In a windowless studio-cum-bedroom in North London, effects pedals conceal the floor and scribbled lyric sheets line the walls. This is where musician Meggie Brown has been holed up for the past year or so, writing and perfecting her early singles. The latest short-play offering from these sessions – titled 10 Out of 6 – comes out 20th October.
Proving the optimum environment for Brown’s tense and paranoid post-punk, this furious spirit translates both to her recorded sound and her live gigs – often putting on impromptu and thrilling DIY guerrilla nights throughout London’s warehouse community. Yet when it came to setting this energy to wax, Brown took a left-turn. Swapping chaos for calm, the musician travelled north to Edwyn Collins’ Helmsdale studio in the Scottish Highlands, there she was joined by Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos on production duty and laid down her debut works.
Having borrowed his studio – and all the “bargain” equipment inside – we put Meggie and Edwyn in conversation, talking everything from Mark E. Smith to Edwyn’s bird drawings.
Meggie Brown: Your bird drawings are beautiful. Do you get the same satisfaction from drawing as you do from music?
Edwyn Collins: Yes I do. It’s very different. Drawing is easy for me, very relaxing. I sit down, and get concentrating. I got drawing back first, before music. Music is harder, I need to communicate with others, get my ideas across. I have tunes in my head, I need to find a way to get them out. The lyrics are much harder now, but when I get there, it’s great!
MB: You have some beautiful equipment up in your new Helmsdale studio, what do you look for when buying new pieces?
EC: Bargains! They’re hard to find nowadays, but back in the 90s it was easy. Mostly the studios were idiots, they were selling their old stuff and going digital, then going out of business. I knew what I liked. I was crazy about sound, the history of sound.
MB: Can I just come and live in your studio please!? (I’d at least like to return to record again soon!)
EC: You will be most welcome. Summer or winter, it’s so beautiful here.
MB: Do you prefer being called Eddie or Edwyn?
EC: I’m Edwyn, but many friends and aunties and mums and sisters say Eddie, or Ed or Edwyn or Lord Collins or Your Majesty, I don’t mind.
MB: Do you remember my dad Gary at Bearsden Academy?
EC: I do, say hello to Gary for me!
MB: How did your sitcom with Bernard Butler come about in the late 90s?
EC: It was a studio sketch, just mucking about with groups. I used to do it with Seb Lesley, my studio partner and engineer. I was Denny, he was Jackson, a producer/director clocked us doing it and went to Channel 4. We made six episodes and it was called West Heath Yard. Then we did a one-hour special, West Heath House, which I have lost!!! Bernard was in that, playing Jackson’s hippy brother.
MB: How much of it was inspired by real life? (Feel free to name names.)
EC: All of it. Every character was a real person, sometimes the actual person playing themselves. My character was someone I worked with in the early nineties, he really would say, “See you in the charts!”
MB: Gorgeous George was an important album for me growing up, cutting through bullshit. What albums did that for you growing up?
EC: All the 70s Bowie records, starting when I was thirteen in 1972, when I saw the light. Nothing compares really. I really liked the first two Sparks albums too.
MB: And is there any new music excites you?
EC: This and that, I hear really good things. But old geezers raving about young people’s music – I don’t buy that.
MB: How did you and Alex Kapranos meet?
EC: I went to see Franz Ferdinand, before my illness in maybe, 2004? I think I was rather drunk in the dressing room….. Oh dear. Alex has become a lovely friend, cheering on my recovery. He’s an extremely kind person, I admire him.
MB: What are you working on at the moment? Anything else with Alex?
EC: Not at the moment, I’ve just finished my own album (next spring) and a soundtrack and score to a great film called Sometimes, Always, Never, both co-produced by Sean Read, who I’ve worked with for a very long time.
MB: What was it like working with Mark E. Smith?
EC: Excellent. He was…. tricky, and demanding. But he was a good guy, even when he was being naughty. We got on well. He didn’t sack me off, which is something.
MB: Have you ever been to Welwyn Garden City?
EC: Funnily enough, no. I just think it’s a funny name. That track is at least 50 percent Seb Lewsley, we had a laugh and a half.
Meggie Brown‘s track, 10 Out of 6, is out 20th October via Hate Hate Hate Records.