Lori Campbell is a Sidmouth born, Bristol based folk singer songwriter who loves nothing more than playing her guitar to people who will listen.
We met up with Lori after her set when she recently support cult legend 'Beans on Toast' in Exeter, we found the noisiest area possible (sat on the stairs at the back of the Arts Centre where people were coming and going) and attempted to do an interview, we shouted at each other about topics such as claims to fame, Bristol nightlife and zero waste CD packaging, here's how we got on....
Hi lori, can you please introduce yourself and your music for us?
I am Lori Campbell, I play guitar, I am a folk singer and that’s about all I can think of right now….
You played alongside Jay (Beans on Toast) recently in Bristol and again tonight in Exeter, how did these gigs come about?
I met Bob (who plays Banjo/harmonica with Jay) in 2006/7 at the end of a long night at the Wychwood Festival in a teepee (as you do), everyone was getting drunk and playing and we met and got on well and kept in touch over the years and now and then something comes up and we get together. Six years ago, I sang with Bob’s band when they supported Levellers which was quite a feat. Through Bob I have got to now Jay (Beans on Toast), that’s how it all works, know people through other people, I guess you call it networking!
How do you approach songwriting?
It really approaches me, I think that one of the things that gets me writing is being on a train or watching live music, I can be at a gig just happily ‘watching’ away and when I get home, I feel inspired to write a song based on what I’ve heard that night. Travel is a big thing for me, something about whizzing around the country on two rails is quite inspiring and I find ideas come to me more often then.
What is your favourite Saturday night and Sunday morning albums?
Probably something like Michael Jackson if everyone is up and dancing around the kitchen, it’s gotta be Dirty Diana or Billie Jean. Newer stuff I listen to is more chilled, slightly depressing stuff! Sunday morning chill out music it would have to be Ani DiFranco
What is your biggest 'claim to fame'?
I played at the Gold Coast Festival in Croyde (North Devon) and Seasick Steve was there, he watched my entire set but stood out the front leaning on the barrier, just stood there stroking his beard. When I finished, he wandered round to me and shook my hand and said in his Yankee drawl ‘Girl, I like what you do’, that was REALLY cool!
There are loads of musicians out there, please name a couple that we should be checking out?
From my close circle, I would say Nuala Honan She’s an amazing Bristol based female singer songwriter, playing Americana in her lovely way. Leonie Evans who plays in a band called Rae. There’s a band called This is the Kit…..there are so many, I can go on all night! Oh and obviously Will Varley, he's amazing!
Where will you be spending New Years Eve this year?
I think I’ll be at The Fleece in Bristol, not playing, my friends band called Medicine Creek will be there and some more locals! Just some good Bristol circusy vibes!
It was at this point that a couple of very noisy women stood about 3 feet away from us and decided to have a shouting competition, we saw that Jay had exited the dressing room so we relocated for some peace and solitude….to find Will Varley relaxing after his set, they shared ideas and generally 'shot the shit' for a few minutes, Will took off to the bar to refresh his Guinness, leaving Lori and I to carry on our chat, in peace, without 45 pissed revellers screaming at each other......
I enjoyed your 'Seeds' EP, where was it recorded and why that studio?
I recorded it at The Island in Bristol, why there? my friend had just recorded there and it sounded great and I knew Ben and how he worked and knowing I’d be spending a lot of time there you sort of want it all to work as fluidly as possible.
The reason I called it ‘Seeds’ was I didn’t want to sell any plastic packaging. I found some handmade paper that was embedded with wild flower seeds, when you remove the CD from the paper packaging, you can plant the paper and up pop a load of wild flowers! I could then sell it as a downloadable option or a CD option, maybe charge a little less for the download but either way, people have a choice as to go for the usual CD in a card case or a download option where you still get the packaging but lose it afterwards but gain some flowers. So many people have said to me that they want the CD to be able to play it in their cars and at work, I’ll give it some thought!
Do you normally play solo or with a band?
Until recently, I’ve always played solo, I recently put together a band when I did the CD so when it was released it was more of a ‘thing’ rather than just me singing and playing on my own. It’s nice when it works well as a band but I’m also mindful that people may like me as a solo performer and hearing me with a band maybe just....too much if you know what I mean? It’s certainly an experience and something I have learned a lot from, the next time I do a CD, I’ll be stepping back and thinking a lot more about the sound that I want to achieve. The CD was the first thing that I had recorded, as in, put my name to it and put it out there for general purchase in the big wide world. I think also that playing with a band for the CD allowed me to gain some experience of playing with other musicians, it’s hard to do that, I’m not the kind of person to just approach people and ask them if they want to jam so yes, it was a great experience and has opened my eyes.
We're off for a night out in Bristol, could you recommend a bar, a restaurant and a live music venue for us to visit?
Sure can, Poco on Stokes Croft is open for amazing breakfasts and other such delicacies, it’s owned by a guy called Tom Hunt who is a London chef and he works with a lot of companies who are ‘zero waste’ and he does a lot of ‘feed the 5000’ events where he feeds people from the waste from other restaurants, I work there (shameless plug), the food IS amazing though so do check it out when you’re in town.
For a bar, if it’s a Tuesday you’d be heading up to the Golden Lion, for ‘Live in the Lions Den’, it’s basically 3 acts each Tuesday, my friend who runs it plays first, then another couple of acts play after, it’s free entry and in my opinion is THE best night out on a Tuesday in Bristol, just remember to book yourself on a late shift the next day! Sometimes it can be really rowdy, other weeks it’s nice and quiet, just depends on the acts.
The Canteen has live music every night, it’s normally lively bands, brass sections, ska/reggae/punk mix, great stuff. I recently saw a trio of Swedish sisters there called ‘Baskery’ (we did a review and interview for this act a few weeks ago) and the next night it might be a Mexican band so completely random.
As for venues, The Louisiana has some great stuff on, just check their website for upto date listings!
What are your plans for 2015?
You should have asked me that next week as that’s my planning week! I am self managed and am currently a bit of a wayfarer, I am actually in the process of firing myself as I don’t manage myself well enough to be honest. I maybe hiring someone else as a manager or a booking agent to take care of gigs, I feel that I am getting enough recognition playing the shows I do and I need to reach the next level and to have someone helping to drive me would be great, it would be good to be on a good circuit and regular good support gigs. Ask me again in a month!
Any festivals booked in yet?
I usually do the festival scene quite hard, I did 12 in 2014, January is me getting my profile raised, I have the CD now to send to people so at least they have something that they can listen to and go from there. I need an electronic press kit to send to people and this is what I’ll be doing. Writing about yourself is the hardest thing to do and I need to get a profile written about me prior to sending things off to festival promoters and booking agents so I’ll be hoping that I can portray myself honestly so when people do see me after reading a bio, they will know exactly what to expect!
As we had time, I felt the need to probe Lori a little more with some 'Quickfire' type questions, I could tell that she wasn't 100% tuned in but carried on nonetheless....
Wine or beer?
pause…..depends on what we're eating......er, wine!
Car or motorbike?
I don't drive and I'm scared of motorbikes so, a Pony?
Bristol Parkway or Bristol Temple Meads?
Temple Meads, wouldn't want to be stuck out in Parkway!
Christmas Eve or New Years Eve?
Fry up or Sunday Roast?
Mum's roasts are the best!
X Factor or Strictly?
I don’t have a TV!
Summer or Winter?
Mac or PC?
The Walking Dead or breaking bad?
No telly! but if I did.....Breaking Bad for sure!
Live gig or recording studio?
God or Google?
After much debate on what answer to give and being aware that either way she would have offended her mother, she changed the subject to what time Beans on Toast was playing until and we ended things there…..maybe we will never know!
We'd like to thank Lori for sparing her time after her set to chat to us and we wish her every success in firing herself, hiring a new booking agent/manager and getting to play at loads of festivals throughout 2015....
Interview by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird ©www.julianbaird.com