Exposure: Chloe Matharu
Traditional ballads with a hint of the exotic akin to Vashti Bunyan and Joni Mitchell
Keep your eyes peeled for Chloe Matharu, an Edinburgh lass born and bred, with Welsh-Indian heritage. She's breaking into the Scottish folk scene with her debut album Next Market Day. Her voice is remarkably pure and tender; think ethereal treble with the wisdom of worn folk. Currently still a student at St Andrew's University, she spends her summers gigging at festivals and folk sessions. With echoes of 1970s Vashti Bunyan meeting Joni Mitchell, Chloe Matharu sings traditional ballads with a hint of the exotic. Mary Murray Brown caught up with her.
So what's your style?
I sing British traditional folk music, and I'm very influenced by the 1960s folk revival, singers like Sandy Denny.
How do you choose your music?
I look through charity shops for old music books. If the lyrics are nice I research the melodies on the internet. I choose my favourite version, and adopt it into my repertoire. I don’t play an instrument, so when I compose it's very free form. I'll be in the mood to write a tune so I'll improvise, then when I get a phrase that's nice I use it as a stimulus for a song, working on that fragment.
And recently, what have you been up to?
I released my debut album two weeks ago. Over the summer I sang at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Fringe By The Sea, and in Irvine (Ayreshire) for the Marymass Festival. I have such long summer holidays at uni, so I tried to utilise it for performing. I'm hoping to sing in folk clubs around Scotland, I'm singing in the Leith folk club in March.
Where do you perform?
I'm looking forward to performing at the St Andrew's Festival. It's a really good opportunity to play as there's not often the chance to perform folk here. I really enjoy festivals generally, their atmosphere is quite unique. I like going to folk sessions in pubs, where people share new songs and you can hear other people's techniques. They're like informal workshops.
Which folk musicians do you look up to?
Julie Fowlis – she's so graceful when she sings and really inspirational to watch perform. Vashti Bunyan is also a huge role model. Her songwriting is just so original and fresh. When I write my own songs I look for a uniqueness in the style and the structure of the song.
And finally, your favourite song?
Sandy Denny's 'The Sea' I love – it captures the ebb and flow of the tides beautifully.
Undercover@ St Andrew's Festival, South Street, St Andrews, Fri 26 Nov, 6–9pm. Free.