Paula Wolfe heads to Brighton with a new album and a new book under her belt for a date at The Komedia on January 22.
The tour marks the release, within 12 days of each other last summer, of Paula’s third entirely self-produced album White Dots White Dots and the publication of Women in The Studio: Creativity, Control and Gender in Popular Music Production (Routledge), the book version of her research for her PhD.
A singer-songwriter, producer and performer herself, Paula charts in the book the rise of self-production practices among female artists since the early noughties.
“There was a massive hiatus between the second and third albums, and that was when I took on board the PhD which turned into this monster of a research project. I released the last album in 2009 and then I was doing the PhD and I moved house and left a partner and I was teaching to pay the bills.
“And then I took on this huge project, a dilapidated house in the sticks of Norfolk, about ten miles from Norwich. The old part of the house is a 16th century grade 2 listed nightmare, and then there was an L-shaped bungalow which would never have been allowed now. I knocked the two through and it ended up being my studio. I thought I was going to use an outhouse, but this turned out to have the perfect acoustic for recording, and I was able to fit the full kit into my living room.
“I have been writing the album all the way along.
“Self-produced is nothing new now. There are so many artists who are self-producing and self-releasing and running their own thing. But the book argues that music production is gendered. If you say the words music producer, you immediately think of a bloke.
“What music production does is take the raw product and turn it into a product that you can then take to market, and historically it has been a very masculine activity. It is also the most powerful practice in the industry.
“But the conversation has now been opened up. A lot of work on gender has been done, but there is still an awful lot to say. We have certainly not yet reached a point of gender equivalence.”
As for the album, there are 11 tracks: “They are a combination of personal takes on things that have happened and also fictional accounts as well. They are stories really, and one of the stories that has really struck home with people has been a song called Georgia Blue.”
Paula was in London waiting for a train back to Norfolk on a freezing night. The news came through that the train driver had gone. The song sees Paula pondering just what exactly what he might have gone off to do.
“I have imagined him –instead of driving people home on a freezing night to Norwich – deciding to go off instead and cross-dress and be beautiful.”
And if that’s what he had really done, Paula would most definitely have forgiven him.
“There is another song called Caravan Man which is slightly made up. I had been on a trip with my brother and his then partner to the south of France. I noticed a bloke sitting outside his caravan. He had lots and lots of empty chairs and a big table set up as if there was a big party going on, but there he was on his own, so I made up a story about him. And that’s the album – a combination of fictional accounts and things that caught my eye, just things that really struck me.”