Plum aka Shona Maguire is an artist that makes rapturous electronic music interlaced with sublime melodies, thought provoking lyrics and a beguiling voice. Her album The Seed is a testament to her amazing songwriting and production abilities. Having just become the first female to win a Scottish Alternative Music Award and with a brand new video for the hypnotizing track Meadow of Weeds, this is the perfect time to get acquainted with her music. AMBY spoke to Plum about Hit Girl, winning a SAMA, and having her shoes stroked.
AMBY: How would you describe Plum’s sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
Plum: Leftfield electro-pop. It’s heartfelt but intricate, soulful but brutal…sweet but twisted.
AMBY: What are your feelings about your latest album The Seed now that you’ve had time to reflect on it?
Plum: I’m really proud of The Seed. It took a lot of very personal emotion, a lot of time, a lot of vulnerability, and it’s exactly what I wanted it to be. Which is not something I have ever felt with my work before or since. It is a very meaningful piece to me, it’s helped me to get past a lot of personal issues. I love it like I would a dear friend.
AMBY: Smile is such a wicked song. What is the story behind it?
Plum: It’s about having to deal with something so horrific you can’t talk to anyone about it, so nobody knows, and you have to keep smiling through the pain, rather than let it out. I had a dream that a man with a very passive mask on (think V for Vendetta) was violently cutting a smile into the face of someone else with a massive rough toothed knife, and I thought it was such a powerful image I had to use it. I stole the idea from my subconscious!
AMBY: Your music videos are great eye candy. Tell us about your newest one for the fabulous track Meadow of Weeds.
Plum: I was lucky enough to work with the incredibly talented Jiamin Liu when she was studying at Edinburgh College of Art. We agreed an exchange – she would do a music video for me (for the track You) if I did the music for her degree show film ‘If We Meet’ (http://vimeo.com/27201784). It was a really interesting process, but I think we really clicked with the direction we were both heading in, and when The Seed album was finished, I basically begged her repeatedly to do another music video for me. Eventually she agreed. I gave her a few suggestions, but because I trust her judgement so implicitly, I kind of left most of the ideas to her, and as expected I completely love the finished product. It’s so beautiful, and features Jiamin’s character, which I love.
AMBY: What is the funniest thing to happen to you at one of your gigs?
Plum: Potentially this guy who was stroking my shoes during a gig – very difficult to keep your concentration when someone is so impressed by your shoes. It was difficult not to laugh, but I was playing guitar, triggering samples & singing so I couldn’t do much to deter him. Another favourite was a guy who just kept shouting at the top of his lungs “SHE IS AMAZING, SHE IS A ONE WOMAN BAND” and bringing me a string of drinks which he was lining up next to the equipment between tracks, which had the rest of the audience smiling.
AMBY: Congratulations on winning the prestigious SAMA Award for Best Electronic. Has the reality of it kicked in yet?
Plum: Em, no. I was catching up with my dad yesterday & we were both saying “It must be some kind of conspiracy” and laughing. I really didn’t expect to win against such stiff competition. The other acts are all extremely talented. I was so excited to be nominated until I saw who I was up against, so it was a real shock to actually win.
AMBY: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Plum: I would eliminate greed. I think it’s the worst of all human traits, and potentially the route of most of the problems in the world. So if that was possible I’d do it.
AMBY: What do you have planned next as far as releases go?
Plum: I’m just putting the finishing touches on my new EP Betsy Thunder, which I’m hoping to release in July. I’m planning a few collaborations and want to keep writing – I have a lot of ideas at the moment, so it would be great to get more of them down.
AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?
Plum: 1. Lamb, Fear of Fours
2. Bjork, Vespertine
3. Buck 65, Secret House Against the World
AMBY: Who inspires you as a musician and producer?
Plum: Such a tough question. There’s so many. I love Bjork’s production and ideas, and her lyrics are usually amazing. Buck 65 blows my mind with his lyrics. I have very recently been amazed by Conquering Animal Sound – their production is really clear and gorgeously constructed.
AMBY: If you were a superhero who would you be?
Plum: Hit Girl (from Kick Ass). Best character ever. Can’t wait for the sequel.
AMBY: What has you excited for 2013?
Plum: Collaborations with Roman Nose, the festival season, new music, the Edinburgh Festival, hopefully a bit of touring. It’s been a great start to the year, so I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next! :)
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Plum that nobody knows yet?
Plum: I used to be homeless
Thank you Plum, for giving us your answers!
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/61690314 w=400&h=300]
Alicia & Yaz Atout