INTERVIEW: Laurie Shepherd | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I didn’t come to songwriting until quite late, even though I’ve studied and done music related stuff all my life,” says Newcastle’s Laurie Shepherd. It’s an admission that’ll befuddle anybody who’s witnessed the musician-turned-singer-songwriter perform; and is particularly startling in advance of a debut album that’s among the most accomplished and fully-formed you’ll hear anywhere in 2020. It seems apt the record’s inspiration – as well as her wholehearted embrace of songwriting – is simple to pinpoint.

“I did a year-long course with the London Song Company and totally fell in love with writing,” Laurie reveals. “On it, we were given the exercise of writing a song about the floods at the time, and I chose to focus on climate change and the reasons why they were happening. It was a subject I’d wanted to cover before, but I’d felt quite intimidated by how big and depressing it was. The song I wrote, Home, was about the overview effect – the feeling astronauts have when they look down upon Earth from space for the first time, and how it gives them a deeper perspective. It’s quite bittersweet.”

I always try to write with hope. I want to avoid writing a sad, negative song

Years later, Home stands among the highlights of Moon Moves The Sea, a lush and moving debut with environmentalism and activism at its very core. “I always try to write with hope. I want to avoid writing a sad, negative song,” she explains. “I’m really inspired by nature; I spend a lot of time walking along the coast, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods with my one-year-old during lockdown. Wild Land, for example, was inspired by my time in London. I’m not a city person at all, and I felt really suffocated by the culture of the city, wanting to run away and escape. Sparks too was inspired by my activism with Extinction Rebellion. When you’re involved with a movement that’s trying to influence positive change you can feel alone or helpless in your efforts. What gives you energy is taking a look at the bigger picture and feeling like you’re part of something much more significant.”

While many of its arrangements hone in on the grace and splendour of the natural word, Moon Moves The Sea proves no less adept in documenting further issues facing society. Led by a rhythmic percussive stomp, Footsteps seeks to follow the trail blazed by the suffragette movement, while Miles And Miles takes a practical approach to capturing the drain and disconnect of modern existence. “That was a really fun recording session. [Producer] Liam Gaughan and I took a field recorder into an office and recorded staplers, photocopiers, rolls of paper being scrunched up and things like that. We almost created a drum kit, making the percussion purely from office sounds.”

In a year like 2020, it seems more pertinent than ever that the record should conclude with a song called Time To Learn From History – but how does she rate humanity’s chances of heeding its message? “That’s a tricky one! I think it depends what I’ve read in the news on any given day,” she concedes. “My hope is that years of activism will make a difference – that in the future we’ll look back at those people lying in roads and talk about how great they were, and how they inspired a shift to a more sustainable future and green economy. I have some faith!”

Laurie Shepherd releases Moon Moves the Sea on 25th October


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