Written by Myf Warhurst


Nothing to plug, something to say: Tracey Thorn

In a chat with Myf Warhurst, Tracey Thorn talks about her music career and life in general and, despite the feature title, even manages to squeeze a cheeky plug in. We’ll let her off.

Image taken by Edward Bishop, www.edwardbishop.me

Tracey Thorn has had such an extensive career it’s difficult to distill it into one easy to digest sentence. She’s not only a brilliant singer/songwriter known for her work as one half of the now hibernating duo Everything But The Girl with her partner, Ben Watt, she’s also had significant success as a solo artist in her own right. On top of this Thorn is a best-selling writer, columnist and, if you catch her at the right time, extremely engaging on Twitter (@tracey_thorn). The follow-up to her book Bedsit Disco Queen will be out next year.

When you’re not making music what else do you like to do?
Walking, reading, writing, watching telly, faffing around on Twitter, arguing with people on Twitter about the fact that I’m watching telly… No, hang on, I HATE that.

What has been your proudest creative moment to date?
I was very proud when my first band the Marine Girls recorded 10 songs and put them out on a cassette. We made 50 copies to sell to friends and family. I was 17. It was properly DIY and properly creative, in that we did it entirely for its own sake, for the joy and love of doing it.

What would you like to erase from your past?
Oh a couple of albums and haircuts, but then I’m not sure I would really. If all your past was stuff to be proud of it would probably be duller in the end.

What brings you the most joy?
Ben and the kids, being in the sea, a proper martini, dancing, going down slides at a water park.

What makes you angry?
Lots of important things of course, but on a trivial level, men who tweet to tell me off for relaxing in front of a telly programme they don’t like.

Which artist has been your biggest inspiration?
Not one in particular, but I think the women who appeared in music in the late 70s –Patti Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, Chrissie Hynde, Lesley Woods etc – were the ones who truly inspired me to have a go, by making it look like something anyone, more to the point any WOMAN, could do.

What song do you wish you’d written?
My standard answer is God Only Knows. But at the moment, honestly I wish i’d written the whole of the Hounds of Love album.

What advice would you give a woman who wants a career in music?
Difficult one. My career started 30 plus years ago. The music business has changed so much and I’m really not a part of it any more, so I struggle to come up with advice that might be relevant. I do also believe that there are any number of ways to have a career in music, and no one right or wrong way of doing things.

What does fame mean to you?
I think I’ve been lucky to have only ever had a very little bit of it. In small doses I think it can be fine, fun even. But real, proper fame never looks appealing to me at all.

If one of your songs could soundtrack a scene in a movie, what song would it be?
I can’t think of an answer to that, so I will use the opportunity instead to plug the film I have just done the music for: The Falling, directed by Carol Morley, is at the London Film Festival this month, and then on general release, I think, next spring. I have written six songs for it, which soundtrack various scenes. Go and see it!

Interview by Myf Warhurst

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Written by Myf Warhurst

Myfanwy Warhurst is a broadcaster at Double J radio (ABC Australia), TV presenter, Guardian columnist, music nut and general layabout.