Last month, Front recorded two live sessions in collaboration with Rotterdam festival Motel Mozaïque, starting with Katy J Pearson. After, we talked to the Bristol singer-songwriter about her upcoming album Sound of the Morning, which features one of the songs she performed at a former swimming pool on the north bank of the Nieuwe Maas, ‘Game of Cards’.
Written by: Ruben van Dijk
Performing with both a batty bravado band like Yard Act and a trad folk shindig like Broadside Hacks – well now, that requires range. One moment, Katy J Pearson will take her debut album standout ‘Miracle’ and dress it in a rave ready leather jacket, the next she’ll deliver a faithful rendition of an authorless, Scottish folk song from the 18th century. A professional butterfly, Pearson has spent the last few years exploring the outer edges of the British indie scene, but with her upcoming sophomore album Sound of the Morning, she is back at home base.
Not that her sonic home base is particularly rock steady. Second single ‘Game of Cards’ (which shares its name with a Broadside Hacks song by “sheer coincidence”) went through quite the evolution before the final album recording. “It’s a song that I wrote a while ago now with my friend Ben – he was the lead singer in Lazarus Kane. We’d have a day where we just jammed together and I was really excited about this song. But I had just released my first album, so I wasn’t really thinking about new music at the time, so I forgot about it. It was when I was creating the second album when my label was like: ‘Oh, remember this song? We think you should work on it.’”
Enter Dan Carey, eclectic producer of, among many others, Wet Leg, Fontaines D.C., and Black Midi, who also took his place behind the deck for Sound of the Morning. “With that song especially, he had some really good ideas. It’s got these disco elements, but also some country elements. I didn’t want to go fully disco, because that wasn’t really how the rest of the record was. But I still wanted to give it a bit of something different. With Dan’s help, I feel like we got a really good balance.”
External pressure doesn’t really appear to bother Pearson much in her creative process. After the acclaim she received for her debut album Return, making further headway seemed to be the obvious way to go. Instead Pearson decided that doing nothing for a while was the healthier option. “It was the most important thing ever. In the music industry, it’s all very ‘go, go, go!’, but it’s really important to remember that, at the end of the day, you’re still just a human being and it’s really important not to force things. It wouldn’t be right to go straight into another record. You need to absorb everything around you, experience stuff to feel like you have new stuff to write about. So I just chilled, went for swims and walks. It meant that when I went into the album process, I was really rested and mentally ready to do it.”
And so Sound of the Morning became as fresh as the first light of spring; an album with casual performances and airtight production featuring an array of collaborations – from Orlando Weeks and Squirrel Flower to Freddie Wordsworth of Caroline, and Morgan Simpson of Black Midi. It’s all measured nonchalance, as can be seen on that particular spring afternoon in Rotterdam captured below.
Cinematography: Jason Hornung, Koen Bouman and Peter Marcus
Recording: Jasper Boogaard and Daan Duurland
Mix: Jasper Boogaard
Edit: Peter Marcus
Master: Jasper Boogaard
This live session came together in collaboration with Motel Mozaïque. With special thanks to Blue City.