In the lead up to the launch of her single “Is is Love?”, Josephine Sillars gave us over at Cornerstoned the opportunity to run a few pressing questions by her.
Josephine gave us her thoughts on topics that range from inspiration to revolution, and we hope that this brief interview will give those who aren’t already familiar with the rising star a little window into her mind and where she currently finds herself creatively.
CP: What is a Manic Pixie Dream?
JS: A Manic Pixie Dream is a play on the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope from pop culture. A manic pixie dream girl is a character that is written into a narrative solely to further the plot and help the male protagonist, who is often a sensitive, depressive creative type. She isn’t a real character, she’s more of a plot device. Being a female artist with glasses who plays the piano, this is a trope I am terrified of, so I named the male members of my band manic pixies instead. They’re great! Conor Heafey (guitar/vocals), Jamie Hogg (bass/vocals) and Cameron Gibb (drums) are my manic pixie dreams.
CP: People who follow your music will know that it hasn’t always been Josephine Sillars + The Manic Pixie Dreams. What was the thought process behind sourcing a full band & how was that impacted your songwriting process?
JS: There wasn’t really a thought process per say, because I’ve been playing with band mates under just ‘Josephine Sillars’ for a few years. The thought process to give them a separate name was partly to be more obviously inclusive of collaborations being myself and my band mates, but also because I absolutely hated it when promoters introduced me as ‘Josephine Sillars band’. It’s definitely impacted the songwriting process for the better – writing with more vocals and more instruments in mind has been really wonderful.
CP: What is Theatre Pop?
JS: Theatre-pop is the genre I keep trying to get to catch on. It came out of my 2015 theatre production, Ripped From The Wire Spine, which was a multi-media production that incorporated my 2015 EP as well as film, spoken word and involved working with a range of Scottish artists including Rachel Sermanni and Emma Pollock. Theatre-pop is how I describe the music I make.
CP: When did the inspiration to write, sing or perform first come to you? Was it through a person, a place, an experience?
JS: It was through people. When I was in primary school and early high school, my dad helped run acoustic sessions in Strathpeffer near where I’m from. I think being surrounded by so many performers from a young age definitely inspired me!
CP: I feel like a lot of musicians/artists have some sort of idea of what their magnus opus would sound/look like. If you had unlimited resources to put together an album, a show, a festival etc, what would it look like/sound like?
JS: If I had unlimited time and resources, it would definitely go to a mad theatre production. Like the one I did in 2015 only much, much better. It would be a giant collaborative multi-media extravaganza. Loads of musicians involved, some poets maybe, some filmmakers. I would definitely like whatever it is to be a live performance that would then go on some insane tour.
CP: Things are pretty dire in the UK at the moment, and it’s becoming more and more clear that we can’t trust those in higher places to do anything practical about it. What role do you think musical and artistic protest could play in reviving hope in this country? Do you feel like an artistic revolution could do for us what it did for America during their civil strife in the 60’s?
JS: I think the biggest difference between America in the 60’s and Britain in general is that Britain isn’t revolutionary in the same way. If you look at the formation of the Labour Party for example, and at the societal reforms made in Britain 19th century, a lot of them correspond to countries in Europe who had already been revolting. What do you do if you see mainland Europe in flames? Change your laws just enough so you don’t lose power. I think if an artist revolution is going to have the same massive impact that it did in 60’s America, the UK needs to either experience things bad enough that we get up and do something, or we need to find that motivation through empathy for those who are suffering more than us. And I’m not saying that the whole of Britain lacks empathy, but I am saying that the British government has a talent for failure. Unfortunately, their failings don’t really affect the majority of the middle and upper classes. I myself benefit from that. I am a middle class women who lives a privileged life. I think that instead of an artistic revolution bringing hope to the country, an artistic revolution in the UK or Scotland (at least), should be more focussed on anger than on peace and love. Preach the messages of punk more than the 60’\s folk and psychedelic rock. We don’t need hope, we need anger because there won’t be a revolution without it.
You can catch Josephine Sillars + The Manic Pixie Dreams at Broadcast on the 18th of August along side Freakwave and Caitlin Buchanan.