An Pierle

The Pierley Bird Catches the Worm (no, hang on, that’s not right…)

Help! An Pierle is flirting with me! Well, ok that doesn’t REALLY sound like much of a nightmare does it? I mean, she’s a very attractive girl. But I’m a happily married man, so I can’t do anything about it, and as a result I’m getting rather tongue tied. She may see it another way of course, but trust me…she WANTED me!
Anyway, she was delighted to discuss her excellent recent album “Helium Sunset” with me…

AD: You’ve been described by various musical sources as being vocally reminiscent of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Polly Harvey, and musically compared to the songwriting of Nick Cave and early Roxy Music. How do you feel about that, and how would you prefer to be described?

AP: Well, I like very much that they’ve sensed that we listened a lot to Roxy Music – especially EARLY Roxy Music. I think it’s that whole mix of ballads, and decadent and theatrical emotion, along with a sense of experimentalism too…and that’s how I’d describe our sound as well.
When we recorded “Helium Sunset”, it really was a first for us, because the first album was just me all by myself. Back then, it was easier for people to compare me to Fiona Apple than any of those artists you mentioned, and the production was more John Cale than Nick Cave. But with the new album, there was a full band, and a lot of songs changed completely when we were in the studio – we had to really try to strip them apart. One chap came to see us live and after we’d performed about 100 times, he asked if we’d like to try using strings on the record, and from then on it was really nice to see the songs grow.

AD: How and where did you get your big break? Can you pinpoint an exact moment?

AP: I don’t know that we’ve ever had one! We just gotta go slowly, you know? Take our time. I mean, we haven’t really got huge radio hits or anything so we’re taking it one step at a time. We’ve achieved things in Belgium, so we moved on to France. Once we’ve achieved things there we’ll tackle Holland and so on. Of course, the more nice reviews you get, the more interviews you get, and that always helps. The most important thing is that, during that time, we’ve gotta change. That way you always leave the audience wanting more.

AD: I think the lyrics to “Medusa” are quite touchingly beautiful, and possess a poignant quality that appeals to me very much. I get the impression that this was a very personal song to you. Am I right?

AP: ALL the songs are a bit personal to me really. It kind of freaks me out a bit because in England, you all actually seem to understand what I mean by the lyrics! I’ve never been able to comprehend why that is…maybe I write in a sort of “Euro-English” way, because everywhere else I’ve played, people tell me that the words are impossible to understand!

AD: What’s your favourite song you’ve recorded?

AP: That’s a difficult one because it depends from day to day. If you play lots and lots of gigs like we do, then you can start to get a bit bored of a certain song, but if you look at it with the same freshness and tinker with it regularly, the music stays alive. The most important thing to me is not to work with too many samplers, and be careful with the sound. Our engineer is invaluable to us because I haven’t got “studio ears”. He has really BIG studio ears!

AD: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever een given, and what advice can YOU give to any talented, budding songwriters out there?

AP: It’s clichéd, but “It’s not what you do, but the way that you do it”. You need a lot of perseverance – don’t give up on one direction and go another way half way through. Stick with it, and you’ll get through it. Also, it’s vital that you surround yourself with people that you like! Talwnt isn’t the same as being a nice person, so there’s no point working with a bunch of people you don’t get on with!

AD: I guess not! Well, thank you very much for being kind enough to answer my questions…

AP: Ask me some more…

AD: Er…I haven’t GOT anymore…

AP: You haven’t asked me about the large balloon I sit on when I’m performing…

AD: Um…the what?

AP: I sit on a great big transparent balloon when I play…

AD: You do? Hmmm….sounds a bit rude that…

AP: Yes it does.

AD: Um….

AP: Haha! It’s an ergonomic chair! Very good for singing it is too, and it allows me to make all these little movements, because I had back problems for a while. But this is really nice!

AD: Maybe I should invest in one of those myself…

AP: You should. You can carry on asking me questions if you like…

And at this point, I thought it was best to make my excuses (it was something really poor like “I’ve gotta finish now, the cat needs shaving”) and go…
Still, it’s flattering being chatted up by a gorgeous female so I’m not complaining!
An Pierle’s wonderful “Helium Sunset” is out in all good record stores now. Go get it.

Interview; Tone E

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