Rachael Dadd is seated onstage at North London’s The Luminaire, arranged on a table beside her is a collection of crockery and three sets of chopsticks. It is an interesting experimental set up that I’m lucky enough to watch blossom into a spontaneous, twinkling performance of a new song that she tells me is inspired by her husband’s cooking of rice.
Musician friends Kate Stables and Rozi Plain assist in tapping, clapping, poking and prodding the various cups and saucers arranged on the table. It might sounds like a scene of disarray but the combination of lyrics outlining a systematic cooking process paired with the muted tinkling of dishes around them creates a surprisingly hypnotic effect.
Her husband, Japanese musician Ichi, employs, in his own work, eccentric experimental techniques combining ping pong balls and loop pedals, steel-drums and trumpets: an amalgamation which again creates an orderedness and calm amidst its seeming haberdashery of sounds. He too, joining Dadd onstage during the soundcheck, will join her this evening for some of the songs to be showcased from her latest five-track EP Elephee. Speaking on getting to work with Ichi; Dadd states: “we’re pulling our styles together and meeting in the middle which is really nice ground to be meeting in because individually we’re really different from one another. He has quite an experimental approach [to music] so he’s inspired me to be a bit more experimental as well.”
Much in keeping with her usual style of delicate folk songs she tells me the five tracks were all “collected up over time and over quite a wide time span”, with the oldest dating back five years. However it is their descriptive depth and natural imagery as a running theme throughout that allows them to flow as if they were all intended to sit side by side on this latest release.
The Bristol based artist states Elephee should be taken as a whole; listened to as one piece in and of itself. It would be unfair to promote one track as they are all “quite downbeat songs, not radio songs” she says of attempting to promote the EP on the back of the release of a single, something she was adverse to doing. “I am very happy with it as a whole, plus it’s got the DIY aspect” she notes of the beautifully self-illustrated CD artwork. Hearing her talk about her degree in textiles which she admits put her off of creative ventures for a time, it is clear she has found her niche in creating things purely for pleasure. “As long as I don’t leave everything ’til two days before the tour it’s usually ok”, she jokes. Like her music the whole artistic process of her work is a labour of love and allows a little time for reflection, a quality that unites her music with the record label Broken Sound. Elephee, all bar one track, was recorded at the home of Broken Sound’s co-runner Chris Lucraft, whom Dadd thanks in the liner notes of the EP.
Rachael Dadd’s music is sure to reach fresh ears with these new tracks; having already received airplay on various BBC radio shows, including Gideon Coe’s, with whom she recently recorded a session. ” ‘Elephants Swimming’ has been played on the radio a lot”, she says, and although she wouldn’t confess to having a favourite track; this opener would be the one she would choose if forced.
Despite Elephee’s construction as a patchwork of songs from different segments of time, the EP feels very much a natural extension of After the Ant Fight and Moth in the Motor due to its recurrent themes of nature and the vivid depictions of these dreamlike landscapes: “and we are the bareback riders on silken coat companions/and we will feed them breadcrumbs to make their hooves pound in an iron shoe of rust/in a mushroom cloud of dust/all coloured like the rocket dusk to where we are bound”. Whether in the familiarity of her everyday retelling of watching a documentary show on television, or channelling certain timeless Joni Mitchell qualities in other tracks, there is a comfort in her hypnotic descriptions, laced with wispy vocals and soft instrumentation, beneath which are the concrete notions of time and place.