Rachel Goswell first came to musical notoreity in the early 1990's as the guitarist and co-singer in the influential shoegazing outfit, Slowdive, which she had formed while still at school with frontman Neil Halstead. Slowdive, who came from Reading and who were part of the celebrated Thames Valley independent music scene alongside Chapterhouse and Ride, signed to Alan McGee's infamous Creation label and released three albums, 'Just Amother Day' (1991), 'Souvlaki' (1993) and 'Pygmalion' (1995). They split up in 1995, shortly after Creation dropped them.

Goswell went on to form country act, Mojave 3, in which she plays guitar, again with Halstead. They have now released four albums. 'Ask Me Tomorrow' (1996), 'Out of Turn' (1998), 'Excuses for Travellers' (2000) and 'Spoon and Rafter' (2003), all of which have come out on 4AD.

Goswell released her debut solo album, the folk-orientated 'Waves are Universal', which again has come out on 4AD, in May. Pennyblackmusic met with her to talk about Mojave 3 and the solo record, but, in what is an extensive interview which we will be running in two parts, the second part of which will be following next month, began by asking her about her early musical career with Slowdive



PB : You were, according to my notes, born in Hampshire on the 16th of May 1971?

RG : Yeah, in Fareham.

PB : I don"t know where that is.

RG : It's near Portsmouth.

PB : Slowdive were, however, Reading based. Did you move to Reading when you were quite young?

RG : Yeah, when I was seven , my parents moved there. Well, we all moved there, and I lived in Wales before that. So born in Hampshire, moved to Wales when I was a baby and lived there until I was seven, and moved over to Reading.

PB : Are you an only child or have you got brothers and sisters?

RG : One brother.

PB : Is he older ?

RG : Yeah.

PB : I asked Neil Halstead in a previous interview how he got into music. Normally it's because you steal your parents' or your brothers' or sisters' record collections, and that's exactly what Neil did, which was mainly the Beatles and Dylan. Is that what happened to you?

RG : Er... No.(Laughs). My Dad got me into music. He used to play banjo in a jazz band in his youth and he taught me basic folk guitar, when I was about seven, and I did classical guitar from about the age of ten, and I learnt the theory of music.

PB : . So, as a result of that, did you start to write songs then?

RG : (Laughs).

PB : Did you dabble?

RG : No, not really. I have done the odd co-write thing over the years, but I didn't really start in earnest until 2000. I really haven't wriitten a lot. I just used to like singing, I used to do a lot of singing, when I was little.

PB : I asked Neil this. I thought you met up in university, but he told me that you used to go to the same school. Did you meet him because you were in the same age group ?

RG : We were in the same year. We were in a few classes together. I can't remember which ones. Biology maybe ! We kind of knew each other mainly because the mother of my best friend at the time taught classical guitar and we both went to her for our lessons.

Neil was actually a prefect and a youth leader for the school. He used to be there on Sundays doing whatever, and I went down there with a female friend of mine and we decided to form a band because they had loads of equipment. Neil actually set it up for us and it was the first week, and me and my friend just messed around, I was playing keyboards at this point, and then even before the secomd week she decided she didn't want to do it anymore.

PB : Five minute wonder ?

RG : So I went up on my own, and Neil had already set up everything.I remember he used to play golf outside in the playing fields, but he had already set the stuff up for us. I just turned up and he started to play guitar. It was never a spoken word thing, between us. It was just assumed from that point in we would just go there every week and play music. I can"t remember a lot of it but various people...

PB : Came and went.

RG : Yeah, came and went.

PB . And is this what became Smashing Fairies?

RG : Pumpkin fairies (Laughs).We started when we were 15 and the Pumpkin Fairies was our giging name around town for a few years (Laughs)

PB. And then Christian Savill (guitar)joined ? I believe he was running a My Bloody Valentine fanzine at the time.

RG : I don't know. We put an advert in the local paper for a guitarist, and we wanted a female and he was the only person who responded. You can read this in various places, but he offered to wear a dress for us. And that was that, really. And that's how he joined.

PB : Were you all listening to the same sort of music at the time ?

RG : Neil was much more what I term Indie Simde.

PB : (Laughs))

RG : He liked the Shop Assistants and the Primitives.

PB : The C-86 crowd basically.

RG : Yeah, I really hated all of that stuff. I was a Goth at that point.

PB : Really ?

RG : I was into the Mission, Ghost Dance...

PB : The Cure ? The Sisters of Mercy ?

RG : Yeah, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Nephilim. I used to come up to London loads to see the Fields of the Nephilim and Ghost Dance. They played loads of gigs up here, but, no, we were completely different.

PB : I was under the impression that when Slowdive came to the fore that you were all into the second wave of Creation bands. The Mary Chain ? People like that ?

RG : Yeah, that's true. Certainly by the time Slowdive did their first demo I had changed a lot. I was 15 when we first met and I was a raving goth then. By the time I got to 18 I had grown out of it and I was a lot more normal. I ended up getting into the Mary Chain, the House of Love, My Bloody Valentine and all that kind of stuff, and by the time Slowdive had really gelled, we all had the same things in common. I had turned around to their way of thinking and left my Goth days behind (Laughs).

PB : Neil pretty much wrote all oif Slowdive's lyrics. Did that feel weird ? I saw you before the first album came out, and my early impression was that the two of wrote everything together.

RG : No.

PB : Because you sung everything with Neil together pretty much as a duo, and somtimes there was more of you than there was of him.

RG : I didn't really think about it, to be honest. I occasionally much later on thought that some of the things that we sung out about was a bit weird. Certainly some of the subject matter was very odd, but I didn't really think about it too much because all I wanted to do was sing. A lot of Slowdive's lyrics were rubbish . Why do you think we never printed the lyrics on the sleeves ?

PB : I was playing some stuff last night and it was like where are the words then ?

RG : Some of it was ad libbed at the time. Some of it was just
nonsensical like 'Celia's Dream' was about a rabbit. It was about a film we watched about a rabbit (Laughs).

PB : Was Creation at that time the label you wanted to be on, or just the label you happened to sign to?

RG : We were really lucky.Creation was the ultimate label to be on.

PB : Especially, at that time. They were at a peak, I remember following Creation almost from the beginning, and they had Biff, Bang,Pow!, Revolving Paint Dream, and Primal Scream and struggled for years, before taking off. I think you joined at just the right time, because just after that it went downhill.

RG : McGee wasn't really there. He was in rehab for most of it. We were really pleased to be on Creation and we were definitely in the right place at the right time.

PB : And that's when the whole 'Thames Valley' scene and Oxford/Reading/Ride thing happened as well.

RG : Yeah, it was all around the same time. Chapterhouse and us were gigging around Reading anyway. I think they signed to Dedicated first. They had been supporting Spacemen 3 up in London and we thought they were really lucky. We just happened to do a gig with 5:30 and a guy from EMI happened to be there and it just went from there. It was just luck really.

PB : At that time was Slowdive pretty much a full time job because you had only left school like 2 or 3 years before ?

RG :Yeah, it was.

PB : So it was like your dream job?

RG : (Laughs) I just got this job in Our Price (Now defunct High Street record chain-AS). I had just passed the interview for Our Price and the weekend before I started there, the Friday before the Monday, we met McGee. He came down to Reading and we met him and I walked in on my first day to work. The manager said "You're not going to be with us long, are you? I heard you have just signed to Creation". I was there for 6 months, and they were very supportive, because we did a lot of touring, I had a lot of time off. Towards the end of it, he was phoning me up at like11 am and saying "Rachel, you're late".

PB : I'm not suprised.

RB : They were cool, but Slowdive was pretty full on for 3 years or so.

PB : There is quite a big difference between the first two albums, 'Just Another Day' and 'Souvlaki'. 'Just Another Day' is quite dreamy. It was more than guitars and feet on peddles effects. for me. It had a real trance-like and ambient feel. It was very trippy.

RG :. It was experimental. 'Souvlaki', however, went further down that course.

PB : I thought that was radically different.

RG : 'Souvlaki' is my favourite album. Slowdive was to me, and, certainly for Neil, about experimenting with guitars. He did some songs with 20 tracks of guitar. It did get silly at some points,
And it was about using the voice as another instrument and burying it, so you can't hear what we were singing about. I don't know how you how you would describe it, experimental certainly, and involving all sorts male/female harmonies.

PB : After 'Souvlaki' you sung backing vocals for Chapterhouse's 'Pearl' ? (Chapterhouse"s third single)

RG : Yeah.

PB : And then you did album number three, 'Pygmalion', which was completely different yet again. Was there a big backlash against that ?

RG :From who?

PB : From the fans, because at that time, you were playing big venues
then?

RG : With 'Pygmalion' ? We never toured 'Pygmalion'?

PB : You played the London Garage at the time it came out.

RG : Did we ? Did we play any songs from it? (Laughs)

PB : I think you did. I have got a tape of it somewhere. I'm sure you did. Maybe not a lot.

RG : I don't know. I'm not sure if we got a back lash. When that was being recorded, Neil and I were very seperate at that point. Neil was living in London, and I was still in Reading. We were both on a techno trip, experimenting with stupid drugs, him more than me. I had a few trips up to London, where I went to some techno clubs. 'Pygmalion' was really,I think, born out of that. It reflected what we were listening to at that time. Neil was living with friends at the time, and they had an influence.

PB : I think it"s the one album people don't really know.

RG : It was consciously made as weird as we could because we knew Creation wasn't interested in us anymore. McGee wasn't there. Sony had just been brought in. We knew we were going to get dropped so we thought fuck it, lets just do this and get dropped.

PB : Which is exactly what happened. How big a gap was there between Slowdive being dropped and Mojave 3 starting, ?

RG :We finished recording it in 1994, but it didn't come out until 1995. We had to wait a year for it to come out. I can't remember why it took so long. I remember though that '94 , was the year I had to get a job because (Laughs) basically we had run out of money. Nick (Chaplin, bass)and Christian hadn't been around for lot of the recording, because the money was so tight. We all use to receive a wage from Slowdive, but we got to the point that there was no money left. We knew we were going to get dropped, and we knew we couldn't afford to pay wages for all of us. We told Nick and Christian. I was in the same boat as well. They were pissed off. but that is the real world. I went out to work. Neil has never worked because he has always had his royalities. He is unique (Laughs).

PB : The one that is on the contract gets the money.

RG : Yeah, so 'Pygmalion' came out in 95. We did actually rehearse because there was a tour that was being set up, and then Creation
pulled the plug.



The second part of this interview will follow next month. It will cover her years with Mojave 3.






















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