HELEN BLACKBURN ON CAROLINE GLADWYNN






Which fictional character reminds you most of yourself?
All male characters in Murakami novels, as I once had a cat before she vanished, I am quiet and eternally wise, not to mention a genius with maths.

Do you consider yourself to be the hero or the villain in your story?
I’m neither hero nor villain. I think I’m more of the narrator type. You know, the friendly narrator who has a kind voice and who offers anecdotes with a tin of biscuits.

If you could go back in time to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Only one, when I did such a vast array of idiotic things when I was a much brighter eyed Caroline? The one piece of advice is one that holds true to this day: don’t act out of anger. I wish I would have known then the value of taking time to consider the possible repercussions of my words and the energy that I want to put out into the universe.

If you could rewrite any of your older songs, would you? If so, what would you change?
You know, there are some that I feel slight embarrassment over because they feel so melodramatic to me now. Just a kid who had a lot to say. I don’t think that I would ever touch those songs, though. They’re very precious to me and they’re a nice documentation of what I was feeling at the time and how I’ve grown, and I think I’ll look back fondly on them when I’m quite grey and much wiser than I am now. They’re all parts of me, each and every one, and it’d be an act of self-loathing to tinker with them.

How has your career changed since it started?
When I first started out, I had very few expectations. It was more of a purging exercise, a way to cleanse my soul – although I might sound like a bit of a twat saying so because I could have just as well bought a journal and allowed that to be that. It’s possible that I would have been better off doing exactly that at that age. I didn’t know what I was getting into, really, that people might actually take a liking to my songs. And that frightened me. It wasn’t a comfort that someone could relate or even that someone was listening because in my mind, it had opened me up to these people I didn’t know and I felt incredibly vulnerable to them. I felt like they had me by the throat, yet I couldn’t see them to fight back and had no hope of concealing myself. Since then, I’ve become a little more comfortable and with this last album in particular, I’d like to speak to the audience. I want them to be able to supply their own meaning.

Can you really not swim?
Alas, I cannot without a floatie and supervision.

How do you pronounce Gurdjieff?
You don’t because if you do, he’ll appear in your mirror as you’re getting ready for bed and ask you to define truth before telling you about his experiences with dervishes.

Are you going to write a song about Eyjafjallajökull the Icelandic volcano?
I already have one that’s nearly finished, but the lyrics read more like a children’s book that warns you of the dangers of boarding a flight when there’s so much ash, and not even a very interesting children’s book. ‘Ash, ash, you’ll end up with a massive head gash.’

Is Little Bird about me?
No, but Devil’s Resting Place is.

Which character would you date on Hatoful Boyfriend?
Which one has the expensive looking feathers and a bad attitude? That one. I’ve always had a weakness for those with terrible egos and dangerous good looks. It’s only now dawning on me that it’s probably inappropriate to speak of a bird that way and should expect a show to be interrupted by a protestor from PETA.