INTERVIEW/ PREVIEW: Lauren Kinsella (Jerwood Jazzlines Fellowship Commission Premiere, Birmingham, 13th October)

Lauren Kinsella


Lauren Kinsella’s new work, "Somewhere in Between" will be premiered at The Birmingham Literature Festival on October 13th. The pieces is part of her Jazzlines Fellowship. Lauren  explained the background in an email interview with Sebastian Scotney:

LondonJazz News: How did the idea of "Somewhere in Between" come into being?

Lauren Kinsella: I'm a Jerwood Jazzlines fellow this year. I chose to research, compose and perform a project based on a multi-disciplinary event involving poetry, theatre, improvisation and song. This idea came about over a conversation one evening in the Netherlands that I had with Gerry Godley, the director of Leeds Conservatoire and what text means to me as a contemporary vocalist and composer. I’m really excited as the rehearsals begin shortly. We are playing at this year’s Birmingham Literature festival and I hope the performance reaches a new audience who might be interested in reading, the theatre and plays, but also contemporary music. In this way, the project is about bringing multiple art forms together and celebrating the use of text in contrasting ways. As a singer I am always fascinated with the multi-faceted colour of text through sound and meaning.

LJN: It’s a literary festival. What are the literary connections?

LK: I’ve always loved books - fiction, poetry, autobiography… My Dad has a second bookshop in Ireland and ever since I was young, I’ve been around loads of old and new books. People bring in collections to the shop that they want to get rid of to make space usually! You always knew you were in good hands when you’d open the first box and see Raymond Carver, Dorris Lessing and Herman Hesse. So yes, books and reading are important to my work as a composer, lyricist, improviser and vocalist.

LJN: Which poets did you choose? 

For Somewhere in Between, I chose to research three contemporary, living poets and to utilise their poems in contrasting ways. They are Simon Armitage, Maura Dooley and Micheal O’Siadhail. I picked specific poems that spoke to me and that I thought would work well in a musical context for both spoken and sung word, and everything in between.

The audience will hear and visualise the poems in two ways;

- firstly through the voice of Peter Campion, the wonderful Irish actor best know for his work in London Irish. Peter will feature in the first set along with myself and the brilliant Hannah Marshall (cello) and Mark Sanders (drums).

-  in the second set, it will be the trio (myself, Hannah and Mark) reinterpreting the poems through a more song based format rather than spoken word.

LJN: What influenced your poem choices?  Also, once you had selected the poems what was your method of writing? What appealed to you in the text?

LK: When it came to selecting the poems, I’m not sure I really started out with a theme but I definitely ended up with one. It seems that I was drawn to poems that deal with people, places and events in life that shape us. Some of these events we have no control of really. Often the subject matters or stories in the poems are dealt through a lens of humour, tragedy, analogy or metaphorical meaning. You can read the poems and interpret them in lots of different ways which is what I hope people can derive from the music too. That’s the beautiful and infinite quality about art and music; you can interpret and perceive it in your own way. There is a sense of sadness, heaviness to some of the poems but in a tragic humorous kind of way – I love this.

LJN: And the way you want/need  the poems to interact with the music? 

LK: I want to be able to respond and engage with music via many tools. I am a singer and conveying meaning through words is paramount to what I do. Through the vocalising of the word comes its sound and as an improviser I am equally fascinated with both worlds, that of the meaning of the word but also the sound it makes and the process by which you come to that.

LJN: What are you doing over the next few months?

LK: Over the next few months I am fortunate to be involved in projects with some wonderful artists and composers. As well as the Jazzlines fellowship, Marsden Jazz Festival have commissioned me to write new music for this year’s festival so I’ll be performing ‘what window do you look out of’ on October 10th with Tom Challenger, Dan Nicholls, Conor Chaplin and Simon Roth – dream team.

I am also touring two of Irish composer Ian Wilson’s works around the UK, Ireland and Scotland in October and November. The first of which is based on Bram Stoker’s legendary Dracula called I Burn For You in which I play Mina alongside vocalists Phil Minton and Attila Csihar. The performance also involves visual art and a live score. Ian Wilson’s other work which I am part of entitled The Last Siren is a libretto written for improvising vocalist and sound artists. Inspired by the Greek story of the Sirens, it’s a one-singer, experimental opera featuring the incredible Quiet Club (Danny McCarthy and Mick O’Shea.)

LJN: How does this all feed into your current point of focus?

LK: Well, Ian Wilson’s work is definitely a new departure for me, and a challenge – but one worth taking. I am on the stage in a new way – scary. But I want to be challenged in my work. The performance space in which the worlds of improvisation, theatre, visual art and dance are merged together fascinate me and I love making music in contrasting environments. Equally I love playing gigs in a concert venue with a more traditional line up and I have been really enjoying writing for the festivals in Marsden and Birmingham.

I also love singing in projects like Snowpoet where I get to collaborate and write music with Chris Hyson who has a unique musical vision. It’s a great band of players and people including Matt Robinson, Nick Costley-White, Dave Hamblett, Josh Arcoleo. We have lots in store for next year, so stay tuned!

o - o - o - o

Town Hall and Symphony Hall’s Jazzlines Fellowship scheme is supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

Forthcoming dates for Lauren Kinsella's groups:

Blue-Eyed Hawk:
Match and Fuse Festival on October 15th,
EFG London Jazz Festival on November 17th
STRUT festival in Ireland on November 19th -Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Snowpoet 
London Jazz Festival on November 15th at Union Chapel

LINK: Somwehere in Between will receive its premiere in the Studio Theatre in the Library of Birmingham. BOOKINGS

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