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Interview - Agerskow

Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 | No Comments

I recently interviewed Agerskow - or, to those who know her, Kate Edwards - for NARC Magazine to promote the release of her debut single This Train Terminates/Fast Hands (available over on Bandcamp) and her launch night at Morden Tower on 16th March. The gig's been and gone but the single is still out, so why not have the full transcript to peruse, eh?

The debut Agerskow single, This Train Terminates/Fast Hands, is out in March. Can you tell us a bit about the songs, how they came to be, and why you chose these two for the first release?

The song This Train Terminates was actually written in Hull train station a few years ago. My parents live near Hull and I was heading home from Newcastle one night on the train, but it was delayed due to snow and then my connection to Beverley was also delayed. Hull just seems to be a pain to get to – it’s stuck in a backwater and people only really tend to go there if they live there or if they’re getting the ferry to Europe! I love the city though, it’s full of nice people and has a great music scene, it just gets a lot of bad press. The song is trying to express that feeling of being stuck somewhere, even though you love the place, you can’t help but feel the need to get out. I guess in this way it could be about anywhere, not just Hull.

I’ve had Fast Hands kicking around for a while now but never played it live when Agerskow were a five-piece band. To be honest, I wrote the song over a period of about seven months, completely different to This Train Terminates which only took a few hours! I just kept changing the lyrics and melody each time I sat down to work on it, and the guitar part gradually morphed into what it is at the moment. The song is about the awkwardness that can sometimes arise at the physical start of a new relationship, when there’s that elephant in the room of a sexual past, and neither person wants to disclose much (maybe due to a lack of one).

I chose these songs for the release because This Train Terminates is upbeat and poppy and I’ve known for ages that I’d like to release it as a single, but at the same time, I realised that Fast Hands is one of my favourite songs that I’ve written so far, and although it’s stylistically different I wanted to showcase that – I find myself writing all sorts of types of songs, and on different instruments too, so they’re not all going to be the same style or genre, although hopefully they have features that are unifying enough to tell that it’s an Agerskow song.

At what point did Cottage Industries become involved with the release?

Shaun Goldsworthy sent me an email a while back saying he’d listened to the demo EP Songs, and would like to work on something. It came out of the blue, but I’d been thinking of releasing a single for a while so it seemed like good timing! 

 You've played with several line-ups, but at the moment Agerskow is a trio with Narbi Price & John Egdell as the backing section. How did this line-up come about, and is there anything else you want to bring to the live sound?

I was playing with Miriam Bennett as cellist for a while, and that was really fun. The current lineup came about partly because Miriam is a medical student and felt that she didn’t have enough time for the band, and partly because I felt that some sort of rhythmic backing to my acoustic guitar would be beneficial to the songs. I met Narbi at John’s housewarming party, and I remembered that I’d seen him play drums for Nev Clay at the Newcastle Arts Centre, and thought I’d ask him if he was interested. He agreed, and it seemed only natural that John should be the first choice for bass after that. I’m really happy with what they bring to the sound of the band – your own description of ‘alt-folk power trio’ is pretty much spot on in terms of our aim actually! The aim was for it to be a midpoint between me on solo acoustic and having that full band sound – it doesn’t detract from how I perform the songs on my own, but it gives them a bit more of a backbone.

The single launch is planned for Morden Tower - what have you got lined up for the night?

Hopefully it will be a lovely, relaxed evening! I have four or five new songs that will be getting their debut on the night – this is the longest set I’ll ever have played. It’ll be a mix of full band songs and me perfoming individually. I’m really happy with the supports I’ve chosen too (can’t announce just yet as I need one person to get back to me), one is Morris Ford, I’m a great admirer of his songs and his attitude and I’m really happy he’s agreed to play.

One thing I've noticed is the quietness and softness of your sound compared to many other local singer-songwriters in the region (thinking of you busking at Split here...). Was this ever a concious decision?

I just tend to write songs that I’m happy with, volume isn’t particularly important. It’s nice to have a powerful and loud voice as it might come over better in a packed venue, but I’ve never really wanted to push my voice into territories it’s not comfortable with. Also, the more I play and get better at the guitar, the more I want to fingerpick and create interesting, fully developed guitar parts rather than strumming chords. Hopefully the band kicks some of the quieter songs into action a bit more though!

You've played with some great line-ups already: a show in Hull backed by the Hull Philiharmonic Orchestera, supporting Richard Dawson recently. What have been your best experiences to date, and what aims have you got for the future?

Playing the concert with the orchestra was incredible. I just got an email one day from the organiser, a guy called Richard (check out his band Lymes – they're mint!) saying that he liked the songs, and him and our mutual friend Rory were putting this gig on with an orchestra. I didn’t think it would happen at first, but then I got asked to score out my music for strings and the next thing I knew the conductor of the orchestra was on the phone saying that he thought there should be flutes and piccolos and brass on there and could he write the parts in? I just said yes, get everything on there, make it sound huge! It was an amazing evening, it completely sold out, there were over three hundred poeple there. I’d love to play again with an orchestra, in fact my ultimate aim would probably be to do an orchestral album and write all the parts myself – that would be incredible.

What other plans are in the pipeline for Agerskow following the single and Morden Tower?

The single release was delayed a bit, it should have been out last year. Since then I’ve just kept writing songs, and now I want to just record and release music as regularly as I can. I’ve already booked a producer to start work on an EP in July, and (fingers crossed) that will be out in September. There are a few cool gigs coming up too - I just want to play as many shows as possible, work hard, and hopefully more people will start listening to the songs and liking them, and that’s all I can ask for really!

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