one of our most loyal supporters since the beginning of the bookshop building bonanza has been Judy Dyble. I discovered that Judy was and old Wood Greenian last year when we put together our list of people's favourite Children's books for national children's book week. Since then Judy has been keeping up with progress and sending messages of support. She's even sent me a book review to use in the shop when it opens.
Judy is something of a music legend. From her time with Fairport Convention, working with Robert Fripp and also being in the band Trader Horne. More recently she's brought out some solo work, and next month she has a new single coming out with a band called The Conspirators.
I thought that as its Judy's birthday today, i'd post up an interview i did with her a few weeks ago.
An Interview with the Lovely Judy Dyble (rhymes with libel)
How are you feeling with the new single coming out soon ?
Judy Dyble ;
Well, naturally it is very exciting, but there is a certain amount of trepidation as well and a lot of ‘What if’s’. Like ‘What if it doesn’t do very well, will everyone be cross with me?’ And ‘What if it does brilliantly, what’ll I have to do then?’ Oh I am such a worrier underneath this calm and sedate exterior. But the Conspirators are such a good and talented (and young!) band that I am sure (honest!) that it will do very well and lead on to other fantastic things for them. It has certainly opened up intriguing new pathways for me.
From what I’ve heard of it, it’s a lot more guitar based than your more recent albums. What was it like working a more rock oriented band like the Conspirators.
My early days with Fairport were as a rock band more than a folk band, they didn’t really start getting into the traditional folk plus electric rock instrumentation until after I left them, and Giles Giles and Fripp were more of a rockish band than anything else. Of course after I left and they turned into King Crimson - well, that was a rock band and a half! So for me to work with the Conspirators wasn’t too much out of my range of experience, it was just that I hadn’t done anything like it for a couple of decades! It was really interesting being back in a proper studio again with big mixing desks and vocal booths and that sort of thing, when my more recent recordings have been done in my home onto a laptop. Not that I am decrying the latter, it was a most relaxed way of recording and a gentle re-introduction into the world of music.
Can you tell us a little about your time in North London when you joined Fairport Convention.
At the time when I met the people that were to end up as Fairport, I was living in Crescent Rise, Ashley was living in Durnsford Road, Simon was in Fortis Green in Muswell Hill and Richard was living in Whetstone, Martin hadn’t really arrived then but did later. Our stamping ground, apart from Muswell Hill (The Royal Oak, the Banderella Coffee Bar and the record shops, whose names escape me) were places like the Starting Gate pub which had different music on different nights, (Soul, Folk ,Jazz), the Fishmongers Arms (Jazz) and Cooks Ferry Inn (Walthamstow I think) and of course Wood Green High Road and Alexandra Park. At that time I was working for Tottenham Libraries so I worked in all the branch libraries as well as Wood Green Library, which was an old building opposite the tube station with the Record Library upstairs and the Children’s Library in the stone basement. I lived in Wood Green from the time when I was born to the time I left home for the bright lights of err Fulham and Notting Hill.
After that you joined Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald to form a band that would later become King Crimson. You seem to be the catalyst for legendary partnerships. How would you like to work in the bookshop on Saturdays?
Catalyst,yes, funny that. It appears to be that with hindsight, I wasn’t aware of it at the time though. Just went from one set of musicians to another. Fab set of musicians though weren’t they? I have been very fortunate in the people I have played with, and the newer ones look set to continue the trend. Dear me that sounds very big-headed doesn’t it?
Work in the bookshop ? I’d love to, but the books would never be the same after I’d hidden them in corners to read and dropped coffee all over them. You’d have to sell them as second hand. I could sign them I suppose, that might add 2p on to the value..
You grew up in Wood Green and even worked in the library here (unfortunately the old library has gone, replaced by Library mk. II in the seventies). What do remember about the area?
I probably remember things that are totally gone now. We lived in a prefab in White Hart Lane when I was little, my mother was a nursing auxillery at the North Middlesex Hospital, my father worked as a carpenter for the Water Board along the New River, mending gates and suchlike. I remember the Wonderloaf bakery and the rubbish dump, St Michael’s Primary School in Bounds Green Road and the long walk there and back and later, when we moved to Crescent Rise, waiting for the trolley bus to take us home. That’s when I started to wear spectacles, I couldn’t see the bus numbers and kept getting on the wrong bus home…
I remember feeding the pigeons at Spouters Corner and when the brand new Civic Centre was opened. All glass and open plan. I remember shopping for records and cheap makeup in Woolworths and listening to the latest singles in the booth in the record shop (amazing how many giggling schoolgirls you could cram into one of those booths..) I remember Saturday Morning Pictures at the Gaumont (‘Hoppity Goes to Town’ and black and white ‘Superman’ and a ‘B’ movie) and the talent contests that also used to take place there. My mother entered me into one of them, I suppose I was about 7 years old, playing piano and singing ‘Beautiful Bells’. I didn’t win but Mum bought me a beautiful green plastic handbag that was my pride and joy for ages till it disintegrated. I could go on and on…….
You moved out of London and pretty much stopped performing for 29 years. What was it that drew you back into it?
Accident as usual. That and saying ‘Yes’ without thinking. There is always a huge sense of anti-climax after playing the big anniversary years at the Cropredy Festival, and 2002 was no different. Monday morning there I was back in the library in Bicester. Stamping out books and getting inky and watching people walking around in Fairport T-shirts with my name written on the back. So when I had a telephone call from Talking Elephant Records, saying that Marc Swordfish from trance dance band Astralasia wanted to sample my voice, I thought, it might be an interesting thing to do. I was so out of music at that time I had no idea even what ‘sampling’ was all about. So I said yes and one thing led to another and there I was four years later with three albums out in the world and lots of new things to say ‘yes’ to…
I remember e-mailing you to ask what your favourite book was when you were a child as part of the National Children’s Book Week last year. (It was Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea). As you grew up have there been other memorable books and if so what were they?
The books I remember reading as a child were the Andrew Lang Fairy books, Blue, Orange, Rose etc, My sisters and I devoured them. The Margot Pardoe ‘Bunkle’ books, they were another favourite, As I grew older it was the science fiction of Philip K Dick, Brian Aldiss, Roger Zelazny and those brilliant anthologies of short stories
of SF writers, I’ve still got quite a few of them. Then Brian Patten’s poetry, I was lucky in that he lived next door in Notting Hill (before it was expensive and trendy!) and I used to look after his typewriter. He left me a poem which I recently set to music on my Enchanted Garden album. I love his poems. After that, well, I just read everything. That’s why I went back to work in the library. So I could borrow as many books as I liked and not pay fines (grin!)
Have you ever thought of writing an autobiography. You’ve got so much more to say than Chantelle or Charlotte Church. You could hold the launch at the bookshop.
Well I do keep starting and then I get sidetracked and end up going down odd streams of memories. I’ve thought of some really good titles though. ‘The Perils of Saying Yes Without Thinking’ or ‘The Day I Fell Down A Drain’ (I thought that one up when I actually did fall down a drain )
I think I need a biographer, then I could just write everything down as I remember it and they’d have the job of organising it and checking whether I’d made it up or not. One day I will…..and I’d certainly hold the launch at your bookshop. Can we have jelly and ice-cream please?
Of course you can have Jelly and Ice-cream. Finally what’s next for Judy Dyble.
Next on the list is hopefully the Judy Dyble Band (falls over giggling). Sounds good doesn’t it? I’m writing more songs and I hope to be recording them later in the year. But first I have to go up to Bedale in Yorkshire for the launch of the single on the Ist of March, and sing with the Conspirators. I get really panicky about singing ‘live’, it’s not something I enjoy, but because the band are so lovely, I think it will be fine. And anyway it’s only two songs isn’t it? 6 minutes total? I can do that! Oh heck! And after that? Well someone will say ‘Jude -would you like to…?’ and I’ll be off down another strange byway that I hadn’t even considered..
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
It’s been a real pleasure. I hope I haven’t waffled too much !!
So, there you go. If you want to listen to some of Judy's stuff you can go to one of these places here, here or here.
So the single is One Sure Thing and it's out on March 3rd.
Happy Birthday Judy Dyble