Liverpool based alt-pop provocateur Claire Welles may be a new name for many, but it’s not through a lack of trying. In fact, if that old mantra of if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again is about anyone in modern music, then Claire could just about be the leading candidate. New album Othello is Claire’s 34th recording since her debut in the dark and distant 1990s’. During that time Claire has plowed a lonely furrow, producing DIY recordings with an acerbic and often dark sense of humour at the core of her work.
In recent years Claire came to the attention of Tim Burgess, who has booked her several times for his Tim Peaks Diner stage at Kendal Calling. She has also done two listening parties for Burgess on Twitter, with last year’s Dazed album proving popular enough to warrant a second, 2019’s Transpose; she also supported him on some of his 2021 tour dates. The opportunities have continued to fall her way, with Jane Weaver offering her several support slots on her early 2022 UK tour. Today Claire talks us through her idiosyncratic new album Othello track by track.
‘Jealousy’ is about having a bevvy and focusing on the negative aspects of life, it’s quite a dark song
to start with and sets the tone for the rest of the album. The plane at the start is a direct result of
listening to ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd as a kid in council houses with Huyton potheads. This track
was mostly recorded using the Korg Arp Odyssey and then layered with a Micro Korg. I’m not big
on owning loads of gear, but these two are my faves.
I love Ste Cole’s – who mixed the record – work on this, especially how the lead and backing vocals are given the same prominence in the mix. It reminds me of ‘Up The Hill Backwards‘ by David Bowie, in fact I don’t think
this song would be out of place on ‘Scary Monsters’. I’m having a laugh at myself and my peers in
the lyrics of this song. Expect a video for this one in the near future.
Split The Family In Two:
This one isn’t autobiographical at all, but it’s about how people are beginning to have to deal with
members of their own family who have essentially been radicalised by the far-right, with the anti-
vax movement being an obvious reference point. This has recently turned into some people
believing that the war in Ukraine is fake. It’s an anti-crank song and a warning. I expect this sort of
rhetoric is only going to get worse in the future as people lose trust in the media.
New Ice Age:
My last album Dazed dealt with the then recent illness and death of my mother, whereas this was
written a year later and is about how I was struggling to cope with everyday life in the aftermath.
Writing and recording this song helped a lot though and it’s a lovely pop song.
It’s Like I’m Dead:
This is a cartoon version of my life, or more like my existence, was like during most of 2021. I
basically spent the year watching an awful lot of Sky Sports TV and was mostly isolated away from
friends. It’s a song about being in a deep state of depression.
Highly influenced by the style of music I was making 25 years ago in the late 90s’, as that’s when
the lyrics are set. Ste changed the beat from a front-beat to a backbeat
which made it more danceable. This is the closest you’ll get to me doing shoegaze.
The typewriter at the start is a nod to one of my older songs ‘Officewerk‘ (from the Nincompoop
album, 2012) which also begins with a typewriter. This was about the US Capitol attack by the
American far-right, who have subsequently got into the heads of gullible people in this country. It’s
a reaction against America in general and the chorus is about getting dressed up and going out to
escape from this new reality.
At War With The Under 35s:
Ste did a fine job as always at turning this into a huge song with loads of detail, it’s a real
grower. It also adds something different to the album; something that’s anthemic – which can often
be dangerous territory – but I think it works. Lyrically it’s about how young people are portrayed by
the media and cancel culture, which is also very dangerous territory. I’m all for it though, there’s an
awful lot of things that deserved to be consigned to history.
Not actually about snooker, however the snooker was on the telly when I wrote this and it seemed to stick. It’s about the problems my neighbourhood in Liverpool faces; such as drug addiction and anti-social behaviour, but also about
how a lot of my friends relationships seemed to fail in 2021. I suspect this was mainly due to us no
longer being couped-up as we all were involuntarily during 2020.
F A D E:
‘F A D E’ was originally written and recorded for the Blush album in 2018, an album which sank
without trace mostly due to a bad mix. It had some really good writing on it though and I felt this
song in particular deserved a reworking with new vocals and real drums. It was the penultimate
track on that album as well as this one, it definitely has that feel to it.
This was 4 ½ minutes long to begin with, however I cut it short so it serves as a full stop for this
album. Ste took out a lot of the music and focused more on the rhythm of the track. I got
obsessed with the board game Othello during the making of this album, hence the title. The album
was almost called Cash & Carry with me stood outside a Makro store in Knowsley for the
cover – a truly appalling idea!
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.