Headlining our very first live stream show on Thursday 22nd October is VÄLVĒ, a three piece led by Chlöe Herington, multi-instrumentalist, producer and sound explorer. I caught up with her to find out what is happening in her world in these strange times..
There are a few things in the pipeline. My solo album Silent Reflux is finally coming out on Believers’ Roast and we’re just working out dates. I started writing it in 2006 and recorded most of it in 2010. Then had a massive break as other things took over. Lockdown afforded me the time to actually finish the beast. Jesus. It was really fun mixing it as I’d forgotten lots of bits – it has an array of superb players on it such as Alex Ward, Kavus Torabi, Sarah Anderson, Emmett Elvin, Ben Woollacott, Ivan Hussey….it’s very different to anything else I’ve ever done and there is a follow up in the writing phase. There is a big plan for a proper launch with multi-sensory action but that is on hold until it can happen properly but it will be available in CD/digital form soon!
The next VÄLVĒ album is called tiny pilots and is very, very close to being finished. It is our first full album and I’m very excited about it – the EPs were nice little snapshots of what we do but I feel that tiny pilots is more complete and goes on more of a journey. It will come with a map and will be out at some point next year as ‘the plague’ has buggered up plans somewhat.
Who are your co-conspirators in VÄLVĒ?
I was doing (and still sometimes do) VÄLVĒ on my own, primarily as a sound artist in galleries, but got a commission to write and perform some music for a bigger piece by [Turner Prize nominee] Tai Shani. I thought it might be interesting to expand the sound a bit so I asked Elen (Evans) if she wanted to play harp on it. It worked really well so she started joining for more performances. Luckily she now has a lever harp which is far less cumbersome than her full size one!! She had never been in a band before so it’s been really lovely going on this journey with her and writing specifically for harp has been a massive learning curve for me and her involvement has allowed the VÄLVĒ sound to develop in a new way.
I’ve played with Emma (Sullivan) for 20+ years and it’s so good to play with her again. We ‘get’ each other musically and she brings the brutal low end. It’s funny, we have completely different tastes in music but I think that’s important in how it develops the sound in the improvised/soundscape bits. As a band, we have a very particular work ethic – we are yet to have a rehearsal/recording session that doesn’t involve good food and good wine!! It’s a very relaxed affair and long may that continue.
How have this year’s extraordinary events affected your 2020 plans?
Our Chrome Hoof 20th Anniversary gig at Raw Power was postponed due to ‘the plague’ but has been rescheduled for August 2021 which I’m really looking forward to. I miss playing with those twats. And I miss making that much of a racket! I just did a gig with Hirvikolari actually – a socially distanced one organised by Baba Yaga’s Hut. Love playing with them too – it’s completely different to anything else I do at the moment.
I was supposed to be creating a new piece with visual artist Jonathan Baldock, in Norway in June but it had to be postponed so I am very much looking forward to doing that if we can when it’s possible.
Which new musical discoveries have got you most excited recently?
Not actually massively recently, but Peter Broderick. I met him via Daniel O’Sullivan as he joined us in Daniel’s band, Dream Lion Ensemble, for the launch of Folly at Sutton House last year. He had arranged one of Daniel’s tracks for piano, voice, violin and soprano sax. What a lovely chap he is. It’s rare to meet such an accomplished musician in London these days who is that free of pomposity, hype or ennui. There is a childlike wonder to his approach to everything (everyday tasks as well, not only music) and his new album, Blackberry, is a perfect example of this. He also makes baskets out of brambles and we share a love of making things out of things from the hedgerow. His music sounds exactly like the kind of music you’d expect to hear wafting out from behind a hedgerow. My advice is to listen to the whole album. Then explore his other work.
And Brigid Mae Power while you’re at it. Just beautiful.
An actual recent discovery is Mitch & Mickey! I’d never seen A Mighty Wind before (absolutely no idea how this escaped me) and my partner introduced it to me. We took part in a sporadic zoom covers night with some friends over lockdown and we did ‘When I’m Next To You’. Very underrated song and surprisingly hard to sing!
VÄLVĒ wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for…
Leo Smee (Chrome Hoof) badgering me to get my own stuff out there, Tai Shani asking me to collaborate with her and my primary school science teacher, Mrs Statham, arousing my interest in ‘sound’ (as sound rather than music). I found an old jotter recently and read all the notes from the project and noticed how much of an impression it actually made on me.
What are your ‘go to’ sources for discovering new music?
It’s actually usually through talking to people about music – I’m always keen to hear/learn more and that’s usually how I find out about new music. Charles Hayward’s nights are always an ear opener as is The Quietus – long live interesting and risk-taking music journalism!
Which artist do you consider to be an underappreciated genius?
Lindsay Cooper. Obvs.
And Maggie Holland, Dave Evans, Ian A. Anderson et al of the 70s label Village Thing – they were doing something really special and their music completely influenced me as a child. They still do and it still does.
Which artist would you cross hell or high water to see playing live?
Henry Cow and News From Babel (although I’m not sure NFB ever actually played live so that would be pretty cool). So I could hear Lindsay Cooper play her parts and see how the hell she switched instruments so fast. Then ask her to teach me bassoon – something I always wanted to do but was too shy and then it was too late. Also Orchestre National de Barbes.
What other art and culture has made a big impression on you recently?
Animals by Keith Ridgway. It made my brain go all fizzy when I read it and I contacted him to ask if he’d mind if I ‘borrowed’ a passage of text from it for a song. He very kindly agreed and the lyrical refrain from Delicate Engines. The rest is about a recurring dream I used to have. Which I can’t tell you about because I’d definitely ruin your delicate engines.
VÄLVĒ have recorded an exclusive live performance for Buds & Spawn, which will premiere on our livestream show on Thursday 22nd October 2020, alongside an interview with Chloe and opportunity to ask your burning questions!
Tickets range from FREE (for low / no waged) to £10 (50% of these tickets to be donated to the Music Venue Trust‘s #saveourvenues campaign) but you will need to register for a ticket at budsspawn.nutickets.com in order to receive the live stream URL.