Printer Friendly

Imogen's got plenty to shout about; Simon Evans discovers a new artist with a heap of talent and a penchant for the personal.

For some artists music is a hobby - if they're lucky it can be become a way of making a living. For others, among whom must be included Essex singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, it's as much a necessity as eating and breathing.

Her first album Megaphone, due for release in the middle of next month, is an extraordinary personal document covering subjects such as abuse and fractured relationships. The music is sparse yet eclectic, with echoes of everyone from Nine Inch Nails(a p ersonal favourite) and Patti Smith to Kate Bush turning up in songs that, while raw, betray the discipline and structure of Imogen's classical training.

Birmingham audiences will get a first taste of Imogen in the flesh during this month's Songwriters' Festival and it's safe to assume the 19-year-old six-footer should turn quite a few heads, and ears.

She finished Megaphone in September but, in these conservative times, the record company has insisted on sitting on it until sufficient momentum has built up. Inevitably though, Imogen believes she's moved on from the songs on the album, the most recent of which, the closing ballad Sleep, was written more than a year ago and already hints at a growing sophistication.

"I've just done a song for a film that was a bit last minute so I was thrown in at the deep end and I think it's different, although not radically different," Imogen says. "I like where I'm going, I've been doing a lot of programming in my studio sothat 's helping to develop my sound. I know the vibe I want, it's just getting there."

Certainly Sleep suggests a growing confidence at odds with the generally bleak, at times selacerating, tone of many of the other songs on the album.

"Generally, it's the traumatic things that you remember," Imogen explains, "but they are also the ones I need to get out of my system so once I've written them then it feels I can put it behind me whereas the good times are the ones you want to keepin y our head and remember.

"Everyone has bad times and this is my way of dealing with them. It's very good for me. I just have written songs from a very young age as a way of keeping myself amused and avoiding having to talk to other people, I can play for them instead."

"I've been into classical music from a very early age. I entered competitions and studied piano. I knew what I liked and then adapted that with the musical training later. I never managed to act in school plays - they always made me sing - but I never th ought I'd do it professionally."

Imogen was still at school when she received her baptism of fire at the 1996 Prince's Trust concert in Hyde Park, which also featured no less than Bob Dylan. At the age of 17, being thrown in at short notice into a slot between Eric Clapton and The Who m ust have been terrifying?

"It wasn't really," she says, with the confidence of youth. "Nobody had ever seen me perform and nobody had ever heard of me so there was no pressure. I just sang songs that I'd rehearsed with my band three days before. My manager knew Harvey Goldsmith's partner and somebody dropped out about a week before so he got me the gig. We hadn't got a band so it was a bit of a panic."

Subsequent record company interest resulted in a deal with Almo Sounds in 1997 and sessions with Dave Stewart ("he taught me how to be mad" she says) before Imogen settled on producers David Kahne (best known for his work with Soul Coughing) and GuySigs worth.

"Because I never had any great ambitions to be a rock star, I never had that pressure in myself to achieve, I've never felt nervous about it."

Imogen Heap is at Ronnie Scott's on August 7. Booking details from 0121 643 4525.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 24, 1998
Previous Article:Thick-skinned comedy from absurdist master; Terry Grimley reports on a rare Ionesco revival.
Next Article:Cheek to work wonders for RSC.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters