Interview: Alessi’s Ark
Folkster Alessi Laurent-Marke is truly one of the London folk scene’s most talented exports – under the guise of Alessi’s Ark, she has created an album of age-defying proportions, spinning delicate, harp-strung melodies which are, above all, utterly captivating. Listen to her songs HERE.
-Hello Alessi! Thanks for agreeing to chat to us via the wonderful commodity of email. How the heck are you today?
Hello! All is well this end thanks, Jake and I are riding a train in Germany today.
-How did your Christmas Cracker show go? I’ve seen some pictures and it looked brilliant. Playing with Jake Bellows must have been extraordinary – I love Neva Dinova! What was your favourite ‘Christmas Crackers’ moment?
The whole evening was a dream. I had hoped for a long that an opportunity would pop up and allow friends and family to come together and it finally did. Jake is a special one, it was lovely to play with him.
-You worked with the legendary Mike Mogis on your debut album ‘Notes From The Treehouse’. How did you come into contact with Mr Mogis?
I met mike when he was on tour with Bright Eyes and stopped in London for a show in 2007. When he found a bit of time later that summer, we started working together on the album.
-You recorded the album in Omaha – do you think the local music scene in Omaha influenced the album’s sound? I can definitely hear some Americana influences in there, especially the guitars in ‘The Dog’.
The town beholds some special people and lovely scenery. Without a doubt, these things were inspiring.
-You’re lucky enough to be part of the wonderful London folkscene, which I think is probably one of the best music scenes in the world, as well as being such a creative environment. How has it been working in such close proximity with so many wonderful musicians and creative people? Do you think living in London has affected your music?
It’s good to step out of the hustle and bustle of London sometimes, of late I’ve been making visits to quite a few seaside towns. They’re inspiring.
-I’m sure you hear this all the time, but you started playing music so young! How did you get into music as a kid? Was there a particular experience or artist that kind of kick-started your musical development? Who was your musical idol as a kid?
I started playing the drums when I was eleven and played in the school bands. I picked up my sister’s guitar when I was about 14. Going to shows with my Dad and playing in the school bands kicked off a love for music. I never thought I’d start playing my own songs, let alone play the guitar or sing – throughout secondary school, when I’d finished my homework, I concentrated on my zine.
-How did you meet up with Thunder Power, and how did the split EP ‘Friendships’ come about?
We met at a show we played together in Omaha. They’re lovely people and Kacynna has a beautiful voice.
– I’m interested in your lovely zine The Brain Bulletin. What was the idea behind The Brain Bulletin and how was it conceived?
Brain Bulletin ran for about 4 years and consisted of all kinds of things ; drawings, stories, recommendations…etc. I’d print them off at a shop across the road from our house and give them out at gigs and really anywhere my family and I visited that we thought was special.
-You’ve been touring solo pretty extensively this year. What’s been your favourite touring moment of this year?
I’m grateful to have met some lovely people on these travels. Jake and I are having an adventure out here in Germany, it’s definitely a highlight! A lot of the listeners that come out to the shows feel like family, you can stay talking all together for hours.
-You’ve also done the festival circuit this year – what’s been your favourite festival moment of this year?
Playing with the Ark is always fun, no matter where we are. We enjoyed some of the bigger festivals but I think the smaller festivals like Nozstock were our favourites. They had a lovely family orientated atmosphere.
-To add to your list of talents, you also dabble in art. How did your art pieces & ‘Handmade’ exhibition come about?
A friend of mine, Lynden, is very supportive of the drawings. We both live close to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, it was a ideal spot for us to try putting on an exhibition together. She runs the Velvet Sneaker with a few of her friends and is a genuinely special being. Trying new things out isnt half as daunting when you do it with your friends.
-Tough question ahoy: what are your top three albums of the decade?
Oh boy…I’d like to cheat and list more?!
. More adventurous – Rilo Kiley
. You may already be dreaming – Neva Dinova
. Survival – forest fire
-If you could recommend some things to our readers to check out (it can be anything – a band, a song, a book, a blog or website, an event, artwork…) what would they be?
Music : jake bellows, coal beautiere,miniature tigers, sharon van etten, she keeps bees, heartless bastards, McCarthy Trenching, Rodriguez, karen dalton, whispertown 2000, forest fire.
Blogs : Anika in London, Broken Sound and Lois Jeary’s terms of endearment.
Artwork: benjamin phillips, charlie harper and molly costello.
Event: The Allotment – it’s a wonderful evening of music and cakes in London held by a friend of mine, Anika and Lynn of ‘for folk’s sake’. They’ve hosted it at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon and on Tamesis Dock on the river but might experiment with other venues next year.
The next two shows are knockouts!! It’ll be She Keeps Bees and Scary Mansion.
Books : ‘a new earth’ by Eckart Tolle and ‘me talk pretty one day’ by David Sedaris