Morcheeba in all but name, Skye Edwards spoke to SHANE PINNEGAR about bringing SKYE & ROSS, her current collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey, to the Perth International Arts Festival this month, playing Chevron Festival Gardens at Elizabeth Quay on Sunday, February 12, supported by LILT.
The last time we saw Morcheeba in town was for 2014’s West Coast Blues & Roots Festival, and being included in the PIAF line-up makes another refined change from rock & roll and pop festivals.
“I don’t really know much about the festival,” admits Edwards, “but it’s nice to be invited out there and to play at a festival like that, so I’m looking forward to (coming back).
“I would never have said we were a sort of ‘Blues and Roots’ band. Then, just recently, we played in Brooklyn and in Paris at the Afro Punk Fest. I remember saying to the girl that was compering us, ‘I don’t know that we’re really Afro Punk,’ but I think festivals are… they’re becoming more and more popular, and they’re opening their doors to different genres of music. It’s nice to be able to play alongside different people.”
Morcheeba – which featured multi-instrumentalist Ross and DJ/producer brother Paul Godfrey alongside Edwards – were at the forefront of the UK trip-hop movement, but live have always been more organic than on record.
It was on that 2014 tour of Australia alongside such acts as Gary Clarke Jr that Skye & Ross found inspiration to put more of the live edginess of their music onto the new self-titled Skye & Ross record, released last year.
“The [Morcheeba] records I’m on, the drums are mostly programmed,” she explains. “When we stood on the side of the stage [watching] Gary Clark Jr., we just loved the energy. When we play live, it’s more energetic. [We were] like, ‘let’s do that, let’s record a few songs that have the live drums, where we’re all in the studio at the same time and playing together.’
“That was when we were still called Morcheeba, and then things changed and Paul wasn’t part of the band anymore, and then we became Skye & Ross. I guess we kind of gravitate towards [that Morcheeba kind of sound] with my voice, Ross’ guitar and productions, but adding the live side of it just took it to a different dimension for us.”
So, forgive me for labouring the point, but Skye & Ross differ from Morcheeba, musically, by being a little more organic in the studio?
“It doesn’t differ that much, this is the thing,” reiterates Edwards. “like I said – my voice, Ross’ guitar. When people come to a live show, it’s like, ‘oh, it’s Morcheeba, but they’re called Skye & Ross.’ That’s the difference, really.”
Edwards originally quit Morcheeba in 2003, going on to release four acclaimed solo albums as Skye, and credits the break as an opportunity to develop as a songwriter in her own right. Things certainly seemed brighter for the singer by the time of Morcheeba’s 2010 reformation.
“Yeah, absolutely!” she bursts. “It was pretty miserable back then, in 2003. I’m proud of my body of work as a solo artist. It still continued to be that when I rejoined the band in 2010. I’d just released my second solo record, and in between that there have been two more albums.”
Those experiences have led to Edwards writing more of the Skye & Ross material than she ever had the chance to with Morcheeba.
“Yeah, I’ve learned so much,” she says proudly. “That’s been a great help when it came to writing for the new record as well. We did talk about collaborating with other songwriters, and then we’d just write one, and then write another one, then another one, and it was really easy.”
Fans can rest assured that whilst legal issues entwine the Morcheeba name, Skye & Ross will be playing that band’s songs.
“Absolutely,” confirms Edwards. “We still play Morcheeba songs, and still enjoy playing them, but we’re just adding a few new tracks from the new record. People are like, ‘oh no, I’m never going to get to see Morcheeba ever again,’ but it’s the same live set-up that we’ve had for the last [tours].
“When I rejoined the band, it was just Ross and I with professional musicians, and then even back before I left in 2003, Paul didn’t tour with us – he wasn’t very happy on the road, so we had somebody else doing the scratch DJ stuff. So the live set-up is pretty much the same. We don’t have a scratch DJ anymore, but we still have some of the sounds that were created by the records and being triggered by our drummer, now.”
SKYE & ROSS play Chevron Festival Gardens at Elizabeth Quay, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival, on Sunday, February 12, with LILT supporting.