Three weeks in the Arctic Circle has certainly left its mark on Jodie Marie. The Welsh singer-songwriter’s new EP shivers with the cold fjord breeze and echoes the icy terrain of Norway’s northern tip. Yet there is also a log-fire intimacy and crunching of soft snow in its sound. It evokes a wild landscape of welcome and wonder. Polar Night is firmly rooted in the geography of its creation.
Opening track ‘Seiland’ plunges the listener into the frozen setting of Jodie Marie’s base with a continuous choral hum. Its simplicity is a theme that defines this record, here manifested in a short instrumental arrangement that tingles the senses. There is a wonderful incongruity between the constraint and freedom of her isolation. This is expressed in the rich combination of soulful vocals and balladeering piano which run through the rest of the record like a stalactite. Meanwhile, lyrics such as those on the title track – “biting wind / I’m frozen here / at the water’s edge / I feel free” – and ‘Blue Hour’ – “I’m lonely / but I feel alright” – act as a stalagmite that meets in the middle to create a solid pillar of yearning love.
The idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder becomes more explicit as the record progresses. And as it arises from the environment in which Jodie Marie finds herself, the songs are ripe with imagery and metaphor. There is something of the sacred in being “surrounded by beauty / and all I see is you” on ‘Blue Hour’. The wooing harmonies conjure up a whooshing wind on ‘Eye of the Storm’, tempered by the comfort of the electric guitar strings, resembling the arms of a loved one. Meanwhile, the stars become a focal point on ‘Closer to You’, the line “miles apart / but we share the same view” reinforcing the intriguing contrast of separation and connection found throughout the EP. It seems this Scandinavian island offered something more than just creative inspiration for Jodie Marie.
Final track ‘Reindeer Heart’ encapsulates the gentle nature of this EP musically whilst also reaffirming the metaphorical link between landscape and love in its lyrics. There is something mystical about this final song, borne of sensitivity and encouraged into being, as a presence that “leaves no traces… that the eye can see”. It is more in the vein of ‘Carageen’ than anything else from her last album ‘The Answer’. But whilst that arose from the Pembrokeshire shoreline, Polar Night was formed amidst the darkness of the far-northern hemisphere. Jodie Marie has captured this setting perfectly, so that even in the midst of its warm Spring release, its sense of place can be keenly felt, and when the sun goes down, embraced.
‘Polar Night’ is out now. Listen to it on Spotify here and/or order a physical copy of the EP here.
Photographic credits Keith Morris www.artswebwales.com
Hi Des great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hi my name is Des and I am based at Neuadd Dyfi a venue in West Wales. The venue you support is called Neuadd Dyfi and is in West Wales. how is the venue used by the local community?
Over the last 20 years we have worked hard to create a flexible space. Flexibility is the key. A community hall has to attempt to do all things for all. Though there are some compromises we manage to hold full scale pantomimes, art exhibitions, community lunches wedding receptions play groups dance theatre workshops, Zumba Women’s institute and blood donor sessions.
Theatre Rum Ba Ba performing “L’Hotel at Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi
How did you get involved in supporting Night Our performances at Neuadd Dyfi?
I met the legendary John Prior at a village hall forum around about 1999 he suggested Frank Hennessey & Friends we had a superb “Night Out “ and I was sold on the concept Night Out financially underwrites the majority of the cost of booking professional touring work for smaller venues, community halls and schools. Would you be able to book work in your venues without Night Outs support?
We do book work in our hall without Night Out support but if we didn’t have their help this would severely restrict the range and quality of the events we put on. Night Out gives us and the performers the confidence to “be bold”
https://vimeo.com/61084683 Your venue has a very diverse artistic programme including family productions, folk music, musical cabaret, adult drama and opera. How do you decide on what type of work to programme in your venue?
It would be great to say that it is based on sound market research and a deep understanding of the Arts. To be honest is largely what tickles our fancy. For the last three years I have attended the National Rural Touring Forum conference which has been excellent for seeing showcased examples some of which are in their development stage. Hosting an event that has been through the Night out vetting procedure is also a good filter. Variety and quality are the key. Congratulations on winning the award for Best Promoter in the Ticket source Rural Touring Awards. The awards recognise the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff in the rural touring sector What qualities would you say are required for a successful promoter?
Research, marketing and being prepared to take risks. Develop and look after your audience. Create a welcoming atmosphere. Think about the layout most appropriate for the show theatre, cabaret , in the round. This can make a great difference to the success of the event. Be prepared to take risks and move on from failure. We spoke to Peter Gregory, Head of Night Out at Arts Council Wales about the Night Out scheme and Des. How does Night Out as an organisation support organisations such as Neuadd Dyfi to programme high quality touring productions?
Des George and the team of volunteers in Neuadd Dyfi work tirelessly organising a myriad of events and activities for their community. They use the Arts Council of Wales’ Night Out scheme to take away the financial risk of booking professional shows. In the same way that many of the major Theatres and Arts Centres get funding Night Out allows small community halls to book amazing shows. Night Out provides advice ,support and will often ensure that high quality companies that normally tour to Theatres also provide high quality shows for community halls. http://www.nightout.org.uk Des recently won the award for Best Promoter in the Ticket Source, Rural Touring Awards. In your own words why do you think Des won this award?
The commitment from Des is second to none and the feedback we get from the companies who perform in the hall is always positive. Not only does he ensure everything is correct technically, the performers are fed and watered and welcomed into the local community. In the words of one happy company “ Des is a God amongst men” Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to accessing high quality productions for the audiences you support?
There is often a perception that because it is held in a village hall that it will be an amateurish production. There is so often the statement “Oh I don’t like that sort of thing” . In today’s environment of every home having widescreen TV’s, iPods, iPad’s, streaming videos, instantly obtainable music of any genre it is a battle to show that a shared experience at a live production is special If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
For us I would like to develop our youth theatre provision. Active involvement. What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
I think that ACW has been absolutely right in concentrating on maintaining their support for performance. They have been good to us in a number of our capital projects but without the performances we wouldn’t have a community hall we would just have a hall. The recent report that support for the Arts is being strengthened in the regions not just London centric is very encouraging.
My advice to a potential audience member is do take the time to read that poster, have a look at what’s on locally and make that small bit of effort needed to venture out for a “Great Night Out”. Thanks for your time Des
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events. / Lleisiau amrywiol o Gymru yn ymateb i'r celfyddydau a digwyddiadau byw