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Old 01-05-2008, 11:07 PM   #1
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Default New Vyvienne Interview (Irish Times, 5 January 2008)

As mentioned on the news page:

Playing side saddle with strings attached

Vyvienne Long's classical training is a rarity on the rock scene, but as well as being Damien Rice's cellist she bridges the musical divide with her own elegant music, writes Tony Clayton-Lea

Straddling the divide between two opposing musical forms is ungainly; riding side-saddle is also unadvised. But when you add certain supposed conflicting factors together and leapfrog over the twin obstacles of snobbery and prejudice you come up with something special. Say hello to Vyvienne Long.

Long's credentials - very much like the woman herself - are short and sweet. As a child, she says, she was learning music before she became truly interested in it or became emotionally connected to it. "That happened a couple of years after my teens, when I started to play in orchestras. That's when the joy of music started to unfold."

Before this, of course, she was a young girl who, through the gentle pressures of her parents ("I was good, not a genius," Long recalls, "but good enough for my parents to push me to continue") started playing piano, subsequently shifting to cello.

Emotional involvement arrived when she became proficient enough to start playing with other musicians. "You can get really involved in it when you're a better musician, and that's when so many other musical options open up."

Having finished her degree in Dublin's College of Music, Long travelled to Barcelona's Escola de Musica for her Masters. On returning home, she hooked up with a rising Irish singer-songwriter called Damien Rice, who at that point was looking for string arrangements to adorn his musically ascetic debut album, O.

Throughout the subsequent years, while sawing and bowing and scraping her way through the Rice catalogue, Long has been writing her own material (showcased last year on the elegant five-track mini-album, Birdtalk) and covering other people's songs (notably her innovative take on White Stripes's Seven Nation Army). The ease with which she tackles each discipline - let alone shaping the songs into appealing string-driven baubles - makes it seem as if her workload is a doddle.

Is it difficult for someone with or from a classical music background to transfer their loyalties to the general area of rock and pop?

"It's a lot more difficult the other way around," Long contends. "I haven't heard of any classical musicians breaking into the pop or rock scene. I don't think it's difficult, however - it's just a different frame of mind, I suppose; and a lot more relaxed and accepting one from an audience point of view. If you understand the principles of music it's not difficult to change from classical to pop.

"It was a very gradual change for me, though; it wasn't a decision that I consciously made, but more through circumstance and what I became involved with, musically. I gradually became more involved with Damien's progress and that instigated my interest in pop music, which was an area I knew very little about. Previously, my entire musical diet was classical."

LONG'S MUSICAL TASTES soon broadened out; knowing little about the denizens of pop music beyond The Beatles, she was introduced, slowly and surely to the likes of - to name but a handful - Led Zeppelin, Sly and the Family Stone, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. She was, she reveals with sincerity, "a blank canvas; so much of the music was a discovery for me." Yet discovery or no, only a few rock acts blew her away.

"I wouldn't say discovering some rock music made as huge an impression on me as discovering, say, Prokofiev or Elgar when I was 12 or 13. But then I was a bit older, and more in-depth impressions are made, I think, when you're younger.

"I know there is a lot of rock music I haven't yet heard, but I've caught up very quickly and I reckon I'm ready to take the exam. I can definitely be part of the pop team quiz now."

What did her classical music colleagues think of her gradual drift into rock music's grubby cubbyholes? "None of them has said anything negative to me," says Long cheerfully. "Everyone seems enthusiastic and they enjoy the concerts. Some of them have even been part of my group, and I hope they enjoy that. I haven't cut my ties with classical music and I hope I never will - I want to have the opportunity to play both. Anyway, I think most classical musicians these days are diversifying, working in most areas they're offered work in. I don't think anyone can be really snotty about the work anymore."

With a debut album forthcoming in the first quarter of this year, it won't be too long, surely, before Long's tour dates will be clashing with those of her primary paymaster, Damien Rice.

For the moment, however, she has gigs of her own to play, and album tracks to finalise. "I have to get my skates on, to tell the truth. I've been away on tour until quite recently, and on the few Irish gigs of my own I've been doing recently I've been running through the new songs.

"Playing live dates consolidates the songs you've been writing. I hope the live shows will make it easier for me when I go into the studio, because what I've been practising will be reinforced in my head."

A doorbell rings. A gig to rush to. New songs to play. Seven Nation Army to cover. What does she wish for in 2008? "I'll be happy if I record an album that I'm pleased with. That will be reward enough for me."

Birdtalk is available to download on iTunes

2008 The Irish Times
Keep checking the news page for all the latest Damien Rice news.

Last edited by administrator; 01-06-2008 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 01-06-2008, 07:40 AM   #2
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Thanks, Emmett! This is great stuff.

This : "I haven't cut my ties with classical music and I hope I never will" means that she"s still doing orchestra?
"There's, another example. See, here I'm now sitting by myself, uh, er, talking to myself. That's, that's chaos."

"If you find you've got a dragon charging at you at thirty miles per hour snapping its teeth you can always drive it defensively through the covers"
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:55 AM   #3
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Was about to make a topic about this, just noticed the article this morning. Album coming soon, yay!
Come clean, come good,
repeat with me the punch line 'Just like blood'
when those at the back rush forward to say
how a little love goes a long long long way.

-- Simon Armitage
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:02 PM   #4
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New Vyvienne Interview (Irish Times, 5 January 2007)
see that's what I dont like about going into the new year - writing down the wrong year for the month of Jan
I've been waiting my whole life waiting for you
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Closing_Doors
Album coming soon, yay!

Thanks Emmett!!

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repetition creates pattern, repetition creates pattern, repetition creates pattern...
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:42 AM   #6
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Thanks Emmett!
I like the bit about her album coming out in the first quarter of 08!
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