Out today is the new album from Blood Red Shoes; Ghosts on Tape, and we’re delighted that Steven Ansell and Laura Mary Carter who make up the duo have given us an insight into each track on the album.
Produced by Tom Dalgety (Pixies, Royal Brood), the pair went into Echo Zoo Studios in March 2020 to record the album, and circumstances meant that they lived closely for a time. “It’s been a loooong time since we both lived in the same city”, explains Steven. “I mean we actually wrote this album in LA at Laura’s place, then came to the UK to record it…and then everything went nuts”.
He’s goes on to say, of the album “We’ve always been outsiders right from the very beginning” says Steven. “This album is really about us asserting ourselves as our own little island”, he adds. “We have made an entire career out of being told what we are “not”, of being rejected, of not fitting in, and this album is us deliberately pushing into all of our strangeness, emphasising all of the things that make us different”.
And they’ve produced an album that is ascerbic and moody and dark and uplifting and ambitious and full of tunes and moments that get under your skin and inside your head. In short, Blood Red Shoes may have just made one of the albums of the year, right here. Read on and check out a stream at the bottom
in the book 1984, the opening references a clock striking 13. well clocks don’t strike 13. so from the very first page, you know something is uneasy, unsettling, wrong. that’s how we wanted this album to feel, so we opened the song with a haunting, piano-led, discordant song about power and domination with the line “you’re not keeping me safe, you’re keeping control. it’s quiet, it’s cold, and you won’t let me go outside”.
we wrote the entirety of this album in downtown Los Angeles in a borrowed rehearsal room, using just a piano, a guitar with 4 strings, and a laptop. this song started life literally in the street on the way to the rehearsal room, just a simple melody idea sung into a voice memo on an iphone. we built that into the whole song very very fast and it became the gateway to the whole album, unlocking the whole tone and palette of what we were trying to say.
we are obsessed with true crime podcasts. stalkers, serial killers, murderers. the intrigue and mystery of them, the fascination of the humans on the outskirts of society and the harm people can do. the weird romance and darkness of outsiders. the threat and fear that it could happen anytime. that obsession has spilled over into many of the songs on this album, especially this one.
our band has always dealt with lyrically darker and heavier themes, right from our inception. but we’ve often contrasted those ideas with energetic music and melodic hooks. well this album is the opposite. on this album the music tells the exact same story as the words, with this song following the narrative of someone overwhelmed by constant and escalating intrusive voices in their head shouting “give up”, until they finally, and completely, capitulate, and give up their very existence.
this song is one of the most direct songs on the record, about the compulsion to win someone’s love, at all costs, fully in the grips of your addiction and regardless of the cost to yourself. “i’m a sucker for your love, will it ever be enough?”
this song fits the title of the album perhaps more than any other. a ghostly, creepy song written on a very beaten up piano, with detuned strings and backwards drums. like a david lynch nightmare.
I AM NOT YOU
a song born from pure, unbridled, venomous rage. “i take all my strength in every step i take away from you. i am nothing like you, no nothing like you”. the song takes industrial synths, and guitars distorted through the cheapest digital interfaces we could find, and smashes them together into one harsh metallic slab of pure rage.
I LOSE WHATEVER I OWN
a song about being helpless, outcast, left behind. about feeling powerless in the face of indifference of others. a big theme of this album is the feeling of being outsiders, about being rejected, of being out on your own island.
FOUR TWO SEVEN
across this album we switch narrators a lot. some songs are told through the eyes of characters we’ve created, and some are direct from us. this one is much more personal, about holding on to the ghost of a broken relationship because the hurt is the only part of it you have left.