She’s relatively new to the scene, but we like what we see and hear so far from South London songstress, Slovenie. Classically trained, Slovenlie writes her own music which has given her the platform to address mental health through her music, with tracks such as ‘Ritual’ that confronts OCD head on. Here, Paraic Walker delves a little deeper as he finds out a little more about this unconventional and mysterious artist.
Hi Slovenlie, thanks for lending us some of your time. How are you doing?
I’m good thanks. It’s about 3am and I’m in bed writing this with my two dogs either side. I operate nocturnally.
You’ve got plenty lined up for 2017, what are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m excited about doing some live shows and getting out into the real world. So much of what I do is completely solitary, so it’ll be great to get out and connect with people face to face.
Refreshingly you write all your own music and you have just released a new single ‘Ritual’, can you tell us a bit more about thought process was behind writing this one?
I wanted to write something that broke my usual studio habits. My writing up until that point had always started on the piano, and later brought into the laptop. Ritual started with the drum track and developed from there. I was also consciously trying to resist a lot of my OCD pitfalls in the process, which naturally led to the lyrics focusing on that subject.
You’re classically trained, but what instruments do you play?
I trained as a violinist and that still remains as my dominant instrument. Second to that is the piano, followed by all the usual suspects like bass, guitar, drums etc. which I’ve just picked up naturally over time. I’ve spent so much of my life as a musician that I can turn my hand to pretty much anything.
You are very vocal when it comes to mental health issues, and suffer from OCD yourself, what’s your perception of how mental health is treated in the UK?
Mental health is actually very widely discussed and accepted here I think. In seeking my own advice and help I’ve been fortunate to find a lot of support, but there is still a definite stigma attached to the term ‘mental health’ that means you can be seen to be damaged or vulnerable.
You have previously stated Joy Division as one of your influences, besides their obvious musical genius, what else is it that drew you to them?
Ian Curtis seemed to be a fairly dark character, and somebody who suffered internally. For better or worse I’ve always been drawn to people like that, and I find him particularly intriguing.
You moved to London at the tender age of 14, and being a native Londoner myself I’m curious to know what influence the city has had on your music?
Living here has exposed me to an insane volume and variety of music, and I’ve been through intense love affairs with wildly different genres and styles. I’ve been lucky enough to really sift through a mountain of audio and find things that I truly can’t live without. I feel that makes my vision and taste strong as an artist.
You really set the bar high with your debut single ‘Disaster’ – do you ever feel pressure when it comes to equaling that or is making music simply something you love regardless of success?
The pressure I put on myself isn’t to equal or match work I’ve already done, but to come up with ideas that are new and fresh. It doesn’t interest me to write versions of tracks I’ve already done. The pressure is to keep my creativity and passion alive.
Would you say music was a positive distraction from your own mental health issues, and is it something you’d advise others to explore?
I’d actually say that music and my intense training as a kid is probably what drove me to have these mental health issues in the first place. My ODC developed at a young age when I was dealing with a huge amount of stress and pressure, and even now those low points are when my the disorder really seems to thrive.
You write your own songs, but do you style yourself also? Where do you look to for style inspiration?
It’s flattering that you’d actually say I have ‘style’. I’ve always been a fashion outcast. In college I’d be there in baggy jeans with a skateboard whilst other girls were in skinny jeans and pumps. I have a particularly vivid memory of dragging a rogue group of female friends to Fabric and meeting them in combat trousers and trainers while they all turned up in mini dresses and heels. Being a lemming and following trends just never interested me. I’m very much my own person when it comes to what I like and how I present myself.
What drew you to the name Slovenlie?
It’s been a word used to describe me many times over the years. I’ve always been scruffy and a little rough around the edges; the name really couldn’t suit me better.
Is there any one venue or event you particularly want to play at that you haven’t as yet?
There’s nowhere I’m obsessing over. The right things will come along in time and I’m excited to see where I end up.
Finally, which side of London is better; North of South, East or West?
South. 100%. I’ve tried moving about but always gravitate back to Peckham as it’s my home and I just love it.
While ‘Ritual’ is having its moment in the sun, what can we look forward to next?
The next track to be released will be Celerity. It leans more into the dance territory and is more pacey than what I’ve put out so far, but it’s still as grungey and dark as ever.
By Paraic Walker