Photo credit:Ellie Lucas

Talking To...Maz O'Connor

Prior to her gig at Southport's The Atkinson, rising star of folk's third wave, Maz O'Connor, took time out to talk to Fatea's Peter Cowley about her career to date and her incredibly well received new album, "This Willowed Light", due out imminently on Wild Sounds.

P.C - Hi Maz, you're just about to release your second album?

M.O - Yes "This Willowed Light".

P.C - You spent last year on a BBC Fellowship with the EFDSS. How did that influence the album? Did you work on any material while you were doing that which is on the album?

M.O - Yes most of it. I left University two years ago and I moved to London and spent six months working three part-time jobs and trying to write. The Fellowship was an opportunity to leave all that and just spend time writing, so pretty much everything on the album came from that. It was written in that year.

P.C - The album's a mixture of traditional and your own material?

M.O - Yes, I think it's about half and half. With the traditional material, I've often written new tunes or as happens with traditional material you have to do quite a lot of editing and writing of your own to make it into something that makes sense.

P.C - Did you work with anyone else whilst you were doing that Fellowship Year?

M.O - I worked with Rowan Rheingans from Lady Maisery. We spent a week doing Collaboration Week and then at the end of the week, she played fiddle and banjo on my album and Jim Moray who produced my album. Through that Fellowship he was my mentor. We had a few meetings as mentor and mentee and then he said "Let's record something".

P.C - What was it like working with Jim?

M.O - Oh, it's good creatively. He comes up with things that you wouldn't imagine or expect and they work.

P.C - Jim's quoted as saying your album is the best thing he has worked on.

M.O - I think he means as a producer!

P.C - Did you have any special access to any particular material or Archives when you were working at The EFDSS?

M.O - Just the usual library access and I also spent a couple of days in the Sound Archives. The Librarians were aware that I had a Fellowship and they helped me. They were very helpful.

P.C - The Full English Archive is now available. Did you get much of your material from that?

M.O - Yes, the first song on the album is from that and that was being digitised whilst I was at Cecil Sharp House and I thought it was important to have a song from that.

Photo credit:Ellie Lucas

P.C - That's "Awake, Awake", which I think is a version of "Silver Dagger".

M.O - Yes, I think it's a version of that.

P.C - You raised the money for your Album by "Kickstarter", was that successful?

M.O - Yes, I was actually very lucky because I definitely underestimated the cost (laughs). I got maybe a few hundred pounds more than I asked for.

P.C - Is it more satisfying to raise the money yourself?

M.O - I like being in control of my own funds. I think if you were with a label they would make decisions on your behalf. I am signed to a label now but as a distributor which I prefer because it means that I don't owe anybody any money.This means that I start off with a balance of zero, which I like.

P.C - Turning to the songs on the album, the one has a video for it is "Derby Day". I believe this was commissioned by Broadstairs Folk that Festival?

M.O - Yes.

P.C - Was it to commemorate the death of Emily Wilding-Davison?

M.O - She was killed by the King's horse at the 1913 Derby. The brief was to write about women and they suggested that I might focus on Emily Davison. I didn't want to sing in her voice, so that's why I've given it that narrative.

P.C - It's from the point of view of a young boy who is with his father, that's an interesting perspective?

M.O - That's the only way I could make it work.


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