You know that cool person who is always very chilled and produces awesome music that you knew from school? Well, after telling us ‘of course I know who you are’, Alice Walker – the face and brain of AlicebanD – agreed to be interviewed on her music at Cazfest.
So when you run into someone talented you always want to ask how and where they started, and Alice told us that she started ‘years ago, when I was really, really young, like, secondary school… Year 11. Instead of doing English Literature, sitting there doing poetry and stuff, and then doing singing’, which sounds pretty good to us.
Those not familiar with her wouldn’t know this, but the line-up for AlicebanD has changed a number of times. Currently it is ‘Me playing keyboard and singing, and there is my dad playing trumpet. Then there’s Jon who plays bass and Ned who plays drums’, she cheerfully tells us.
We asked how she got involved with Cazfest, and she, after a memory stump, told us that the person who got her in was ‘My friend Jamie… Jamie Fallon. Yeah, she plays High Barn [a local music venue] too and she asked if we wanted to come and play’.
At school, which was in Saffron Walden, it was assumed that the small town was the birthplace of AlicebanD, but we thought wrong: ‘My first ever gig I did live was an acoustic open mic night at the Half Moon, so Bishop’s Stortford has really been where I started my music and it’s where I’m playing a lot at the moment – there are so many really good bands at the moment’. She never likes to stay on the subject of herself too much. Apparently.
The most tentative of replies was to enquiries on her current album. ‘The current album is the AlicebanD album? Is it? Yeah?’ she asks, which leads to further discussion on the topic. She continues, ‘I think we have got, like, six or seven tracks on it – a few of them were recorded at M Studios in London, and then some were recorded at Highfields Studios’. She explains, ‘It’s an amalgamation of things that I… there are two songs that I think ‘Yeah, we definitely need to get that recorded’ and then on the day of recording, I go ‘screw it, let’s do the one that no one knows and kinda… damn it!”.
Reflective of her eclectic style, her gigging is exactly the same: ‘I only play songs that I feel like playing, inside’. After we commented on the way that she will play songs she has had for years randomly, she explained, ‘There are old songs that I go ‘yeah – I can really remember why I wrote that, I’m gonna play that’ and if I’ve got a new song that doesn’t fit the occasion, or if I’m in a good mood and it’s a sad song, I think ‘you know what, I don’t need to play that today’. I decide on the day what I feel like, what the audience want – whatever’.
We have been hearing her album for a while so we did have to ask if there was a new one in the pipeline, and she told us, ‘Yeah, the plan is – I have got to finish my nursing degree, which happens in a month, and then once that’s done I’m going to give myself a month to kinda relax and think of a proper plan for next year so I can be rich and famous, take over the world, buy myself a little island and live there by myself. And then buy myself a helicopter to take myself to the mainland so I can do normal things’. Yes. Normal things.
After we ask her to describe her music in three words – which she does very concisely: ‘singing some songs’ – we left her to enjoy the day.
She is one of these women that could probably walk off stage at Glastonbury and head to the nearest beer tent – after packing her gear away, natch. Always grounded and very lovely to chat to, her hairstyle may have changed since Sixth Form, but her talent and attitude blatantly haven’t.
Besides, if it wasn’t for her, we would have been blithely unaware of the VIP area. We totally owe her a beer.
Thanks to Robert Anderson for the pictures.