Catching up with Kate Jackson
The Long Blondes carved themselves a deserved niche as one of the finest acts to emerge from the mid-noughties indie bubble, their angular guitar riffs and smart lyrics drawing praise from critics whilst providing potent-yet-poised dance floor kindling for indie disco DJs across the land. The group, originally formed in Sheffield in 2003, disbanded in 2007, but ex-front woman Kate Jackson has now returned with a new band, The Wrong Moves. With a debut album, British Road Movies, released earlier this year, the outfit have embarked on a UK live tour and will be making the trip up to Sheffield when they play the O2 Academy on the Saturday evening of this year’s Tramlines. Ahead of her return to the Steel City, we chatted to Kate about her memories of the city and life with The Wrong Moves.
You’ll be returning to Sheffield again for Tramlines - do you miss living in the city?
Yes I do. Sheffield is such a great place to live and a great place to be in a band. Dorian and I used to live just off Abbeydale Road, and then down on Valley Road in the Antiques Quarter. I really miss all the independent shops and the diversity of the city. That area was always a bit run down, but there were always interesting new restaurants popping up, or second-hand shops. It was never too gentrified. I miss walking around the city too, especially along the canals, taking photos of all the industry.
Both your music and art over the years seem to have clear Sheffield reference points at times. How would you say the city has influenced you?
Aesthetically it has heavily influenced my art, which takes inspiration from concrete and in particular brutalist structures such as the Park Hill flats. I think the music of Sheffield formed a lot of my early tastes too, in particular Pulp, but also bands like Heaven 17 and Cabaret Voltaire were a big influence on the Long Blondes. Sheffield is unique geographically and has a unique sound to it, embracing the industrial but also the eccentric. You can still be a poet in Sheffield.
You took a break from music for a while after the Long Blondes - when did you feel it was the right time to assemble The Wrong Moves, and release British Road Movies?
I moved back to the UK from Rome in 2014, and started thinking about music again after a four year break. I’d just been to see the Nick Cave docu-film ‘20000 Days on Earth’ and it made me think I should really do something with the demos that Bernard Butler and I made together. Strangely, Bernard had been working on the tracks again himself so when we spoke everything fell into place. I formed the band with friends of mine from Bury St Edmunds, and we’ve been working towards the release ever since.
I’ve read that Suede were one of your earliest musical influences, so to work with Bernard Butler on the album must have been rather special - how did that link-up come about?
I met Bernard years ago at a Rough Trade after-show party and we got on really well. When it came to choosing someone to work with on my solo album, Bernard was my only choice. I didn’t want to work with anyone else. Thankfully he agreed to do it!
Do you miss the Long Blondes, or are you happy to have drawn a line under that period? Do you keep in touch with any of your ex-bandmates?
Yes, we are in touch. All five of us met up in Sheffield for the first time in seven years last year, which was nice. We went to The Rutland Arms where we always had our band meetings. I don’t really miss it though, it was a long time ago now and we’ve all moved on with our lives. I’m more excited about future projects than past.
Do you have any ideas for the direction you’ll take from here - musical, artistic, or continuing with a mix of both?
It’ll be both, in tandem. I’m planning a new release with The Wrong Moves, and there’ll be more artwork to accompany that. Plus a new body of paintings and a couple of interesting musical side projects. Exciting times.
Words: Jack Scourfield
14 July 2016