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Interview: Katie Antoniou chats to Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny

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Photos by Gemma Hall

 

I met up with rising star Beth Jeans Houghton and her band 'the Hooves of Destiny' before a recent gig of theirs in London to have a chat about everything from tits to tapes. I was originally captivated by their last single Dodecahedron which has all the momentum and emotion of an Arcade Fire track,but then was equally charmed when I head Beth singing 'Shampoo' live at the gig.

'Looks like cum,smells like flowers,I use shampoo in the shower'...

Though her lyrics occasionally give away the fact that she's only 21, tracks like Dodecahedron and her current single Lilliput imply that she's got a lot more to offer

RR: So,your last single was called Dodecahedron, which as everyone knows is a shape with 12 sides...are you a geometry fan?What were you good at at school?

BJH: Oh-nothing really-daydreaming?I left school at 15 and started writing songs at 16-I knew I wanted to do something really creative, I never wanted to have an office job or a normal job, so I knew I wanted to do something different.I was never stressed at not knowing exactly what I wanted to do,I just had a feeling that it would happen and then it did.

RR: Are from a creative family then?

BJH: My parents are both graphic designers, my mum also play bass and the ukelele so I guess they are artistic-and my brothers an artist and I'm a musician.

RR: In the video for Dodecahedron,why's there the sound of a baby crying at the beginning?

BJH: Just a sample I found, nothing to do with the song-its not on the actual track, just the video,I just liked the sound-its one of those things thats grating,but its also such a natural thing.

RR: Its grating but you can't stop listening...

BJH: Yeah!It's nothing to do with the song-I guess its quite dark,maybe I was feeling dark at the time.

RR: You're Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny-its a great name;how did you come up with it?

BJH: In the song that's just being released, Lilliput,there's a line that my drummer misheard as saying 'the hooves of destiny' so then that became the name-and we all got tattoos!(band show hoof print tattoos)

RR: Its quite a fairytale name-I like the fictional blurb about yourself on your myspace BJH: Oh,thats going soon!

RR: Shame!Are you a big fan of fairytales and folklore?

BJH: To be honest I don't really read them but I'm always fascinated by how even thought they're supposed to be for kids, they can be so disturbing-I was watching Tangled with my friend's kid the other day and there's a bit where the witch decomposes-I was really freaked out!

RR: Yeah,people always talk about how fairytales were dark before Disney but even some of Disney's stuff can be quite sinister-their film version of Snow White used to terrify me.

BJH: There's always death-stuff you can't get away from I guess, that attracts children's imagination and I guess we notice less as we get older cos we lose our imagination-which is sad.I think its weird though when parents let their kids watch films without having watched them themselves,when what they see can be so influential at that age. Having said that, I'd rather my kids watched or read any fairytales rather than play computer games that are just about killing as many people as you can.

RR: When you released your single Golden, you only made 500 copies- this really interests me as it seems to be a growing movement amongst independent musicians to release stuff as very limited edition, or combined with artwork or something to make each one unique to appeal to try and get the download generation interested in buying hard copy again.Was that your thinking behind the Golden release?

BJH: It was actually much simpler than that; we were just on a small label and weren't very well known yet!But I do think these days when people download so much, there has to be something special -there has to be a reason why they'd buy the hard copy instead.I'd really like to put the record out on cassette tape!

RR: The video for Dodecahedron was filmed on a roadtrip in America, what was your best experience out there?

BJH: Joshua Tree was amazing-I stayed in the hotel room where Gram Parsons died for my 21st birthday. I, Thank God, love being in a car, so I prefer travelling to being in a house.I was on my own for the first time too, so just knowing that I could go and make friends and look after myself out there without the help of anyone else was really nice to know.

RR: Were you performing gigs out there or just travelling?

BJH: No just travelling-still working,but not performing.

RR: Do you find audiences differ depending on the country or even the city you're in? BAND:Massively-we did some little tours in Europe even the way you're treated by the venue- you're given a lot more respect. And the crowd seem really interested,more appreciative.They're there for the music, not there to be seen

RR: That can be a big problem in London

BJH: Yeah-even in newcastle too, they're there to discuss what you do,even if they don't do anything themselves, they feel they have the right to do that. Even in America they're better,they're there to hear the music cos they like it-here you're sometimes not even sure they're listening-

BAND: We recorded a gig last night and you can hear on it, people chatting away.

BJH: If you want to talk,go to the pub!In Europe they give you everything on your rider,ask if they can help, feed you great food..

RR: What would be on your dream rider?

BJH: We always ask for a plastic baby,but we haven't ever got it yet!

BAND: We should ask for £5 worth of random stuff from the local charity shop

RR: You're not shy about getting a bit naked in videos and pictures- I'm really interested in the sexualisation of women in the music industry so I found the Dodecahedron video really fascinating- cos you have bare breasts at one point but its really not overtly sexual-there's no feeling that you're doing this because a manager told you to or to get more male fans,it seems pretty organic and natural?

BJH: Yeah if you look at female pop singers today, their dancing and their outfits are so much raunchier than me with no no bra. With that video,that was me getting ready to do the video,just testing the camera and then it happened to look really nice- I never planned to do it topless.Everyone has a weird body-I'm not completely happy with my body but..

RR: Its much healthier to have different body types represented?

BJH: Yes! You see all of the people in the mainstream with their perfect bodies and big boobs!Whereas real people have stress marks and stuff. But it wasn't even like a conscious statement..

RR: If you could collaborate with anyone who would you like to work with?

BJH: Ryan Sambol from The Strange Boys.He doesn't use computers, so I'm going to write to him-my ex boyfriend got his address.