A new one to watch: Amplified refreshing ambient tremors cascade through vocals like tightly bound silk. Beautiful and savvy to be sure. Read on...

Posted on Mar 29th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Alice O’Leary / By Clementine Lloyd
Alice O’Leary Living in London, but encompassing the light and fluttering vocal stylings of the Icelandic queen of pop Bjork, Alice O’Leary approaches music in a refreshingly ambivalent and yet perpetually passionate way. How can this be so? Alice explains, “If I listen to a band I love, I find it very hard to get motivated to work on my own stuff, you sort of think what’s the point when they've already achieved perfection? That's when you realise that the reason you write music is far more complex than you gave yourself credit for”. Ignoring the music Alice loves in life, she sculpts her own style through the ambient sound of life in all its myriad facets, making a fresh creation that hums with raw speculative beauty.

“When I was young I became obsessed with recording sounds, like photographs. My mum’s sewing machine, the chime of the clock in the hall, the shipping forecast. One night I was home alone during a thunderstorm. I got really scared so I sat in the porch with the door open, my dog sat next to me and we recorded it all. That's one of my favourite samples. It is not just the sound, it is the memory it evokes, so when I listen to my music all these memories flood out. So I take the samples and layer them up, I love this part, the first song I wrote had over 70 of my recordings in it. Lately I've tried to cut back on this a bit, my songs are now much simpler but you'll still find lots of little sounds that appear once and are never repeated.”

The result is interesting to say the least, reaping the rewards of a passion for sound. Not simply music, but the way in which those audio cues inform our daily lives in a way we do not consciously recognise. The love and respect of the audio is pure, unencumbered by a desire to want to be defined by her music, or define the music by her presence at the forefront, “I’ve never been comfortable with the limelight, playing live is fun and I enjoyed it at the time but the thought of being a solo artist terrifies me”. It is the investment in the music which drives things forward, fundamentally using the process for her own personal peace of mind - “I write because I love it, it makes me happy and clears my head. Of course I'd love for people to enjoy my music, but I think it's not good to dwell on that too much”. When listening to O’Leary on each track, this unassuming attitude guilds her voice, saying much more than the lyrics convey, “It's very personal, [which is] one of the reasons I find sharing them so nerve wracking.”

Perhaps some early shyness that we hope will be battled against, as Alice’s creations enchant the ears in their story telling capabilities, emphasised by her careful compositions in tracks ‘Plum’ and ‘Helen’ where spoken word and melodies inform the layers of collected audio. O’Leary professes a desire to want each track to stand for itself, creating an album in which “every song is a story in its own right and not just there to make up the numbers”. It sounds deeply interesting, and rapt though we may be, the albums materialisation may take some time. “I want to look back at [my album] knowing I wrote it, played it, recorded it and produced it all by myself. This could take a little while, I once spent a month on one drum beat alone, but as I have no desire for fame I'm in no rush!”