On Her Past, Present & Future
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman
Foe, is the alter-ego of Hannah Louise Clark. A Hampshire-based,
21-year-old musician who lets her demons out through Riot
Grrrl indebted fuzzy guitar tunes with a 21st Century twist
or what she has labelled as, Circus Grunge Pop Rock (imagine
a female singer-songwriter produced by Sleigh Bells). And whose collaborator
/ boyfriend is Entrepreneurs Adam M. Crisp. With angsty / in-your-face
lyrics stemming from an alienated school experience offset
by her ever-changing colourful wigs and abstract videos. Foe has revealed
that she is happiest when making music and her debut EP,
Hot New Trash, even came wrapped in unique, handmade and personalised
7 sleeves that were returned to people who had donated these following
an online request. Clash summarised: What shes doing is
a sneering, brash amalgamation of PJ Harvey seduction, feisty attitude
and scratched, skewed pop.
While Soundsphere wrote: Delightfully progressive,
dark and addictive, the music of Hannah Louise Clark as Foe ranges from
catchy electronic-pop to alt-rock via jazz and blues influences. It
is truly diverse, and the artist's personality makes for an interesting
study. With Hannah telling the webzine: Foe allows Hannah
to be something she is too scared to be herself. When I was younger
I was always wishing I could be a bigger person, and stop being so shy.
Yeah, Foe is definitely spurred on by my childhood I've spent
a lot of time on my own making music. Probably an unhealthy amount!
Foe (as in friend or foe) to me is about loneliness. I can never rely
on people, they always let me down. The songs on the album are a lot
more personal, compared to the EP. And if all that wasnt
enough to whet your appetite, Shirley Manson is a fan as well!
Set to burn a hole into the music scene, its
time to befriend a foe
Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking
forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans
1.Was there a specific moment in your life when you began to view
songwriting as an art form, and are you able to read music?
I guess when I was about 13 and I started listening to stuff like
Pj Harvey and Nirvana, which I have since always adored, I was inspired
to write my own songs. I had guitar and piano lessons from quite a young
age, but never took them that far. I can read music, but I'd like to
be better at music theory.
2.Which song was the blueprint for Foes sound I read
that buying a £40 organ from a charity shop was a turning point
I was listening to The Doors a lot and one day I decided I had
to find an organ. I went to a town nearby called Aldershot that same
day and found one. It's one of my favourite things in the world! I wrote
a song called Tyrant Song using the organ as one of the main elements,
and this kind of became my main starting point.
3.Do you enjoy sparring musical ideas with your songwriting
partner, and how often do you surprise each other with what you individually
come up with?
Well I actually write all the Foe stuff alone. I then take the
demos to Entrepreneurs and we re-record them on better equipment. So
it's quite a lonely process, but that's why the project is called Foe!
4.Do you deliberately restrict yourself with what you write music
on a la The White Stripes in order to become more inventive
with certain instruments and take them as far as they can possibly go?
I guess I have restricted myself with the ingredients I use in
a way yeah. For the last batch of songs I did I restricted myself to
organ, guitar, bass and drums. I kind of see the music as a back up
for the song and the lyrics more than anything though, so I push myself
more in that area of writing.
5.A number of British vocalists adopt an American-style accent when
singing, although you sing with your own accent was this a conscious
Hmm not really, I don't really understand why people do that!
I just sing how it comes naturally to me.
6.Some songwriters think of singing as elevated speech and
Elbows Guy Garvey once said: The Holy Grail for any writer
is finding new ways of expressing familiar feelings. Especially the
feelings youve not put into words before. Would you agree
That's true I guess yeah. It depends what you're trying to achieve,
but I think my writing will always be personal. I do sometimes worry
that I'll run out of things to say haha, but I'm sure as long as I'm
living I'll find new inspirations, and maybe learn new ways of saying
things. If not, there's always a thesaurus...
7.Growing-up, did you ever write any lyrics on your school bag or
folders + were you ever a member of a bands fan club or did you
try to emulate a musicians look?
I did write lyrics on my bag yes. I also had a huge songbook compiled
with guitar tabs and lyrics, which was covered in doodles. Probably
some quite embarrassing writing too! I was never a member of a fan club
no, but the music I liked definitely influenced the way I dressed. Kurt
Cobain was a pretty big influence. Still is though really!
8.How often do you listen to your entire record collection or
are there particular albums that you tend to pick out and play more
than others and do you have a cherished way / place to listen
I think because I spend so much time making my own music, I don't
listen to that much really. But when I do it's usually in my car, and
I usually binge on one thing for a month. At the moment its Bjork.
9.Whats the most unusual track that youve ever heard, and
the most hypnotising record?
Hmm, I could probably think of others, but I guess Captain Beefheart
Trout Mask Replica works for both of those.
10.As a couple of your songs have a cut-up feel, what are your thoughts
on samples being used in tracks, either as an additional texture or
as the main hook itself, such as on M.I.As Paper Planes?
If it sounds cool, and it's showcased in a new way, I think that's
fine. I'm not so impressed when samples are used pretty much exactly
like the original. What's the point?
11.How do you find performing to audiences and have you ever consciously
observed frontmen and frontwomen / taken anything from them?
Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. It really depends
what mood I'm in. I guess I probably have observed other frontwomen,
and maybe I have copied, but not knowingly. I guess everything we do
comes from somewhere!
12.I really enjoyed reading the story of how you produced DIY covers
for your debut EP even customising Walkmans and making Mixtapes
for fans who sent over 15 sleeves! So, with this in mind, do you have
any favourite collectibles + have you ever bought any unusual merchandise/memorabilia,
such as The Flaming Lips recent jelly skull with music inside
or Radioheads newspaper?
Thank you! I'm really inspired by that sort of stuff, but thinking
about it, I don't think I've ever bought things like it myself. I guess
it's similar to listening to music. When you put all your effort into
making your own, sometimes that's enough.
13.What are your views on the quick turnover of artists / groups
in the UK music press, and have you thought about the level of fame
that you would like to achieve I read that youre signed
I think it's sad really, but I guess there are so many more artists
and bands now than there ever has been! So it's difficult. I've never
been interested in fame. As long as I can keep creating the music that
I want to then that suits me. Whatever else happens is a complete bonus.
I feel very lucky to have been signed considering the way things are
at the moment, but even if it doesn't work out, I'll still continue
to write music. It's just what I do.
14.Some music critics believe that every great album is as much
about what the artist chooses to leave out. So, do you feel that
youve made the debut LP that you set out to?
Hmm, I think so yes. It's hard to be objective on it really. Whenever
I finish a project I straight away start thinking about the next thing.
15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
A very special thanks to Foe for all of her time