Mindfood Interview: Beth Orton

UK folk singer Beth Orton has released her first album in six years, returning to the studio as a wife and mother this time around.

BY Mariam Digges | Oct 09, 2012 Mindfood


Her first record since 2006’s electro-tinged Comfort of Strangers, Orton has stepped away from the synthetic textures of her previous record, returning to her pastoral-folk roots. Recorded in Portland, Oregon, Sugaring Season was written during the dead of the night, while her son was sound asleep in the next room.

“The only way to describe it, is to say I’ve had the slate wiped clean,” says the Norfolk native, while on holidays with her family in northern Vermont. “I’ve had to begin again, because I’m a mother now, and that’s the most life-altering experience I’ve ever had.”

But rest-assured, Sugaring Season is no singing celebration of motherhood; on it, Orton shares mysterious tales of defiance – half theatrical pop, half autumnal ballads;

“Silence me and I won’t be here any more,” she warbles unflappably on Magpie. Her piano and guitar skills – aided by the help of her longtime mentor Bert Jansch – have also been noticeably fine-tuned. Even Orton herself will tell you that she went a step further this time; “I dug a little deeper on this record, and used voices I never have before as a writer,” she says.

The Brit-Award winner, who has previously worked with the likes of William Orbit and The Chemical Brothers, called on the help of Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists) this time around.

“It was brilliant working with Tucker. He’s a really smart, lovely, warm, intelligent man, and an incredible producer.”

While confessing to listening to a lot of Frank Ocean and Erykah Badu of late, Orton turned to nature for inspiration on Sugaring Season, as seen on tracks Magpie, Call Me the Breeze, and Last Leaves of Autumn.

“Coming to America, spending a lot of time here surrounded by this particular nature… I really only needed to look into my own backyard,” she explains.

“I think looking outwards in terms of nature is a very good way of finding perspective, and a huge source of inspiration.”

As for a tour anytime soon, the songstress drops “next March” as a hint.

Sugaring Season is out now.


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