Poster on Dutch posters SM 1968
Illustration by Mina Bach
We trudged through the mud. The boys were hungry and desperate to hit the falafel joint, search whilst I was yanking on my boyfriend’s arm, website telling him I really wanted to catch ‘this sweet singing lady’. Stomach comes first is his life’s motto, but I assured him that he had heard of her and she was folky, acoustic goodness. Tick, tock – wait for his response. I’m walking… slowly…Excellent! And there we stood in a big top candy striped tent. This is to be the first time we saw Alessi’s Ark, a few years ago at a festival. Wearing a full length, high necked, pastel coloured dress, she was late and a bit flustered, but this only added to her utterly likeable self. Full of ‘umm’s and little stories, she goes from timid to devoted singing and playing. Alessi is beautiful, sweet and a very good musician. We have since seen her several times, and she has got better with each performance. Not even 21, her voice is quirky, shy and vulnerable sounding, but also holds a confidence in her musical abilities. She has gusto, charm and modesty wrapped up in one. Here’s an interview with Alessi Laurent-Marke:
Could you introduce yourself please?
Hello there! I’m Alessi.
Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
I live in Hammersmith, West London, where I was born and raised.
What sort of music do you create?
It’s handmade and hopefully keeps others good company.
Do you write it yourself?
Where else do you get your inspiration from?
All kinds of things and there’s a whole world more to discover still.
The people I’m closest to inspire me and most things I listen to,read and watch slip into the songs in one way or another. Here are some people,books and films that I’ve found inspiring and excite me ; Angela Carter’s book ‘The Magic Toyshop’, the films ‘Rumba’, ‘Puppentanz’ and ‘L’argent de poche’, Leonara Carrington’s paintings, Zora Neale Hurston‘s book ‘Their eyes were watching God’…there is so much out there.
What’s your music background?
Going right back to the start and being honest ; I learnt the recorder and steels pans in primary school, the drums in secondary school and picked up the guitar at home when I was fourteen. I have an autoharp that I bought shortly after leaving school and have made a pact to start playing it again.
Do you feel free to create the music you wish, or is there pressure to be ‘mainstream’?
Yes I do feel free. The main pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself.
Do you enjoy performing on stage?
Yes I do for the most part. Sometimes waves of nerves can stir in the stomach but usually after a song or two, they settle and roll away.
And tours/festivals – what are the like for you?
Festivals are good fun but can be very muddy in the U.K! Touring is a gift from making music that can be at once solitary and amazing ; you’re given the chance to share the songs as you travel through places and meet people you might not have done without your craft. I feel grateful to have experienced the tours I have done so far and feel lucky to have touring more on the horizon.
How do you relax?
By talking, writing to and spending time with close ones, reading, walking, drawing, sewing, visiting the seaside or by trying not to think at all.
Do you enjoy being in England? What does it means to you?
England is where my family is and where they are is home and very special. It’s a small island in the grand scheme of things that has been home to so many brilliant inventors, writers, musicians and so on.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I can’t see so far.
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