Illustrations by Daniel Almeroth
A surprisingly balmy (well, story if 14 degrees can constitute ‘balmy’) evening at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen beckoned me in last week, this web where I was promised a chat with a local musician who goes by the name Dimbleby & Capper. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, order then fear not, for answers to such puzzles (and a few more) about this East London-based songwriter and musical mage are coming up in the transcript below:
Bettinson. With an ‘n’!
With an ‘n’… better write that down, actually. Occasionally I will have to write stuff down, I will warn you, because I’m really bad at names and stuff like that, I’ve got the tape recorder but… OK. I figure it’s best to start off by describing who you are. Y’know, what it is that you do [emphasis on ‘do’]?
Well, Dimbleby & Capper is…
Sorry, just to check – that is just you, right?
Yeah, well, it mainly is. It’s just a one-woman project, really, by myself. I started after moving to London to study for my degree at Goldsmith’s, and I started fiddling around with instruments, and before that I used to sing and play the piano, singer-songwriter stuff, but then got to London and realised that I can’t [a genuine chortle here] take a stage piano on the tube, and actually it’s far too expensive. So this developed as a way for me to take all my instruments with me, and at first I presented it in the same way, stripped-back and relaxed, but then I started messing around with electronics and sticking piano over beats. Then that started to get a little bit of presence on the live scene and we got some bigger shows, so I got in the band to help me, but [noise that can best be rendered in text as an unsure ‘ooer’] as it got more complicated than just me messing about and recording at home, especially getting other people producing me. It was when I asked myself if I was able to sing in a studio and I thought [long, drawn-out] no, I haven’t got seven million hands, so the band stuck then, so…
How many people is it now, then, that you’ve got?
It swings, sometimes it’s three people, and tonight it’s five people. It should be a five-piece, really, to have all the guitars and things.
I was listening to your EP…
Was really enjoying it, actually, especially the first track on there…
‘Slick Maturity’! Awful name, isn’t it?
Hah, yeah… Actually, I embarrassed myself in some e-mails, the first few I exchanged with Tasha [lovely PR lady] I was calling you Dimbleby & Crapper.
Oh, excellent. I’ve heard worse than that…
I said, “yeah, the music’s good, I just don’t understand the name though – surely that’ll put people off?” Where does the name come from, anyway?
It’s literally just, like, a name… I just needed something for a while. I didn’t want to put my own name on it because I’d been using that for a while for my singer-songwriter stuff. I hadn’t really figured out what I was doing yet but I sort of needed something, anything unrelated, really. It goes all the way back to the music, it’s very cut-up, and lyrically too I just pick words, shove them together.
Ah, Bowie did that a lot too.
Yeah, all that cut-up stuff. There’s not really… well, there’s messages, certainly, but it’s not that direct. I don’t just sit down and think the lyrics out – if I can’t write them instantly then I won’t write them at all, pretty much. I won’t just sit there for ages, overthinking things, which for me can be a bit of a nightmare when I take it to somebody else to mix they’re all a bit [a rising inflection on an ‘um-er’]. But that’s how it goes back to the name, the flip thing, the Dimbleby & Capper name reflecting that it’s almost like two different people.
You’ve talked about playing the piano, and you did some musical things before – when was that?
That was when I was about 16, 17, and before I moved to London, where I was did some singer-songwriter stuff…
That sounds almost, well, ‘refined’? Is that the right word? More thoughtful, perhaps.
So, Dimbleby & Capper – there’s the head of the singer-songwriter and the, um, soul…?
Yeah, well, people will put whatever they want sometimes, like ‘Myself & the Machine’ when it’s just me and a box on stage, where I’m just singing along to the noises coming out of this machine. A lot of people that was where it came from, but really, no [clicks her fingers] – it came out of thin air.
Alright. So who would you say were your… actually, no let’s go with what would describe your music as? I hate to categorise people, and it’s better when musicians describe themselves I reckon.
Essentially, it boils down to pop music. Dreamy electronic pop, and then there’s that rhythm aspect to it, with some quite heavy beats in there, and there’s also a kind of ‘world-y’ vibe to it with the tribal drumming.
You said you were studying at Goldsmith’s – what are you studying?
Music! It was great, three years of doing your own thing and having free access to a practice space, really great course. It’s where I met most of the band too. I could kind of entwine the demands of the course with what I was doing out and about in town, gig-wise, so it worked out perfectly.
How long have you been gigging around for?
Not too long, really. We started taking it more seriously when we got scouted at the Great Escape festival last year, around May or so. That’s when we started playing together properly as a band – before then it was mainly just me doing solo stuff. Our first show was actually here, around April… that’s almost the same time! Weird, how it’s been almost exactly a year.
What are your plans, release-wise? You’ve got that EP up online, is that coming?
Well, that was something we just had to get out when we found out were doing some Glastonbury slots on the BBC. We were on quite a lot, actually, which was nice, and they played ‘Slick Maturity’ quite a bit when we released that, so right now that EP is more of a reference point rather than a real release. People are asking at our shows why they can’t find us on iTunes, and that’s because we haven’t properly released it! I would like to re-release it on vinyl with a little indie label, but we still need to get the money together for that. It would be nice to get a record deal, you know, but right now that’s not too high on my list of priorities, but maybe to get some publishers involved would maybe be better in terms of being able to do this full-time. We’ll see, I don’t know what going to happen. We’ll put out another 7” again soon, though.
No, it’ll be one of the two new songs, we’ll play it tonight – maybe ‘Falling Off’?
OK. Shouldn’t you be heading onstage right about now?
Yes! Right, I’ll get off then…
At this point Laura gathered her things and headed inside, and I bumped into a couple of friends from the other side of the country. This was serendipitous for me, because I hate going to gigs on my own, and it meant I had somebody to mutter remarks to during D&C’s set. They were good remarks – one of my friends, his initial reaction was, “she’s definitely got something, hasn’t she? Can’t put my finger on it, but she’s got something…”
She has. She’s got a good set of lungs on her, her backing band are tight and have the stage act down sharp. They’ve all got these ghostly white beak masks on under their hoodies – when they gather around the Big Drum for some tribal action it’s no unlike seeing a bunch of spirit vultures circle their prey, the rotting carcass of people refusing to dance. Apparently the Hoxton B&K is a pretty A&R-heavy place at the best of times, but despite few people even daring to nod along the music was fresh and I could see the influences Laura talked about coming into the mix. On record her tunes sound similar, in a way, to Balearic beat bands around like JJ, yet live those heavy beats she says she loves are emphasised far more, turning her dream-pop into something closer to a weird laid-back IDM sort of thing.
Watch out for this girl, and her birds.
Categories ,capper, ,dan almeroth, ,dimbleby, ,dimbleby & capper, ,Dream-pop, ,Hoxton, ,illustrations, ,Indie, ,interview, ,laura bettinson, ,live, ,music, ,pop