One of the most influential figures in indie pop, Amelia Fletcher first emerged on to the independent music scene in 1986 as one of the two vocalists in the ramshackle Talulah Gosh. Formed in Oxford, Talulah Gosh were one of the early exponents of the C86 movement and released two classic singles 'Steaming Train' and 'Beatnik Boy' on the Edinburgh-based 53rd and 3rd label, both of which entered the UK Independent Top 5. The band split up in early 1988, due to university commitments and a feeling amongst its members that the group had run its course, but released posthumously an album 'They Scoffed the Lot', containing tracks from various BBC Radio 1 sessions, on Sarah Records in 1991.

The Sarah label was to provide a base for Amelia Fletcher's next project, Heavenly, as well. Formed in mid 1989, Heavenly featured, as well as Fletcher, two other members of the latter-day Talulah Gosh, her brother Matthew on drums, and guitarist Peter Momtchiloff, and also the Gosh's original bassist, Robert Pursey. While retaining much of the sweetness and tweeness of the former outfit, Heavenly, however, also had a much tighter, more mature sound. The most internationally successful of all Sarah's groups, Heavenly would record a spate of singles on Sarah and two albums, 'Heavenly Vs Satan' (1991) and 'Le Jardin de Heavenly'(1992), but came to an abrupt, tragic end when Mathew Fletcher, who had been suffering from depression, was found hanged in June 1996.

Fletcher would take a year's break from music before coming back at the end of 1997 with a new act, Marine Research, which would again feature Momtchiloff and Pursey ; keyboardist Cathy Rogers who had joined Heavenly in time for their second album, and new drummer DJ Downfall. Marine Research would release a single album 'Sounds of the Gulf Stream' on K Records in 1999, which combined French pop rhythms and samples with harmonies from Fletcher and Rogers, but split in 2000.

Amelia Fletcher returned recently with a new group, Tender Trap, a trio, which also includes Pursey and DJ Downfall. Tender Trap has released two 7" singles to date, 'Oh Katrina' and 'Face of 73', while its debut album, 'Film Molecules', which was released concurrently on K Records and Fortuna Pop, came out at the end of July. More eclectic than its predecessors, it has found the band swopping instruments and uses Downfall's programming and sequencing to great effect.

Amelia Fletcher is also a member of the indie pop supergroup, Sportique, which has released to date two albums, 'Black is a Very Popular Colour' (1998) and 'Modern Museums' (2001)

In an interview Fletcher, Pursey and Downfall talked exclusively to Pennyblackmusic at a recent Tender Trap gig in London about their past glories, and also their new group and 'Film Molecules' album.


PB: The bands that I know you from are Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Sportique and Tender Trap. Is there anything that I have missed out?

RP: There is that single you did?

AF : I did a disco single that was between Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. That was when I thought I was going to be a jazz singer. I did it when I thought I was going to be famous. In the end it was released under Amelia Fletcher and as an interesting oddity almost 2 years later. It was on Fierce Records.

PB: You have used a lot of the same musicians in each of your bands. Did each new project form out of the previous project ?

A: Yeah! Very much so ! Actually Rob was in Talulah Gosh at the start, but he hated it and left.

RP : That is true.

AF : It was too ramshackle.

Rob: It was worse then that. It was all war and egos. It was middle class punk rock. It was embarassing. I’m sure I could handle it now. It was embarassing at the time though, so I left.

A: So I got to know Rob because we wanted a bassist for Talulah Gosh which he agreed to do for a short while . We stopped Talulah Gosh because it seemed right to do so, and then I decided to do disco music, so I recorded all this disco stuff, but then I realized I was pretty bad at it, and also really no one wanted to hear it. What I really knew was indie even though at that time indie was not really cool.

PB: Well, it never has been fashionable…

A: At the time the dance world was all acid house and stuff. The indie world though was all lad rock.

RP: That was when Heavenly started.

A: There was me, my brother, Peter, and then Rob and then later on Cathy. Heavenly finished when my brother died, and then weren’t going to do anything else, but we got bored so we started up Marine Research with almost exactly the same line up. Marine Research then stopped, the three of us split off and are now doing this thing.

PB: What is the difference between Marine Research and Tender Trap?

DJ: It fits in a car.

A: We promoted DJ from drummer to bass player.

DJ: Demoted.

RP: It was mainly motivated by the desire to do short songs because I hate middle 80’s, and to be able to travel in a small saloon car, and never to have to carry a drum kit again.

PB: How did you name each individual band. Was there an idea behind each one ?

RP: I remember Heavenly, because Heavenly was to find something that was as feminine and as unmancrock as possible.

DJ: We were Marine Savage Research Limited for the first show with that band, which was a terrible name.

PB (To Amelia: I believe you are about to celebrate your 16th birthday in music?

AF: I am. That is true.

PB: Does it feel like 16 years?

AF: I am not sure, if I have passed my 16th birthday.

RP : You can have sex now!

AF: Wow, cool. I can do all sorts of things. That is frightening but, as you will have seen from tonight’s gig, I still can’t play the guitar.

PB: Along with Sarah Records you to a degree sort of invented twee. How does that make you feel?

RP : Sick. Sad. I hate that word. I really don’t want to hear that word. That’s sad. That is the pathetic, wilful femination of men and women into kind of children. I really despise it.

AF: That said, I accept we were to some degree responsible for it. (Laughs)

(Everyone laughs)

PB: So what do you think of twee now? Belle and Sebastian are making a killing out of it?

DJ: We did really well out of twee.

AF : They are good.

PB (to Amelia): You have a lot of shy male fans out there. Is that something you are proud of?

AF : Shy male fans ?

PB: Yeah, they go :"Amelia, she is so cute"

AF: Do they still do that?

PB: Yeah, they still do that.

(Everyone laughs)

RP: After 16 years.

PB: Yeah, but they still won’t come up to you to talk after 16 years.

RP: To be honest, all the bands I like I have been too shy to go and talk to them.

PB: What do you think is your best song that you have ever written?

AF: With Tender Trap, we write all the songs together whereas before in Heavenly and Marine Research I wrote all the songs.

RP : Not in Talulah Gosh though.

DJ: I think ‘Fat Lenny’ on the last Heavenly LP.

AF: Really, I can’t remember that.

PB: Out of all the bands you have been in which one is the one you are most proud of?

AF: At the moment, Tender Trap.

PB : I think this is your most mature album.

RP: Well, after 16 years, fucking hell, it should be.

AF: I am really proud of it and of Talulah Gosh in particular. The reason I like Talulah Gosh was because it was completely out of control. We had no idea what we were doing. I think we created something very special and interesting.

PB: The new album is quite different. The last track is post rock. Can you see yourselves going down that avenue?

AF : Yeah.

RP: I think the songs on the album when DJ got involved in the album have it made it go more that way

PB: Do you think that might alienate the original fans though who might say : "Oh they have changed. I don’t like them anymore. I’m not going to be shy anymore. I’m off to the pub and I’m going to be a lad."

DJ: That is always the way.

RP: That is good though because if you didn't get some new people to like it, it would be sad.

PB : Has any band sold more than others or has it just carried over?

RP: I don’t know really.

AF: I think Heavenly around the time of 'Le Jardin' sold the most especially in Japan. I think we sold lots of Marine Research in America,

PB: Is the next album written?

RP: Yeah.

AF: A hell of a lot.

RP: There are enough songs in various forms.

AF: There is not a lot of lyrics.

PB: Last question. Have you ever wanted to be on Top of the Pops?

AF: Yeah.

PB: Is it still a dream?

DJ: 'Top of the Pops' is crap now.

PB : But would you have liked to have done it?

AF : Yeah. I would love to have done it. Heavenly were on the chart show for then seconds and that was really exciting.

PB : Thank you.














Related Links:


http://tendertrapband.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Fletcher
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tender_Trap


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