Gordon: "The first time you saw snow" is a song about rediscovering ones world, through a partner. It feels lived of course but maybe isn't. Do you you write songs to illustrate universal experience or are they always/mostly dealing with your personal life?
Shirley Lee: Wow, that is a good question. That song is 100% literally true. My favourite songs are little stories about things that have happened to me that I feel illustrate something which is universal. On occasion I have written from another person’s point of view, and if I get it right, it then feels like it happened to me too. If I get it wrong, then I end up not liking the song as it doesn’t feel “true”. I have said in the past it is like “bottling bits of life” – it is about trying to capture the essence of an aspect of our lives here on this planet and trapping it in a little song. I am also aiming for it to be uplifting in some way, which does not necessarily mean it needs to be cheerful. I don’t know why I feel so compelled to write songs, other than that I respond very strongly to other people’s songs that do this – I always want other people’s songs to be really specific and tell me something about their lives, something I can identify with, so that I don’t feel so alone.
Gordon: "The Reservoir", the farewell to a father, is another bittersweet favourite. Do you like any songs about parents, made by other artists?
Shirley Lee: I knew I wanted to write about my father’s death, and I was aware that probably every song-writer writes about the death of a parent at some point. I remember Roddy Frame writing a nice song for his father on the “Stray” album, and a band called Be-Bop Deluxe did one called “Islands Of The Dead” for song-writer Bill Nelson’s father, and Lennon did several, and “The Drugs Don’t Work” by The Verve is a brilliant song for his father, and Loudon Wainwright III has written several wonderful heart-rending songs for each of his parents. “The Reservoir” was actually the third or fourth song I wrote about my father’s death. I didn’t like the first three – they were depressing. I like this one though. I don’t find it depressing – I find it uplifting. When I sing the song I feel like dad is around, and in the song he is laughing at me, which brings me down to earth.
Gordon: How computerized are you when you write songs? The album feels organic enough...
Shirley Lee: This album is the first I have written using a computer. I think the only difference it made was that I wrote simpler songs, I felt less need for middle 8’s, lots of the songs just have verses and choruses. The good thing is that initial ideas recorded on the computer can then be released on record or at least taken into the studio and used in the track. I wanted the album to sound quite simple and organic, so it just features the five of us playing in Brian’s studio, and he is good at getting mice sounds in a natural way, rather than using samples etc…
Gordon: What is benathee pie? (from "Spiraline girl", I must be bungling the spelling)
Shirley Lee: Banoffi Pie is an English dessert made from bananas, cream, condensed cream and pastry or biscuits. It now seems quite popular in American restaurants too. It is very sweet and absolutely delicious!
Thanks Shirley, for the great answers! För den som vill veta mer om skivan, självbetitlad, hur den kommit till och vad som hände med Spearmint, rekommenderas Shirleys hemsida. Man kan också spana in hans myspace om man vill lyssna på några av låtarna. Spearmint gör för övrigt en spelning i London i september för att fira att det är 10 år sen A Week Away släpptes och skivan kommer att spelas i sin helhet. De kommer också att göra några spelningar i Tyskland.