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Place Your Beth
It’s fair to say I do not have Beth Orton’s undivided attention. I’m asking the questions, she’s in her London kitchen, making soda bread.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 19 Oct 2012
“And I’ve just realised that I’ve actually, no pun intended and not even thinking about it, been making Irish soda bread. So there you go, I’m so Irish,” she reveals archly. What makes this particular loaf so Celtic? “Well there’s no alcohol in it... I’ve no fucking idea!”
Luckily, aside from the musical ability she’s so revered for, the approachable Norfolk singer-songwriter also has that multi-tasking thing down. She’s back in the promotional swing as she gears up to release Sugaring Season after a lengthy absence.
“I feel anxious, I feel excited, I feel strange.”
So maybe the baking is therapeutic. It’s also evidence of a new Beth Orton. Rather than the single-minded young artist of old, she’s now a mother of two.
“I’ve been ‘off’ for six years and now here I am making bread! It’s just a little indication of how life has changed. Though it’s not that I’m ‘Mrs. Homely’ now or anything.”
Comfort Of Strangers, a move into folk and away from the electronica that made her a star, came in 2006. Then everything changed.
“My record company weren’t that enamoured and dropped me pretty much right after that record. But then I’m not surprised because right after I released it I got pregnant.”
Well as career moves go...
“Haha! Yeah... ‘Career Move #465’! As it turned out it was a very creative thing to do.”
A daughter, Nancy, arrived. Orton married Vermont folkie Sam Amidon and they had a son, Arthur. Family life changed her perspective on things.
“Completely. My old life just burnt to the ground. Having a child was a revelation in a lot of ways. Challenging, but I think the lunacy of childhood won out in the battle of ‘keeping’ my own self. Versus a child, they’re always going to win! Though, in a funny way, I did keep writing. It meant that I worked at different times, in the middle of the night. It meant that time became more precious. It became a different sort of discipline, which really benefitted me as a person and writer. And it was a lot of fuel for the fire.”