Dot Allison seems to be one of those vocalists who have worked with many a band and musician to make her voice familiar to many ears, but she still hasn’t really hit the strong limelight that other contemporary vocalists have done.
That isn’t to say that she is by any means unsuccessful. A career that spans back to the early to mid 90’s with the band One Dove, her solo career then took off at the end of that decade with her debut album “Afterglow.” A few years later she released the highly impressive, experimental electro-pop album “We Are Science.” Along the way she has also contributed to various other acts including Death in Vegas, Massive Attack and more recently Pete Doherty and Paul Weller.
It was some time again until she released her third studio album entitled “Exaltation of larks,” which went down a very country-psychedelic road. By this point any fan listening would see that she liked to play in many different musical arenas. And she seemed to also make most of them fit.
She has returned again this year with her fourth album “Room 7 ½” which is retaining certain flavours of past work, whilst also becoming a more open and complex work compared to most of her previous albums. Certainly her most unpredictable album to date.
A SHORT INTERVIEW WITH DOT ALLISON
Ok so moving onto the new album. You have taken another departure as you tend to do with most of your work, although this time you are staying in vaguely familiar territory as opposed to the giant leap from your very electronic sounding “We Are Science” album and the ‘Country-Psych’ of “Exaltation of Larks.”
Do you think you have found a home now musically? Or with your next album do you intend to try something completely different?
I have definitely found a musical home I am most comfortable in so far. I think Rob Ellis' production is amazing… and the musicians are also very sensitive players and creative too… so I would definitely work with them all again given the chance… I like the naturalness of this album and the fact that it is a well-captured and beautifully recorded sound I reckon… I specified I wanted to record to tape which I have done… and used old lovely warm bits of equipment and microphones.
Where did you get the title Room 7 ½?
That was the title of a song and the song was a fictional narrative sung through the eyes of a fallen woman… who longs for another life… to be taken away from her… I guess in that context Room 7 ½ was describing a kind of arrested development and a kind of hinterland between what one knows/sees and what is… and I thought creativity could be linked to those ideas and therefore it would make an interesting album title…
Have you taken on any new influences since your previous album?
Musically… yes I have taken on the simplicity of some of Lisa Hannigan's beautifiul melodies and I like the power of simplicity and repetition in music… I want to watch I do not 'over-egg the pudding' so to speak.
I also always listen to what Polly Harvey does and I am interested in her process… I think she becomes her albums and works solidly immersed, researching and creating almost the film script of a world of each song she says… I like that idea and still feel I have only scratched the surface within my own process in some ways…
You have a couple of big name guest singers involved with this album too. You have worked for a long while with Pete Doherty, how did Paul Weller get involved?
Both those guests contacted me to sing on their music and the outcome was more writing and me using some of the material because I felt strongly about what we came up with…
Before your last album you had been on the road for about 2 years. Have you done as much extensive touring between the last album and this one?
No not really I needed a new tour agent badly! I have one now…
As well as a solo artist, you are also known for lending your vocal talents to other bands and artists out there for their music. Is this something you wish to continue? Anything in the pipeline?
Only if I like the music…!
Do you feel doing this widens your berth of options for the future?
I always do what feels right musically… it is more by accident than design if it widens my berth etc! Be great if it does…
Are you still keen to work with Nick Cave at some point? And if so, do you think you might make steps to make that happen?
I am keen to work with him and many others… I feel having worked with Mick Harvey and James J. I might well have already worked with the people integral to that sound I loved so much anyway…
Moving back to the new album, are their any songs in particular that you are more proud of over the rest?
Yes Buzzing Round The Honey Pots and Room 7 ½… I wrote them both in a different way and feel they are lyrically more accomplished.
Is there any material on any of your back catalogue that you would revisit, or wish you’d done in a different way?
… I could tweak all of it…
What was the last album or song that you heard that really got you excited?
Lungs – By Townes Van Zandt…. some of the greatest lyrics of all time.
Dot Allison is appearing on the following dates:
7 Sep Rough Trade East – In Store & Signing London
17 Sep Headliners Festival London
18 Sep The RainbowBirmingham
19 Sep The Roundhouse – with Peter Doherty London
20 Sep The Assembly Rooms – with Peter Doherty Leamington Spa
21 Sep The Apollo – with Peter Doherty Manchester
23 Sep Barrowland Ballroom – with Peter Doherty Glasgow
28 Nov Glasgow SECC Glasgow