Somojo Magazine

The Fabulists

Where Silence Should Be (2007)
Dog Violets (2010)

Hi, how are you?
Full of Life.

Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
The Fabulists are Shaun Milton (vocals, synthesizers) and Hermione Love (piano, vocals, keyboards), with Cai Marie-Garcia (bass), Daisy Coole (saxophones), and Eric Young (drums).

How long has the current band line up been together?
Formed 2005, current line up since 2007.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
A friend has suggested that there is a distinct `post-rock’ feel about the album. What we aimed for was a kind of garage band sound, but one with synths rather than electric guitars. The best description we’ve heard, describes the sound as a kind of `wood-cut’ Roxy Music (think about the quieter slower tracks on the 1st three albums; also The Beach Boys and very early Kraftwerk). There are elements of Scott Walker/Jaques Brel and Tom Waits too!

What have you been up to recently?
It’s the summer; everyone has been away. We finished mastering the album in July with producer Paul Barton and mastering engineer Steve Honest at his great new hybrid digital/analogue studio by the City of London. As the whole project has taken two years we had August off!

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
Hours of interesting listening pleasure. We will be gigging from October, first confirmed London date: 19th November, Bugbear at The Constitution, Camden Town. We are currently making a video for Moon Valley – it will be out on our website and YouTube around 15 September.

How did you meet each other?
The core of the band is Hermione and Shaun – we met through friends.

How did you come up with your name for the band?
Shaun read a biography on the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, in which he is described as the fabulizer of his own life. In other words he turned his life story into a fable.

Did you always want to be in a band?

What music did you listen to while growing up?
Shaun’s formative influences include the Beach Boys, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Traffic (especially John Barleycorn), Frank Zappa (especially Uncle Meat), Scott Walker, Alice Cooper, the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Ornette Coleman, and Tom Waits. When Hermione was growing up she listened to English Electric Folk (Pentangle, Fairport Convention), Nick Drake, Tom Waits, various members of the Wainwright Family, Kate Bush and David Bowie.

How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
For both of us it’s been since we were at school.

What were your first music making experiences?
Again, we both played in bands at school.

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
Shaun is completely un-taught. Hermione is a classically trained musician. She also plays drums.

What is your current equipment?
Yamaha digital piano, antique Hamilton harmonium, SH101 and Pro One synths, One valve and one transistor Phillips pillicorder, zither, various guitars and basses, and an original 1950’s WEM copy Cat!  

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Bluthner grand piano, Studer tape recorder, more synth and keyboard antiques! May be the new Korg mini synth and Roland Gaia for fun and live.

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
A lot of our equipment is too large or old to move so we use digital keyboards live. I don’t think we could move the harmonium easily!

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Well we have a number of routines, but they are fairly standard now. The songs for Dog Violets started in a number of ways: perhaps with a verse and a chorus; sometimes with only a piano part and a title: all were rough demo-recorded on a digital dictaphone to be taken away and worked on later. There was a lot of to-and-frowing until songs were ready to be recorded. New songs were then taken to Paul Barton, our Producer at Zube Records, for his comments and suggestions. A guide track would be laid down at the Zube Studios and Cai and Eric would be brought in to lay down the rhythm drums tracks. The process developed into a kind of factory production line; some songs would be reaching initial states of completion while others were still being written. On Dog Violets, there are one or two songs that were worked up very late in the two-year recording period. The final vocals and Daisy’s sax parts were then recorded.

Which software/recording process do you use?
Protools but we use real instruments and an analogue recording path. I’d like to master to tape in the future.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Were happy with our current label, ZubeRecords.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
We’re already working on the next Album, provisionally entitled Crab-Apple Dreams.

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Every last detail is discussed between the band and Paul our producer. We had a lot of fun recording Dog Violets. That’s why, in spite of some of the subject matter, the album sounds so warm. It was a happy time.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Yes, definitely.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Yes, to both. The tricks are not to over-produce – don’t clutter, look for silence, space and depth; to look for the best performance (that is, don’t get too hung up on technical issues), and keep your happy mistakes – they are gold, and let the listener know that the record was made by humans.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Both Eric and Cai played on the first album (Where Silence Should Be). However, it was in the live gigs that we did after those sessions that the band’s sound took a more interesting direction, particularly after Daisy was brought in on saxophone. It was this sound that we took back into the studio when work began on Dog Violets.

Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Shaun’s is Other Side of the World; Hermione’s is Sad Eyes. Many people have said they like Moon Valley and Antigone.

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
Shaun and Hermione.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
Lyrically we’re like Magpies; some of it is triggered from  personal experiences: things that happened last week or years ago. Moon Valley is based on a true story. Books, are good too: perhaps the cadence of an everyday word or a phrase that conveys more than it’s literal meaning. The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about the phrase `Neck of the Woods’ – how spooky is that!

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
It’s funny, we haven’t worked on any new songs for about a year – once we had decided on what tracks would appear on the final running order of Dog Violets. About a week after the album was mastered and sent to plant, the ideas started flowing again. It’s like your unconscious mind was still working on stuff, while you were busy with finishing off the album.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Of course: Bryan Ferry, who processes a sharp aesthetic awareness, like one of those expensive Japanese knifes, with carbon blades, used for making good Sushi. The man continues to fascinate. I’m looking forward to his new album.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
All sorts: the goodness in the damaged dark heart of Brian Wilson, the deceptive simplicity of the Carter Family, the warm grandeur of Steven Sondhiem, various members of the Wainwright family, sad songs from Midlake, the mighty horizon of the imaginative landscapes of Tom Waits.

Which countries have you gigged in?
As the Fabulists? Only (London) England but many places prior to that.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Who would you like to tour with?
We’d go to the ends of the earth with Roxy Music.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Facebook, You Tube, Web Sites. Through our label Zube Records and PR company Manilla PR. Some gigging.

Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
I have to say MySpace, despite its faults.

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
On the whole yes. More and better live venues would be good. I’d like the Fabulists to play at Club Otto, off the Kingsland Road, London.

How do you relax?
Read, sleep, play music.

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Best gig – We took over a regular night at Bartok, in Camden Town across the road from the Roundhouse.

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Yes – it’s a good thing. I don’t try and calm down, what’s the point – go out there and kill them with your love and madness.

What are your day jobs if you have them?
Shaun is a special needs teacher. Eric, Cai and Daisy work as fulltime musicians. Hermione has a young family to take care of.

Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
Hmmm!! I’ve still got the T-shirt.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet, but given the ‘filmic’ nature of our sound, it’s possible.

Is composing for film or tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Yes. We would like to look at this area very much.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
We are surrounded by more love than we can ever imagine!

The Fabulists

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