(Farmer Pimp Interview Published in Groove Guide 19 April 2010)
On line from Auckland, the band’s vocalist/co-writer, Claire Holmes, nails the essence of the band’s debut “Sweet Hot Pepper Pop”, due to hit April 26.
There’s a hardware store advert featuring kids in a sandbox discussing a crib wall job. The message: “Do it Yerself! DIY’s in our DNA!”. And that’s definitely the ethos behind Farmer Pimp.: Their debut is self written, self-performed, self produced and even collaborators are “self managed’ into the mix. Farmer Pimp prefers to maintain control. Recorded pronominally at Michel’s Grey Lynn studio, their sound, she says, is a unique blend of up-beat grooves, lush arrangements and bittersweet melodies.
However, what first hits you is Shann Whitiaker’s stunning collage cover work, coupled with Regan Vause‘s elegant band logo. The scrapbook art deliciously sums up the album’s material. “Shan came up with this lush and layered effect with ‘pictures’ from the songs – like honey bees and robots”.
“I like to think of the songs as little short stories”. And being authors of their own invention, were they always tinkering, always improving? “Forever. Hard to let go. But, as our friend David Holmes says – you never finish a record, you abandon it”. That said, it’s interesting to see where it go once released. Some music has already featured in the TV show Go Girls. “It’s interesting to see our stuff used in a different way to what was intended.” Holmes agrees the TV gig proved it has cinematic legs, as well as a record and stage presence.
Musically, “…Pepper Pop” varies between saccharine-sweeties like “Disney Love”, “complete candy cane”, through to more avant-jazz numbers like “Pieces of Eight”. This is a song Holmes enjoys playing live “because the song changes direct mid-through. I like watching the audiences faces when that dawns on them. It takes you on a journey, you’re not sure where you’ll end up.”
Formed 6 year’s ago whilst completing a Performing Arts Degree at Auckland University; Farmer Pimp is the creative partnership of Mark Michel and Claire Holmes along with conspirators John–Paul Muir (Keys) and Glen Child (drums). Prior to studying Holmes was living in Europe, and not especially thinking about a career in music despite her lineage (Her Aunt, Leonie Holmes is a well known classical composer, her father, John, plays in Jazz Show bands). Yet fate directed her hand and she found herself enrolled at AU. “As part of the course we were thrown together with other students to work on projects. Mark had this double bass. I loved the warmth of the bottom end (of its range) and that eventually became the backbone of our songs”.
Their quizzical name comes from a dodgy tale about one of Michel’s relatives. Holmes giggles elusively when she explains “Mark had this great uncle who was a farmer and ‘things” came to light after his death about some alleged activities during WWII. We thought it was funny and a good name for a band”.
Applauded for their dynamic live shows, they’ve already checked the Big Day Out off the “to do list’ and are heading out again to launch the album in June, this time with extra tools in the box, including a brass section and strings to flesh out the sound. After all, when it come to live: Big is Good!
Release Party: Auckland on Friday, April 23, at 4:20 on Karangahape Rd, Auckland at 8pm