Quite a few of the artists who will be arriving on our doorstep in a couple of weeks were also at Eaux Claires last month, a festival in Wisconsin put together by our musical partners in the festival, Justin and Aaron. Amongst the likes of Emily Staveley-Taylor, Lisa Hannigan, and Shara Nova, the idea of an all female choir began to float about. There’s talk of improvisation over vocal loops, of cover versions, of singing existing songs written by the women in the group or maybe even of composing something entirely new all together.
Shara – who is known to many by her artist name My Brightest Diamond – was recently in Berlin and we were curious to know a bit more about this proposed women’s choir. Shara says one of the first reasons why this idea came about was also one of the simplest : “We love singing together. It’s just fun”. She’s also equally excited about the fact that everyone is contributing their own ideas, but coming with flexibility that means things can be adapted in the moment.
Of course there are differences between singing by yourself and singing in a choir. Shara says that in her case at least, she feels that when you bring a group of voices together, you open the field of perspective from “I” to “WE”. Then WE are singing. The voices of the many. It’s about a shared experience. And it’s then that even a personal line of lyrics can become about something that concerns us all. Looking inwards to look outwards, so to speak.
Shara points to a new song of hers called ‘Mama so mad’. It has the following line: “Every son becomes our own or else we’ll be undone / every son becomes our own it’s true for All or No One” She says the difference between singing the song solo and all together with other voices is incredible. “There is a movement in human consciousness to think in WE…” And it seems that music can be the best vehicle to get there. “When all these unique and individually talented people come together to do something like this [festival], it is no longer about the individual or the ego. It’s about people coming together, doing something different and creating something amazing”.
So, along with Shara, who can we expect to see / hear in this burgeoning supergroup? As mentioned above, Emily of the English trio of sisters The Staves is already in, as is Lisa. Soema Montenegro from Argentina has proposed one of her songs called ‘Abuelas’, meaning Grandmothers. There’s talk of twin sisters Gyða and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir (original members of Múm) from Iceland joining, as well as Channy Leaneagh – aka the voice of Poliça. But really, any of the female artists involved in the festival are invited to take part, so who knows what beauty awaits…!
Above: Shara during her performance in our lobby in 2014