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Laura-Mary Carter "I'm hoping to tour in the USA – I can go to strange towns and meet some characters"

We speak to Laura-Mary Carter, one half of guitar-shredding duo Blood Red Shoes, about her new alt-country EP, Town Called Nothing.

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Formed in 2004, Brighton-born duo Blood Red Shoes have notched up five albums (the sixth is out in January), two acclaimed EPs and appearances at festivals around the world.

Now guitarist Laura-Mary Carter has just released her first solo work, the six track ‘mini-album’ Town Called Nothing. We caught up with Carter to talk about Nothing, Nowhere and her inventive approach to drum samples.

What made you decide to make a six-song EP rather than a full album?

I decided to make an EP because I thought it would be a cool thing to do first to introduce me as a solo artist.

I needed to find my feet as I've been known for my guitar playing and making rock music [with Blood Red Shoes] for so long. As this EP shows a totally different side to me, I guess I just wanted to put this out first and then follow up with a more cohesive album.

The brilliant Ed Harcourt produced and played on the EP. How did your association with Ed come about?

I'd made quite a few demos of my songs already before Ed got involved. I just wanted them to sound better – I got to know Ed through a mutual friend, and it was suggested that he'd help on four songs. So we did a day of pre-production and went to RAK Studios for a day where we recorded live with guitar, bass, drums and one song where Ed played piano.

What happened after that session?

I took the recordings away and worked on them myself. I'm really confident in knowing when something sounds right to me, so I just kept going and trying things out until I was happy.

And of course, more followed.

Yes, I recorded two more songs during lockdown above a pub and used a chair and stick to create drum samples as I wasn't able to record 'proper' drums.

Ed had a major impact on the title track, ‘Town Called Nothing’.

He really helped to get the ball rolling – he's amazing at piano, and added such a great feel to the song. He told me to speed the song up as it was [originally] a bit slower, and I'm really glad he did.

So, a full LP is in the pipeline?

Yes, I'm writing it at the moment. When I write songs, I always have to record them straight away or I forget them. I did have about 40 songs that I made rough demos of on an iPad. Unfortunately, I lost the iPad at the bottom of a mountain, so the only songs I managed to remember were the ones that made it on to the EP.

Will the LP follow a similar sonic direction to the EP?

I definitely think it will have some Americana vibes, but maybe a bit more stripped down and raw.

You wrote the title track first, then found out there actually is an abandoned town in the USA called Nothing. Serendipity.

I've actually been to Nothing, Arizona more than I'd like to admit. I know there's nothing (ha, ha) there but a sign and some derelict outhouses, but apparently two people live there (at its height, four) but I have yet to see or meet them. The story goes that a drunk guy named the area, and there was a gas station or shop, but it all didn't work out and became a ghost town.

You have a well-known predilection for never being in one place.

I've heard the land is up for sale, so I'm praying my music goes well so I can get some money to build a house there. I don't think I was ever meant to stay in one place, but if I had to, it would be Nothing, Arizona. I'll send you a postcard!

Is it tough deciding whether new material should be for you or Blood Red Shoes?

Actually, a few solo songs have ended up on Blood Red Shoes records already. I initially thought they would be good enough solo songs, but then thought no, this will be kick-ass for the band. It's not worked the other way around though, but at the end of the day they are still my songs. You just kind of figure what works for what and honour that.

Any plans for a solo tour? I can see the tour T-shirt: Monday – Nothing, Arizona. Tuesday – Nowhere, Oklahoma...

I like that idea! I'm desperate to do some solo shows and am really hoping to do a tour in the USA with just me and my guitar because I can go out to strange towns, play some dive bars and meet some characters. That sounds like my kind of fun.

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