On one of the last days I was in London, it rained, and I got to meet Katharine Gifford, the leader of Snowpony. We met at a cafe on Curtain Road, in Shoreditch. It was actually one of the first places I had been to in London, and it was like returning to the womb. Snowpony came out with their first record a few years ago. They did a few tours of America, and played around England and Europe, but lately they have been laying low. It was interesting to find out what was up with them, as we all wait for the next release. Hopefully this summer we will see them in some festivals. Katharine could then take some time off watching Australian survivalist shows and doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
AL: So how's the new record going?
KG: We did three tracks and they turned out pretty well. We sent them to our label, Radioactive, and it turns out that they are having financial problems. There's been a big shakeup between them and MCA, and they haven't got back to us. We waiting for them. I guess that they are streamlining the business. If you don't have a current record out it's difficult to get gigs.
AL: What are you doing in the meantime?
KG: We're still rehearsing a lot. We have a new member. She plays guitar and keyboards. Me and her are doing a side project. We'd like to start our own label, but we're tied to this contract, and we'd like to get that sorted out. Debbie Googe is doing a computer course. Her mission at the moment is learn how to design websites so we can do our own website. We're trying to use the time productively.
AL: What will the second record be like then?
KG: All the songs are written. It will be more polished sounding than the first one. The first one was sort of murky sounding. In places in was murky and had an interesting ambiance. The new stuff is more like Northern Soul songs. There's three sorts of songs that we do. We do quite fast in your face rocky songs, then slow melancholy songs, and then totally stupid songs. So we have those three categories. Punk and Northern Soul have a lot in common. There both sort of short songs, but our songs are becoming more extreme. Once we get the go ahead, we're ready to record. We finished the three songs for a single.
AL: You write all the songs. Do you have a studio at home?
KG: I have one of the first portable four-tracks ever made. It's good actually. I have a bunch of old gear. It's not flash; it's quite basic. Everything is out of date because it's cheaper that way. I wish that I get a Therimin. I have a Watkin's copycat. I have to patch in every sound through. I have an old Farfisa that doesn't work very well. It's one with the speaker built into the keyboard.
AL: The song "Easy Way Down" your referred to Dalston. We're not too far from Dalston now. What do you like about Dalston?
KG: There's a Gene Pitney song "24 Hours From Tulsa." When I heard that, I thought he was saying "24 hours from Dalston" so I thought I would put that in the song. I have another song about Dalston too. You've been there, haven't you? I tell people that I live in Dalston. And they say "Oh, no. Sorry to hear that." Sort of a taboo area to live in. Now it's slowly being colonized by the bohemians.
AL: How did you like the tours in America?
KG: Last time we were in the States, we toured with Hooverphonic. They're a good band actually. One of the members left after the tour, so I don't know what they're like now. We toured the South with them, places like Texas, Florida, and Atlanta. We had never been to that part of the States. I like it a lot. Once when we played a show with Henry Rollins, before he went on, he was get all pumped up, and all these veins are popping out of his neck. So that's what I do before I go on. Being on tour is like one of those social experiments where they put people on a secluded island in Scotland and see how long they can survive.
AL: Is Ian still in the band?
KG: My little cousin joined us for a while because Ian went mad on tour. He went mad in Atlanta, and we almost left him there because he was really annoying. He's a little bit too rock and roll without actually putting any real effort into things. After Ian got a sick note, my little cousin started to sing with us. He was really great. He has a choirboy's voice because he's only twenty-one. He's not a permanent member of the band because he's still doing his degree. His mother won't let him join full-time. There's family pressure. I don't want to be responsible for destroying his future career. He played Glastonbury with us. That was more or less his first gig.
AL: You have been using samplers and programming sounds, and using sequencers. What sound are you after eventually?
KG: I like the idea of fictional sounds that have never been heard before. You can use that stuff as a starting sound and sculpt it as you go along. I like a bit of noise definitely. It's all about finding a balance between melody and noise. If it's too melodic, it becomes syrupy. You need a certain vibration.
AL: Do you have any advice to young girls who want to start a band?
KG: Be very careful if you sign a deal with a record label. Make sure that you have a real good lawyer. You have to make this choice whether you want to tour and have your record promoted, then the record label has you by the balls. If you want more freedom, it's going to be difficult. Stereolab were really smart because they had their own label and all the control.