FLOSSIE MALAVIALLE INTERVIEW
Hi Flossie, how are you, and how’s 2013 treated you so far?
Hello there! I’m fine, thanks! So far, 2013 has been good, and there’s still quite a few gigs coming up before the end of it, so I’m not complaining!
For those who don’t know, you’re a singer based in the northeast of England. What do you think of the music-scene in around places like Sunderland, Northallerton and Darlington at the moment?
First of all, can I just say that I don’t write my own songs. I do covers only. There are so many lovely songs to sing that I don’t feel the need to write. Never say never, though! The Folk scene in the north-east is still pretty much alive, which is good news. The Darlington Folk Club is thriving despite having to move venues after the closure of the Arts Centre back in July 2012. Its new home is at the Copper Beech on Neasham Road. Aside from that, there are loads of other venues, of course, doing various styles of music including Jazz and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, so we are very lucky in that respect.
Am I right in saying that you were born in France but liked it over here in the UK so much when you visited that you simply couldn’t leave?
Indeed. I was born in Nimes in the south of France where I was teaching English between 1994 and 2000 until I decided to do a teacher exchange and ended up working and living in the north-east of England for a year. I went back to France in August 2000 but missed the friends and music-scene I had found in the UK and decided to move back permanently in July 2002!
What memories do you have of growing up at the far side of The Channel?
I cherish many happy memories because in the south of France there was loads of space and freedom to run around. My dad was a headmaster all my childhood and teen-aged years which meant that I lived in schools all my younger life and had the free use of the playground and classrooms once everybody had left! That meant having loads of safe space to play in. As a result, my sister and I never felt the need to go out as such. We were quite happy to make the most of the facilities we had.
Given your fluency in French, do you enjoy singing songs in French as much as you do in English?
I love singing in both languages. People say there’s another dimension to the emotion when I sing in my native tongue, which I can understand and relate to.
Having seen you play a set in Driffield a few years ago, I can vouch for the fact that you’re as proficient at dispensing wit as you are melodies. Where did you acquire such a fantastic sense of humour, and who are your favourite comedians?
Well, I was always brought up in an environment where reading and exchanging ideas was encouraged, so I’ve loved words, playing-on-words and spellings for a long time. We used to sit around the table at meal-times and make up games with words by swapping letters and creating new ones. Both my parents have a good sense of humour, so I guess that’s how it all started.
There have been some very good French stand-up comedians over the years who made fun of politicians, ads on TV, and everyday situations. They’ve included the likes of Coluche, Thierry Le Luron, Pierre Desproges, Muriel Robin, and Pierre Palmade. All of them were different but excellent, in my opinion.
When I moved to England, a friend introduced me to the humour of Eddie Izzard. I have to say, I love his style. I also love programmes such as “Have I Got News For You” which took me a while to get into mainly because Ian and Paul are so quick-witted. I love their approach to the whole news thing. I like “Miranda” as well; she does make me laugh. Graham Norton, too, in his own funny way!
You recently returned from a trip over to Morocco where you played some shows. What was the nature of your trip, and how well was your music received there?
I flew over there from France with two French friends of mine who I used to sing with in another life! We stayed in a five-star “Sofitel Hotel” for two weeks singing what I call “standards” which have nothing to do with the Folk scene. I ended up singing some Amy Winehouse, Barbara Streisand, Abba, and Aretha Franklin numbers… the kind of stuff that tourists from all over the world can relate to.
We had a great time! Agadir and the west coast are mint!
What do you enjoy the most about singing and playing guitar?
The fact that you’re completely independent, I suppose. I started when I was fourteen and haven’t stopped since. It was a way of expressing my emotions at that age, and I’ve kept doing it ever since.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you were given as a musician when you were growing up?
Whatever happens, keep going!!
To date, how many CDs have you released, and which of those are you the most proud?
There have been ten albums in ten years, the latest “X” having been released in October, 2012. I love the latest, but I also love “Mistral” from March, 2003… not to forget “Flossie Sings Brel” from November, 2007. That’s not to say that I don’t like the others; I just have a soft spot for those few in particular.
What does the rest of the year hold in store for you?
I’ve got quite a few gigs coming up, so I’m happy to be busy this autumn and winter. I’m also concentrating on filling up the diary for next year, too!
Finally, how can folk find out more about you and your music?
Well, I’ve got a website at www.flossie-malavialle.co.uk where people can find out all about the latest info, gigs, and CDs. I also have a Facebook page, and I’m all over YouTube thanks to my good friend Pete Simmonds who has put loads of videos of me on there over the years!
Here’s hoping you enjoy all you see and hear!
(Questions by Steve Rudd; Answers by Flossie Malavialle)
This interview was conducted on 13th September, 2013.