I've been a fan of Tracey Thorn's music since hearing her in three different guises on the Cherry Red sampler Pillows and Prayers nearly 30 years ago [yikes]. You might know her as half of Everything But The Girl [they had a huge hit with Missing in the 90s], or the voice of Massive Attack's hit Protection, or other musical endeavours.
Last week Strange Feeling Records offered bloggers the chance to ask Tracey Thorn six questions. Those who asked the best questions and had a blog that she liked would get six answers back. Happily, my half dozen moments of interrogation earned a selection of authentic Tracey Thorn answers, reproduced below.
Q: Several songs on your recent album 'Love and Its Opposite' tell a story - why do you favour this approach?
TT: I think I've always written that way, I'm quite a prosaic writer. I'm not a heavy user of imagery, or metaphor, and my songs can be quite literal. I like to just tell a story and let listeners do some interpreting for themselves.
Q: Which song do you wish you'd written?
God Only Knows by Brian Wilson. Or I Don't Want To Hear It Any More, by Randy Newman.
Q: Some songwriters have words, phrases or images that crop up repeatedly [fire in early U2, for instance] - any words, phrases or images you try to avoid?
Not consciously, though as I've said, I think in general I avoid being over-descriptive, and I would certainly shy away from anything that seemed melodramatic, or heavy-handed. I prefer to suggest things rather than spell out every single emotion that I think the listener ought to be feeling.
Q: How did you get from teen angst artist to dance music diva?
I think I took the angst with me! My "dance music diva" songs often have pretty angsty lyrics (Missing, Damage, Protection etc). But really those aspects of what I've done are all part of what has been quite a long story. It's bound to have some variety along the way, some changes of style and tone. I wouldn't have survived otherwise.
Q: What's your worst vice as a songwriter or performer?
I often think I'm being very obvious when in fact what I'm doing seems to strike people as being very subtle, often too subtle for my own good. I could do with being more overt some of the time, I think. And shyness is my greatest stumbling block as a performer.
Q: What's your best virtue as a person?
I'm quite soft-hearted and I make very good banana cake.
You can preview all the tracks on Love And Its Opposite here. The album's among my recent favourites, particularly songs like Long White Dress and Singles Bar. I just wish Thorn or EBTG would go on tour, as I've never seen them play live. Onwards!