kye Edwards is the soul of Morcheeba. As the front woman of the British trip-hop band and as a solo artist, she has more than twenty years of experience on stage. This year, she’s on the jury of ANCHOR, the Reeperbahn Festival International Music Award, judging the live performances of upcoming talents. An interview about eye contact, valerian root and being ready to give your all on stage.
Reeperbahn Festival: Some concerts are never more than on the surface, at others you get drawn into a kind of magic maelstrom. What factors kindle the spark between artist and audience?
Skye Edwards: I try to make as much eye contact with as many people as possible. I’m really singing to them and I love that feeling when they realise I’m actually looking at them. It’s a real buzz when you see people mouthing along to the words and moving with the music! The fans can really lift you. You can’t help but play well and give back the love that you feel from them.
Reeperbahn Festival: From the point of view of the visitor: what concert experiences had a formative influence on you?
Skye Edwards: Some of my fondest memories are of gigs that I’ve been to with my daughter these last couple of years. She’s 20 and has introduced me to groups like Daughter, Kelela and The XX. I absolutely love the voices of Romy and Oliver together teamed with the production of Jamie XX. The show was outstanding!
I try to make as much eye contact with as many people as possible. I’m really singing to them and I love that feeling when they realise I’m actually looking at them.
Reeperbahn Festival: What memories do you have of your first live experiences?
Skye Edwards: My first gig with Morcheeba was at London’s Jazz café, April 1st in 1996 – the day our debut album was released. I was so nervous! So I took valerian root to calm my nerves. I drank so much of it that it made me very sleepy and I became even more nervous thinking that I would forget the words to the songs. I was still breast feeding my first son, but because of the medicine I couldn’t feed him. My boobs were full and sore. I had to express the milk in the toilet right before the gig. I remember hearing my best mate shout “great tits Skye!” as I walked on the stage. I got my car stolen that night, too. What an April fool’s day that was!
Reeperbahn Festival: Before returning to Morcheeba, you were often on stage as a solo artist between 2003 and 2009. How has your live performance changed in the course of time?
Skye Edwards: I’m certainly more confident and comfortable on stage. I still get nervous before each show but once the first verse is over, I settle into it. I love getting dressed up for the gigs. I call myself an entertainer and like to think that our fans appreciate the effort I go to, even if I might break my neck in the stilettos. No pain no gain, darling.
Reeperbahn Festival: It’s often said that newcomers need to have “the whole package”. What does an artist need to have to win your vote for sure?
Skye Edwards: It might simply be someone that has a unique voice. Or someone that can deliver a touching lyric or heart wrenching melody whilst playing just two chords on a piano. I guess I’ll know when I see it and feel it.
Reeperbahn Festival: After more than twenty years on stage, what good advice can you give to young talents?
Skye Edwards: Get out there and do it! If you’re just starting out, go to open mic or jam nights, practice and play. Don’t expect it to happen just like that, you’ve gotta put the work in to get something back.
It might simply be someone that has a unique voice. Or someone that can deliver a touching lyric or heart wrenching melody whilst playing just two chords on a piano. I guess I’ll know when I see it and feel it.
Reeperbahn Festival: This year, you’ll be on the ANCHOR jury with Linda Perry, Jason Bentley and Tony Visconti. Whose opinions are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to see Jason again, we’ve met a couple of times. I’ve admired Linda from afar, and I once saw her at a Sushi restaurant in LA a few years back – but was way too shy to introduce myself. And wow, Mr. Visconti is a legend! It is such an honour to be on the judging panel with these guys. I’m really looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinions.