Hello and welcome to AV Deck, I’m sat with Louise Rutkowski who sang with This Mortal Coil and the Hope Blister on 4ad.
She’s about to release on her own label, the Six Songs EP accompanied by the Roland Perrin Trio

Order Six Songs from 4ad.com information

Can you tell me a little bit about how you got involved with This Mortal Coil?

- it was quite some time ago, and my sister and I were singing together up in Glasgow, we had various bands and things and Ivo was aware of us through the music scene. and how we got involved with This Mortal Coil was one of those sort of stories in that Ivo had more or less completed ‘Filigree and Shadow’ but he was very keen to work with scott Walker, Basically he was trying to get Scott Walker to be on the album and Deirdre and I came to see Ivo , we had a meeting with him, and we struck a bargain, and basically said “if you can’t get Scott Walker, you can have us!”. And fortunately Scott Walker being the recluse he is, didn’t phone Ivo back , so the rest is history!

The tracks you recorded for the albums, were you allowed to choose which you wanted to sing on, or did Ivo suggest?

-Ivo pretty much suggested. i remember getting tapes from him, packed with songs, but he pretty much had an idea of what he wanted. That's how he worked in the sense that he could hear you singing that song, so that’s why he had chosen you in the first place, so it was more a case of those were the songs that he wanted to do, but there was obviously a bit of artistic freedom in the sense that if you reacted “oh no I cant really get my head round that one” then it wouldn't have been done, but ultimately yeah, it was his choice.

How was it working with musicians like Simon Raymonde or Martin McCarrick, or even on the Hope Blister with Laurence O’Keeffe?

- ahh, well lovely if I’d have met them! We did meet Martin once or twice, Laurence I saw probably once, and then at a party! Ivo’s way of working was very much that the musicians would come in and do their particular bit, then you would be called in to do your bit, so the musician might still be hanging around, but other than that it was very sort of isolated in that sense. Although you were part of this big collective, there was actually a lot of people that you hadn’t met

Did it feel weird being a separate part of it, or do you think that made the recordings what it was?

- I think it did, yes, and also the way that Ivo works, he’s got a very personal approach, so to have been in the studio with other people would have been distracting, and its not the way Ivo works anyway, so... each section is totally focused on it and I enjoyed it because you got a sense of privacy, and i think that probably matters more to a singer than an instrumentalist. As a singer it was good as you had that space on your own to just experiment.

After the This Mortal Coil trilogy was The Hope Blister, except this time it was the one band, and it was all cover versions rather than bits of both, so how did you end up being involved with that?

- Ivo rang me, and he initially didn’t say he was doing the Hope Blister, he was very very sneaky!!! and he sent me some songs that he wanted me to demo, and for him at that point, he wasn’t sure what road he was going down, as when the This Mortal Coil albums were done, and obviously as they’d done so well and they continued to do so well, I think he felt he didn’t want to carry on with that., so for him to be involved with another music project, he was quite wary about why he was doing it and how, and so it was very noncommittal and vague and we went into the studio and demoed these songs and it was after that that he said “yeah, this is really working for me and this is what we’re gonna do” which again was nice as you didn’t have that... he’s very clever how he works with people - he doesn't overload you with things, so you had the opportunity to play around with these songs, and there was no particular agenda attached to them, more a kind of “lets just see how they sound”. fortunately he liked the sound of them, so we went on with the rest of the album

So do you think there’s any plans for any more collaborations?

- it very much depends on what idea he has in his head, as to then who he works with - at that time the idea he had in his head happened to fit into what I do, so you can’t really say yes we’ll work together again in the future as it just depends on what he comes up with and who is most suitable for this project

Do you keep in touch with Ivo?

-ooh yes! He rang up the other week

Has he heard the new EP yet?

- he has, yes! unfortunately I was out when he rang, but my sister had a wee chat with him, she happened to be staying with me, but yeah, we keep in touch and he’s so supportive. i’ve had record deals with different labels throughout the years and my time, my work with 4ad has remained completely sacred. Its never been unpleasant, its never been upsetting in any way - its just been sheer joy and Ivo was one of those rare people in the music industry who functions purely for the love of music - not from sales figures or “well that happens to be what’s in now so I’ll follow that road” . He’s an absolute purist and there’s not many of them around

Going back to previous albums you’ve done - ‘Sunset gun’ and ‘The kindness of strangers’ with Craig Armstrong, how does it feel doing your own stuff now, as opposed to working for another label?

-fantastic is the answer to that! absolutely fantastic!

Was it horrible being on a major? or.....

- its very pressured, and especially if you have no power, that's what its all about - if you’re on a major label you have to have power. and when you’re in their eyes a minion, you haven't’ sold millions of records yet for them, it can be very unpleasant and its very pressured, and when you’re in the studio you’re constantly worrying about things, how they sound, but saying that I don’t regret those experiences, because i learned so much about the industry as such and also learnt so much about studios - and now i can work very quickly - with the Hope blister we had it done so quickly

How long did that take?

- well vocal things we had two separate sessions, two days or something like that, but a lot of that I think partly a result of having quite a lot of studio experience and just learning. Obviously you have to ask questions, you have to be aware yourself, but to go back to the question, I absolutely loved being involved from the beginning to the end, and the moment that the cd arrived was just a joy because I’d put so much work into it, so much energy and so much heart, and whatever happens its up to you - you don’t have to wait for someone to ring you back, or wait for someone’s opinion, its well, that's what I want to do so I’m gonna do! Financially its tough, but its worth it

So are your previous albums still available?

-’Sunset Gun’ I would doubt, that was 1982-4 or something like that, so probably deleted by now, they do pop up in record shops every now and again. I don’t have any of them now as I had a lot of my possessions, my record collection stored in a friends house in Scotland when I moved back down to London and his house burnt to the ground and took my record collection with it, demos, the lot, so if anyone has it, please can I have a copy! ‘Kindness of Strangers’ is an interesting one, as I’m talking to Interscope records at the moment cause a This Mortal Coil fan had emailed me and had got wind of the fact I’d done this other record, and had found it on an internet record companies list, he didn’t get it from them in the end but he got it in some kind of auction so basically the upshot of it is its still circulating and I’m not getting royalties from it, all that kind of thing, so I’m asking questions about that at the minute

have you got any plans for any more records?

- I hope so! The push behind six songs is that its a promotional tool, I did toy with doing a full-length album but I did decide that ultimately i will need a bit more investment, to use a horrible industry term, but I’m older an wiser so I would never go with a record label unless I was completely happy with them and make sure they’ll do what I want, basically. so its a promotional tool in that I want to attract a couple of people that I’ve got my eyes on who shall remain nameless!

In your press release it says about people like Trent Reznor and the late Jeff Buckley being dedicated fans of yours - is there anyone you’ve met, or would love to meet that you’d want to work with now?

- I have actually met a few people who I do admire, and I’d say I’d like to work with them. I’d love to work with Peter Gabriel - he’s soo nice - I’ve met him on two or three occasions, years ago, and he’s such a nice man. I don’t really think about collaborations in that sort of sense - its more a case I have musicians in mind that I’d like to work with going to do like a full album - one lady i’d really like to work with is Audrey Riley, who is the string arranger on the Hope Blister - she’s also done a number of other projects, but I think she’s amazing, and i could really hear what she does on Randy Newmans songs, so if anyone , it would be her!

So going on to the Six Songs EP, was the title a reference to Randy Newman’s ‘12 Songs’ album?

- yes it was, yes

Which songs have you covered?

- I have chosen ‘Love Story’, ‘You and me’, ‘The one you love’ which is from Randy Newmans latest album ‘Bad Love’ ‘real Emotional Girl’ ‘Rolling’ ‘I don’t want to hear it any more’ which was on Dusty Springfield's ‘Dusty in Memphis’ album and ‘I’ll Be Home’

Why did you choose Randy Newman?

- when I came out of my deal with Interscope records with the ‘Kindness of Strangers’ i kind of decided that i’d had enough of major record land, i also thought I was putting myself, a square peg, into a round hole, and actually a lot of the reasons i was unhappy and struggling with things was that i was in the wrong place. I’m very much a believer, and this is where my connection with Ivo comes in, in the sense that there is an obsession in this country with writing your own material, which is fine if you can - I don’t particularly enjoy writing, I have done it many years ago, but I find it too painful, I just don’t .... (winces) I also very much believe in the interpretative singer and its a concept that is understood in America a lot more than here. Ivo understands t obviously as that is what This Mortal Coil is all about and Randy Newman I chose because he had the perfect combination that I was looking for in the sense that I connected immediately with his music, the lyrics are just astoundingly good and i feel that its me!

So you’ve always been a fan of his music?

- I only discovered him through Dusty Springfield and judy collins - two of my favourite albums are ‘Dusty in Memphis’ and ‘In My Life’ by Judy collins and they had both covered him and i just kept falling over the songs and it was like “ooh its him again, its him again” and at that time I was at a friend of mine who sadly passed away and who this six songs are dedicated to, led me more towards Randy Newman, he was a big fan of his and he believed “yes the songs are definitely right for you” , so it was a combination of both

So as Randy Newman is know more as as songwriter than a performer, how faithful have you kept your interpretations or have you given them new arrangements?

-We don’t fiddle around with them tremendously - I think most people who have covered his music have and to their detriment - the song is there and its about making it your own and that's a lot about how you sing them, inflicting them with the emotions you have - he’s written songs from his perspective, but its not necessarily mine, for example, we do ‘You Can Leave your Hat On’ which everyone now knows through the Full Monty and its just a very throwaway kind of sex song, its fun and all that, but the way i heard it and particularly because I’m a woman singing it, was that it was about two gay women and the lead character was a sort of dominant force, was s more powerful and who enjoyed that, being powerful so the song is about her bossing the other woman around “stand over there! take your dress off! Put your hat on!” that kind of thing and she gets a sexual buzz out of that but by the end of it the line is “I know what love is” and for me that's because that person has been very hurt in the past and that’s their response to that hurt, so you get this whole other level of a character, right at the very end. And I continue to do that with all his work - you’ve just got so much scope. Arrangements wise we don’t change the basic structure of the song, but the instrumentation does in a sense, its piano, double bass and brush kits so that there’s no keyboards, there's no guitar, whatever. I very much believe in letting the song sing for itself and his do obviously as they’re so good

So apart from the Six Songs, you do cover other songs of his?

-Oh yes, there’s many!

If someone comes to see you live how many songs could they expect?

- ooh gosh, there’s about twenty odd songs in the set, you have to be careful with his stuff as its quite weighty and people I’ve noticed, really do listen, which is a delight because there’s something to listen to basically, without sounding like an old fart, basically a lot of lyrics now are awful , the thing with Randy Newman’s lyrics, people respond to them straight away, they hear, there’s something going on there, so I’m very conscious of not overloading people and getting the set balance right to flick people from one emotion to the other - apart from the songs there, we’ve just been working on ‘Everytime it Rains’ which from his ‘Bad Love’ album and its just stunning, so beautiful, other ones, ‘Feels Like Home’ which was recorded by Linda Ronstadt, ‘Beat Me Baby’ which is quite fun - a politicians love song for me

So, have you got any more plans to play live?

-Yes, what we’re aiming for, we’re hoping to do places like Pizza on the Park, I’ve made a pact basically that I wont play venues without a piano, again from having has a lot of live experience throughout the years I’ve sort of played in a lot of venues that aren’t suitable and its an uphill struggle, so I’m not gonna od this any more, cause you don’t do what you do justice, in London unfortunately there aren’t a lot of venues with pianos, so you’ve not got a lot to choose from, but we will be doing ones in London and then doing a trip to New York this year, because the cabaret scene in New York is where I’m heading for ultimately

So when is that gonna be do you think?

- Hopefully in the summer some time, when its warm, yeah!

So what else is the next few months gonna bring?

- well the actual launch of Six Songs, I’m hoping to secure an agent, and really concentrate on the New York situation as it were, and just.. I always have those sort of questions in my mind, I’ve got my own little goals in my head, I’m one of those people who leaves a bit to fate really, but mainly its do more live work!