Imagine the dark melodrama of Nick Cave with the briefest whisper of PJ Harvey and the Lo-Fi grunge guitars of Sleater-Kinney and you’re getting close to something resembling Courtney Askey’s musical output thus far. With a clutch of EPs in her wake, Askey stands on the precipice of releasing her first full length LP, Oh! Softly Goes, this winter.
Committing to such a huge undertaking is a landmark in any career, but she’s taking it fully in her stride. “It’s just really exciting but also quite frightening,” she says. “It’s basically the sum of three years of work in writing, composing, performing, recording and producing, so it’s been quite an emotional experience – especially as my songs are all very personal to me. It’s a strange feeling when you’re letting go of something you’ve had control over for a long time.”
They say a debut album is the culmination of all your work so far, and it seems ‘Oh! Softly Goes’ is no exception. “The album feels like it encapsulates everything I’ve done musically. There’s really dirty grunge bits and there’s soft, haunting solo songs. It’s essentially the most rounded collection of my music I could have hoped for.”
Having ping-ponged between performing solo and with a band, Askey has finally decided that she prefers the company of other musicians. “I’d always wanted to play as a band, because I have a lot of ideas for full band compositions and how things should sound as a whole. The bass player is my Dad, who is also in Echolocation with our drummer, Dan Hessing and our guitarist Tiff joined the band this summer after I put out an ad looking for a new member and she’s added a really nice dynamic to the overall sound.”
There are pros and cons to being in a band with a relative but there’s a lot to be said for the records handed down to you from your parents that stay with you forever, whether you appreciated it at the time or not. “My favourite music now is more or less the music my dad was inflicting on me when I was a child on car journeys and I just wanted to listen to Busted and S Club – so we both appreciate the same sounds.”
Whilst the band is taking the fore for now, Askey is a true multidisciplinarian, which comes across through her lyrics, and more immediately in her videos. “Music and art definitely work together for me. I never really ever stop working because I’m always doing some project or another. I primarily work with photography and moving image, so that definitely finds its way into my music. I’m very much a visually driven person, so I always see songs as a series of images, like a film, which is why they’re often loaded with imagery and stories.”
While Leicester has been the incubator for the band and the album, it’s not without some ambivalent feelings. “You know that song by LCD Soundsystem New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down? Yeah it feels a bit like that sometimes. There are people making incredible, innovative music and there are people working to get those people seen and that music heard but you can still go to gigs on Friday and Saturday nights with six people in the audience. I find that really sad. I kind of want to cycle around on one of those bikes with speakers on and just throw gig tickets at people and shout ‘Go! Go! You will love it! You will have a good time! You don’t know what you’re missing!’ The people that do attend gigs and support local music really warm my heart.”
Oh! Softly Goes comes out this winter on Blizzard Records.