Interview: Girl In A Thunderbolt

Rob GarrattSinger songwriter Maria Uzor is the only performer to be appearing at both the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the Norwich Fringe Festival. ROB GARRATT caught up with the Girl In A Thunderbolt.Further listening: Girl In A ThunderboltRob Garratt

Singer songwriter Maria Uzor is the only performer to be appearing at both the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the Norwich Fringe Festival. ROB GARRATT caught up with the Girl In A Thunderbolt.

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Since it resurgence in the mid-90s the Norfolk and Norwich Festival has been bringing scores of the best of international musicians to city stages.

Similarly the Norwich Fringe Festival, which has bounced back after a one year break, running alongside its bigger brother, has invited us to view the best of artists closer to home.

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Only one performer is playing both festivals - Girl In A Thunderbolt, AKA Maria Uzor. The city-based musician will be bringing her brand of psychedelic roots to the Arts Centre as part of the Festival's The Next Stage on Saturday - and just down the road to The Birdcage for the Fringe a day later.

t Tell us about yourself.

I've just recorded my album in Norway and I am currently a solo performer. I used to be in a punk band and now I'm performing solo with a view to getting a band together.

t Why Norway?

I came across this producer and he liked what I did and last summer he sent me a message and said 'I have a great studio come and have a jam' and I thought why not, I'd never been to Norway. We got on really well and liked all the same music. There's a great music scene there.

t Tell me about the punk band.

We were called The Incidentals and that was the first band I was ever in and it just opened the flood gates and got me writing songs.

t How do you write?

I don't sit down and think 'I'm going to write about this' - it's a feeling or emotion. I'll start singing something and at first I won't know what it's about. It needs to be human emotions - but not in a boy-girl love story way, something subtle….the emotions and experiences we find ourselves in.

t You use a loop station to fill a lot of space with one guitar.

The loop station was a present from my boyfriend. I am not a very good guitarist and it adds a bit of diversity to my live sound. I got it for Christmas when I was in the punk band and I didn't use it for a whole year and then I got it out of the case and found what I could do - it's a way of getting two or three guitar sounds. People don't use them that much, and what I'm doing is quite simple but quite different to what everybody else does.

t Where did your name come from?

It's a T-Rex song that I loved - Girl in the Thunderbolt Suit - I just ended the suit.

t Why not just use your real name?

It never occurred to me. It's boring having your own name. It's not for some people - for me it's boring because I'm quite a boring person so it makes it more exciting. A thunderbolt - you don't get more exciting than that.

t What music are you inspired by?

I really love the 1960s, that's my big passion. A lot of garage punk, stuff like Silver Applies. I love blues, like Howling Wolf, and a tiny bit of folk. Sixties soul, like Sam Cooke. Although my music doesn't sound sixties that's the music that is in the back of my head. I listen to music all over the place so it all gets muddled up and ends out coming out not sixties at all.

t How did you come up with psychedelic sound?

I guess just trial and error. You starting writing songs just through singing and jamming. I am not a great musician, I basically start with one instrument, a simple bass line for example, and start singing something over it. Then I use keyboards or percussion to pull out different elements - it's like painting a picture and adding different colours. I am not really trying to sound like anyone else. It's an expression of me and myself and my life so far, not trying to sound too pretentious.

t What do you think of the Norwich music scene?

I think it's really vibrant. There's so many bands, and so many different types of scene at the moment - it's not just hip hop or indie girl punk. All these scenes are coming together and a lot of bands are getting recognition, like the Kabeedies and the Brownies, which is fantastic.

t Where can we get the album?

It should be out in the next couple of months. It will be available on my website and on iTunes - I'll be releasing it myself unless anything else happens. There's an EP out at the moment too called Tweaks, that you can get on my MySpace.

t Girl In A Thunderbolt plays Norwich Arts Centre tomorrow at 2pm, free entry, and The Birdcage on Sunday at 8.30pm.

t Further listening:


Further listening: Girl In A Thunderbolt