This week we are visiting the heavy and weird archives to bring you an interview we did with Emma Walton from Foxsmith late in 2012. Emma is an important artist who will help write some future shiver pop anthems, we felt it was vital for us to include this interview in our “Show Me Your Riffs” series:
It is no secret how much I love Foxsmith. If you read my initial review (https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/review-foxes-demos/) of the band at the end of last year you would have read how much I fell for their music. As I described in my review, they are an incredibly kool thing and they make a beautiful sound that is like a mix of dream pop, slacker, rock n roll roar, angular slintesque rhythms and a whole lot of Kim Deal cool. It is music that is funded by heartache and a really good time. The music is that late Friday night movement from party queen to “what does it all mean” melancholy. It is soaked in cool and is pop music that is covered in all kinds of dreams and schemes designed to destroy all of your emotions and to make you swoon. Much like my other band crush The Halls, Foxsmith are a band who I define as making shiver pop.
Late in 2012 I got the chance to sit down with Emma Walton (bass / vocals) and talk about music and of course the Foxsmith story.
Foxsmith started with an initial Jam session between Emma, Charlie (guitar / vocals) and Laura (drummer). It wasn’t until late 2011 that the band got things rolling and started playing gigs and in 2012 the band (then under the name of Foxes) entered into RICS exposed competition. After receiving a fevered response through their live shows, the band decided to make it a more full-time thing. During this period of time the band welcomed in Kassie (keys / vocals) and in between playing shows has been recording a bunch of material for an EP that they hope to release in 2013.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to the Foxsmith knows just how much “ache” is at the centre of their music. Lyrically the songs themselves hint at the bummers and celebrations of love with a darkness swirling around the playful pop sounds. This was a key part of my discussion with Emma when I discussed the motivation behind the sound and emotions funding the songs:
“Heartbreak and disappointment certainly are at the centre of it, whether it is relationships or career or just other life cycles. It is all over our music for sure. We share the singing and writing of the songs and a lot of my stuff is about reflecting back on times that have passed and just writing about those experiences. I find that it is more genuine to write about difficult things that have transpired in my life. Everyone can connect to that. We go about writing our songs from many different points of view and whether it is from a jam or a fully fleshed out idea, I think the one thing that ties it all together stylistically is that feeling or that ache. Sometimes it can be fun to just ride a riff or a cool groove and to layer it as a band but ultimately it has to come back to how that piece of music makes us feel. It has to mean something at the end of the day.”
The music of Foxsmith has a way of transporting you away to a shiver like landscape and it reminds me of the joys and bummers of the early twenties lifestyle, where you are dealing with the confusion of growing up, the complication of sexuality and the concept of love. There is youthful and angsty confusion at the centre of the sound. When discussing my feelings about how her music has affected me, Emma again reflects on the importance of having that ache at the centre in order to make a song a worthy piece of communication:
“As I discussed earlier, anytime there is uncertainty in life there is a song. For me, whenever I’m musing or reflecting back on those moments I feel the songs come and it is the prime moment of motivation to pick up my guitar and to write. You need to take that time out to think about life because it is so complex and bizarre and I love the process of being able to express those uncertainties and all that frustration, fear and heartache. Every inch of those emotions goes into the music. Stylistically Charlie may write a different kind of song but at the core of it, the emotions and motivations for writing it are the same. That is where our sound is birthed from and where our band may get that shiver you described. I mean there is no real word to describe what we do and we haven’t really sat down to think about giving it a title genre wise but some people have called us indie rock space jam pop which I essentially interpret as meaning we sound eclectic which is accurate because as a band, influence wise, we are. We just love playing music as a group of people. We don’t have a political agenda or anything like that. We are just here, playing music and first and foremost it is about the music that is what is most important. We don’t brand ourselves. ”
It was at this point that our conversation turned to the topic of the media and public perception of being in an “all-girl band.” As I explained to Emma, one aspect of music journalism 101 that I was passionately against was the lazy kind of reporting that happens by both journalist and punter when it comes to describing an all-girl band and how I feel that when anyone writes about any kind of female musician there is always a peppering of “yeah, they are pretty good at this considering they are girls” which is incredibly sexist considering that we don’t treat all male bands or musicians with the same kind of attitude. Emma was quite open about discussing the focus of both Foxsmith and how these kinds of issues affect her as a musician:
“Our personalities aren’t about having the mindset of being an all-girl band. For us it is solely about the music. This is not a marketing tool, I just love playing music as do the rest of the band and this is an exercise in playing music you love with your friends as opposed to having some kind of political agenda. There are times when you explain to someone that you play in an all-girl rock band and people almost roll their eyes and from that very description assumes so much about who you are as a musician both stylistically and politically. Then they actually come along and see the band live and they are totally wowed by the experience. I’ve found that a lot of people in their assumptions think that by coming to see an all-girl band that hands down it is not going to be that great and of course there is a certain kind of judgement that people apply to it. We can back it up though and have smashed that assumption and judgement people have entered the room with. You of course get the backhanded compliments and it can be frustrating but ultimately we put the music first and focus on being amazing musicians and songwriters. Each of us of course have a different individual relationship with the idea and philosophy of feminism but we as a band have no political agenda stylistically. We all believe and strive for equality but ultimately that is something that I’m pretty confident most people push for whether they are a musician or not. Equality should be important to everyone.”
I left my chat with Emma feeling changed and totally inspired. As I’ve explained in past blogs, Foxsmith are a very smart group of songwriters and a total godhead band. They adhere to the two simplest and most right on aspects of great pop music, emotion and sonic freakouts. Add a rhythm section who balances all the maths of the “post” genres with a funkadelic sense of fun and you have the perfect coin.
Foxsmith are a band who deserves your attention immediately. It is important that you see them live as soon as you can and to make sure you grab copies of all the music they have available online. I’m of the belief that this band will grow into one of the most important groups in Brisbane and will be a vital leader in the new decade of interesting pop music.
By: Dan Newton