Behind The Wall is the debut solo offering from London-based, half-German singer-songwriter and producer Vanessa Anne Redd. Having released albums as part of Rubicks, and Six Years, touring with John Foxx and Gary Numan, Behind The Wall, sees a departure from earlier electronic endeavours, offering up more pastoral soundscapes.
As well as being able to listen to the album in full below, Vanessa also took some time out to write a guest post for Folk Radio UK about the album.
Vanessa Anne Redd Guest Post
A house had been offered to me for the summer outside Limoges in western France by a friend of a friend.
It had a large downstairs stone floored room and an iron spiral staircase. In it was a mahogany armoire and pairs of wooden clogs hung on the wooden beams belonging to the couple who’d lived there all their lives.
The house next door was empty and had been a Nazi hospital that doubled as a French Resistance hideout. Locals told me stories of people hiding under the floors and running through the forest and up trees to escape searches.
The countryside was seeping into the house. The sun shone on the eerie. Spiders had moved in. There was a rat who lived in the walls. Snakes hissed at me in the garden. I was intruding into their world.
I wrote the album sitting on a concrete step looking out onto an open field, a big lone tree in its centre. That’s where the album title comes from – that spot, behind the wall.
It’s the links that bind us to someone even when they’re not there, like when Donnie Darko’s in the cinema and he sees the rabbit and then that gel stuff makes tracers between people, that’s Invisible Strings. The tape hiss on this one ties the song to everyone else whose recorded on that Toerag tape machine.
You’re walking through a forest, and Little Red Riding Hood tells you how’s she’s settled down with the wolf. She goes into details about animals licking wounds, vampire venoms cancelling each other out, sucking blood, the idea of feasting on darkness to create something beautiful and love conquering all. She gives you a biscuit she’s made and goes on her way to the sound of bells.
I’m not one to catch a wedding bouquet. There are so many possible avenues for life, following something that’s not what you actually want but society says is what you ought to do, may not be the best and only future that’s available, especially as a means to female independence. This is my if-Joe-Strummer-was-a-girl track.
You’re a jug filled with sunlight; the world is flat and you’ve sailed to the end. This is what you see teetering on the edge of a precipice. I channelled Syd Barrett on a beach then sat in that old French house with the stories of the war seeping through. You could still sense the blood. The song came from darkness and light. My friend Mike’s harmonica shines the blues over it.
THE ROAD THAT DRIVES US
In 1969 Daido Moriyama shot two black and white grainy photographs of the Tomei Expressway in Japan, they’re called The Road that Drives People. I saw them in 2014. Even though you can feel like a helpless outsider looking in on bleakness sometimes all you can offer is friendship and love, even though it seems small, it’s exactly what drives us on to survive.
BEHIND THE WALL
One day you walk out of your front door, and you come out in the middle of 1967. Everyone wants to go behind the wall to be free. I wrote this song behind an actual wall, at the time I was reading Paradise Lost and one day I turned round, and a snake was smiling at me. I got up very slowly then ran very fast. I built a wall with strings. We build walls to knock them down.
A fly was crawling around my writing page at dusk, and as I watched it the fly mused to me ‘we’re all going to die,’ I replied ‘I know.’ I played slide with an old Leffe bottle trying to answer impossible questions to that fly which only lives 28 days.
When you’ve got time on your hands, you do weird stuff. Just like being away from someone’s weird when you’re used to being with them. When I was alone in that French house writing my demos, I got bored and moved sticks around and filmed them for fun. I thought about how odd relationships are. Those sticks became my drone. As I said, weird stuff.
It’s a funny thing writing a solo album when you’re used to being in a band, but it’s ok. We don’t hate each other. We throw the boomerang and try to catch it when it comes back. Being friends is a cool thing.
A song is a totem, a dream catcher of the time. So are photos. There is a Duane Michals photograph of a couple hugging on a bed. I saw this with my friend. Years later, without either of us knowing, we both wrote a song called Proof based on this exact photo. Trumpets play us out to the end, proof we got this far.
Behind The Wall is out now via Sharp Attack Records and available via iTunes. She also has the single ‘Escape’ (from the album) out on 11 Nov, and she will be playing a one-off London show at Servant Jazz Quarters on 9 November.
Photo Credit: Dominic Lee