"Scissor In Your Pocket" is an album very much of the year 2004. Fitting in with the likes of Jamie Cullum, Katie Melua and Norah Jones, yet at the same time side stepping it all by being such a raw stripped back record. Recorded and self produced in a shed and (with "Dark Side" produced Ben, formerly of the duo Ben & Jason) the album is one of many seasons inviting the listener on a journey which can take in warm summer walks or dark late night melancholy. Designer Magazine caught up with Polly Paulusma to find out about her amazing stroke of luck over the past 12 months.
Q: Your time is really now with artists like Jamie Cullum, Katie Melua and Norah Jones in the Top 10 album charts. Does it feel like your time?
A: I guess so, they call it Triple A in America. It feels very different at the moment than it has done for the past 2 years and I can't believe my luck. It takes so long to get a record together and to get it to the point where it's about to come out that it's all a bit of a fluke really. It feels like people's ear have started defrosting just at the right moment.
I was gigging around for a couple of years on the acoustic circuit before I even decided to make a record and I was getting very despondent. I just thought there was no way I was going to get a record deal with my sort of music. I was very lucky that Derek at One Little Indian came along and believed in it. I know for a fact from what he said when I finished the record, which was last September, he looked around at the market and said what are we going to do with this one. But he stuck to his guns and luckily it seemed the market turned round for us which is really amazing bit luck.
Q: Originally didn't you start recording the album before One Little Indian even got involved?
A: That's right. It got to about January last year and I just had all these songs as i'd been writing since I was ten. This particular batch i'd been writing for 3 years and I had about 40 songs over that period. I really wanted to make a record and i'd been waiting for someone with a fat cheque book to come along and pay for it and they just weren't materializing. So I just thought what the hell, I can do it myself. I'd be learning how to use various computer software by making demos, so I just thought i'd carry through what i'd learnt doing that to make the whole record.
I was about half way through when One Little Indian initially approached me and they really loved the record that I had finished and they were really happy to put it out as it was, which I was really surprise at. (laughs)
Q: How was it going to record an album with the mindset that it might never be released?
A: I was always planning to put it out on my own little label and just do loads of gigs. I just had loads of personal experience that I could sell lots of CDs at gigs, whenever I was selling demos at gigs I just used to sell shit loads. I knew I could make a living out of it even if no-one else would believe me. I think Jamie (Cullum) had a similar things, he was just flogging loads at gigs and just knew there was a living to be made even if he couldn't convince anyone else...and luckily we both managed to twist somebody's arm.
Q: Ben from Ben & Jason fame produced one track, "Dark Side", on the album. They were one of those underrated bands on the scene a few years ago weren't they?
A: They made 4 records together and they wanted to do other things, they felt that whatever they needed to achieve as Ben & Jason they'd done it really. Ben's now forming another band, he's off quietly and keeping it very secret, nobody knows anything about it which is very annoying. And Jason's off doing comedy writing so they've both branched off and done different things really...but i don't think we've heard the last of them yet.
Q: As you said it is really a very raw album, stripped down to the absolute minimum
A: I hope so. The first 2 years I was gigging completely on my own and some of the fans would come back and go 'What have you done? You've put a double bass on there!!!' Some people think it's over produced and not as simple as it was when they first heard it.
The second album i'm going to strip it back even more and there are some songs I held back because I just felt that they're more suited to being absolutely stark. It's going to get very stripped back and dark on the second album. That good. I think that really good songs should be able to stand up with one instrument.
Q: It's the usually the tradition with debut albums like yours that on the second album you pile on everything but the kitchen sink. You're going completely the opposite way I guess
A: I think it's a mistake that a lot of people make. I'm trying to avoid it, but there are various forces at work trying to persuade me to do otherwise. I'm hoping to be in my shed again for record number 2.
Q: In the past you've performed in baggy bands and Commitments style soul bands. How did you work your way back to what you do now?
A: It's always been there. I've always listened to pop, but in the lovely sense of the word pop. It's people like Van Morrisson I always think of when I think of the word pop, rather than S Club 7. In the bands I always tried to inject some of my musical heritage in there, but it was only when I started playing by myself that I was able to express that fully.
Q: How has it been out on the road with the various support slots you've been doing - Jamie Cullum and Gary Jules et all
A: I did Gary Jules first and it great to do the two tours back to back. Gary and Jamie are at such opposite ends of the spectrum. Gary as been really through the ringer, he's been knocked around by the record labels, dumped left right and centre and has come through fighting. And I think his album is absolutely beautiful. When I heard "Mad World" I was like 'This is nice, but I bet the rest of the album sucks', but it's the complete opposite as far as i'm concerned. It was great to do the tour with him cos it was just him and his mate Al doing a really acoustic thing.
And then to go out with Jamie in these massive venues. I had my band with me and it was all really jazzy. Really different audiences. I learnt so much from Jamie as well and he so young, such a nutter and he's just jumping around on stage every night. It's funny with both of them because even though they've just come into the limelight they've been playing for years.
Q: At the gigs you meet the fans after the shows, you go on your message board every day to answer any questions they have and you really try to break down the barrier between artist and the fan. Is there a point when you put the barrier up?
A: I very rarely tell people what the songs are about or go into the specifics. I might give general hints, but i'll never go into the nuts and bolts of what I was thinking. I just really think that doesn't matter. It's up for the listener to work out what it means to you. And plus I don't want to ruin it for people. You can have an idea of what a songs about and then you hear from the artist what the song was about and it's like "oh, I was wrong".
Q: Are you heading out on the road over the Summer?
A: I'm hoping to do a couple of festivals this summer and it's weird when you're at this stage cos' everything tends to be really last minute. I have my bags packed permanently waiting to be picked up in a van. There's a couple of gigs in Europe and a couple in Ireland, so as soon as dates get confirmed i'll get them on the website
"Scissors In My Pocket" is out now on One Little Indian
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