Mara Simpson is a Brighton-based singer-songwriter and musician. Growing up between England and East Africa, she’s played stages and festivals across Germany, New Zealand and the UK where she lives. Our Good Sides is her new album, out now. She’s touring right now and you can check dates on her facebook page. Listen to the new album and check our interview after the streaming.
“Our Good Sides” is your latest album. What about the idea and development of this new work?
My songs tend to be very personal. If I don’t truely feel whatever it is that I’m writing about, it doesn’t work. ‘Our Good Sides’ is a collection of stories, of my own, and of others that have deeply resonated.
There are a lot of collaborators and instruments in your new album. What about live shows related to this point of view?
In my live shows I always like to connect with the audience, to hear what they have to say, to tell them the stories behind the songs. There’s a special energy that’s created with any live music, whether it’s one solo artist, or a whole orchestra. There’s an electricity. So when I came to record this album in the studio, away from the connection you get at a live show, I wanted to involve collaboratoers and other instruments to create a different kind of electricity that I hope listeners enjoy.
What about the idea of Timothy Armstrong’s video for “Keep Holding On”?
The story behind ‘Keep Holding On’ is of Freida Schulze who, aged 77 in 1961, climbed out of a window in East Berlin, to freedom in West Berlin. A photo was taken of her struggle between the people trying to liberate her and the guards attemptng to detain her. Timothy took this story and illustrated an abstract interpreation. I love what he did, and the universal message he portraited through his amazing animation.
You mention three cities in your short descreption: Brighton, Wellington & Berlin. What can you say about the role of this places for your creative and personal life?
I’m a Gemini and forever split between two things and often two places! I’m from a pretty international family of wonderers and explorers and music has been my passport to a similar path. I love the sea and as much as I love travelling, I love to be at home, so I’ve ended up in Brighton, a place I’ve always been very drawn to. As I write this I’m sitting at home, looking out at the sea, taking a break from packing to travel to Milan today!
What are the best releases that you have appreciated this year?
Too many. Here are a few: Wilco, Ellie Ford, Alev Lenz, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Rozi Plain, David Bowie, Bannerman, Trixie Whitley, Lisa Hannigan, The Slow Show.