Freya Tate and Moina Leahy Walker of Mermaid Chunky.

Sophie Wales catches up with Freya Tate and Moina Leahy Walker of Mermaid Chunky, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been, and how they’ve been adjusting to the new normal.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

Freya: Probably through listening to Amy Winehouse, as she became famous when I was in my early teens. Then I worked my way backwards to Billie Holiday. Teenagers love cheerful music, don’t they?

Moina: Yes Freya! Riding that cheerful wave of emotion. I was definitely in the same boat though it was Corrine Bailey Rae for me. My first jazz mum. Her sound brings the nostalgia of pop and jazz together in such a wicked way. I feel she taught my 8 year old self a lot about young love and romance. Efficient lessons for the playground. Not that I would act on them, just think about them whilst sitting next to the dinner ladies.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

Moina: So I’ve never thought about this question before but my gut reaction is ‘Boy for Sale’ from the film Oliver Twist. If you don’t know the song then you will absolutely love it. It is constantly whirling around in my head and I often surprise myself breaking into song on a baron high street or at a club night, singing it very loudly in quite an amazing operatic way. Doing this does affect your chances if you’re looking to pull that night, it can go one of two ways.

Who have you been listening to recently?

Freya: NTS radio is my go to station. I whack on the dance music and do an experimental work out in my bedroom. Other than that, I’ve been listening to classical music including Bach, Ravel, Beethoven, or watching YouTube videos of the pianist Valentina Lisitsa on repeat (probably crying).

Moina: I really love this about Freya, there is a kind of warming feeling I get from her constant and committed relationship to Bach. It fills me with joy and makes me feel calm whenever I witness or hear about it, especially over lockdown.

So over the past months, I have been really into the jazz heavy soundtrack of the film ‘Queen and Slim’. It is such a masterpiece, a massive 5 stars from me. I have also become a big fan of pop chart music videos on YouTube. Like many people, I’m really needing the lift and energy that pop can give you. Doja Cat is an artist I’m completely obsessed with, she’s got amazing musical and visual prowess. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Kah-Lo and Nadia Rose, favourite track being ‘Life’s a Treat’ from the movie Shaun the Sheep 2, thoroughly recommended.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Freya: My favourite gig has to be seeing Kraftwerk. I remember feeling totally transported. It was a really great example of a complete audio visual experience for me. Making the audience all part of one giant generator, with a big full moon in the background. Very, very good.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

Moina: We’ve been really enjoying doing DJ sets and live performances on Deepbed Radio, which you can find on their listen again page.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adjusting to the current situation, and the new normal?

Freya: I think lockdown has made it very hard for musicians, especially when there are very few avenues to make money now, apart from gigs. Internet radio is really on the way up and there are some really exciting scenes. It’s important to keep working within your power to accept what works and what doesn’t.

Have you been working on any new material recently?

Moina: Ahh yes we have, lots of stuff up our sleeves. We are going over to Margate soon to do a music residency at PRAH, both very excited to strap some new tracks down by the sea. Also our first ever single ‘Gemini Girls‘ is coming out on the 18th of September! And last but not least, we’d like to announce that our debut album ‘VEST’ is launching on the 6th November 2020!

Freya: I’ve also been learning the trumpet.

What are your post-lockdown plans? 

Moina: A Mermaid Chunky real life gig is coming up on the 24th September at MOT Unit 18, South London. It’s going to be intimate as there are only 50 tickets on offer and an amazing line up featuring Phil Mfu and Susumu Mukai (from NAVO /vanishing twin) as well as a bespoke performance from Kenichi Isawa. We are both very excited to climb back into the real world as we really love it a lot.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 16th September. Follow the series on our social media: Facebook and Twitter.

And sign up to our mailing list to get our latest Jazz South news and opportunities direct to you inbox.