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Plum Green

Plum Green

Friday 25th February, 2011 11:48AM

The words ‘Plum Green’ are well suited to the unthreatening tone of this ladies music, and the same thing applies to her demeanour; she carries an aura in everything she does, from the way she phrases words to the craftsmanship of her music. Thankfully, it’s all documented in her latest EP, ‘The Red’, so you have a chance to make up your own mind on this mysterious songstress.

First of all, what’s your real name?

Plum Green.


My Mama named me Plum when I was nine. It’s not my birth name but I relate to it in the same way. The last name Green was chosen by my grandparents (or perhaps given to them) when they left Eastern Europe and moved to London (where I was born). It used to be ‘Zhivlovsky’. It means, ‘son of the lively one’. What is a “real” name anyway...?

Does your music carry a ‘persona’ that goes with the name, would you say?

Sure, but not on purpose. One of my friends, ‘Le Freque Ragdoll’ who appears in my current music video for a track off my EP calls me: “The Mysterious Sweetheart Storyteller”. Another one of my friends just described me as bittersweet and rich, like dark chocolate. My Papa affectionately called me ‘The Prickly Pear’ when I was younger because he said I could be very cold and mean outwardly but he knew I was secretly very sweet. I guess there will always be references to food when people think of me. I really love it.

And obviously you’re a very lyrical artist, so do you focus your songs on personal issues? Or hypothetical ones?

I never write about hypothetical issues, but not everything always directly relates to myself. I always feel what I write though, 100%. I cannot ever bring myself to write or sing anything I don’t completely feel to the depth of my bones.

How long does it take you to come up with your songs? What’s the process?

It can take anything from a few minutes to a few years to completely finish a song. The process is always different, but always comes from some kind of revelation about something.

I perceived a kind of forlorn, foreboding sense from your music. How do you think this relates to you as a person?

I’ve had a lot of people perceive a lot of different things about my music and it isn’t always that! I’ve had a lot of people say I have a dark element to my music and that relates to everything and everyone, not just me. I’ve had people say they find my music really uplifting and positive too.

Do you ever worry about the stigma attached to ‘singer/songwriters’? What do you try to do to keep the guitar-vocals formula interesting?

I suppose if people find my music intriguing it’s because I’m a story teller who uses instrumentation and voice to tell my tales. I have a full band, which is present in my first self titled EP and will be present in my first full album. It’s just with this current release ‘The Red’ which I am playing solo, and there are songs on this EP with other musicians contributing to the over all sound.

How did your release tour go? Any interesting stories?

My release tour was absolutely amazing, I had a really excellent time. It was very exciting travelling to places I had never been before as I had no idea who I would meet or what would happen. I stayed at Chicks Hotel and had a bit of a strange time there. I don’t usually sleep walk but I found myself in the middle of the road in Port Chalmers holding a pumpkin. I remember walking out actually, and finding the pumpkin and touching it, it was very cold and smooth. I guess I just wanted to hold it. I remember the feeling of stones under my feet and I dreamed that I dropped the pumpkin and it smashed to a million pieces. But when I woke up I looked down and felt the weight of it, I was still holding it. I was just sort of standing swaying every so slightly with my eyes closed. I was in my little slip dress and very cold as the wind was blowing very hard in the dead of the night. My hair was a mess! Earlier on I also had grabbed a lovely gentleman friend and had a wee sleep in Lyttleton graveyard which was beautiful. I think I may retire there.

How did people react to your music on the tour?

They seemed to really love it! While I was playing everyone was deathly silent, you could hear a pin drop. That is not unusual for my gigs though. I feel really lucky and very loved to be listened to so intently. It’s as if no one wants to miss a word. My friend Duncan from the Goth band ‘Keller Kinder’ says that it’s as if everyone is in a trance with admiration and adoration, which makes me blush very much.

I really liked the lurching pulse of ‘Lisa’ – what’s that song about?

This song is about the obsessive desperate denial of death some people experience. We as humans, sometimes become so deluded that we believe that as long as we just deny it we can undo time and save our loved ones. This delusion is born out of intense regret and guilt at the feeling that we may not have done all we could to stop the death. I wrote this while thinking of the child vampire Claudia in the Anne Rice novel ‘Interview with the Vampire’. Claudia is found cuddled close to her dead mother, unwilling to let go of her mother’s corpse.

Who’s the male voice in the background of that track?

My old friend from high school Duncan Nairn from Keller Kinder.

What’s the one reason you perform and write music? If you could narrow it down to a single thing.

I’m an emotional masochist. When people ask me, “did you enjoy your performance?” I feel as if I am being asked if I enjoyed my last beating. I breathlessly answer, “yeeeesssss?!”

How do you feel about music in this country? What do you think of the current state of music over here?

I feel that there is a mountainous amount of talent and a lot of people who are too humble. You sometimes have to physically force people to show off their talents. I think kiwi people are expanding out to more alternative music at the moment but perhaps that is just overly optimistic thinking as usual.

Michael McClelland

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