Nauga in conversation with Lorraine Bowen – singer, performer, comedienne

Lorraine in a dress of CDs

Lorraine Bowen in her CD dress

I am feeling hilarious today! The unique and highly entertaining Lorraine Bowen  joins me today in my space bubble for a spin about the stars.

As we whizz along, we’re listening to each of the five albums written and produced by Lorraine. These albums are packed full of beautiful, funny and touching music but Lorraine is also a regular performer. Her shows are fantastic affairs and we Naugae have enjoyed singing along on many occasions.

Lorraine joins me today in a resplendent outfit that would not look out of place in the ultimate party on Naugalyne!

Welcome to the star of today’s interview, Lorraine!

LB: Gloria, gloria to our gordi gnocchi, Naugae (laughs). Pleased to meet you.

Nauga: (Laughs) Thank you. We Naugae shed our skins regularly providing humankind with the wonder that is Naugahyde. More recently you have been celebrating Polyester in your Polyester Fiesta. Is that what’s behind today’s outfit?

LB: Yes it certainly is. I have had such a fun year this year. Last year, 2010, I’d been researching Polyester (because I wear it all the time for my shows) and I found it was almost the 70th birthday of the discovery of Polyester in 1941. It wouldn’t leave me so I invented this show. It’s been hilarious. I have enjoyed myself so much and I’ve got four other people with me on the team who love it as much as I do. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to put the songs into a sphere of Polyester alongside crackly charity shop records collected from nearby south coast seaside towns. It’s been a total joy.

We’ve still got quite a few shows left, Komedia, White Nights in Brighton in the library doing vignettes, Glasgow and in talks about more that I hope I can reveal soon.

Nauga: Exciting stuff! I look forward to these shows. But what’s so special about Polyester and what kind of polyester outfits would suit a Nauga? It makes me think it would be a great idea if you featured a row of dancing, polyester-clad Naugae in your next show?!

LB: Polyester or polyethylene terephtalate is wonderful. I have had a fantastic time collecting bits from my loft and going round charity shops, markets etc where I found a kaftan on a rail in the rain and I rescued it!

Yellow Submarine 60s embossed polyester coat

Embossed polyester coat

I love embossed polyester in particular. I love the fact that in the 60s there was a feeling of total optimism about the world. I feel that most of the outfits that were invented were of a new world that was scientific and resplendent. The clothes were made for going to the moon and up into space. It was postwar, optimistic and the clothes would shine out like the good things in life. If you look back at the futuristic shiny materials and textiles that used to be produced since then, it’s a bit depressing! Contrast it with today … Primark

Naugae are a little bear-like but the texture is important to consider. I would say be outrageous, Nauga, be outrageous. Wear something that doesn’t quite match. Be a bit avant-garde. I’d say, Nauga, go out and find something embossed from vintage shops. Be very different from your usual sheddable naugahyde. Replace naugahyde with embossed polyester. Or embossed polyester jumpsuits. A series of naugae in jumpsuits (laughs).

Lorraine Bowen in her spacesuit

Lorraine's spacesuit

Nauga: I would love an embossed polyester outfit (smiles). Thanks for the tip. So, as all Naugae know, Space is indeed a wonderful place. What makes it so special for you?

LB: Space is probably a very cold and boring place. It’s quite dark and sound doesn’t travel… But for me, because I watched so many space things as a kid (we had our first TV purely to watch spacemen go to the moon!) space is very romantic.

Of course I love Barbarella and the movie The Queen of Outer Space is a ridiculous kitsch film. I love the shininess of space. I know space isn’t shiny but you have to wear shiny clothes to go up there (laughs). Human imagination wants space to be shiny and brilliant and futuristic and optimistic

In my song it’s just ridiculous (sings) “We surf around the stars, go shopping on Mars.”



Nauga: Ah, shopping and stars a perfect combination. Just like food and Naugae. I am sure you are aware that food is very important to Naugae and in maintaining our gorgeous rotund shape. You often sing of something called “Crumble“. Can you explain this to all Naugae and non-earthly beings?

LB: Crumble! The basis of crumble and why it’s so nice is that it’s a comfort food. We humans like to be comforted at times. We like to sitting there next an open fire on wintery days as it’s quite cold in England and we’ve developed something called “crumble” which uses stewed fruit and a crispy topping. We enjoy the difference between the textures of the rich fruit and the buttery topping. It’s lovely to sit there after a big roast dinner with custard, cream and crumble, pigging out. You’re in a comfort zone that no-one can compare. It’s just lovely.

Mulberry fruit

Mulberry fruit

Crumble is more than just food. I use a little innuendo (sings) “Would you like some?”. It’s a bit rude – or maybe not. Take it as you want (smiles). In fact, I invented that song due to the mulberry fruit which is a soft fruit that grows on a hard tree. It only fruits after 100 years and if you buy from Harrods it’s £50 a punnet. But I had this glut of mulberries from next doors’ tree and became very good at making crumble. I gave it to someone who took my fancy. It’s always good to attract partners or lovers with food (laughs).

Cover of The Gentle People Compilation: Music to Watch Comets By

Cover of Music to Watch Comets By

Nauga: So true! Now, looking at your connections with The Gentle People. You’ve worked with Gentles in a variety of ways. Coaching, guest vocals (Fantastic Plastic Machine) and even on the compilation Music to Watch Comets By. It seems you are able to do anything! What was your favourite connection with The Gentle People and if you had the chance, is there anything you would do again?

LB: Music to Watch Comets By was just wonderful. No-one will ever understand the amazingness of the late 90s when that compilation was made. It was an incredible era. I’d met Dougee through Madame JoJo’s and an entire scene had appeared in London – it was wonderful. Dougee was at the helm of that scene. You could go out and see great shows, be part of a scene and be at the heart of things. It wasn’t just a London scene – it was an international scene and I haven’t seen the same with any other scene since then.

Then The Gentle People asked me to put Space on their compilation. I had invented the song Space at Club Montepulciano. As a song it zoomed out of me quite quickly although it was quite complex structurally. It was a wonderful opportunity and suddenly it seemed to go global with that compilation. Also, through my other track on that compilation, Julie Christie, I got all my Italian contacts (smiles).

Soundtracks for Living album cover  l-r Valentine, Laurie, Dougee, Honeymink

Soundtracks for Living album cover

I have actually always wanted to explore The Gentle People further. I have often wanted The Gentle People to get back to Soundtracks for Living and explore more and become more avant-garde with sounds. To get together with a producer who would trigger things off like George Martin with the Beatles or Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. I’d go less of the disco route and more into a new wave of chill with Mantovani and light beats coming in and out. I am so aurally fixated on Soundtracks for Living, my ears love it. I don’t think enough people know about it. II think Soundtracks for Living should be on the UK ‘A’ level music list!

I think Soundtracks for Living is symphonic and classical in its approach. I think it’s so beautiful and being a qualified person who has studied music for many, many years I constantly find it intriguing to listen to. It’s an aural delight! (laughs) It also goes under the category of stereophonic delight as well. I am of a certain age and my father was an absolute stereo nut. When stereo came out (from mono), he would sit on a leatherette vinyl chair on a Saturday afternoon with his headphones on shouting out “wow, this is amazing”… I suppose I didn’t really understand the difference but now I really appreciate it. I have quite a lot of stereo records such as Phase 4 and I delight in the package they give you: recording details about how they each track was created. Can you imagine? Anyway, I think Soundtracks for Living is wonderful like that. It’s a moving sphere of beauty and I’m never bored. Sounds come in and out and it’s perfect for a train trip.

Cover of Bossy Nova

Cover of Bossy Nova

I loved doing the vocals with The Gentle People and would gladly explore vocals and the sounds of the voices, Honeymink has a beautiful voice, Laurie’s is fantastic for speaking. I liked being in charge of The Gentle People and telling them what to do in the studio (laughs).  I am the Bossy Nova.

Cover of Suburban Exotica

Cover of Suburban Exotica - the new album

Nauga: You are indeed! I know you have been on earthly TV recently, your new album is out plus you were played on LuxuriaMusic‘s Radio Readymade and BBC Radio 6music. What are your plans now?

LB: We have more Polyester Fiestas booked of course but there’s a new show coming. It’s a triptych show called Lorraine Bowen’s Comfort Zone at the end of November at the Marlborough in Brighton. I will be talking and singing about comfort. Each night will be different and will feature different special guests. The audience will sit on beanbags and cushions. I am going to have roast potatoes to hand out and the smell of crumble coming in the second half.

It’s also possible that I might take over an entire flat and turn it into a Comfort Zone. It’s all about getting through the winter from November to April – you have to think of the huge English winters in a positive way! (laughs) The Comfort Zone is full of ideas to take you through.

Vital Organs album cover by Lorraine BowenAnother huge thing is that I am changing musical software from Cubase to Logic.  I think there are more opportunities with beats. I also like Macs and I want to try something new. Never get into a rut. Keep finding new frontiers and new possibilities! (laughs)

The Lorraine Bowen Experience Greatest Hits cover As for new material, I have written a new song called the Isle of Wight (sings) “On a catamaran on the Isle of Wight, You don’t need your passport let’s go for the night, let’s have fun on the Isle of Wight.”

I don’t know aLorraine's first albumbout the album as a format. I think people will go back in 10 years time to CDs with beautiful artwork. Each album I make takes five years. In the first year after I don’t do songwriting…


Nauga: A long gestation for each song then. On Naugalyne, we were recently listening to the Shredder Song thinking we’d have very little to shred apart from excessively shed Naugahyde. Is there anything you would you recommend humans to shred?

LB: So sad that song. But what I recommend is what I say in the song. If you finish a relationship just shred it all up. It’s not worth hanging on to all the old things. I wrote it for a friend who was coming out of a relationship and wanted to get rid of everything which made me feel both sad and uplifted. I have written two songs like that now: Lemon Disinfectant (sings) “Wash you away with some lemon disinfectant. Hoover up the hairs so there won’t be a reminder”. Tongue in cheek but a real loveliness behind it – a bit of Doris Day. For this song, I thought “how can I write an outpouring of emotion in a quirky way?” and the shredder was the way. I’d like to do a video for the shredder song with me on a chaise longue shredding away, being indulgent. I like the end which is quite chilling (sings) “Like a walk to the scaffold, like a march to the Somme. There’s no looking back til this love song’s gone”. Dramatic.

Nauga: Very and saying farewell here and now is making me go misty. A bit like Julie Christie! Do you have a message for the Gentle friends, family and fans?

LB: Yes! Keep trying to discover new music and buy artists’ work. Even just 67p from somewhere like iTunes rather than share a file – it keeps good artists going in this age of downloads. Keep searching for new music and be inspired by it!

Nauga: Thanks for whizzing along in my space bubble with me today. And finally, Hawaaian or Space?

LB: I’d like a Hawaiian bubble in space! (laughs) Just like Bleep and Booster.