Hello Sugarplum Fairies…..welcome to the Clunk universe.
Please give us a brief description of your surroundings so that we can paint a picture in our mind’s eye.
I’m in Little Armenia in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, where I rent a 1920’s townhouse within a luscious community courtyard and awesome artist neighbours. I have transformed the lower level into a recording studio and use the upper as living quarters.
Please tell us who does what in the latest collaboration of Sugarplum Fairies?
“Sandy Says” was originally released in 1998 on the debut album “Flake”. That version is up tempo and guitar-centric. I Imagined a more intimate stripped down version so I re-recorded with Marlon Rabenreither (Gold Star), who was playing all the instruments, and producing and mixing.
Sid Simons of Girl Skin and Beechwood contributed background vocals.
There is a new Sugarplum Fairies collection due out in December. Please tell us all about it. How did you choose the songs?
Altar Songs 1998-2021 will come out December 3. It took me quite some time to curate those songs since there have been a total of eight album releases.
I tried to document Sugarplum Fairies’ sonic journey from shoegaze infused folk-noir roots to jangly vintage guitar pop, culminating in a current explorative genre-defying mélange of non-traditional instrumentation (e.g. accordion, harmonium, omnichord, Baldwin Funmachine).
Is there a song here that gives you most satisfaction having written?
That’s a tough question to answer; I think that would be “Sugarfree”. There is a 2021 version included on the album.
Please give us a brief history of Sugarplum Fairies to give us a background insight to the new collection.
“Altar Songs 1998-2021” is a snapshot of Sugarplum Fairies’ evolution from its 1998 origins as a Vienna-raised/California-based husband and wife duo, which – after a personal and creative breakup in 2013 – resulted in the moniker for a rotating artistic collective spearheaded by vocalist/songwriter Silvia Ryder.
“Altar Songs 1998-2021” features numerous collaborations with original Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer and producer Ken Coomer, late Mazzy Star drummer Keith Mitchell, Jebin Bruni (Public Image Ltd, Fiona Apple) on bass and keyboards, Joey Waronker (drummer for Beck and REM), Gus Seyffert (bassist for Beck, Norah Jones), cellist Martin Tillman (Elvis Costello, T Bone Burnett), and horn-section mastermind Danny T. Levin (Iggy Pop, Rilo Kiley) amongst many others.
The compilation includes a new track titled “Tears” and three re-imagined/re-recorded versions of previously released tracks: “Heart Hell 2021 (feat. Sid Simons)”, “Sandy Says 2021” (feat. Sid Simons), and “Sugarfree 2021”. The aforementioned tracks have been produced and mixed by Marlon Rabenreither of Gold Star; all songs have been (re)mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk for Stereophonic Mastering (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Dandy Warhols).
I was around 9 years old when I bought my first single, it was ‘Life On Mars’. The video for the release of ‘Sandy Says 2021’ took me right back there, the glam boots, the make-up, the clothes. Do you have a particular fascination for that era, early 70s?
I do, indeed. Marc Bolan and David Bowie were big influences, both musically and visually. And also what I used to call “carny music” growing up in Europe: Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Slade.
Is there a tour pencilled in for the near future?
No. I’m already working on a new project.
If we were to come to your neck of the woods for the weekend where would you take us? You are the Entertainments Committee!
Definitely to the Eastside – East Hollywood, Echo Park, Silverlake. There’s a vibrant multi-cultural music and art scene happening there.
Any bands/artists that we should be checking out?
Gold Star, Girl Skin, Lael Neale
Thank you so much for taking the time with Clunk. If you head up to the north of England drop in at Clunk HQ for dinner.