Interview by Amy Vaughan

What people say about Judy Dyble:

Working with Judy has been fabulous, she's such a lovely, humble person with some incredible stories to tell and she still has such an amazing voice, the same as back in 1967. When we were recording the tracks with her, I'll never ever forget how I sat in the control room and watched her record her parts, constantly pinching myself because I couldn't believe it was actually happening, I still can't believe it! We're very privileged to have this experience with her, and we're very much looking forward to playing our release party with her on the 1st March. Laura Goodacre - Drums and Percussion, The Conspirators

"Judy and I started a band with Jackie McAuley called, "Trader Horne" back in 1969. We hung out in London, rehearsing, writing songs, and getting ready to begin recording and playing live shows. We had a great time, and interacted well with each other musically, with a melding of folk and psychedelia I suppose you could call it. Jackie used to play with the band "Them" along with Van Morrison; I always felt he was a wonderfully soulful guitarist. Judy's early work with "Fairport Convention" was also very cool. I heard some of her more recent work a while ago, and I was as impressed with her voice and vocal approach today as I was back in 1969. I left "Trader Horne" to fly to the USA for the first time; unfortunately this was before I had a chance to record on their first album.

I used to play with a trio called "Sam Gopal Dream" back in 1967. We worked in some of the same clubs as "Fairport", including the "Middle Earth" in Covent Garden, London...formally known as the "Electric Garden". Britain was alive with music in the sixties, a great time to be young, stoned, and playing in a band. Judy and I have reconnected, and exchange music and ideas once in a while. I hope we play together again someday." Pete Sears

The Interview with Judy Dyble - By Amy Vaughan

Amy: Is anyone else in your family musically gifted like yourself? I know you have mentioned that your sister was a singer as well.

Judy: Both my sisters and I started learning to play the piano, but I was the only one that continued to do so, I don’t think my brother ever learned. So the answer really is no, I suppose. Although they can all sing and hold a tune and I think have all been in amateur choirs at one stage or another, I was the only one that took it further.

Amy: Have the original Fairport Convention members Ashley,Richard,Simon and yourself ever try to remember and piece together the September 1967 boat incident ? For instance, did it sink while you were still playing? What happened to your instruments?

Judy: No, we have never talked about it. And I am probably the only one who remembers it!. I only see the Ashley, Richard and Simon intermittently at Cropredy and there is never enough time for that sort of reminiscing. Perhaps one day…
I think the boat just gradually began to fill with water, and all the instruments were taken off pretty quickly. It was a houseboat so it was moored next to the bank. It wasn’t floating down a river thank heavens…

Amy: Hahaha! Yes, that would have added insult to injury, would’nt it? Now, tell me about the most vivid memory you have of the concert at the Saville on October 1, 1967, when you appeared with the fledgling Pink Floyd ; have you ever crossed paths with anyone who was there that night and heard their impressions?

Judy: Oh that was an amazing thing and I can remember very little about it! Just very minor flashes really. We hired a most beautiful medieval style dress from a theatrical costumier for me to wear. The theatre was all red and gold and swags and swathes and velvet seats (I think) and a big stage. I don’t remember any of the other band’s performances, too amazed and stuck in the dressing room till it was time for our bit I think. The most vivid memory is being asked for my first autograph outside the theatre stage door. That was pretty extraordinary…. And no I don’t think I have met anyone who was there, it would be nice to find out what they thought!

Amy: Maybe this interview might jog a few memories,eh?
I have learned that as one grows older, some of the "'mistakes" and "disasters" in our lives become clearer to us, as things that might have had to happen to propel us forward.

I know you've referred to the unexplained sacking from Fairport in 1968 before the first album was released as the pivotal event leading to your next musical adventure with Ian McDonald, then Peter and Mike Gilles, and their friend the enigmatic Robert Fripp.

Somewhere into that whole scenario was introduced the unforgettable Sandy Denny as your replacement; through the philosophical wisdom that comes with time, does it seem like the universe, through a very painful experience for you at the time, yielded what it should have for everyone involved?

Judy: Yes, precisely that. It is only with the wisdom of hindsight that one can see where everything was leading. If I had stayed with Fairport and we had gone on as we were, there would have been probably no Liege and Lief, no blending of the traditional British folk songs with the rock instrumentalisation that has built up over the years to what I consider to be a very healthy ‘folk’ community.

And if I hadn’t met Ian McDonald and gone on to meet Giles Giles and Fripp then there possibly wouldn’t have been the King Crimson that there is now. I am not saying that I was instrumental in all these events, but I think I probably played a small accidental part in it.

And I wouldn’t be here now talking to you if I hadn’t worked with Trader Horne and continued to play with Fairport at their Festival and met Marc Swordfish who dragged me out of retirement. There must be a great pattern to our lives. However small and insignificant occurrences might seem to be, I don’t think things can happen unless some other thing has happened before. And if that one thing doesn’t happen then the whole world is changed. Crikey! That’s a bit deep isn’t it?

Amy: I tend to have that effect on people – I’ve probably missed my calling as either psychologist or mystic!

I have always admired Robert Fripp for his radical nonconformity and refusal to be boxed in creatively; as one of his oldest friends and colleague, what do you admire most about Robert?

Judy: I admire Robert for his ability to question and grow, spiritually and mentally both within and without music, but at the same time to retain his integrity and honesty within his working life.

I am honoured and delighted to have worked with him, even if it was for such a short time.

Amy: What was it like working with Robert Fripp again on your new albums? What particular flavor or stamp did he add to the mix?

Judy: I didn’t actually see or talk to Robert except by email. We just sent him the tracks that we thought he might like, he chose ‘Shining’ and went into his studio and recorded a guitar track and a soundscape and sent it back by post. I was really delighted that he liked the song enough to add something. What he added was an ethereal ambient soundscape and a lovely peaceful guitar part that blended beautifully with the rest of the track.

Amy: As a long time librarian, I know that you have a special place in your heart for books. How would the title to your autobiography read, what would the subtitle be, and where else might one find it catalogued under( other than "Autobiograhies") if they wanted to check it out ?

Judy: “The Perils of saying Yes Without Thinking….” is the current title under consideration and the subtitle would probably be “Oooh Cripes!” You might find it in Music I suppose, Hobbies, Football, Romantic Fiction, DIY, anywhere I could stuff it on a shelf probably ?

Amy: Hahaha! I think I could probably use a subtitle like that for my own story! I've noticed your pictures with your dog on your website; have you ever been involved with greyhound rescue, or considered writing and recording a charity single for the cause?

Judy: I have had four rescue dogs, three of which have been greyhounds or lurchers, three from Animal Sanctuaries and the present one from one of the Greyhound Rescues. I always take the old dogs, (7 years plus) because they find it hard to get homes for the elderlies. I know that I don’t have them for very long, but so far each dog has made 12 years and the current one is heading for her 14th birthday, which is amazing considering she has raced and that usually shortens their lives.
My two previous greyhounds were Pets As Therapy dogs and I used to take them regularly to two residential homes for the elderly. They loved the biscuits and the attention, and the residents loved to stroke them.

My current dog wasn’t suitable as she is too spooked by things, slamming doors, dropped trays etc, so she is just my companion. She sleeps 23.5 hours out of 24, but then given the chance all greyhounds do that. They are the laziest dogs and only need two 20 minute walks a day. Take them for a 5 mile walk and they sleep for the next 3 days... I haven’t recorded anything for a charity single, but I did write an endorsement for a charity CD for BSAPP, a Bulgarian Dog rescue society.

Amy: Who was the key person who convinced the very musically retired you to take the plunge again?

Judy: This was Marc Swordfish, a member of the highly successful dance trance outfit Astralasia. He had mentioned to Talking Elephant Records that he would quite like to sample my voice and they put him in touch with me. As I had just begun my new policy of saying ‘yes’ to everything, I agreed to have a go. It was the best introduction possible for someone like me who had been, as you say, ‘very musically retired’ because it was a very laid back easy method of working. Marc would send ‘loops’ for which I would work out words and tunes to fit, then he would drive from Cornwall to near Oxford and record me singing into his laptop computer, take them away, add other musicians like Simon House and James Asher, and the current members of Astralasia and we ended up with three albums-worth of songs. So I am very grateful to him for that. I wouldn’t be here now talking to you if it wasn’t for him..

Amy: Huzzahs to Marc, and long live Judy's new "yes to everything"policy! Do you plan any other projects like the one you've just completed with The Conspirators?

Judy: There are a few projects in the pipeline. I hope to be working on a new album later this year with other talented young musicians and hopefully that will include having the opportunity of singing with Tim Bowness (No-Man) who has just the most wonderful voice. I am really looking forward to that, although I am quite shy about it as well…. Actually, I have no idea what is going to happen next. That is one of the joys of doing what I do! I expect to keep saying yes to things and then having a small panic!

Amy: Well, truth be told, from one shy person to another, we usually end up getting it done quite well,don't we? When being thrust in the public eye, do we have a choice? lol! Thank you so much for spending some time here with us – we are looking so forward not only to the release of your latest collaboration with the amazing band, The Conspirators on March 3rd, but all good things in the future!


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