RACHEL VAN ASCH~MEDIAEVAL BAEBES

* Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person --

Music is the most abstract and ephemeral artform I can think of which makes it even more poignant when it touches you. I can't imagine a life without it. It enhances all the mundane experiences of life and shades and colours the more extreme experiences. I am due to give birth in 3 weeks time and have spent lots of time deciding what music to play during labour, the soundtrack to a new life.

I remember hearing from a fan that during her labour she played Worldes Blysse which seemed to calm the baby and made the delivery easier for her. Something like that is so touching and satisfying to hear.

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

My 20's! Not exactly difficult or traumatic but I was rather adrift in my 20's, didn't really know where I was heading then along came the Mediaeval Baebes and changed everything. Suddenly I was having the most fun travelling around the world meeting all kinds of wonderful and colourful people and experiencing the satisfaction from performing a good show. It also gave me the inspiration to form my clothing company 'Van Asch' which has really taken off. My band gave me focus and direction and not a day goes by when I don't feel gratitude for that.

Happiness
Rachel

Rachel Van Asch
Born in New Zealand, Rachel spent much of her childhood travelling around the country in the back of her mothers tour bus with her glam rock band Ragnarock. Moving to England in 1985, Rachel met fellow Baebe Katherine a couple of years later at college before going on to work in a crystal shop where she became good friends with Baebe Claire. In 2001 Rachel launched her fashion label Sacred Clothing inspired by her stage costumes she has made for the band over the years. In 2003 she relaunched the company now called Van Asch which includes a much wider range of garments. In her spare she likes to create art using various media including fabric, toys and wood
  
www.vanasch.co.uk     .www.mediaevalbaebes.com/index2.htm

JENNIFER MARKS

*How has music inspired you?  Your musical inspirations?
 
Music has been an incredible inspiration in my life.  I have traveled all over the world, met amazing people, and learned so much about being open and honest through music.   

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
 
Absolutely, on more than one occasion.  When I was beginning High School I must have listened to Janet Jackson’s Control about a million times.  It made me feel empowered at a time I felt completely insecure and out of control.

* Discuss the creative or songwriting process
 
It is very random for me.  It could be a word that sparks a whole song or a situation I have been through.  I am also inspired by things that other people go through (I am not that exciting so I have to draw from something).  My main goal is to be honest and write from my heart.

* Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person-

The greatest thing about music is it’s universal.  Everyone can feel it and be moved by it.  It brings people together and separates them.  It can break and heal your heart all in the same sentence…music just makes me feel alive.

In its first week out My Name's Not Red was the second most added record on CMJ's AAA New Music Review Chart. Since then Jennifer is enjoying tremendous success, charting as high as #1, on college radio stations nation-wide. The CMJ New Music Journal said, "Her lyrics are always poignant and engaging, and her arrangements are equally gorgeous and entrancing".

In August 2002 Marks releases her highly anticipated follow-up CD It Turned Me On. With a remarkably honest take on life, love, and lust, It Turned Me On demonstrates Marks highly developed wit and originality. Produced by Brad Albetta (Pizza and My Name's Not Red) and Cameron Greider (Freedy Johnston), the duo gives Marks' new album texture and space while accenting the fun and edgy quality for which she is renowned.

Marks is the recipient of a number of distinguished songwriting awards, including the First Prize Winner and Second Overall Grand Prize Winner of the "USA Songwriting Contest", The Overall Grand Prize Winner of the "Great American Song Contest" and a semi-finalist in the "2000 Independent Music Awards". Recently, Marks was honored as a Top 5 Finalist in the Coca Cola New Music Awards sponsored by The American Music Awards, Coca Cola, CMJ and Dick Clark Communications. Jennifer competed against 1000 other bands as the only act performing solo.

Jennifer is a member of Indiegrrl, GoGirlsMusic.Com and GirlMusician.com. She has performed at IMF, ROCKGRL, NAMM, EAT'M, Atlantis Music Conference and NEMO, and was a selected artist for Fordham University's WFUV "Nightbirds Series", as well as WLIR's "Independent Artists of the Week." Her songs can be heard on the soundtracks of independent films such as Jane Doe (1999 Winner of the New York Film and Video Festival, starring Calista Flockhart) and Let it Snow (accepted to Sundance 2000, starring Bernadette Peters). Martha Byrne, who plays Lily on the soap opera As the World Turns, continues to feature Jennifer's songs on the program.

In the last two years, Jennifer has been featured in The National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters Showcase, The National Academy of Songwriters Showcase in Los Angeles, the New York Songwriters Showcase, New York's Intelfest and BMI's Acoustic Round Up and Showcase Night
www.jennifermarks.com/     www.cdbaby.com/cd/marks2
 

JENNY BECK

*How has music inspired you? Your musical inspirations?

It's inspired me in many ways. It's shaped the way I live my life. I've always had a "theme song" depending on the way my life is going at the moment. Right now it'd be something like "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina And The Waves :-)
Music has meant that I've met people I wouldn't have met if it wasn't for the fact that I write and sing.

It's been an eye opener. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be doing what I do. It truly is a dream come true. It's also made me realize what's important in life and that we spend far too much time on things that is really rather trivial at the end of the day. Through music I've discovered a lot of things about myself and others around me.

*Any CDs/songs which are meaningful to you?

There are a lot of albums that mean a lot to me as they sort of tell a story. Certain songs bring back certain memories from the past, happy or sad. I treassure The Beatles' albums a lot since their music has been such a big part of my life and upbringing. I also have a soft spot for the early Joni Mitchell albums. She had such a fantastic way of telling stories and was an amazing guitar player. At the moment I listen a lot to jazz/pop a' la Norah Jones and Katie Melua. There are too many meaningful records and songs to mention really and it all depends on your mood and what situation and memory you recall when you hear a certain song. "In My Life" by The Beatles is a special one...it's about people you meet, places you've been, about how some people just briefly pass through your life and about those who stay for good.

*Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

Music has always been what gets me out of bed in the morning. I grew up in a musical family and it's always been a huge part of my life. It would be very empty without it. I have gone through a few difficult times in my life when music has been a comfort, such as when a family member got cancer and another passed away. Music helps to heal the wounds and allows you to channel your feelings through the various genres of music. Many times, for me, it works as therapy.

I left my home country, Sweden, three years ago and it's not been easy to adapt to life where I live now. You miss your family and friends a lot and sometimes you wonder if you made the right decision. I was lucky to meet someone who is as passionate about music as I am and has the same ambitions and dreams as I do. We met through music. (He is a brilliant drummer and percussionist). When I first came to the UK I realized that music was what I wanted to do and it's been everything for me since. We eat, sleep and dream music! :-) It's helped me come to terms with my new life over here and makes it easier when you miss everyone back home the most.

Jenny Beck is a talented Swedish singer/songwriter. She relocated to the UK in 2001 to further her music career and has since been working as a singer/songwriter full-time. She started writing songs at the age of eleven inspired by her first ever record purchases. Her music ranges from folk/pop to country/rock. She writes, produces, arranges and engineers all her own songs.

Jenny is currently recording her debut album, planned for release in 2004 (TBA). It is the result of a collaboration with former bass player and lead singer of successful UK band "Feeder".

Jenny always manages to capture the hearts of her audiences with her story-telling lyrics, warm vocal sound and emotional songs. She writes about her own personal experiences and feelings and has found that most people easily can relate to what she is singing about at some stage in their lives. Jenny's music has often been compared to that of Susanne Vega, Joni Mitchell and The Corrs, which isn't strange...they are three of Jenny's most important influences.

Since moving to England Jenny has received great interest and feedback from both major record companies as well as smaller independent labels. She recently recorded her first song for one of the largest independent record companies in the UK, FTD Records, with famous producer "Bradley G" who's previously worked with singers like Mariah Carey.

Jenny is looking to release her debut album through a licensing agreement, ultimately by autumn/winter 2004. An EP with four tracks will be released in spring 2004 and will be sent out to music industry professionals, but can also be purchased through Jenny's official website. Visit the website to listen to song samples, read reviews and press clips, buy merchandise and order copies of her demo CDs, EP and stunning forthcoming debut album. Jenny Beck is predicted by industry professionals to go very far in the USA, Canada and the UK.

www.jennybeck.co.uk/   Contact Email: info@ninni.co.uk

LARA STEPHEN

* How has music inspired you?  Your musical inspirations?

 i would love to keep making cds and writing which means reaching a wider audience, i am inspired by this goal. music inspires me everyday by discovering someone elses voice or by finding a new nuance in my own. I listen in the morning to Goreckis Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and my heart swells until i feel like it will come out of my mouth or i put on Bijan Chemirani and trip off to a hundred foreign countries where i think about other people stumbling through their own lives

*How has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life? 

strangely enough being in the industry has created trauma but it also helps you through it, a double edged sword if you like, without it i wouldn't have learnt how strong i can be, how weak i can be, how momential life is - both sadness and joy and that these aspects live hand in glove, one could not be without the other

*Any CDs or songs which are meaningful to you?

 i listen to everything short of heavy metal probably, i am enjoying very much David    
  Kitt's Big Romance (from Dublin) 

*Discuss the creative or songwriting process--

i write/practice at night when my little boy goes to sleep, i just start playing the piano or the guitar and wait for the voice to find a space in it, then the words come (sometimes). it takes me anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months to finish a song, sometime they never get finished and lay and the wasteland of my music room

Her performance has been described as 'intense' and song writing as 'mesmerising'. Presently Sydney-based singer songwriter Lara Stephen describes her work as 'an obsession with fragments and moment in telling stories'.

Lara's eclectic career spans involvement with bands such as 7 piece original funk outfit Hojo through to collaborating on a host of original musical projects before coming the long way around to discover 'her own' with a commitment to song writing and performance.

Lara's achievements also include contributing a song to the soundtrack for an Artrage play, contributing a song to the 2002 season of the Perth Theatre Company’s ‘Vagina Monologues’ an EP with Hojo and project management of the
Living Room Sessions CD (a live recording project featuring different Western Australian artists, to which she also contributed two tracks). Most recently, she was a finalist in the 2001 National Australian Songwriters Contest and awarded fourth place in the pop category and nominated for a 2002 Kiss My Wami award for Most Popular Local Original Folk Act. Lara has also appeared on Channel 7's 'Postcards WA'.

Though predominantly self-taught, Lara studied classical guitar under Peter Altmeir-Mort. She is presently studying jazz piano through the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, hoping to expand her writing capacity.

She has performed at numerous venues and festivals across WA and now NSW, including the Perth International Arts Festival, Fairbridge Festival, Kulcha, Fly By Night Musicians' club, Mojos, Nannup Festival, Fremanlte Arts Centre, opening for Melbourne band Things of Stone and Wood, Songstress Concert, Kiss My Wami festival and the Women in Music showcases.

Lara's debut CD 'Deep Dead Blue' was realised at the end of 2001, after collaboration with producer and instrumentalist David Hyams. This collaboration bought to life what has been described by Perth's X-Press Magazine as "10 intimate, beautifully constructed takes on the hardships of the heart". The result showcases lush instrumentation against dark grooves and rich vocals; relating contemporary tales of love, betrayal, hope and desolation and ultimately the strength of the human spirit.

Lara is now based in NSW and continues to perform primarily solo and plans to tour the East Coast in 2003 and internationally in 2004. The repertoire already includes material written post the album and further recording is also planned for 2003/4
.
www.larastephen.com/

KATE BENNETT

* How has music inspired you?

Music is one of the most important aspects of my life. Listening, writing, performing. Music makes the world a colorful place. Without it the world would be only shades of grey. The powerful healing ability of music is especially inspiring to me. It is truly the universal language & brings together people of many backgrounds. A most amazing force.

*Your musical inspirations?

There are far too many to list them all. I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, Carole King, The Beatles, & lots of Motown. Later Bob Marley, The Police, Rickie Lee Jones, Dire Straits & Emmylou Harris. Then Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan and more recently Patty Griffin & John Gorka. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. When I moved to the West Coast Loggins & Messina were really big. It is amazing to me that years later I had the opportunity to work with each of them. Jim Messina played guitar on several tracks on my CD. Kenny Loggins co-wrote, played guitar & sang harmony vocals on another song.

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

Many many times. One of the most difficult times in my life was when my Mom was dying & at the same time my teenage son was growing away from me. I was working at a very demanding job & had little time for myself. My energy & emotions were stretched so thin. One day my friend Jim (Messina) called me up to invite me to attend the inaugural songwriters workshop he was just starting. I hadn't been writing or playing much music at that point & it really got me jump started. I wrote a lot of songs while attending his workshops regularly. I started performing again outside of my living room. Those workshops really saved my life. They got me in touch with something that was so important to me that I had let go. I ended up recording & releasing my CD called Over the Moon that had many of those songs on it. I don't think I would have made it through that time intact without the precious company of those other songwriters & incredible alchemy of turning struggles into songs.

* Any CDs or songs which are meaningful to you?

I have recently become enamored of the very first Joni Mitchell album which was my first introduction to her many years ago. I also love the latest release by Patty Griffin called 1,000 Kisses. There are so many others throughout the years but those are pretty good bookends for now. I really love a song that I just wrote that got me through another incredibly difficult time. I played it over & over like a prayer, a mantra. It had a hopeful message & indeed the prayer of hope came true. The working title is called Grace. It is definitely about grace.

*Discuss the creative or songwriting process--

It seems to come all at once, a rhythm, some words, a melody. If all those parts hold my interest then I will pursue it. I throw a lot of songs away because they are just not special enough for me to want to finish or to keep playing. Time is usually a pretty good gauge of what I want to keep. I have a couple of pieces of songs that have been around for a long long time that I am just getting back to finishing. Sometimes it takes years to complete a song to my satisfaction. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes but that is rare. So I think the ones worth remembering are remembered. Sometimes I get a song in my head when I am not playing my guitar but usually it changes a bit when I get to my guitar. I've written some songs on piano but I don't really play piano. So if I keep them I will transfer them to the guitar. Lately I have been playing in alternative tunings which has been a great inspiration for a bunch of new songs. Its been a few years since I released my last CD so I am really ready & ripe to record this next one.

If the old adage that you can judge a person by the company they keep applies to music, Kate Bennett is in fine shape. The Santa Barbara singer-songwriter’s self-produced debut CD, Over the Moon, includes Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina, and acclaimed guitarist Jeff Pevar.

Produced with elegant simplicity, and an ear toward both folk and pop appeal, the 13 songs are infused with impressions of the mountains and ocean of her Santa Barbara hometown. They're also rife with the things that can’t be seen: the rapture and anguish of relationships, the joys and struggles of parenting, and the sensations of longing and belonging.

Although she was born in New Jersey, Kate is all California girl now. Soon after arriving in Santa Barbara she began performing locally. Her first public appearance was a concert at the historical Lobero Theatre, where she shared the stage with other local songwriters.

Some of Kate’s performing credits include performing as member of Jim Messina’s regular "Songwriters in the Round" concerts where she played alongside 60's hit maker Jeff Barry, Poco's Paul Cotton, Toto's David Paich as well as Messina's former partner Kenny Loggins. She has opened for other nationally known artists such as Caroline Aiken and Michael Smith.

Following the fall 1999 release of her CD, Kate has performed regularly throughout Southern and has produced several songwriter shows in Santa Barbara, often donating the proceeds to nonprofit organizations. She has also performed in many other cities, including Vancouver, B.C., Boston, New York, Atlanta, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Wilmington, N.C

Kate is a performing member of Indiegrrl, an organization that supports women in the independent music industry and she is sponsored by Polysonics. Over the Moon is receiving airplay in the United States, Canada and Europe and has gathered many glowing reviews.

http://www.katebennett.com/     http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/katebennett

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 2003-2005