Seven-strong art-rock group Muscles of Joy - interview
Band member Katy Dove discusses the group's history and future
The phrase ‘art-rock’ is a much-abused one, but in this case it seems appropriate. Each of the seven members of all-female Glasgow group Muscles of Joy is a practicing visual artist in their day jobs, most having previously attended Glasgow School of Art, and their sound is not what you might call unadventurous. While there’s a certain punk-rock rawness there, a lot of their songs are characterised by tonal experiments and playful vocal and musical motifs which straddle the boundary between the viscerally accessible and the avant-garde.
‘A few of us were in the [40-strong, Glasgow-based] Parsonage Choir,’ says Katy Dove, ‘and that’s when the idea for Muscles of Joy emerged. I think it was Leigh [Ferguson] who suggested it, because it was her flat where we had our first rehearsal in 2007, but she says she’s not taking responsibility.’ At first the band would just jam together; a familiarisation process which took eighteen months. ‘We’re all in it for different reasons, for example I wanted to develop musically whereas some of the others had been in bands before, but I think collaboration was the important thing for all of us. Being an artist can be a solitary practice, so we all enjoy this collective activity.’
This month sees the release of Muscles of Joy’s impressive self-titled debut album, with a launch date due at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in November and shows in New York and Boston early next year. ‘We’re all really pleased with it,’ says Dove of the record. ‘Our live shows are different every time, so it can be hard for sound engineers to keep up with us, whereas this was a chance to get the balance how we wanted it. It felt almost like we were hearing ourselves for the first time.’
Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Sat 22 Oct; Oran Mor, Glasgow, Sun 27 Nov.