Shona Foster is a perfect example of homespun talent taking the reigns of her own career in an emerging post-record company world. Her music defies easy pigeonholing – something that would have annoyed an A&R man anyway – so we’ll try not to annoy her by whispering Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Waits…
Has it been a long process developing your sound for release?
It’s taken quite a while to get to this point, I guess. As well as the EP we’ve been working on the album as well so it’s an ever-growing process. I’ve been making music since I was a teenager really but the project as it is, about four years. It started off quite differently, it’s taken that long to really get my sound together and figure out which direction to go in, what instrumentation to use.
It certainly doesn’t sound like the kind of sound you arrive at on day one…
We did do a lot of recording just like that, but it definitely took some time to let it develop naturally, to flow without forcing things.
How comfortable are you about people’s insistence on making easy comparisons – like ‘Ella Fitzgerald on Viagra’?
That was a funny one! Obviously you’d like the music to just speak for itself – everyone dreads the question of ‘what do you sound like’ – describing your music yourself is really difficult. I guess it’s only if you’re compared you to someone you don’t like then you might take offence, I’ve been lucky enough to be compared to people who are quite amazing so any comparisons made so far have been fine – it doesn’t bother me too much.
So this is the time it all starts getting busy, gigging and recording the album?
Yes, well we’ve got a few gigs coming up in October to launch the EP but my head’s quite buried in getting the album finished and ready for release next year. It kind of takes up your life. There’s no scheduled deadline date but we’re thinking kind of springtime hopefully.
Is it an easy show to take on the road?
I have my kind of core band – Sam on drums, Matthew on piano, Matthew on bass and me on guitar and vocals – we tend to have that for the further gigs when we have to travel round. The more orchestral bits from the record can be changed around – the arrangements have that kind of flexibility.
So tell us about the label.
A guy called Johnny Reggae runs The Independent Label Scheme, it’s basically there to help people do it themselves, the whole DIY route. We were good friends anyway and he runs it with our lawyer. It’s been really helpful, there’s so much you’d never think about especially as an artist – generating barcodes and all the label side of things. It’s helped us make sure we’ve got everything in place.
The whole package looks really impressive.
It’s amazing how much work you have to put into that side of things, but I guess I’m a bit of a control freak, it’s quite satisfying to know I’ve checked everything myself and I know what’s going on in each area – to me that’s quite good.
Radio currently has a good mix of artists like Florence and Bat For Lashes – a healthy environment to be releasing in?
I guess so, they’re strong female artists. It’s a strange area for me, I’m not sure how my music’s going to fit into any kind of radio show, it’ll just take someone who really likes it to push it. It’s not part of any kind of trend. But that’s not why I’m doing it – as I said I’m a bit of a control freak and as long as I’m happy with the sound… If other people like it, great, if they don’t then who knows?
Shona Foster plays the Prince Albert on Wednesday 14th.
The Hard Work EP is released on Monday 26th.
WORDS BY NICK COQUET