Live4ever Presents: Delta Maid

delta-maid

Although Liverpool is one of most musically gifted cities in the world, and has offered an eclectic mix of artists throughout the years, it isn’t too well known for its country, roots and blues. But that looks set to change with the arrival of Delta Maid.

This Liverpudlian’s home may be over 4,000 miles away, but her music has a sound that has come straight out of Dixie. Delta is an authentic American roots artist that has been reared on a deep Mississippi diet of JB Lenoir, Robert Johnson and Son House, though she also counts a few more contemporary names, such as female blues icons, Rory Block and Bonnie Raitt, on her long list of influences. The stars of country, of course, are also well represented.

The North West of England may not be the best place launch a career as a country/blues singer, but Delta has enough raw and appealing talent to carve a new niche and bring her style to a wider audience. After turning her back on the world of vascular science for a career in music, she began playing in any folk clubs she could find, and has now gone on to play major support slots with the likes of Ray LaMontagne and Ellie Goulding.

Her stripped-down Broken Branches EP has earned plenty of deserved attention and the release date for her debut album with Geffen (recorded in Liverpool’s Parr Street studios) has been pencilled in for next February. So you can expect to hear a lot more of Delta Maid in 2011.

Us fortunate folk at Live4ever managed to sneak a quick interview into her hectic schedule, to talk about the legends of blues and roots, how her home will always be in Liverpool and how ‘country’ can be classed as a dirty word:

L4E: How did you discover roots/ country music and what drove you towards playing in this style?

Delta: I grew up listening to records my Mum and Dad had. They were always playing old records. They’ve also been into modern blues artists like Bonnie Riatt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, but they’ve always loved the very old country stuff as well.

I’ve just been exposed to country blues from a young age, but I suppose, for me, it was hearing Rory Block when I was 14 – it sort of changed everything. She specifically sings Delta blues and this was when I was introduced to that whole sound. From then on, I took it upon myself to learn about all the old Delta blues players. I just became obsessed with that genre of music.

L4E: Does your home town feature much in your music?

Delta: I would say the lifestyle that I’ve lead has probably been shaped by where I’ve lived, but I the songs would be mainly about my own personal experiences. I suppose Liverpool has had an influence, although the lyrics are quite introspective. I’m very much a home bird as well – it has probably shaped the writing in an indirect way. There is always the pressure to move to London, but as I’m happier here, I’ll always make the extra effort to stay.

L4E: What is the roots scene like in Liverpool? How do you feel your particular style of music goes down with a general audience?

Delta: I suppose there isn’t a scene as such, but there is pockets of people around that are doing similar stuff, although we don’t really know each other. Liverpool is really ‘indie-band’ at the moment. It’s quite hard to do gigs there, even though the crowd is fairly perceptive to my genre of music. It’s a band city, really.

L4e: But the music scene is generally good there, would you agree?

Delta: Definitely, there is a lot of talent still coming out of Liverpool. The standard is really high and that means it can be difficult to perform to a local audience, as they are expecting good music!

L4E: You have obviously seen a lot of the UK blues/ roots scene on your travels. Would you regard it as being in a healthy state?

Delta: When I first started off I was doing as many acoustic nights as possible and in terms of the folk scene – which, more than any other, I could say I’ve been a part of – there are little pockets in different parts. There is no real country/blues scene, but I’ve done a lot of folk and blues festivals before. Although, to be honest, I couldn’t say I’m a blues artist either.

“There is probably more going on in Ireland or Scotland. In general, I have found it to be more of a niche market in England. Sometimes ‘country’ can be a dirty word – it can be hard to break those barriers.”

L4E: Could you ever see authentic, acoustic roots music go more mainstream scale?

Delta: It’s hard to know, really. When I do a gig I always get a good response and good feedback. The fact that I’m signed to a major label can feel astounding at times – I never thought the music would transcend to that level and I always thought I would be on an independent label – lucky to be on an independent label. Until the album sells I’m never going to know!

L4E: Has your music ever travelled abroad? Where would you most like to play?

Delta: I haven’t really moved out of the UK, bar a couple of gigs in Switzerland. I have plans to go to America. The funny thing is I have never properly been to America (I’m not going to include my sightseeing holiday in New York). I would really like to discover more about it as I have always felt a strong connection to the US and the music.

L4E: You’ve had shared bills with some pretty big names. What has been your most memorable live experience to date and how do the bigger gigs compare to the smaller ones?

Delta: I approach them differently. It really depends on the mood and the atmosphere because you could have a really big gig with a really rowdy audience and you will feel totally different before you go on. At a small gig it can be more intimate and I can get more nervous – you feel more exposed. But it’s good to have the difference there – it keeps you on your toes.

L4E: Do you feel your music comes across better at the smaller gigs?

Delta: Not necessarily. I do like the intimacy of smaller gigs – you can really get your lyrics across a lot better – but I don’t think there is much in it. It all depends on the crowd. If you are doing a support gig, they can be just looking at you… waiting!

L4E: What current artists do you most admire?

Delta: The Black Keys and the White Stripes would probably ones that I would actually go to the gigs and listen to. And obviously folk artists like Ray LaMontagne.

L4E: What are you most looking forward to in the future?

Delta: It has to be the album, which is coming out in February. I can’t wait to get these songs out there as they have been locked away for so long. I’ve had them a few years now and I feel a lot of them are better than what I do live.

L4E: In comparison to your live show are you bringing in more instruments on the album or is it going to remain stripped-down?

Delta: Well, it has been a tough decision to be honest, but it’s a strong progression of what I do live. On the album it is a lot more developed – a lot more band orientated. We’re still trying to capture that raw essence, but it has definitely progressed a lot more.

L4e: So I take it your live show follow suit?

Delta: Yeah, most definitely. I’m already working with a band at the moment, just going through the songs. The plan is to develop it, so we will be able to promote the album – it wouldn’t be represented without a full band.

L4E: And an intentionally difficult one: your favourite guitar player?

Delta: Ah… well I quite like Mississippi John Hurt’s style. That’s quite a good one isn’t it?

Delta Maid is currently touring the UK. You can keep up to date on myspace.com/deltamaid or download her Broken Branches EP from iTunes.

Conor O’Brien

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