Sarah Nixey

I hope you won’t consider me immodest when I say that I am a master of seduction who knows all of its deceptions. The most remarkable thing about this knowledge is that my fidelity has never been in doubt. Because, for past year, I have been embroiled in endless discussions with my girlfriend who is doing a PhD on Seduction (which she defines as “that which leads astray from right behaviour”). Sometimes I think that with all this cutting-edge research in my brain, I should be given a minor qualification of sorts or at least a bit of colour for my epaulettes. It won’t happen.

However, I plough on and occasionally it illuminates my readings of various cultural products. Take Sarah Nixey’s new single, Strangelove, what could be more seductive? It’s not just that it is full of melodic hooks or that it has a funky bassline and robo-synths, it’s her voice that really leads one astray. From her breathy whisper (familiar from Black Box Recorder’s output) to the delicious swoop of the chorus, it is a voice can beguile even the most cynical.

In person, Sarah Nixey is charming and witty, conveying considerable excitement about her current projects. Nonetheless, my conception of her is still heavily idealized, she is a cultural icon rather than a real person. Leading me to ask: Who is the real Sarah Nixey?

Born Winter Solstice 1973, Dorset. State educated. I am a mother, daughter, granddaughter, stepdaughter, sister, niece and cousin. The eldest of five. I’m mostly polite, playful and passionate. If provoked, I have been known to be very spiky.

As a cultural icon of sorts, you are known for your distinctive voice and your aloof demeanour. I was wondering if you tell us five thingss about yourself that people don’t know?

As a child I lived in a caravan with my family for almost two years whilst my parents built our house. They named it Escapade.

I pass out when I have a blood test.

I eat chocolate pretty much everyday. It has to be dark and bitter.

Secret Agent 104 was my pseudonym until I was 12 years old.

I can do the splits.

The last Black Box Recorder album came out in 2003, I was wondering if you could tell us what you’ve been up to since then?

Most of the time I’ve been looking after my young daughter. I travelled to LA, New York, Cuba, Spain, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, the West Country and the Isle of Man. I went to a few gigs, some of my favourites being The New York Dolls, Blondie, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Bjork, Half Cousin, Lou Reed and The Hours. I went to the theatre to see The Black Rider (wonderful music by Tom Waits), Where The Night Begins, The Dutch Elm Conservatoire, Jeremy Lion, Henry Rollins and a few others. I recorded songs for Infantjoy and Luke Haines. I also wrote and recorded my own album.

How does Sarah Nixey, solo artist, differ from Black Box Recorder?

Sarah Nixey solo artist is blonder, for now. She also writes the songs.

Will you be singing any BBR songs live or is that separate?

I won’t be singing BBR’s back catalogue at this stage. Maybe in a few years time when I do my greatest hits tour.

And, ahem, what are your lyrics about?

My lyrics are about whatever I’m reading, watching on TV, listening to on the radio or conversations I’ve overheard, mixed with some autobiographical details. The Collector was inspired by a painting in my living room of a boy holding a scalpel to a butterfly, and the John Fowles novel of the same name. My new single Strangelove is about the heaven and hell of being in a love affair.

What does James Banbury (studio wizard and co-writer) bring to proceedings?

I bring the skeleton and James adds the flesh and blood. I arrive at his studio, pick up his guitar and play it very badly. He very politely takes the tune and words and makes sense of it all.

Do you have any principles or rules you live by?

There are some battles that aren’t worth fighting.

I always take off my make-up before I go to bed.

I seldom sit in the sun.

What was the last dream you remember?

I dreamt that my grandmother dyed her hair bright orange and failed to notice that it looked ridiculous. My dreams never make any sense and bear no relation to what is going on in my life. Occasionally I look up the meaning of my dreams in a book I was given. Apparently, if you dream your hair is permed it signifies that you are in danger either from sickness or injury. There was nothing written about orange hair, unfortunately.

Any regrets?

None. I’ve made plenty of mistakes though.

She looks at me as though this interview was one of the mistakes. I squirm awkwardly in my seat, feeling as though I’ve been led astray long enough. The rest is silence.