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Feature Interview: Bec Laughton

Bek Laughton

Bec Laughton rushes into Kerbside, flustered and confused about what she’s exactly doing there. We’d dragged her away from a pre-show rehearsal. After a big glass of water a moment’s rest, I laid into her:

Your sound, it’s kind of like Feist crossed with Karen Elson; what are some of your influences?

That’s cool cos I don’t really know either of those artists, but that makes me want to know them haha. My influences are like… Lauren Hill—are you a Lauren Hill fan?

No—haha, I have testicles.

(laughter)

I like Incubus… Ray Charles, Erica Bardu, The Roots; all that kinda hip-hoppy stuff, and jazz, Ella Fitzgerald…

So, what about writing, how do you write, where, why?

I often write while I’m doing something, which is inconvenient, like driving, when there’s no guitar or piano nearby to figure it out. While I’m doing things I’ll come up with hooks or melodies that I’ll record on my iPhone and go back to later and try and figure out exactly what I’m singing, and trying and put some chords and stuff to it.

Have you ever been pulled over, surreptitiously singing into your iPhone?

(laughter) No, I’ve been in some pretty awkward places though, with my phone out quietly singing in the corner when it’s probably inappropriate (laughter).

You use some pretty unique vocal phrasing and clipping in your single Darkest Love, that’s cool—why?

I think… it’s cool, because when I write stuff, and then go figure out what I’m doing, it’s often more complicated than if I sit down and try and make it tricky. So if I sat down and wrote the song… it some how felt like it needed that. It kinda grew like that. For that track I was listening to a lot of Birdie… and seeing how you have testicles you probably don’t like her as well haha.

Have you found it hard being a singer/songwriter?

I haven’t found it hard actually being a singer/songwriter… but in terms of the pursuit of the music industry and trying to get your name and your music out there, that’s definitely been a challenge. I think one thing, which has been a bit weird, but being a solo female going by her own name, rather than hiding behind a band name… The whole Triple J thing push more bands rather than female solo artists because that’s more pop. They wanna be more alternative or whatever. Just trying to find your space sorta thing. They say there’s no rules, in the industry I find there is all these rules and I don’t wanna be confined by any rules, I just wanna do what I do and find a place for that.

How did it all begin then? Were you one of those little kids who tore around the house singing?

My dad… played the piano and I used to watch him doing singing lessons. He’d do these exercises where you’d have to go, “HA! HA!” and he’s like, “No, you’ve gotta really shout! You can sing only as loud as you can shout!” And I’d hear him do that and I’d be like, “Yeah! I can shout sing!” and so I’d be in the backyard trying to belt my little lungs out. I think that might be why I’ve got such a strong voice now. That’s one of the hardest things, when I’m trying to teach people to sing, is just trying to get people to their voice out. Everyone tries to control their voice and have this really pretty singing voice instead of just letting it all out.

And you Red Deer Music and Arts Festival not too long ago! Did you enjoy yourself there?

Red Deer was crazy! What a cool festival. It was insane… absolutely. Just the vibe of the whole thing. Part of the deal with artists there was you got free massages by… I wish I could remember the name of the company because that would be good promo… Skeletal Harmony in West End? Something like that. So I had a massage just before I went on stage. I dunno if that was a good thing or a bad thing, because I was so relaxed. I did not feel like singing any upbeat songs at all haha. It was hot as well. Being on stage, the sun was right in my eyes, it made for good photos, because my eyes look super-blue, but yeah it was hot.

You’ve recorded part of your upcoming EP in the States…

Tricky thing… So, we… I, did some collaborating with a guy from Nashville, but most of the US stuff is from a group called Chops Horns, who are… a horn section that have played for Alicia Keys, James Brown… like the list of people that they’ve played for is everybody; The Rolling Stones, Christina Aguelira… and this horn section, they were touring Australia and they saw me play a festival and they were like, “Man, we wanna play on your next record.” So we did a sort of, ‘through the air,’ collaboration haha, so they recorded the horns in their studio in New York and then they sent it here. Yeah.

And then you were in your bedroom studio trying to figure it all out from there?

Yeah! Well, no, not my bedroom, but other peoples’ bedrooms haha. We had different producers and bedroom studios… man, I’ve paid so much money for these flash studios and producers, and it’s been good, but these guys, from what they can do in their bedroom, it’s like one hundred times better. They’re just clever with getting the right vibe, it doesn’t matter how good it sounds, if the vibe’s not there… if the VIBE IS THERE, it’s just magic.

Do you have a definite release date yet?

No! Sorry about that. Soon… haha.

How did you feel about it—is it what you envisioned it to be? Did you have a vision?

I do… Umm… I’m quite a… meticulous artist. I often think, “Oh yeah, I’m a laid back artist,” and we’ll start working on it and I’ll be like, “No! I have a really specific idea of what I want and this is it!” We spent a lot of time on the two singles especially, and now, I look at them and just go… wow, this is one hundred times better than anything I’ve done before and I’m really excited about getting them out there. One’s like really upbeat dance and the other is kind of an electro soul ballad. The downbeat one, I’m especially in love with. Normally you record a song and you’ve heard it and played it that many times that you’re sick of it cos you’ve heard it so many times, but this one, the production on it is so amazing, I can still listen to it and go, “Yeah, this is so cool.”

On your tour, you’re all over the shop, you’re playing The Zoo tonight, you’re playing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide as well, but also like Fingal Heads, Toowoomba, how are you gonna get around? I can’t imagine you in the back of a stinky tour van.

Probably be a convoy I think haha. A convoy of the band and their cars. We haven’t got a magical van yet haha. Fingal is gonna be fun. I always do Fingal because I love it there. I did shows in America, I did shows in London and it’s amazing, but whenever I’m away I’m like, “Ugghhhh, I just wanna go to Fingal.”

And you’ve got two shows at Sol Bar on the Sunshine Coast, bracketing the tour?

Bracketing the tour—I like that, well done. Yeah, we played there just last night, and then we’ve got another one in a couple of months. It’s gonna be nice to go away and do all this stuff and come back and play there and be like, “Wow, look at all this stuff we’ve done inbetween.”

You tour with your full band? How many people in the band?

Seven. I think there’s seven of us in the band. Including me. But tonight, there will be like twenty of us on stage or something ridiculous. We’ve got a marching band playing with us… so we’ll have like five marching snares, seven horns, plus the band, and then also having a string quartet jump up for a song, which is Darkest Love, the title track of the tour.

Bec is an ambassador for VANA Childcare Ministries, who run orphanages for kids in Zimbabwe, and you can reach them on Facebook, if you’re that way inclined. Apart from that you can check out Bec’s music on Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook, or download some songs from her website. This fiery songstress is going to be one to watch out for.

Bek laughton

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