INTERVIEW: Stella Grundy

Photography Debbie Ellis

Hi Stella, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Good, thanks.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Star”?

Star is taken from the concept album The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star and is inspired by touring and describes through spoken word and lyrics the ups and downs of life on the road. It has a driving full on guitar riff and thundering bass line by the legendary Jah Wobble.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

More a number of events mainly drawn from the gigs by my ex band Intastella. In particular when our Bass player Martin Mittler met up with The Grateful Dead and their infamous fans the dead heads and we both ended up climbing onto the roof of the Columbia Hotel where we stayed rather worse for wear watching the stars.

How was the film experience?

Not sure which film. If you mean the Tim Burgess from The Charlatans  video. Yes it was great fun to do. I’ve known Simon Wolstencroft (ex The Fall and The Colourfield) for many years he is a good friend so it was easy to relax. The director Nico Mirallegro had a clear idea what he wanted and the crew were really friendly. It was a nice way to spend a day and I think everyone involved was pleased with the results.

The single comes off your new album The Rise and Fall Of A Northern Star – what’s the story behind the title?

The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star comes from the  stage show of the same name. Within this show Northern Star are an invented band from Manchester. They had one hit in the Madchester era and their song featured on an advert in Japan. Tracy Star is the lead singer and the nine songs on the album describe her Rise and Fall. From childhood dreams of being like her idol David Bowie, a fleeting brush with fame and the consequences of selling her soul for rock and roll.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process came long before the recording. The songs were written and demo’d over a couple of years and were always meant to link together as a narrative. I just wasn’t sure how. I didn’t want to form a band and do gigs so had the idea to create a multi media stage show to bring them to life dramatically. I worked with a musician to record backing tracks with a piano. I always wanted to record an album and did this after the first national tour of the theatre show. I incorporated some of the theatre elements and co produced with engineer (Jonathan Hurst)  I’m used to recording with a band so I found the process quite difficult. So many decisions to make!

How does your acting influence your music and the other way around?

I’ve always wrote visual lyrics but when I was first in bands I was too self conscious to physicalize this. Static, head down navel gazing. My Mum and aunties told me to move round more ha ha. I think my acting experience has freed me up. At the moment as I’m concentrating on my own theatre work with music always a massive element of this its hard to see where one finishes and the other one starts.

You brought some special guests – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

There has been some ace people involved in the different strands of this music, theatre  and film projects and nearly everybody I asked was up for it.

What did they bring up to the table?

John Robb brought his years of music knowledge to the Documentary Then and Now about Tracy Star.

Dave Haslam and Clint Boon brought their memories of 80’s Manchester.

Jah Wobble brought 2 great bass lines to the album and a narration that we feature in the Stella Grundy Bands live music. Mike Joyce also makes a cameo appearance. Greg Fenton has done a proper 4 to the floor dance remix of Escape Hatch and producer Mike Bennett ( production credits include Ian Brown, The Fall, Kim Fowley amongst others) has done a dub mash up of Star with King Schascha (The Beat) Rudeboy Skanking.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The songs were written about different times in my life both important and trivial. Fragmented but each tries to encapsulate the feeling lyrically and musically. rehearsing them with a band you see how the composition sometimes jars or repeats and this was done with the intention of creating the atmosphere of the time or event the songs are written about. This sounds a bit analytical but there has been a lot of experimentation with instruments and generated sound to achieve this atmosphere.

Any plans to hit the road?

After two successful festival appearances at Blackthorn Music Fesival in Cheshire and Punky Reggae Party Festival in Didsbury, Manchester.

The Stella Grundy band which includes Stella Grundy vocalist, Karen Leatham bass guitar, Martin Bolt lead guitar, Ben Knott keyboards and electronics and Ian Budgie Jones on drums. Have just played their first headline show at  The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. A well-received performance and the start of a three date autumn tour with shows at Fac251 in Manchester Wednesday 12th October supporting Lene Lovich and  The Dublin Castle in London Saturday 19th November.

What else is happening next in The Stella Grundy Band’s world?

We are currently rehearsing for upcoming shows and will be going in the studio to record new songs. A remix EP produced by Mike Bennett is also being recorded and an Album Launch in The New Year. We are hoping to play a number of festivals and headline shows in 2017.

The Stella Grundy band ft Jah Wobble – Star

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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