Following the release of her tenth studio album Murphy’s Heart, Thea Gilmore spoke to More Than The Music about the record industry and keeping it fresh.
More Than The Music: You’ve continuously turned down major record contracts. Was this is conscious decision from the outset of your career or something that came about as you learnt more about the industry?
Thea Gilmore: Youthful arrogance really… I just didn’t understand why I would do the things that were being asked of me. Then came the learning.. that my arrogance had been right all along!
MTTM: Murphy’s Heart is your tenth studio album, how does it vary from the others and how do you keep your writing innovative?
TG: Its more honest and barefaced really. Quite often, to keep myself musically alert I’ll draw inspiration from the great musical genii like Cole Porter. More than anything though, reading and listening are the things that make a difference.
MTTM: This album comes on the eve of your thirtieth birthday, do you ever worry that given the number of albums you’ve made at such a young age, one day the material will run dry?
TG: I try not to worry about that stuff… what will be will be.
MTTM: You’re from a rural village in Oxfordshire, do you think this shaped your style of music and outlook on life?
TG: Possibly. It certainly meant I had a lot of time on my hands to hone my writing skills… my village had no pub, no shop, no kids and one bus a week to the nearest town.
MTTM: In 2005 you went through a period of depression, how did this change your view of the world and affect subsequent albums?
TG: It didn’t change my view of the world… it just made me realize that I am, by nature, someone prone to that stuff… in that way, it is always present in what I do.
MTTM: You’ve previously criticised Radio One for dropping Cathy Davey when she waned in popularity. Now you’ve been A listed for Radio 2, are you grateful for the coverage or is there a sense of cynicism that comes with it?
TG: I’m grateful. Always grateful. But also very aware that anything to do with media has its fashions and I’m not immune to their effects.
MTTM: You recently did a few dates to trial new album material, how do you gauge a crowd’s reaction to new songs and did their reaction influence the songs which made it onto Murphy’s Heart?
TG: Yes and no… Mostly no because the reaction was so positive to what I played that I didn’t leave anything off!
MTTM: You’ve been quite outspoken about the fact that there are often males behind the scene influencing the music which women create, yet you made your break in the industry when pushed by Neil Stoner (who has subsequently become your partner). Could it not be argued since he produces your albums that even you are subject to male influence within your music?
TG: Of course. But Nigel doesn’t write my songs for me or tell me what to sing, what to wear or how to look. He helps me make great sounding albums. He is no more prey to using female stereotypes to sell music than I am.. which is the influence that I object to.