Beautifully layered music reflecting her time in London is what inspired singer-songwriter, Sailing Stones’ pen when she began working on her debut, ‘Polymania.’ Due out this Friday, April 24, 2020 – ‘Polymania’ is a delightful, mature pop record that balances Sailing Stones’ graceful vocals with pristine sounds. We talked about the moves made that set the foundation for the album, various scenes she’s been a part of, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: From the press of play on “The Fire Escape,” we can hear that your voice is somewhat effortless and pure. Did you come about singing naturally or were you the type of person who grew up in choir and whatnot?
Sailing Stones: Thank you! There was no formal training, I always just liked to sing and realized that I could in my teens. In Ireland, the ‘sing-song’ culture is very prevalent, much more so than the choir thing, which is much more formal. That’s how I got into singing on a regular basis.
Kendra: Your debut, ‘Polymnia,’ starts and ends your time in London. What inspired the move to and from, and do you feel like with some time in Bristol will inspire another record?
Sailing Stones: The move to London from Dublin was because I got a management and publishing deal in the UK, and I felt ready for a change of scene. I got a lot from my time in London, but it was never really going to be somewhere to settle for me. I had a lot of fun there and learned a lot. But it was time to move somewhere quieter, friendlier and cheaper! London was very inspiring in its challenges mostly, I felt quite sensitive and raw when I lived there – it was quite a relentless and ruthless pace for me. I went back recently and realized how much the sprawling, towering city informed the lyrics on the album.
Some of the songs were written during my first months in Bristol, reflecting back on that period in London, and the record was made here in Bristol with producer, TJ Allen. So it has a Bristolian twang! But I’m about halfway into writing the next record here. I definitely want to make another record in Bristol. I find the caliber of musicianship here is making me want to up my game, even though it’s daunting. New city, new record. That’s the rule!
Kendra: How do the two music scenes compare when you think about London vs. Bristol?
Sailing Stones: London is so vast. There are so many little scenes, so you can’t really generalize. And I tapped into a few scenes when I was there, all of which were very different – everything from the bohemian, folky scene with venues like The Gladstone and Jamboree (lots of people playing Townes Van Zandt songs and drinking whiskey until dawn) to the very polished, professional session world. My experience in London was definitely more industry-centric than scene-centric, which was one of the reasons I wanted to leave in the end.
As for Bristol, I still feel quite new here but I see the same thing – lots of little scenes – all of which are brilliant. The quality of music coming out of Bristol at the moment is astounding and people work with a really nice ethos. People seem more eager to experiment here.
Having said all that I’ve found that my experiences with scenes can make it difficult to forge my own path, and I have a tendency to merge too easily with others around me, so I try to carve out a quiet space for myself to work and tap into what it is I want to do.
Kendra: Before you dropped “The Fire Escape” you released “Don’t Tempt the Shadow” last October. When you were writing and recording, was that always the song you had in mind as the lead single?
Sailing Stones: Not really. It was just one that stood out and seemed to be a favorite with a lot of people.
Kendra: We all hope to carve our own path, but we also can’t help but admire those who came before us. With that, is there an artist whose career you admire not only based on their talent and impact of their music but also how they carried themselves?
Sailing Stones: There are so many. I admire any female artist who forges their own path in genuine confidence, has a healthy creative process and does things independently. Also, it’s really heartening to see women like that juggle healthy family life alongside a healthy creative life. Artists that inspire me in that regard include Alela Diane and Mariam The Believer, who had her daughter in the same week as I had mine. It’s nice to see her in the studio with her baby in a sling. It gives me the kick up the ass to do the same!
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned…
Sailing Stones: The world is changing on a daily basis at the moment, and I’m currently trying to figure out how this pandemic is going to impact my plans. We had a tour scheduled for May, but it’s looking like it will be rescheduled to Autumn of this year. I had thought of delaying the release of the record, but since people seem to be slowing down and self-reflecting, I feel it’s the right time for it to get out there and hopefully grow some legs before the tour in Autumn.