There are two sides to London.
Life in the capital is frenetic, with its tearaway momentum capable of pushing you to newer heights. However the sheer rush, the city’s incredible velocity can also overcome you, smother you.
Smoke Fairies know this all too well. Returning with their new album ‘Blood Speaks’ the pair appear to have settled their differences with the capital, learning to life on mutual terms with their urban environment.
Out now, ‘Blood Speaks’ is a confident, mature return from Smoke Fairies. Tracking down Jessica Davies, the songwriter revealed her literary influences to ClashMusic.
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What is your favourite book and why?
I am not sure I have a favourite book. Maybe ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ It’s set in New Orleans for a start and the main character, Ignatius Jacques Reilly is wonderfully disdainful about everything and everyone around him.
What other authors do you like?
At the moment I am making my way through the works of William Boyd. Other favourites include E. Annie Proulx, Flannery O’Connor, F. Scott Fitzgerald off the top of my head.
What draws you to certain books?
When an author perfectly captures a moment, thought or feeling that you have often felt yourself, however strange it may be. I like books about loners and outsiders.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
I am normally pretty slow at discovering anything, so probably not.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
On occasions. There will be an idea floating around in my head and by chance I will read something that relates to that or embellishes it. Sometimes when I am stuck with a song I will try and read and wait for something to get me thinking.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished ‘The Blue Afternoon’ by William Boyd and my next read is ‘Morvern Callar’ by Alan Warner. I loved the movie so I’m interested to read it.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
I was really proud of my reading ability after reading ‘The Magic Finger’ by Roald Dahl by myself. Most other kids I knew were already reading a lot faster and had a greater interest in books than me, so it felt like a massive achievement. I probably just skim read it because I have no recollection of the storyline.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
I got sent to the Head Librarian for a talk after trying to get out ‘Lolita’ in Year 7 which annoyed me. I was advised to try reading ‘Goosebumps’ which really didn’t have the same appeal.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
All the time. Sometimes the author’s tone will irritate me. Life is too short .
Do you read book reviews?
Only when I am really bored and I never expect them to reflect my opinions. I prefer to judge the book by its cover.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
There are some books I would like to go back to. I find it hard to give books away so I guess it is always my intention to re- read them. Never really do though.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
The best thing about a good book is being able to identify with a character, so it happens all the time. I am enjoying reading William Boyd at the moment because the characters express thoughts that are normally not admitted. Reading seems to help affirm that you are not alone in the choices, and decisions you make in life and the thoughts you have about them.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
Sometimes, it is usually down to having temporarily lost one rather than being studious.
Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
I have never really considered it.
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‘Blood Speaks’ is out now.