Music Q&A:
Thea Gilmore

The British artist broke through with critically acclaimed album Avalanche 13 years ago. Eight albums on, she's released political album The Counterweight and plays Manchester's RNCM, 4 June

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Pretty much anything, to be honest, but this time around I was writing and recording during 2016 and being surrounded and living through the seismic shift culturally and politically that was that year. It was impossible not to be influenced by that.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?

I’ve changed a lot really. Back in my teens I was kind of morose and enjoyed focusing on the dark issues. Now, I’m still aiming to look at the darkness in life but more as a way to shine a light on it, offering hope, I guess. I think it’s important to try to do that when times get tough. Art is never great at giving answers, but it’s really good at asking questions.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?

Always writing, always got my head in what’s coming next. But this time around, with The Counterweight, I really want to focus on it and drive it into as many people’s hands as possible. I love the record and it’s an important one for me.

What’s on your rider?

Hmm… that varies from gig to gig. Usually some combination of red wine, carrots and cheap beer.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.

Most of my surreal or embarrassing moments stem from having young kids. I remember doing a show up in the Sage, Gateshead. It was a celebration of 10 years of the venue being open and there were lots of eminent North-Easterners playing, but we’d travelled from Winchester and we’d got stuck in awful snow so we arrived about five minutes before I was due onstage to sing a duet. We dashed into the dressing room and at exactly that moment my son, who was still in nappies at the time, decided to take the most enormous (and particularly pungent) dump. I was changing him in a panic on the floor in the dressing room when there was a knock at the door and in walked Sting to say hello! He reeled a bit from the smell, but was very polite and charming.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen, Wristband by Paul Simon, Here Comes A Regular by Paul Westerberg – the list is endless!

What’s your worst lyric?
God, I’ve written so many songs I can’t remember half of them. I have a particular hatred of the words “crazy” or “insane” in songs. I probably wrote many with those lyrics when I was 16!

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Thea Gilmore

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