Interview with Pamela Hute

Pamela Hute, from Paris, released her first LP “Turtles Tales From Overseas” in May 2010 to critical acclaim. She followed this by playing some of the best venues in France – Olympia, Bataclan, Printemps de Bourges festival and so on, building her audience all the time. Her second album “Bandit” appeared in in March 2013. It was mixed in Brooklyn, New York, by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Cyndi Lauper, Dino Jr, The Kills, Sonic Youth, The Breeders). On his blog he wrote about her like this “She is the queen of the pop hook and excels at synth pop and jangle, guitar rock. The album will steal your heart”. She has just released her new EP “Today” and her new album will be out in February 2017. Both are being released on My Dear Recordings, the record label she set up over the summer.

Hi Pamela, we love the new Today EP. Do you think your songwriting has changed much since your first album?

Thank you so much. I think it has changed, yes. I accept myself better as a decent songwriter I guess, which makes the writing more straightforward maybe? I think writing is like a muscle, the more you practice, the stronger it becomes. But it won’t work if you are faking your emotions. If you have something strong to say, you’ll learn how to express it the best you can in your song writing, record after record.

You have a real talent for classic hooks and melodies, if anything you make it sound simple but we know it’s not- loads of people would kill to have talent like that – is it something that comes naturally to you? How do you approach writing a new tune?

I’m pretty obsessed with melodies, that’s true. I love the idea that people can remember my songs, identify themselves to them. This is how I came to music myself, I was moved by simple melodies and hooks so I guess I’ve been trying to do that too. As far as the writing process is concerned, I usually grab my guitar and improvise, singing in some weird phonetic English. I record long minutes of improv and cut the parts I like best. Sometimes it’s just a chorus, sometimes a verse, sometimes both. When I’m happy, I write lyrics that fit and record something more definitive over the improvisation and build around that.

Tell us a bit about the forthcoming album – can we expect more in the style of Today?

Yes absolutely. “Today” is an extract of the upcoming record. Those four songs are from the new record, like a little “mise en bouche”. You can expect 7 other tracks in the same vein in February!

Have you recorded in French? Was it an automatic choice to write/sing in English?

I have been listening to English music all my life, so it was natural to write in English. When I wrote my first song it was in English. I love French language, and I’m definitely an annoying French woman (J), but I feel totally English music-wise. I did try to write and sing in French, but it was a catastrophe. I don’t know what to say, how to say it, how to put the words rhythmically in the right place when in French. So I just thought I’d stick to English. I have a lot of connections to United Kingdom and America, it’s really a part of myself and my life in the most natural way.

*Pamela’s Playlist

What question would you like to be asked that you never are? And what would be your answer?

Haha, that’s the best question ever!

I have no idea. It’s your job to find that question, don’t you think? 😉

Do you think Non-UK/US groups get enough exposure in the major British and American magazines? Does it matter to you?

It’s a little bit annoying yes, but I tend to think Brits and Americans are better at the task, so the exposure is somehow logical. However, I wish the media were more curious. There is a bunch of solid acts here in France. Unfortunately, everyone wants to discover the new gem which makes the headlines pretty random, and often outdated six months later. I think it’s more interesting to follow the evolution of artists on the long term. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, with minimal commercial success, and honestly, at this point, I just want to focus on the positive and surround myself with people that believe in the songs and are happy to support my work. Magazines do what they have to do and so do I, and if our interests meet at some point in time, that will rock. But if it doesn’t ever happen, it’s no big deal. I don’t want to become a jaded artist, ever.

 What was the first piece of music you loved, and why?

 My first big and serious crush were The Beatles. Revolver is a very important record for me and the first I really fell in love with.

What is your favourite song that you’ve recorded and why?

It’s a song on the upcoming record called “Stick Around”. It’s almost as if somebody else wrote the song. It’s so personal it became beyond personal. I can get very emotional when I listen to it, as if somebody else was singing it to me. I don’t know why. But it makes this song really special.

 What artists have been the biggest influence on your music?

 Besides the Beatles, I was really into britpop when I was a teenager. Elastica, Sleeper, Blur… I was also very moved by Nirvana: I loved this contrast between heavy guitars and pop songwriting. I’m a big Stax fan too, I love Otis Redding and all those raw productions released by Stax label in the 60s.

But this is only a glimpse of what has influenced me, I have always been curious of different styles and sounds, as long as the melodies were strong and the purpose genuine.

What song (if any) by another artist do you wish you had written and why?

Hard to say. I think the answer to this question often changes according to my mood but I’d say “Jed’s Other Poem” by Grandaddy.

Name a song that makes you happy and why does it have that effect?

‘Love’ by the Belgian band Showstar on their record “Think Ringo”. I’ve been loving those guys forever. Honestly, the entire record makes me happy. They are great melody-makers.

What’s the best new artist you’ve heard recently?

Mmmm that’s a tricky one. Check out my September Spotify Playlist, you’ll get an idea of what I have been listening to lately.

And it’s a perfect transition for the next question!

 What do you think of music streaming sites like Spotify and Deezer?

I’m not against those services but there is definitely a problem with remuneration for the artists. It’s terribly low. It should work like a radio but lobbying is too strong to make that happen. Also, unless you get decent exposure to back up your digital release, you are really lost in space.

This is also why I created my own record label, and signed a deal with a distributor. Less go-betweens means we have a better control over what happens on those platforms with the music we release.

On the user side of things, I subscribed to Spotify a few months ago and I find it pretty handy. But it’s huge. It’s almost impossible to discover things using on the computer based Spotify algorithm, they always get it wrong. But before I buy the vinyl, I check out the records on Spotify, and honestly it’s very convenient.

Why did you decide to set up My Dear Recordings?

I’ve been doing music for ten years and I was lucky to be signed on big indie French label quickly and released my first album in great circumstances. It didn’t work out as expected and after the second album, my label and I thought it was time for a change. I made my third record alone, knocked on dozens of label/publishers doors, but nobody agreed to release it. But I was proud of those songs, and I thought I’d release it alone. I had this record label idea in my head for a while but I didn’t want to start such adventure on my own. I met Julien le Nagard, a musician and now friend, a few months ago and we shared the same vision of the business and were both at a point in our careers where we wanted to control our artistic ideals better and help other bands grow by sharing our vision and experience. It was obvious we had to start this record label together. And so we did.

I tend to think people are getting tired of music as a business-only thing, with all those over-marketed bands that are selling songs with no soul. I feel people seek more authenticity nowadays and are willing to support bands and labels expressing something more genuine. I’m extremely proud to release my record on the label we founded, it makes a lot of sense.

*Pamela on YouTube

 You’ve been up-and-running for a few months, how is it going?

 It’s going pretty good. It’s exciting to finally release those new songs, play them live. It’s a whole new chapter for me, new line-up live, new music, new record label. I love starting new projects, it makes everything so lively. I hope it stays like that forever.

How did you decide on your initial list of artists?

I created this label with a friend, for friends. The first idea was to call our buddies and say “Hey! do you want to join our label?”. This is what happened with Showstar. I love this band and we have been friends for a while now, and it seemed natural to sign them.

Why Elephant is my associate’s band, a totally new project, they haven’t released anything yet, but will very soon,  and My Thinking Face is a band I discovered on the internet. The guys write really powerful songs and I reached out. They are super sweet guys. We just released their first acoustic EP.

It’s a family thing really. It’s very simple, and DIY for now. We have like $500 on our bank account! But we put resources and ideas in common, share stages, experiences. Even if it’s small for now, I believe it’s the way to go.

What are your plans for the label over the longer term?

The plan is to support bands we love and make /release beautiful records for as long as we can.

 What releases have you upcoming?

 We just released my Thinking Faces EP ‘Holy’ and mine ‘Today’ and we are about to release two tapes for Cassette Store Day. One featuring My Thinking Face/Why Elephant (one track each on each side) and another one by Showstar and myself.

Those will be available on our online store on October 8 and at a few record shops in France. Those are the first two of a series called “The Dialog Tape Series” that we will keep releasing on tape and vinyl. They will feature artists from the label and others, always organized as split releases, like a musical dialogue. The next big release will be my LP on February 24.

Apart from you, the artists listed on your website currently are My Thinking Face, Why Elephant and Showstar, could you recommend one song by each?

‘Lonely’ by My Thinking Face is a great song from their EP ‘Holy’. Showstar’s cover of Morrissey is pretty addictive too and Why Elephant has not released anything yet we did premiere their first single on Thursday), but their first ever and upcoming single “Fill My Time” is haunting. The tape is being released today (8th October 2016).

 We ask everyone this – we are compiling a Music For Funerals compilation – what music would you like to have played when the time comes?

Radiohead – ‘I Will’ on Hail to the Thief.

Finally, we ask everyone for a drawing, a little doodle or a sketch of anything (could be a self-portrait, a cat, a line….) to add to our artist’s gallery – so if you felt like sending us one that would be great but is entirely optional

You can see what Pamela produced for us in our gallery next week 🙂

Finally, here’s Pamela’s latest video – an excellent live version of Banshee. What a way to finish!

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