Isobel Anderson Talks CHALK / FLINT

Isobel, tell me a bit about the new single Flint Shingle from the forthcoming CHALK / FLINT.

“Flint Shingle” is inspired by the Sussex coastline, which is made up of big white chalk cliffs and shingle beaches covered in flint pebbles. It’s where I grew up. The album title draws from these themes as well, and this first single delves into what this landscape means to me. It also uses a love story to unpick where I’m from and how my memories of both this relationship and this landscape interlink with one another.

You’ve released three studio albums thus far. How would you say CHALK / FLINT is different/similar? What are you most excited about for this release in particular?

To date, all of my previous albums have largely revolved around guitar, not just in their instrumentation on the records, but also my method of songwriting. Unfortunately, I have chronic pain in my wrists now, which prevents me from playing guitar and has meant that for this new album I had to find new ways of writing, recording and performing music. This has been incredibly challenging but has also massively opened up my musical palette. I wrote must of the songs on CHALK / FLINT in my head, which meant I began also coming up with basslines, keyboard parts, drum parts and even clarinet ideas alongside the lyrics and melodies. In periods where my wrists were not as bad, I began to demo these up in my home studio and then finished them in Millbank Studios in Northern Ireland. I also continued to interweave my field recording and soundscape composition practice throughout the tracks, and what has resulted is probably my strongest and most experimental album to date.

You have your MA & PhD in Sound Art, which is pretty amazing. Can you share a bit about what that field of study means for those who may not know? Why was it important to you to pursue academia & a larger artistic path?

In basic terms, Sound Art is any art which uses sound as a medium. The techniques and practices this encompasses range from sound design through to experimental instrument technology and the physics of sound and many, many things in between. What I have ended up specializing in is field recording, soundscape composition, electroacoustic studio techniques and how all of these can be combined with the voice. I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship for both my MA and PhD, otherwise I would not have been able to develop these skills. I guess I have also been curious about the boundaries of music and have always related to music through listening rather than dots on a page.

Who are you listening to?

Right now I am really enjoying Bon Iver’s new album. I’m generally really enjoying how people are playing around with vocals so much these days, with artists like Rosie Lowe really bending their identity and expressing their production skills through this exploration.

When you’re not making music or art, what is your favorite way to relax?

I really love walking, especially in the countryside. I guess I’d love to live in the countryside and go walking everyday ideally. I think I’m a bit of an introvert, so I need my quiet time! Having said that, I love having a pint of Guinness in one of Belfast’s nice old pubs like the Duke of York or White’s Tavern.

What else is on the horizon for you?

I’m looking forward to having some time off after the album is released, as the last year has been pretty busy. Having said that, there may be some plans to make a new sound piece, but I’ll have to get back to you on that one…