An Interview with Joanna Wallfisch

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Combining an incredible thirst for adventure & a superengelic voice, The Mumble were honour’d to grab a wee blether with Joanna Wallfisch…


Hello Joanna, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Joanna: I am from South London, live in Los Angeles, via New York & Paris, & as we speak I am in Edinburgh.

When did you first develop a love music?
Joanna: In the womb. I was born into a family of classical musicians. My mother is a violinist. But I fell in love with jazz when I was 11, with Ella Fitzgerald.

Can you tell us about your training?
Joanna: Well, like I mentioned, I grew up in a household of professional musicians, and after my undergrad in fine art I did a masters degree in jazz vocals. then I moved to NYC where I spent six years learning from the very best musicians in the world.

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Who inspires you musically?
Joanna: Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Beethoven, Moira Smiley, Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy, Carmen McCrae, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Laura Mvula, Sam Amidon, Bjork, The Beetles, the list goes on…

What do you like to do when you’re not being, well, musical?
Joanna: I love to swim and hike and be out in nature adventuring.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Joanna: Ella Fitzgerald, Henry VII, Junk Tabei. I would cook – smoked salmon with horseradish on toast, then a roast veggie risotto, then pavlova with passion fruit and raspberries.

You are bringing The Great Song Cycle Song Cycle to this year’s Fringe, can you tell us about it?
Joanna: It is a show based on my experiences cycling down the west coast of America solo. I tel the story through song and spoken word, create soundscapes with my voice, melodica and other instruments – a bit like a film score to set the scenes, and take the audience on a journey through the meditation of the road, adventure, beauties, strange things and people and more.

What are the key ingredients to the show’s style?
Joanna: Storytelling, intricate vocal harmonies, folk and jazz, playfulness.

What was the craziest thing that happened on your journey, & has it found its way into the show?
Joanna: All the crazy is in the show!!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in an Edinburgh street, what would you say?
Joanna: Do you like music and adventure? Come to see The Great Song Cycle, half price tickets if you have a flier?!!


The Great Song Cycle Song Cycle

13-18 – 12:05 @ Surgeon’s Hall, Theatre 2. The Space UK

20-25 – 20:35 @ Triplex Studio, The Space UK

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www.joannawallfisch.com

An Interview with Norman Maclean

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When it comes to Skiffle, Norman Maclean is the man, & he’s just about to bring his band to the Fringe…


Hello Norman, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Norman: Well now – I married the loveliest girl in the world 35 years ago and she gave me 2 lovely sons, though I did have a small input. We now live in Haddington, about 20 miles from Edinburgh. But I was born in a funny place called Australia (Sydney) about 100 years ago – my father had been sent there by the British government for some reason!

When did you first develop a love of music?
Norman: I came to the UK in 1960 and have always liked skiffle.

What instruments do you play?
Norman: I’m really a drummer but as you can’t really play drums on yer own, I took up guitar and now play it badly and sing badly. I formed the Soft Shoe Skiffle Band in 2000, and we’ve done the Fringe and other gigs since. There is Captain banjo – who plays that and mandolin v well and has been with me for over 10 years, and also a big double bass player (well he’s actually quite small but the bass is huge) and he’s been with me for over 12 years and also an elec guitarist, and a washboard player. I’ve wanted to do a Fringe show on my own for years as I play in a lot of care homes and day centres myself.

What does Norman Maclean like to do when he’s not making music?
Norman: When not playing music – I love skiing, windsurfing and fishing (trout and salmon). In fact I started and ran a ski shop in Edinburgh for about 25 years, and we had a windsurfing school at Cramond on the Forth for a few years – it really made no money but was very good fun.

You have been an integral member of the Soft Shoe Skiffle Band for for nearly 20 years – & youre playing at the Fringe this year. What songs have you got for us?
Norman: Some popular folk and pop from the 50’s to the 80’s songs are ‘My old Man’s a Dustman, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight, Nobody’s Child, It Doesn’t Matter Any More (a great Buddy Holly song), Michael Row the Boat’ and many more.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Norman Maclean?
Norman: Since I’ve more or less stopped real work – business seminars on several subjects – the rest of 2018 will be taken up with some band gigs, and also I’m writing a book (more later); and much the most important thing is our Labrador got cancer a few years ago and we had to put him to sleep, and our sons gave us a new one last Christmas, and it is a real commitment. A lovely puppy needs a lot of training and attention, and he is only 8 months old, but we all love him to bits. I might train him up to take him into nursing homes and care centres, as a dog is great to show.


Soft Shoe Skiffle Band

Edinburgh Academy,
Henderson Row

Thurs 16th & Fri 17th August (19.00)

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Zach & Viggo and Thumpasaurus: Where Does the Love Go?

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Underbelly Cowgate

Aug 14-26 (21.20)


Welcome to the collaboration of the year. Welcome to the stunning fusion of youth & chemistry that is award-winning Zach Zucker & Viggo Venn; teaming up with LA-based, intergalactic dance force, Sun-Ra-inspired, Thumpasaurus. There is a story; set in a world taken over by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. A Frankenstinian doctor has created an anonymous worker for the company, played by Zach Zucker as the Pinnochio hero of the show. There is music; Thumpasaurus are just, like, ridiculously good, They look like a bunch of D&D kids, whose foot-stomping free-form jazz accompanies the action & whose bass player must have been born with a full size one in his hands, under some pool table in Santa Fe. There is dancing; of the Torrance Community Dance Group sort. There is clownerie, like Gaulier on ketamine, & above all there is laughter, lots of it. ‘That was like the Saturday Night Live sketches, but better,’ said my American wife, who should know.

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Last year we met this amazing funk band in LA called Thumpasaurus and convinced them to come out to Edinburgh. They had a killer run and afterwards their singer Lucas wrote a 20 minute opera called Where Does The Love Go. We decided to team up and built it out to an hour-long collaborative show that is going to be very serious and artistic. Zach & Viggo

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Where Does The Love Go? is an infinitely memorable show, very much of its time, an early record of humanity losing its soul to convenience. The stage on which it is set is simply ensembling with talent; Zach & Viggo are superbly accomplished performers while the band were, as I’ve said, exceptional. But there is more, for into the mix came the supercilious, carnival-barking character of Jeff Bezos, played by an actor I didn’t quite catch the name of, but actually outshone everyone else. Lets just call him MR X for now, & I feel the show should be renamed Mr X, Zach & Viggo & Thumpasaurus! By the way, I am still singing the operatic theme tune as I write this, such an ear worm it is! A truly remarkable hour!

Damo

Valerie

Summerhall
Aug 1-27 (21:15)


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The Summerhall was formerly a veterinarian college, & I’ve always found it pretty cool how their old lecture rooms are converted into performance spaces during the Fringe. Thus, when I found myself immersed in the curious comblending of kick-ass music & genetic science that is Valerie by New Zealand company, The Last Tapes, it was a perfectly serendipitous occasion. We are presented with a trio of enigmatic performers, whose ethereal stage presence beam’d into the room as if they were General Zod, Ursa & Non from Superman II. The soundscape is provided by Robin Kelly on cunningly-played keyboards, Tom Broome on splatterdash drums – a song called White Knuckle Trees was especially lucid – & the incomparable vocal talents of Cherie Moore up front. ‘Lovely as the wail of a Dingo‘ are her opening lines, & there is indeed something primal in her voice.

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Cherie Moore & Robin Kelly

Between songs, we have musically silent narrations from Kelly & Patti Smith style recitations from Moore over avant garde jamming from the boys. The chief ribbon of the piece is Kelly’s exploration of the mental health of his family tree, revealed to us at one point on the naked back of Moore, whose own place in the sheme as Kelly’s partner was pointed out by her as with some delight.

We’ve been in a relationship for nearly 10 years, so I’d say our working relationship is beautiful, and complex, and has a depth of understanding and empathy that can only come with that much shared experience
Read the full interview

The ultimate pondering convoked by Valerie is the question of nature-nurture; its connection to the mental health & familial inheritance – does nature really load the gun & nature pull the trigger? As an audience member I often found myself lost in moments of most thoughtful awakenings – this show attracts & fulfills the mind, & also makes one’s feet beat to the tune.

Reviewer: Damo

Photography: Andi Crown 

An Interview With Aletia Upstairs

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Aletia Upstairs has been waiting for the Fringe to warm up to her satisfaction before she makes her deliciously grand entrance this weekend…


Hello Aletia, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Aletia: Hello Mumble! I am from Cape Town and I’ve lived in London for 11 years.

You are currently in the 4th year of your PHD – can you tell us about it?
Aletia: My PhD is close to its end now. It’s entitled ‘An Imaginative Exploration and Performative Manifestation of the Richard Demarco archive’. For this reason, over the last four years, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Demarco European Art Foundation at Summerhall and a lot of time with Richard.

As a performer, what are the key ingredients to your style?
Aletia: Vintage songs, cabaret songs, jazz and singing song-writing. One could say acting through song with visual engagement and audience participation.

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Last Fringe your ‘The Artist as Explorer’ went down really well – how did you find the experience?
Aletia: ‘The Artist as Explorer’ was a collaboration with Richard Demarco about his legacy. I wanted to create a piece about his legacy as it was my final practice for my PhD I am doing on his archive. My favourite part of the practice was using his words as lyrics for my songs. The fact that we got a five-star review for that was certainly based on Demarco’s involvement. The songs from ‘The Artist as Explorer’ have now been recorded and will be released as an EP by the end of this year.

What have you got for us this year?
Aletia: ‘A Queer Love of Dix’ which will be on at The Planet Bar, at 6pm on the 11-14th and 19th. It’s a brand-spanking-new show that I created over the last four months since Kevin Short (Shortcut Productions) asked me to part of his new Ed Fringe venture this year. The title was his idea. It’s a catchy one for the Fringe. Set in the world of expressionist painter Otto Dix, (Julia Berber – Anita Berber’s fictional sister) sings Weimar cabaret songs and relates the Weimar period to contemporary events. I’m also doing another show, called ‘Bilbao is not in Spain’, a collaboration with Doctor Woof, on the 15th to 18th at the Planet Bar, also at 6pm. This cabaret show is about living life as the authentic you.

How did ‘A Queer Love of Dix’ come about?
Aletia: The starting point for this show was a call-out from a London venue, with very specific criteria to create a show about Cabaret and the Weimar Republic, focusing on Jewish Composers, which I applied for, but it didn’t get selected. Kevin Short from Shortcut Productions, who was my venue captain when I did ‘Mata Hari’ at the Fringe in 2013, contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of his Fringe Season at the Planet Bar. I actually said no at first! I had performed at the Fringe four times and enough is enough! Or is it? I told Kevin that I had written a very vague proposal based on the criteria supplied by the London venue and I already knew most of the songs. This kind of show is something that I had wanted to do for a very long time as it really fits my performance style, so he managed to talk me into it. He’s been a friend since we met at the Fringe. That’s one of the amazing things about the Fringe — you make great friends. The difficult part was writing the text which had to relate the events of the period of the Weimar Republic to contemporary events…and the character. Because this was such a last minute decision, the poster image is a Dix painting rather than an image of me. It was a new process for me – starting to work from the poster image backwards. Am I going to be her – Anita Berber? How am I going to work with this image and give it a reason for being there? Another challenge was the German accent. I studied German for this show. It helped me with the pronunciation, understanding the German lyrics and of course, the accent, but I also had to study the accent separately.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in an Edinburgh street, what would you say?
Aletia: If you want to hear good singing and wonderful music, find out how the Weimar Republic relates to our world today and sing along – in a German accent – to some classic cabaret songs, come see it!


A Queer Love Of Dix

Planet Bar

Aug 11-14, 19 (18.00)

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www.aletiaupstairs.com

An Interview with Mike Marlin

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Mike Marlin & his superb Melomaniacs will soon be in Edinburgh. The Mumble are VERY excited…


Hello Mike, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Mike: I am from London and still live there, but I did spend 12 years living near Kilmarnock in Scotland and I am married to a Scot.

Mike: You’ve supported The Stranglers on their “Black & Blue” tour. How did you get the gig & how did it all go?
Mike: I grew up in the 70s and discovered live music when I was 17. It was an exciting time. I saw bands playing in tiny venues who subsequently went on to great things – The Police, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Souixsie & The Banshees and many more. I went to University and taught myself to play the guitar. I played bass in a band and wrote songs, but I never thought I would end up as a musician or as a singer. I dropped out of University and drifted into a dull backroom job at a little broking business in London. The company bought an early desktop computer and they gave it to see what could be done with it. I automated myself out of a job and left to set up a software business. To cut a long story short, I spent the next 25 years writing code. More from necessity than any entrepreneurial drive, I started various businesses to sell the software I had written. I had some misses and some hits – and found myself running businesses rather than creating things. I was bored. In my late 40s I was living in New York and decided to sell up and move home to become a novelist. I had always written – songs, poems, novels …. and the idea of sitting quietly writing appealed to me. Through a happy series of accidents I ended up making a record instead – and getting an agent – and getting the opportunity to support the Stranglers on their UK tour in 2010. I had never sung a song to another human being in my life, but given that I’d seen the Stranglers with about 12 other people at the Hope & Anchor in 1977, I decided that I could not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. It went well and the core Stranglers fans accepted me as a member of the Stranglers family. Which was lucky, because apparently they turn their back on support bands when they do not like them … something their manager only told me after my first gig! I have supported the Stranglers on tours all over the UK, Europe and in America. 8 years later and Dust is my 5th record, and I still do not quite believe the strange turn my life has taken.

Can you tell us about AMP Music Productions.
Mike: I started AMP as a creative venture to develop my music as a publisher and promoter. The most interesting thing about AMP is that it is a nested three letter acronym.

What does Mike Marlin like to do when he’s not being musical?
Mike: I have four kids, one wife, two cats and a technology start up. So I am pretty busy one way or the other. But what I love doing most of all is sleeping.

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Who are The Melomaniacs?
Mike: Paul Silver, Kim Murray and I have worked together for 5 years on and off. They are both jazz musicians and have busy lives gigging all over the UK and abroad. At first they were members of my backing band playing my songs, but we wrote Dust together from scratch and now it is an ever evolving creative partnership. Danny Monk is our engineer in the studio and live, so he is also very much part of the band.

This August you are bringing DUST to the Fringe, what can you tell us about it?
Mike: Dust is a film with a live soundtrack. We set the scene and then play uninterrupted for 55 minutes. Everything is played by the Melomaniac trio without backing tracks or tricks. The film is synchronised to the live performance and not the other way round, and the our sound and video engineers are as much part of the performance as the band. We used footage from our journey across America and intercut it with vintage film to follow the mood of the music from the sombre to the humorous; from the fine detail to the majestic. The screen is 10m wide and 4m high and our goal is to take the audience with us on the journey through the good and the bad lands of America.

How did the idea come about, & how long has it taken to bring to fruition?
Mike: Dust was conceived by Paul Silver, Kim Murray and myself. It emerged from a series of free wheeling Monday night jam sessions in late 2016. We found that good things happened when we made things up as we went along. Before we knew it, we had an album. We dropped the ‘Mike Marlin’ prefix from the band name to reflect the collaborative song writing approach. Dust became more of a performance piece than a studio recording project and we decided to record it on the road as a single piece of music. We booked a journey across America in summer 2017, including various stops at studios along the way, including a stint with legendary producer Sylvia Massy. It was a return to familiar territory for us – we had toured America before and somehow it felt right. I have known Jean Luc for about 25 years. He is married to a childhood friend and lives in New York where he works as a professional photographer. We had never worked together before, but when we played in new York, Jean Luc would always come along and photograph the gig. We got talking about the Melomaniacs plans for Dust and Jean Luc volunteered to come along. He has a busy schedule as a photographer but squeezed in our desert adventure between photo shoots. Meanwhile I met Lee in 2009 when we made the video for my first single. Lee has a rare combination of skills – he is both creative and superbly organised – a very unusual combination in my experience! As a result we have collaborated on several videos over the last 8 years. Like Jean Luc, Lee volunteered to come along and film the trip across America. As we travelled, we all talked about how the film, images and the music might become a single experience. We became a six piece band with a shared creative vision. We got back to the UK and spent 6 months sifting through everything we captured to distil Dust into a record, a book, a series of images and a film. It’s this single vision that we are presenting at Edinburgh for the first time on a big screen. It is exciting – and slightly daunting.

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You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show on the streets of Edinburgh, what will you go for?
Mike: Either “If I gave you a fiver would you come to a show?” or “If Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen had a love child, it would be called Dust”.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for yourself & the band?
Mike: We have no plans. But something good usually comes along… If all else fails we will write album 6.


DUST

Assembly Rooms – Ballroom

Aug 13-26 (21.30)

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Interview: A Jive Ace & A Satin Doll

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Anthony & Cleopatra; Napoleon & Josephine; The Jive Aces & The Satin Dollz; some unions simply transcend romance. The Mumble managed a wee blether with Ian & Bella…


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Hello Ian, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Ian: Originally from Essex and East London but I got a bit posher and moved to Sussex 😉. I was actually born in Liverpool while my parents happened to be there for work, so basically an Essex Scouser… 😉

When did you first realise your were a natural born performer?
Ian: I guess at the age of 9 when me and my sister put on a whole circus in the back garden for all the neighbors and raised money for charity. There had been a circus workshop in the park near our house during the holidays and it certainly inspired us.

Hello Bella, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Bella: Hello! I am from a town called Folkestone, in Kent, and that’s where I currently live!

When did you first develop a love of music?
Bella: I’ve loved music from a very young age. I started dancing at the age of four and developed a love for music beyond my years.

By 2018, what are the strings to your showbiz bow?
Ian: I think the main thing is really that I absolutely love doing this ‘job’ and I love the audience and making people happy. (I would say that goes for the whole band too). So because of that I feel I can entertain naturally so that’s the basis. I sing, play trumpet and ukulele. And I have the best bunch of musicians with me and we also love to surround ourselves with and nurture great talent such as the gals that are with us on this show – singing, dancing showgirls the Satin Dollz!

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Ian: They would be Louis Prima, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley – I would definitely cook (with a little help from the Grazia, our accordion player) calamari for starter, then sea food spaghetti with garlic and obviously Tiramisu for dessert, with a ball of gelato. Obviously it has to be Italian food with two of those guests being bonafide paisano

You have a wonderful, traditional voice – who are your influences?
Bella: I’m influenced by many artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Eva Cassidy.

What does Bella like to do when she’s not performing?
Bella: I have a love for vintage clothes, so in my spare time I love to attend vintage events and go shopping!

Who are the Jive Aces & what is your role?
Ian: The Jive Aces are a six piece jump jive and swing band who have been together, same line-up, for 21 years. Some of us have known each other since school! We very often have extra guests with us usually at least a female vocalist but we have added more and more variety in recent years until this show at the Ed Fringe which kicks off a tour with the lovely Satin Dollz! I am the band leader, front man and co-founder and basically the ‘Ring Leader’ in this great show!

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Who are the Satin Dollz & what is your role with them?
Bella: The Satin Dollz are group of singing and tap dancing pinup darlings. We mostly perform songs from the 1940s with slick choreography and tight harmonies. We have three divisions, LA, Paris and London. I am the vocal captain for the London Dollz.

You are bringing a show to the Edinburgh Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Ian: The show is “Swinging the Fringe” and is our first show at the Fringe with the Satin Dollz – it is upbeat fun jive and swing music with the gals tap dancing, singing and great choreography with colorful frocks and suits with the style and glamor of the 40s and 50s

How did the link up with The Jive Aces come about?
Bella: Originally through Facebook through mutual performers over 10 years ago. They first met in LA when the Jive Aces were touring over there and performed a show together at Warner Bros. Then when the Paris and London Dollz were started they invited us to do many concerts. We are doing a four show theatre tour in Northern Ireland in November and several UK theatres next Spring too.

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Can you describe your working relationship with Ian in one word?
Bella: Laughter

Can you describe your working relationship with Bella in one word?
Ian: Posh…

What will the Jives Aces & The Satin Dollz be up to after the Fringe?
Ian: This kicks off a theatre tour that takes us to Ireland, across the UK and even to the US – can’t wait!!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show in the Edinburgh streets?
Bella: The UK’S No.1 Jive and Swing Band and a talented bunch of singing and dancing pinup darlings, what more could you want?


Swinging the Fringe

Assembly Checkpoint, Bristo Place

Aug 13th (21.30) 14th (18.30) 15th (15.00)

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www.thesatindollz.com

www.jiveaces.com