MAPLE BEE INTERVIEW

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MAPLE BEE INTERVIEW

Maple Bee is a frankly astonishing female singer-songwriter based in London. Having benefited from an unconventional childhood, she began to produce magical melodies from a young age, and it seemed somewhat inevitable that she would go on to write and perform songs of her own in due course.

Having played in a multitude of bands, including celebrated Alt.-Rock band Queenadreena alongside her sister Katie Jane Garside, Maple Bee is just as ‘at home’ on-stage with only an acoustic guitar for company.

In the wake of receiving widespread critical acclaim for her beautifully produced album entitled ‘Home’, a dark yet delightful release that teems with smouldering tunes galore, she is currently hard at work on writing new material, some of which can be heard on her MySpace page.

Here, in an exclusive interview with Steve, Maple Bee chats candidly about her extraordinary upbringing, her love for composing melodies as soon as she was old enough to appreciate the spellbinding power they wielded, her favourite London venues, and her Masters Degree in Music Therapy…

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HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?

Greetings to you, too! I am fine thanks – writing and recording at home…

YOU ARE AN ACCLAIMED LONDON-BASED SONGWRITER WHO WRITES GENUINELY BREATHTAKING SONGS ABOUT LOVE AND LOSS. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING SONGS, AND WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO PICK UP A GUITAR AND TO START SINGING?

I started playing guitar at ten. I had just got back to the UK after a childhood travelling the world with my family on a boat. Music was a big part of our lives at sea… we used to listen to the same few tapes over and over again. I used to spend lots of time playing treble recorder and desperately wanted to learn to write my own songs. I completely fell in love with the guitar as soon as I got one. I would spend hours writing little melodic arpeggios and improvise singing over the top. A year later, I went to boarding school and my guitar was my escape. I would practice for hours and learn song chord patterns from a book. I didn’t know most of the melodies and couldn’t read music, so I would make up my own tunes to the chord progressions.

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TELL US ABOUT YOUR ‘HOME’ ALBUM WHICH INCLUDES SUCH BEAUTIFUL SONGS AS ‘WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING,’ ‘NO PLACE’ AND ‘SWEETNESS IN YOUR LIGHT’. WERE YOU PLEASED WITH THE RESPONSE THAT THE RELEASE RECEIVED, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL FAVOURITE SONGS FROM THE ALBUM WHICH YOU NEVER BORE OF HEARING OR PLAYING LIVE?

One of the lovely things that happened around the release of Home was that iTunes picked up on it and featured it for a week on the home-page of their alternative store. It was great to have the chance for some new people to find me and win over some new fans. Because it’s a small label, and we don’t have much budget for a press agent, we didn’t get much media coverage which is a shame, but I guess that’s how it is for loads of artists out there. I guess if you enjoy the process, that is key to the success of the record.

One of the key tracks on the album for me is No Place – it was the first song I wrote for the record, and it really sets the mood of the rest of the album. I love playing it live, and it seems to work on loads of different levels.

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE SONGWRITING PROCESS? DO YOU WRITE YOUR MUSIC OR YOUR LYRICS FIRST, AND DO YOU FIND THE PROCESS TO BE A THERAPEUTIC ONE?

Songwriting is a funny old thing. It always creeps up on me at awkward moments. Yesterday, for example, I was ready to go out swimming and suddenly had this these ‘four worlds’ thing in my head. If I can, I tend to drop everything and just get on and write if something is itching to get out, otherwise I tend to lose it in the moment. It is absolutely a therapeutic thing: a whole day can just disappear in what seems like an hour when it is going well. It is almost like you can get the thing out and it helps to process whatever it is that is in your mind, either consciously or sub-consciously. I have studied Music Therapy as well. It’s been really amazing working with music in different ways outside of my normal comfort zone.

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YOU CITE AN EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER OF BANDS AND ARTISTS AS INFLUENCES ON YOUR MUSIC… FROM THE LIKES OF APHEX TWIN TO DEPECHE MODE, AND FROM DAFT PUNK TO PINK FLOYD. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DEFINES ‘GOOD MUSIC’?

Music that affects how I am feeling. If something leaves me cold, I am not that interested in it. What affects us individually is completely personal, and – for me – it is not genre-specific.

WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE VENUES TO PLAY IN LONDON?

I have always loved playing and going out at The Astoria (boo – so sad that has gone), and The 12 Bar Club for a strange and intimate space to play. I’ve also loved playing The Borderline in the past, and the good old Monarch in Camden, and Dublin Castle. I once did an unannounced spot at a little place called Monkey Chews in Camden, and that was pretty good! I did lots of UK tours with my earlier bands, Tabitha Zu, Vertigo Angels, Mediaeval Baebes, and for a while as bass player in my sister’s band Queenadreena. I also toured the world as a solo artist when I was signed to Echo as Melanie Garside. I loved having the chance to travel all over southeast Asia; it is something I would adore to do again. My other band Huski have previously toured the UK with Robots in Disguise. I love touring and want to do more.

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DO YOU ENJOY WORKING IN A STUDIO OR PLAYING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE THE MOST, AND ARE YOU EVER AFFECTED BY NERVES WHEN PLAYING YOUR MOST TENDER SONGS IN FRONT OF BOISTEROUS CROWDS?

It’s a hard question. Once I am on stage, I tend to not think about things too much. You are just totally engaged in what you are doing. Most people are lovely as well. I don’t play live that often at the moment, and that means people who come to see me generally want to listen. I once played a show to eight-hundred people in France with just an acoustic guitar and my friend, the brilliant Becky Austen Brown, on mediaeval fiddle and bass recorder; it was scary, but really exciting, and the crowd was brilliant.

HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF YOUR MUSIC TO SOMEBODY WHO HAS NEVER HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO HEAR IT BEFORE?

Hmmmm… centred, sideways, alternative, acoustic, dreamy, pop? Perhaps you can do better, ha-ha!

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FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC, DO YOU HAVE ANY ONLINE PORTS OF CALL WHERE THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO SATISFY THEIR INTRIGUE?

Sure do… www.myspace.com/maplebee for a start!

You can join my Twitter page which is up there as well…

I also have a website at www.maplebee.com

(Questions by Steve Rudd; Answers by Maple Bee)

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