.- Interview with Denise Black’s Loose Screw on the occasion of their new album launch, Kiss the Joy -.
“He who binds himself to a joy, does the winged life destroy; he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise”.
Referring to this poem by English writer William Blake and starting to reflect on happiness in an ordinary evening in the centre of Manchester could sound a bit random. However, if you add a coffee and singer and actress Denise Black to the scene, it all starts to make sense. These words written 200 years ago were Denise’s inspiration to write the song that today gives name to her band’s first album: Kiss the Joy.
Kiss the Joy, by Denise Black’s Loose Screw, includes 12 original songs written mainly by this singer and Graeme Taylor (guitars and vox) with contributions from her husband, Paul Sand. It talks about love and relationships, about music and life, and its tunes are humorous and fun; ironic —“Never Marry a Musician” warns the singer—, usually carefree —she “Fall(s) in Love Ev’ry Day”— and even cheeky at times.
The music, mainly pop-folk melodies though with hints of other genres, is cheerful and harmonic, and along with the light-hearted lyrics becomes a clear and direct invitation to enjoy the moment and have a good time: “I want to spread the joy, spread the love, make people love”, explains the singer.
Already in her fifties, Denise possesses that kind of young spirit that is captivating and infectious at the same time. Her joviality rubs off on the rest of the band: “I still want to be a star, and I still have a dream, and I still feel like I did when I was young!”.
There is a lot of her in the music they produce, and that may be the reason why Denise Black’s Loose Screw looks like a very personal venture: “My children are now old enough, and I said ‘As a pension plan I am starting a band!’. So it is a pension for happiness! It is not necessarily a pension to buy me a nice house, it is for my own happiness and, hopefully, for everyone else!”.
Denise Black’s Loose Screw started in 2009, when Denise met musician Graeme Taylor (ex-Gryphon, Albion Band and Home Service). They met on a boat — she loves sailing: “We were working on a show together and I was singing Greek folk songs, and he was playing bazuki, and I asked him ‘can I have a go?’. I had a feeling that maybe it could be something that I could master with the peculiarities of my hands. And he said: ‘I’ll teach you’. So he started to teach me guitar and we started to sing together. Then he started writing some songs, and they are on the album now! ‘Adventure on a Low Sea’ and ‘Parting Shot” is the beginning’.
Dedi Madden (guitar, bass and vox) and Andy Dewar (kit and percussion) joined the band later on, and to date they have played together at different venues and festivals across the UK: “Graeme works at the back and I work at the front and the other two round each side. You need to create a kind of little magic circle between you. Andy and Dedi have played together for 20 years. So that’s it! I love them!”.
At this point, you may be wondering when her interest in music began.
Yes, you are right, Denise Black is also an actress —best known as Coronation Street’s siren hairdresser— but she is not completely new in the music scene. In fact, she started her professional career as a singer.
She was 24 and she had never thought of becoming a singer before as she had always had a very low voice. However, she was already a musician —she played flute and piano— and her husband encouraged her to start singing. After that, she and her husband spent eight years on the road: “I literally lived hand-to-mouth; I never had a penny, I was paid cash!“, she laughs, “I would sing eight times a week in bars and restaurants, on streets, anywhere! I went on tours… There was a thing called the Red Wedge during the miners strikes during the 80s… you know, all sort of things!”.
When she was 30 years old, she moved on to acting. She was on the TV series Bad Girls and Queer As Folk and worked in the theatre in plays like Checkov, Shaw and Lorca. The last 14 months, she has been touring with musical Sister Act where she has played mother superior, and “because I have felt that to do one thing for so long was dangerous to your creative soul, I asked my band to do a few gigs with me and I suggested we could through ourselves into record!”.
Would she be able tochoose between acting and singing?
Probably not, but music is an important part of her life: “You sing from your heart and your soul, and you sing your words not a script that somebody else gave you. I have realised that singing poses the question ‘who are you’, and that acting does in another kind of way. We actors are very funny people, very very serious about our work, and we are very affected by the character that we are playing. When you are singing there is nowhere to hide: you stand in front of an audience, and you see yourself reflected back and that teaches you who you are”.
Denise Black says music is not a hobby but a passion she wants to be part of her life forever, and this first album is her and her band’s passport to happiness.
Denise Black’s Loose Screw will be in Brighton, where they are based in, on 15th November, and in Portsmouth, where the singer was born, on the day after. However, before that, they will be launching Kiss the Joy in the North West. On 2 November, the band will performing at Matt and Phreds, where they hope they will make the audience want to tap their feet: “I hope they find it hard to not find that their hands are moving, their shoulders are moving, and they suddenly realise that they really wanted to be in that room”.
** If you want to know more about Denise Black’s Loose Screw and listen to some of their tunes, follow the link! http://www.deniseblack.co.uk/index.html