Claire Welles creates an electronic kaleidoscope of sounds, with lyrics spanning an ocean of topics from snooker, self doubt, motivation, and social media trolls to finding true friendships and the sheer joy of creating music, all delivered with her astutely observed take on life. She has previously supported Tim Burgess and Jane Weaver amongst others, and now twenty five years into her musical career she has recently released her latest album ‘Othello. We caught up with the queen of Liverpudlian dark disco:

The latest album is called ‘Othello’ and the artwork features an Othello board game with Scrabble characters spelling your name. Were you inspired by the board game resurgence which seems to have happened in the last two years?

I hadn’t noticed there was a resurgence to be honest, but it makes sense. It was my partner who came up with the idea of using real Othello pieces with Scrabble pieces to write out my name. This was mainly to avoid using traditional fonts as they can be quite boring and predictable. I got obsessed with the ZX81 computer game version of Othello during the summer of 2021, which is where I took the title of the album from.

Another reference to hobbies / games is the song ‘Snooker’, and you’ve even included some commentary from the classic 1980s era matches, but it also seems to imply a deeper meaning with the line “if you can’t fix the problem, you can’t affect any change”, what is really behind those sentiments or is it just a celebration of times gone by?

Snooker is about the problems my neighbourhood faces, with drugs, booze and anti-social behaviour being a problem like a lot of other places. It’s about escaping from that via watching television, with the snooker just so happening to be on that day. I will watch almost any sport but football, snooker and darts are my favourites.

You grew up in Liverpool, how did Merseyside shape your life, if it did?

I live in the north end now and I’m very happy to call it home. I suppose being a scouser means I’m quite gobby and confident at heart, there’s a certain ‘us against them’ mentality that comes with being from Liverpool as we tend to get a lot of stick from the rest of England. It suits me though as I’ve always been an outsider in my own city.

Who were / still are your inspirations either musically or non musically?

The earliest influence was Bowie for sure, I had my own Bowie tape collection in the 80’s when I was still in single figures while my peers were listening to Agadoo. I was quite fortunate to be a teenager in the 90’s as there was loads of good music happening, one of the first bands I saw was Pulp when I was about 13 and it was pure mania. I hadn’t heard lyrics like that before and was convinced they were taking the piss, but naturally I learned them all by heart and perhaps there are some Jarvis-isms in some of my own lyrics today. Later on I become more influenced by solo artists such as Todd Rundgren, Momus and R Stevie Moore, artists who are very different from one another but do it all themselves.

You’ve been releasing albums for twenty five years, and now seem to be reaching a wider audience, what keeps you motivated to release albums on such a consistent basis?

The fact that I’m still improving all the time and always believe that my latest recordings are my best. Honestly, if I felt otherwise I’d either stop or take an extended break, but I still have the same excitement about sharing music as I did at 15. I’ve settled down somewhat now and only put out an album a year, which is reasonable I think. Any more than that would be asking a lot from my audience.

How has the last couple of years had an impact on your songwriting and general outlook on life?

If by that you mean if the pandemic has impacted me, then no…no really. I’m quite a homebody anyway so it’s suited me very well, though I’m glad were getting back to normal now! I enjoy settling down to a hobby, be it music or darts or knitting. Losing my mother to cancer 18 months ago had a large impact on me, especially as she was very young. It’s made me live for the moment more as I could be gone relatively soon too. I may not have 40+ years ahead, it may only be 10-15 years, who knows. I’m not getting down over it though, but I do live for today now and I don’t dwell on past events.

When you’re writing, do you just record on your phone or do you go old school and use a 4 track, and then how does it develop?

I usually record the initial idea from a guitar onto a cassette boom-box and if it’s any good I then add a skeleton lyric and vocal melody, building it up from there using Ableton on my laptop. As a song develops, the initial guitars get buried in the mix and layered more with synths. I work very fast, often having a song recorded from scratch within a few hours or a day at most. It’s really exciting to come up with a new song, quite an addictive feeling.

You’ve supported Tim Burgess (which is where we saw you), as well as Jane Weaver, are there any more gigs on the horizon and how have rehearsals been going?

I’ll be performing the Tim Peaks Stage at Liverpool Sound City on April 30th, Signal Festival on June 11th in Derbyshire and at Kendal Calling for a second time on July 29th, Tim is a really generous guy and loves to share music that he’s into himself. Rehearsals are at my flat when my neighbours are out, or at least I try to arrange so it’s like that. I mostly just run through the set to drill in the lyrics into my mind as I have a tendency to forget them!

What are the best and worst elements of touring?

The best part is meeting a new audience and trying to win them over, especially with me usually being the supporting artist, also seeing different cities is fun and interesting. The worst part is the travelling which I find very boring being solo, but also after a few nights I tend to get bored of singing the same songs and often drift off into autopilot mode. Mostly it’s a good experience though and I’m very grateful for my recent tour slots.

You play solo, would you ever consider bringing more musicians in for your live performances or do you want to keep it just you and the drum machine / synths?

I don’t even play synths or any instruments, it’s just me performing the songs, which sounds dull on paper but in reality I fill the stage and room as much as possible, while engaging with the audience as much as possible. I have absolutely no interest in forming a band now, it would only complicate things and slow me down. It’s me and my laptop here to stay.

What’s next for you, more songwriting, any other future projects in the pipeline?

I’ve already almost finished the follow up to ‘Othello’, with 10 songs recorded in full. I don’t know whether I’ll release it later this year or early in 2023 instead, but at the moment I’m trying to pace myself and hold on to them. I’ll be 40 next year so I’d love someone to put out a 40 track compilation of my best stuff from the last decade, but I accept that it may be overly ambitious to release something of that size. It’s best to think big though.

Claire Welles: Othello – Out Now.

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.