There are re-inventions - and then there's Charlotte Church.
A child prodigy in the operatic world, when Charlotte Church reached her teens she began to assert more control on her career. Notching up pop hits seemingly at will, the Welsh artist is now seemingly keen to try something a little... different.
New EP 'THREE' - the logically titled third segment of a five part series - is most certainly that. A chaotic mosaic of influences, it finds Charlotte Church sluicing together 80s pomp rock, flickering electronics, intimate songcraft and even free jazz.
It's a heady mixture. Aside from the music, though, there is a real depth to the project; a sense that every step is thought through. Inviting Charlotte Church to take part in Their Library, Clash half-expected the Welsh artist to simply reel off a few titles and continue on her merry way.
What we received, though, was a wry, witty and revealing meditation on the way literature has impacted upon her life.
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What is your favourite book and why?
Probably the most affecting thing I've ever read was the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman. Some may think it a bit lame to choose a kids' book as my favourite but this is a book for kids about killing God, so… Aside from his searing insight into the way religions operate, the exploration of multi-verse theories, the tender handling of his characters' sexual awakening, the complex portrayal of parent-child relationships, Pullman's greatest achievement is delivering a riveting adventure story, jam-packed with fantastical yet believable characters and worlds, that weaves all these threads together with more elegance than the vast majority of authors writing for adults. Even the arty ones.
What draws you to certain books?
Generally I find myself attracted to a book because of its blurb, a friend's recommendation, (rarely) a review, but not often would I pick up a book because of its author.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
There's a book by the South African author Bryce Courtenay called 'The Power of One' which I think is ace, but no-one else I know seems to have heard of it. They made it into a film in the nineties but it was supposed to be bogus.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Not especially. When I'm reading a really good book I do find myself creatively sharper and I'm quicker to come up with good ideas, so I suppose I must derive some influence from reading. My two songwriting partners are both very book-ish so they are always bringing some literary allusion or other to the table. I prefer to start with a blank slate when writing rather than attempting to hang material off of a devised, literature-influenced scaffold.
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished 'Rendezvous with Rama' by Isaac Asimov which was like nothing I've ever read before. I watched my partner fight his way through David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest' last year, and he was so blown away with it I thought I ought to have a go. I've only just started it and I can't deny I'm a little nervous. It's very long.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
It was one of the 'Malory Towers' books by Enid Blyton. And I haven't got very much to say about that.
Did you make good use of your library card?
I was far too busy working as a kid to visit the library. At 14 I rather precociously read a rather large 'Collected Works of Plato' from front to back, and understood about a quarter of it.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
I honestly can't think of a single book that I started and didn't finish. I'm stubborn like that.
Do you read book reviews?
I don't read book reviews regularly at all. A novel is such a subjective thing (above a certain standard) that if I read a book review I find myself generally not wanting to read the book itself.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
If I ever thought to re-read anything I'd have to give it a long time. And it would have to be very good.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
In Michael Cunningham's 'The Hours' with the three women, who almost act as three sides of the same woman, I found myself identifying with different aspects of each.
Is there an author or poet you would like to collaborate with?
I suppose I'd love to write music to the words of someone like Simon Armitage, and one day I really want to write a sci-fi opera, maybe based on a Phillip K Dick novel or 'Stranger In A Strange Land' by Robert A. Heinlein.
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'THREE' EP is out now.
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