"The project is about looking from different perspectives and re-contextualising ideas."
With live music on hold for the year, Hannah Moule and the Moulettes are using the opportunity to kickstart an ambitious new project which will see the release of a new EP every month until May 2021. Since forming at Glastonbury in 2002, the band have continuously evolved their sound from folk through to gypsy jazz, indie rock to classic, or as they call it, "craft pop". Their recently-released EP Xenolalia, the first of 11 from the 55-track project is an apt example of their signature genre-merging as one song is presented in five alternate styles, reinvented each time. FUZZY spoke with the band about the first single and their visions for the project.
FUZZY: Your new single, ‘Idiolect’, comes out on the 26th of June. Congrats! Could you speak a little about the track?
Thank you! It seemed to us that Idiolect was the perfect song introduce big mega project that is Xenolalia – (55 pieces of music, 5 ensembles - Strings, Electric, Horns, A Cappella, & Electronica).
So the electric version is the flagship, but there are 4 other variations that take different angles as a starting point to reimagine the song. The project is about looking from different perspectives and re-contextualising ideas. The song is about how our capacity to express ourselves is as varied and personal as a fingerprint.
FUZZY: Dialect is defined as “the distinctive speech of an individual; a linguistic pattern regarded as unique among speakers of a person’s language or dialect.” How does this concept fit into the track?
It’s a good word, and was new to me! I was thinking about the intricacies of human communication; how often we are reactive, polarised, misunderstand, are misunderstood, how often we are able intuit the truth of a situation, how group dynamics and unspoken, shared knowledge works.... my own tendency to speculate and allocate feelings to other people, to fill in the blanks... the tangible spectres of past words and actions… I had just seen the immersive installation ‘Atmospheric Memory’ and been reading Charles Babbage, so I wanted to imagine in to being a Utopian ‘Difference Engine No. 3’ , built to read the subtext and the nuances of human experience, to translate and decode us.
FUZZY: Since touring schedules have been largely disrupted, your plan is to release fifty-five pieces of music, divided into eleven EPs, once a month. This is a really interesting idea, and it’s not something that I’ve seen other artists do. What inspired this?
We wanted to do something that went beyond the format album, we wanted to collaborate with all kinds of musicians and not put too many limits on what came out of that, and also I think the idea came from wanting to show devotion to the craft of songwriting. I love the idea that a song can have many secret lives, and I think re-writing things is a really inspiring exercise, it lets the song breathe.
FUZZY: You were formed at Glastonbury 2002. Forming a band at a festival is certainly very exciting, and very unique. How did this happen? How has the festival shaped the trajectory of Hannah Moule & The Moulettes?
It did set the tone that our first gig was at Glastonbury festival complete with full nakedity and multicoloured spectacle on all sides! I grew up nearby and went every year; it was very inspiring to be able to see such vivid, international, world class art. It was eye opening.
FUZZY: Your sound spans across many genres, including folk, psychedelia and indie rock. How do you see the intersection of these different genres? Which artists, old and new, do you take inspiration from?
I think you absorb things like a sponge and then it comes out how it does… We love experimenting and have always been drawn to artists that are eclectic in their ways… Frank Zappa, Björk, Tune-Yards, Laura Mvula, Dirty Projectors, Holly Herndon, Sudan Archives… lots of classical music, Scandinavian folk music, 20’s and 30’s Jazz records – (the songcraft is always so perfect, I love learning these old songs) We’re also lucky to have such exceptional musicians around us, which is why we wanted to do a big collaborative thing this time round. (La Leif, Nimzo Studios, Charlotte Glasson, Leroy Horns, Ross Holmes, Ríoghnach Connolly, Faye Houston, Kassia Zermon aka Bunty… and so many gorgeous others.)
FUZZY: What do you most enjoy writing songs about?
Ah, all the things! I love the perimeters that a concept gives you. I like drawing out stories from unexpected sources. Preternatural (our fourth album) is all about animal behaviour and the natural world – one of the songs is about the Halicephalobus Mephisto nematode worm. I am curious to look into all things – I’m sure anything can be a starting point for a song ! But With Xenolalia, I wanted to dig as deep as I could to examine human behaviour, that was my agenda.
FUZZY: What would your dream musical collaboration be?
Hmmm… I’d love to do even more cross-disciplinary work with dancers, in cinema – visual artists, smell concepts! I love it when you can immerse yourself in a whole sensory world. I’m always open to collaborative ideas!
FUZZY: Finally: what’s been your favourite album of 2020 thus far?
Bec Plexus – Sticklip. She worked so hard on this hugely innovative record – I love the cut of her creative mind. She asked composers to write for her -and started with the premise, ‘What are you afraid to say out loud?’ She is also a collaborator on this project (check Idiolect – Electronica) so I’m really excited to work more with her. Also really loving Falle Nioke’s tracks with Ghost Culture - absolute bangers! I’m also hugely excited that Falle is singing on the next release, he is a mega force.
The first EP, containing five different musical textures of the same stem, 'Idiolect', is out now. Track 5, the electronica version is a personal favourite of mine. Their Patreon subscribers will decide what goes on vinyl when the band are allowed to start touring again in March 2021. Click here for more information.
Words by Eleanor Noyce. Introduction by Jacob Simpson.
2nd July 2020.