Interview by Ira Brooker


You’ve had a unique career in music, to say the least. What made you decide to start performing and recording again?
 
I never make conscious decisions, I just somehow fall into them. In this case it was a question of someone saying that Marc Swordfish wanted to sample my voice, and as I hadn’t had that happen before, and was curious to know what it actually meant, I said yes ok, get him to ring me. After a couple of phone calls he sent some very basic loops on CD and said write something to them. So I did and from that came the three albums, ‘Enchanted Garden’, ‘Spindle’ and ‘The Whorl’ I dragged out some old words written way back in the 70’s and wrote some new ones, and once I’d started it was a bit hard to stop. Words had obviously been fermenting in the back of my mind for a long time, waiting to see the light.
 
What’s it like to be back in the spotlight after such a long hiatus?
 
Well, I’m not sure that I would call it the spotlight! More a sort of gentle glow. I am still feeling my way around, mostly on the Internet, I keep wandering off down some extraordinary pathways and meeting amazing people in this virtual space. And so far pretty well everyone has been lovely. Of course they might not be in real life, but I’m pretty certain they are! I go by instinct, until proven wrong.
 
How has the music business changed since you started recording in the ‘60s?
 
Remember I was very young and naive in the 60’s, (I’m just older and naïve now!) so a lot of the business of the music industry went way over my head. There was a really quite major difference in the way bands were picked up then though. The way for most people to get into the management and agency side of the business was through running little clubs and gigs themselves. (Not so many Health and Safety Rules to worry about then and the world wasn’t anywhere near so litigious as it now is. In those days there really were things called accidents. Nowadays everything has to be someone’s fault.) Oops! slight digression there, where was I? Ah yes. A lot of the most prestigious gigs were put on at Universities, it seemed that if you wanted to get on in the music business you became Social Secretary of your college and put on the bands that you most wanted to see, - a lot of those Social Secs went on to become big players in the music world. I think.  And of course the record companies were willing to take a chance on new bands and give them time to grow into their talent.
Nowadays it seems to be less about the music and more about the fame. From what I read it seems that money is still a big issue, but there are vast amounts thrown at fewer bands and the bands get dropped faster if they don’t keep making bigger and better profits. That to me is the way to get burned out bands and substandard material. I am lucky in that I am really not worried by whether I get into the charts (Lovely feeling though it is!) and so far I’ve been able to come up with whatever pleases me to do, through the good will of other people.  
 
How important has the internet been to your resurgence?
 
Without it, I wouldn’t be here writing the answer to this email. It has been amazingly important. It has allowed me to come into contact with musicians that I would never have heard of, and once having found them would never have dreamed that I could work with them. Plus it is, of course, much easier to disseminate information and news and I can correct misinformation, which is always a good thing. I started using the internet as my alternative addiction to smoking (had to stop as I was having real difficulties in breathing and had also developed rheumatoid arthritis –what a pain that is!), just so that I could break all the habitual times when I would have ciggie and do something else instead. And of course I got addicted to the internet instead. I get pretty grumpy when it breaks down….
 
Did you notice a renewed interest in your work after recent CD re-issues of your Fairport Convention and Trader Horne albums?
 
Mmm yes I guess there has been, I am staggered at how much the original vinyl albums sell for these days, I wish I’d bought more of them. And taken more pictures. And kept a diary…
How did you hook up with The Conspirators?
 
Serendipity. The Conspirators knew of Fairport and Richard Thompson and their manager Jon, had been in contact with me over another of his daft ideas, so he put us together and the decision was made that ‘One Sure Thing’ could be redone as a dual lead track and all modern and up to date. So that is what we did. They worked out the arrangement and John the guitarist and Genevieve the singer came here for the weekend to have a little practise and to get to know one another. Of course it helped that both Genevieve and I have rescue greyhounds, so there was a common besottedness there. And they are such a lovely bunch of people that the whole scheme sort of fell into place with absolutely no hiccups at all.
 
How does working with a pop/rock act compare with the artier work you did on recent albums like “Spindle” and “The Whorl”?
 
Equally as interesting and satisfying. I do like to do different things and this was about as different as it could get. The common denominator in all the stuff I have ever done musically has been the extremely high calibre of musicians that I have been fortunate enough to work with, and the Conspirators are no exception. You just watch them and see what happens!
 
Are there plans for more Conspirators collaborations and/or a tour (hopefully including the USA)?
 
Not at present. The Conspirators will be working on their next single and album and I shall be hopefully working on an Anthology and new collaborations. I would love to work with them again in some capacity and I am sure I will, possibly a guest appearance with them this summer at a festival . As far as I know there are no plans for me to tour as I do very very few live gigs, but I expect that the Conspirators will get to the USA at some stage. They’re a lovely band  
 
Thanks again for speaking with me. I’ll be in touch soon.