Arcelia’s Simon Foster: “I thought he was a tasty guitarist”
Before appearing at the third Beautiful Town Music Presents, we caught up with the band Arcelia to discuss their music and influences. The band consists of Teresa Gallagher, Simon Foster and Gavin Alexander who have been playing together since 2012 to critical acclaim.
Q: What are your Influences as a band?
Simon: Gavin writes all of the songs so he’s really our main influence.
Gavin: …Well I’m a bit of a thief/chameleon really- as I like to take snippets from everything I listen to. Sometimes it’s conscious and sometimes not, but really it’s what I’m listening to at that moment.
Teresa: We’ve been compared to James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills and Nash and CCR in some cases.
Q: How did you form the band?
Simon: Gavin and I have been mates for a long time and I was asked to see a couple of gigs with a band called Doesn’t Matter. Gavin was the guitarist in that band so that’s where we first met and I thought he was a tasty guitarist. We became friends but were never in a particular position to start up a band, until about 5 years ago. Gavin was writing songs for special occasions and came to a studio to do some recordings so I did some work for him and we kind of rekindled the spark. Teresa was singing at lot at the time, and wanted to take it up again, so we started singing Gavin’s songs and booked a gig and people have reacted positively. We’ve only been gigging for 2 years but we’re enjoying it.
Q: What is your song-writing process?
Gavin: I write on my own and with others, we have written some of our strongest tunes together just by me bringing ideas forward and Simon bringing his ideas to the table. Anyone who enters that song-writing space is a songwriter, if they bring 1 or 10 ideas, as we all share the same influences of western music. When we were writing our song Long Man, Simon was on the same page so that’s why it was such an easy day. Song-writing can be quite tedious as you’re searching for this one hook but it will come eventually.
Simon: We can be quite brutal with Gavin’s ideas but we don’t want to spend too long on ideas that won’t go anywhere-
Gavin: -in a loving way. 99% of what we listen to on the radio and the TV are collaborations, as it just allows the creative process to flow.
Q: What inspired you to write the song 45 Seconds?
Gavin: I was on a song-writing course in Italy when the volcano in Iceland erupted so I was unable to fly home for 2 weeks. I had written alone mostly up to that point. At the end of the second week, the place we stayed at wanted a song for their video brochure so we wrote a song on the last day. When I came back I still had the hook so I thought ‘I need to use this’. I co-wrote that with a guy called Chris, a songwriter from London, and I had three lines missing which he filled with this great imagery line “across the rope-bridge of my faith”.
Q: Have you worked with Patrick Channon or Dulcie May and the Mystery Cats before?
Simon: I teach at Canterbury Christ Church where many of the Mystery Cats went and I know Patrick from there as well.
Q: Do you have any plans for the future?
Teresa: One of our main aims is to do a small tour, but that takes a lot of resources, and we’d also like to record another album. We just want to continue playing lovely venues and pushing the songs to get them out there. We’re very lucky to be joined by Perry White – who plays piano – and Martin Elliot – who plays bass – so we’re looking forward to future shows with them.
Q: Where do you want to record your next album?
Simon: In our studio. We produced our last album in the completely wrong way: by putting in the guitars and vocals in first, then adding everything else. But it served a purpose of being able to look at all the extra instruments in a different light to allow it to grow organically. Some tracks have bass, guitar, cello, banjo and some just have guitar and one vocal so it can be drastically different for each track but we attempt to keep the sound evolving.
Q: What do you think of the Canterbury music scene?
Simon: It’s particularly good with people like Emily setting up events with Beautiful Town Music and the whole of East Kent having a lively atmosphere with events like the Whitstable sessions.
Teresa: It’s really healthy and in the last five years it’s just blossomed so it’s lovely to be a part of it.
Interviewed by Matt Byron