She Makes War is a solo project consisting of Laura Kidd, a multi-instrumentalist from London, England. Described as “dramatic gloom-pop”, her music sounds like a soothing lullaby mixed with the perfect amount of intensity and emotion that leaves you with a sense of awe. Not only does Kidd write, play, and co-produce her own music, but she also directs and edits her music videos. She Makes War released her debut album, Disarm, in 2010 and a following album, Little Battles, this past April. I was lucky enough to contact She Makes War through Twitter, who kindly offered to answer a few questions for this blog.
Colours Fade: When and how did you first become interested in music?
She Makes War: I’ve been interested in music ever since I was really tiny - my parents have a recording of me singing when I was about one [year old]! I started learning instruments at infant school and it all just went from there, really.
You’re a multi-instrumentalist. Is there one instrument you favour over others?
Voice - I only started playing guitar so I could accompany myself, though I really love expressing myself through melodic guitar lines in the studio.
What got you interested in filmmaking?
I started thinking about making music videos for a band I was in a few years ago and started messing around with cameras then. I never did make anything for that band but I started filming things for other people and over time I turned it into my main area of freelance work. I see it all as telling stories.
You are a very creative person. What kinds of things inspire you?
I’m most inspired by paintings, novels and poetry. Ted Hughes was a big influence on parts of my second album Little Battles, for instance. I listen to music all the time as well and there are some artists who put me in the mood to write my own stuff, but not in such a way that I’ll write anything like the thing I was listening to. Perhaps it’s their music lulling me in to a nice right-brain state ready to be creative.
Describe your songwriting process. Do you write the melody first, then the lyrics?
Very often they come from a riff or chord progression, usually on guitar but more recently on piano too, and I tend to hear melodies very early on as I’m playing around with the instrumental parts with the lyrics fitting in later. I usually know what a song is about very early too so sometimes I’ll write a whole big piece about the background to it, which throws up words and phrases which will appear in the finished song. Other times I have snippets of words or vocal melodies that I record on my phone and I fit those in to guitar parts.
Why did you decide to go under the name “She Makes War”?
I wanted a really strong name that raised questions and made people think. I’m a pacifist so I like the idea of reappropriating the terms used in battle and using them to discuss relationships. Love is a battlefield…
Do you prefer to be in the studio or on stage?
I love both and they’re very different. I love capturing the truest moment I can and then carefully crafting layers of music to make my own little musical world in the studio, but there’s also nothing like being in charge of creating a completely unique experience for other people at a gig. There’s alchemy involved in all of it.
What is your favourite place you have visited while touring?
Playing my own stuff I’d say The Eden Project in Cornwall was really gorgeous. I played as part of Strummerville’s Biotik stage lineup inside one of the Biomes this summer. It was a really rainy day, so not only was it nice to have shelter the sound was absolutely incredible and there was a lovely crowd there too. I’ve toured a bit further afield with other artists, and Venezuela was one of my favourite places because I got to go up a mountain to a National Park the day after the show and I’ll never forget the staggering views.
What is the best thing about what you do? What is the hardest?
The best thing about what I do is creating things - songs, recordings, videos, blog posts, unique moments on stage…. I’m a bit addicted to doing things! The hardest thing is juggling it all, giving enough attention to everything so I do things to the best of my ability and of course balancing that with the rest of my life. I read a quote recently about too many ideas killing your ability to get things done, so I have been trying to stop myself going overboard so much recently.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians and filmmakers?
Just do the thing you really want to do, as honestly and as well as possible; make things happen for yourself instead of waiting for someone else to sort it all out for you and then tell people about it in a friendly way!
She Makes War can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and iTunes.
Photograph by Laura Ward.