Lail Arad is a young up and coming folk singer/songwriter and engaging performer who has played with the likes of Devendra Banhart and has a growing reputation on the London folk scene. She releases here debut album ‘Someone New’ later this year. So, being intrigued by new and wonderful talent I managed to catch up for a chat and a cuppa. Maybe I’ll catch up again for an unconventional mango juice…
I hope you don’t mind me saying but you come across as being very unconventional in your approach to music, maybe even life. Is that a conscious decision or a natural one?
Definitely natural. And for that reason its hard for me to know how unconventional i am, or my music is, because my approach and decisions seem normal to me.. Sometimes I come across people who are surprised by my take on things… but then again maybe its them who are unconventional! Lets discuss this further over a mango juice, I’m curious about what exactly you find surprising!
You have a very wide taste in music going back to the likes of the Incredible String Band, was music a big part of your upbringing?
Listening to music was a big part of my upbringing, there were always records playing, definitely a lot of ISB! I realised as I grew older how much great music I had taken in, like passive smoking. And my Dad plays the guitar real nice too, but my parents are not musicians. My performing and singing really got going at school. There was a wonderful music department that put on a lot of little concerts where we could perform covers.. folk nights, rock concerts, cabarets.. i loved them all!
A lot of what you sing is very humourous. do you intentionally write it to be humourous or do you think that’s how you see the world?
Very much the 2nd option. I find the world a pretty funny place. It doesn’t make all that much sense when you look too closely. And I think that treating sticky situations with a pinch of salt is my way of dealing with that. I had no idea when I started writing that my songs would be humorous. Its a style that developed naturally the more open I became in sharing my stories. And thats why, I think, it tends to be bitter-sweet as opposed to real comedy..
You’ve signed to French Label Notify, how did that come about, was there a reason you chose that label?
It came about very organically. I met them, they invited me to play a showcase in Paris, it went very well, and everything rolled on from there. I never wanted to go through that gruelling route of making a demo, sending it to labels, waiting by the post (email?).. I concentrated on my live show and writing songs. This opportunity presented itself and it felt absolutely right. They’re a new indie label and its a pleasure to work with them.
If you had to set up a music collective with five other artists who would they be and why?
Oh I like this question!
Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes/Little Joy) not only because he’s beautiful.
Martha Wainwright so we can belt harmonies together. And I’d get to meet her family.
Beck because he’s a pro at collaborations and I’d absolutely trust him musically.
Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) because his production on Contra is so special.. I have a lot to learn from him!
Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich (The Blow) because I think we’ll get along great and she’s just so damn cool (listen to ‘Hey Boy’).
Who are your five biggest musical influences and can you tell us of a song from each that has influenced you in some way?
I find it really hard to choose so I’ll limit myself to people beginning with J.
Jonathan Richman (That Summer Feeling) – he just captures something. The song and its sentiments are deceivingly simple but they hit the spot. He’s so sincere its infectious.
Jeffrey Lewis (Life) – I listen to this song when I need a quick dose of perspective. Its so perfectly worded and structured. Light and funny but epic at the same time. Typically brilliant.
Joni Mitchell (California) – the easy of her voice, the flow of the phrasing, the melodies swooping up and down, the way she strums the strings, the mood changes within the song, the details of the scenes and characters she depicts… I could go on..
Janis Joplin (Little Girl Blue) – this is a cover of an old musical song, but the way she makes it her own you’d never know. you absolutely believe her, its hard to remember she didn’t write it. I love her big rock’n'roll numbers but the way she hold back and then rips out with her voice in this song taught me a lot.
John Lennon (Jealous Guy) – this is a perfect song for me. dreamy, evokative, but rooted it real life, real problems. honest, modest, thought-provoking. amazing writing, beautiful singing.
What has been the highlight of your muscial career so far?
Oh I’m enjoying all the time! Recording the album was one big long crazy highlight. Some of the shows I put on with 176 gallery last year were fantastic.. The infamous Devendra story where I ended up on stage is definitely one for the books…
What have you got planned that you’d like to let listeners know about?
More shows coming up – in London always, and also in Paris and Tel Aviv soon.. some festivals this summer! And that album should come out sometime soon.. !
See you there!
Yep! I’ll bring the mango juice
There you have it folks. How can anyone possibly resist her wonderful charm? I didn’t think so, so here’s her video to Who Am I with a free download:
Who Am I
Download Who Am I by clicking here
Lail demonstrating the art of Youtube exploitation with Adam Green
And for those of you that would like to see Lail in the flesh, she has some gigs lined up:
12 Apr 2010 Le Bataclan supporting Rose, Paris
18 Apr 2010 OneTaste @ The Bedford, London
2 May 2010 Camden Crawl – Poejazzi daytime event, London
16 May 2010 A Folking Good Night @ The Enterprise, London
19 Jun 2010 Winterwell Festival ! the countryside
Find and hear more at Myspace