Brix Smith Start

London

Tuesday 4th December 2018

Where are you from?
I grew up in LA until I was ten when I moved to Chicago and then I spent the rest of my teenage years bouncing between the two cities. I went to college in Vermont and I left after a year to join The Fall and moved to Manchester. Now I’m in London. 

What do you do?
I’m a musician first and foremost, and a songwriter, a TV presenter and an author. They’re all passions. Multi-faceted, Renaissance woman. Woman of reinvention. I just follow my passions. 

Describe your style in three words
I can do it in two words. Ever-evolving.

How did you get your name?
I was born Laura E Salenger and I really did not like my name Laura for two reasons; I had a disastrous relationship with my father, and any time anyone called me Laura, it would remind me of him. There were also so many other people called Laura that it was hard to be individual. I moved in with my mother, and I became a bit of a rebel and a punk in Chicago in the late ‘70s. I discovered the Clash and they were super inspirational to me – their music, attitude, and style. My favourite was ‘Guns of Brixton’, and every day after school I’d play it with my gang of punky friends who started calling me ‘Brixton’. When I met Mark E Smith, he told me I couldn’t be called Brixton and, so we shortened it to Brix. This Christmas I was at a party and talking to Paul Simonon, the bassist in the Clash, and this song was played in the background – we both got full body goosebumps!

How did Brix and the Extricated come together?
For fifteen years, I could not play, could not write, sing, nothing. The channel of creativity had dried up. But it came time to write my book and as soon as I started writing, the creative channel for music opened up again. I hadn’t picked up a guitar in fifteen years and what came out of me was a voice completely different to the voice I had in the ‘80s. It was a voice of a woman who’d lived life, a woman who was powerful and vulnerable and honest and raw and I was like – where the fuck did that come from? I hadn’t seen any of the guys from The Fall for 18 years and I went up for Steve Hanley’s book launch. He’d put together a band made up of ex Fall members and a few other musicians. When the band played Mr Pharmacist, which is a Fall song I recorded with them, the guitar player started to play his solo and something incredible happened. It was like a lightning bolt shot through my body and it took everything to hold myself down and not storm the stage. I knew then that whatever I had lost was back. So, we got into a room a month or so later and we plugged in and started playing together. We all got goose bumps. There was some kind of magic happening. 

What’s the plan now?
I don’t think there’s any limits to what this band can achieve, because it’s something really special. I feel that it’s my time now to bring the magic for all of us; anybody that’s ever been marginalised or kicked to the curb or allowed themselves to be controlled by other people. I just keep on saying, I’m getting on this train and I’m riding it until the end and I’m going to have fun doing it. 

Who influences your sound today?
At the moment I’m having this weird thing with a band called Sparklehorse. It’s kind of intense and the songwriter is a man called Mark Linkous who I met years ago in LA. A couple of months ago I wrote a song and it wasn’t like anything I’ve ever written before. It had a different feeling. A few weeks later I was listening to six music and I heard this song and thought oh my god what is that? I had this real connection to it. It turned out it was ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Sparklehorse and I immediately went to download it and realised it was Mark Linkous’ band.  It was like Mark had been coming through me in this one song I’d been writing. It was like I’d been channelling him.

Which female-fronted bands are you in to?
Back in the ‘80s there were very few of us out there. There were only a handful of women players. There were the Go-Go’s, the Bangles, the Runaways, Chrissie Hynde, not that many. There are a lot of really interesting bands out there at the minute that I really like. There’s this band called PINS, Teen Canteen from Glasgow, there’s Menace Beach, Skinny Girl Diet, there’s tonnes of them. I also really like Hairband from Glasgow – they supported us recently and are very talented musicians.


To buy Breaking State, the newly released album from Brix and The Extricated, and to see tour dates, visit: brixandtheextricated.com

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