© Taras Hnatyshyn
Last month Dee Plume made a short visit to NYC, and whilst there performed a few acoustic sets in her own inimitable pop/punk “in your face” style. Our Velvet Onion NYC correspondent, Gina R Snape, met up with her after her open mic performance at Sidewalk Cafe for a one-on-one. Here’s how the conversation went:
You came to New York on holiday?
I’ve been to New York before, so I’m not that bothered to go to the Empire State Building and other touristy stuff again, and I thought I really need to be doing some music! I came here with the intention of finishing some songs off. And when I got here, I just thought – I really need to do some live performing!
How is it playing your solo material in an unfamiliar setting?
It’s good. It’s really progressing me as a musician and a performer. I’ve been doing a lot of gigs with my drummer. I’ve been playing electric guitar, with loads of effects, so then with drums and two vocals it’s a big sound, loads more sort of rock’n’roll. So to come and play guitar and just sing, it’s hard because it’s all on me! And then I have to be good! There’s no more hiding behind a wall of sound. And what I like about playing open mic is that you’re testing out your songs. So if they don’t work in that context, you have to rewrite them.
It felt like you were doing that, testing things out, seeing how things flow…
Yeah, yeah yeah! And also, it’s really good to do things on your own. When I was with Robots in Disguise, we took turns being the front person, and we had a backing track. I didn’t really have to fully take responsibility. If I didn’t sing a note, Sue would sing the note. So there was always someone to fall back on in a really big way. So now, doing it on my own and only with an acoustic guitar – you’ve really got to be good.
And really good is what Dee was. While in NYC, she performed three acoustic sets of her new material, which included: Now I’m a Square (about giving up drink and smoke), Two Degrees of Separation (“About my ex”), Don’t Fuck Your Producer (“I wish someone had given me that advice when I was starting out!”) a cover of Physical Attraction by Madonna (“I’m a massive Madonna fan”) and Short Arms Short Legs (a comedic song – in English and French!) When played acoustically, her songs have a very personal feel to them, and they illustrate Psycho Delia’s ability to combine catchy hooks with genuine emotion and good fun.
© Taras Hnatyshyn
It’s hard. Because when you write with someone else, we would write a verse and a chorus each, and then meet up and bash it out. But I’ve been doing bits of writing with my drummer, Paula. And on the recordings I’ve done – Two Degrees of Separation, Short Arms Short Legs and My Own Language – I had Faye from The Savages, she wrote all her own drum parts; we kind of did that together. So I think that really helps me, writing with a drummer. I need to write with someone else. You need to bounce off someone. But then that’s why open mic is good, in terms of feedback, because you can take that back and see if it works.
How does the material that you use for your solo songs differ from the material you used for RiD?
Well they’re not a million miles away, because I was half of that band. Lyrically, they’re all about me now. Whereas with Robots, even if it started on my own, it became quite shared emotionally, because both of us were putting ideas in. So this is completely about me.
A lot of my songs are kind of funny, which is what I’m interested in. I want my songs to be entertaining, and have interesting themes, and make people laugh as well. I suppose they are kind of like Robots songs because they were always really positive on purpose – even if the starting point was negative. It’s like a place to put emotion, but I want it to be entertaining and not negative.