Laurel Canyon Music

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Beatrix Players - Magnified (31/03/17)

Beatrix Players are a London-based all-female trio who make florid, adventurous music that operates at the interface between folk, singer-songwriter acoustica, prog and quasi-classical baroque chamber pop. There is a light, translucent quality to the music, and yet when it is not being hushed and reverent, it has the attack and thrust, the surging dynamism, of rock. It can be soft and intimate, but it can also be fiery and intense, epic and immense. There are tempestuous passages in their music that you can imagine being delivered by traditional rock instrumentation but it is the very absence of guitars and drums that means that there is nobody out there quite like them. Beatrix Players' music is sung, and largely performed, by Amanda Alvarez (cello), Jess Kennedy (piano, backing vocals) and Amy Birks(lead and backing vocals), with a little help from friends on violin and double-bass. Amanda Alvarez is the Beatrix Player in love with Bach s cello suites, the one whose contribution to the group's melodies is a matter of record. Spanish-born, with an Australian mother who has sung with choirs in the Spanish capital, her musical experience ranges from playing in classical orchestras to pummelling her way through a series of punk and grunge bands in her teens and early twenties. 'I listened to the melodies, not the lyrics,' she says by way of explanation, adding that her mind was further blown with the advent of female-fronted 90s acts such as Garbage and No Doubt. BP s other Australian, Jess Kennedy - along with Amy Birks the co-writer of the songs - had a modern folk phase and is also classically trained. She has a penchant for 'dramatic and emotional-type piano music', which possibly explains why Beatrix Players' music is so dramatic and emotional. Jess is the one in thrall to the romanticism of Chopin and Beethoven and darkness of Rachmaninov, as well as the film soundtracks of Thomas Newman, Michael Nyman and Yann Tiersen. She has been penning songs since childhood, and describes her writing tentatively as a sort of emotional splurge. Amy Birks is BP's vocalist, lyricist and art director - the one responsible for their art work, not surprisingly she works by day as a graphic designer (Jess has a job in environmental sustainability). She arrived in London from Stoke-on-Trent with a degree in music technology and a background in melancholy songcraft, from the 60s to the 90s (she loves Joni Mitchell, Don McLean and Mazzy Star). She's no fey troubadour, though: she is friends with 'new wave of British heavy metal' band Diamond Head. 'I used to watch them rehearse,' she says. 'They showed me the ropes.' Beatrix Players are getting used to acclaim, and all manner of genre names being ascribed to what they do, from modern folk and baroque exotica to dark classical pop. They have been written about in Prog magazine, but they could easily be featured in Folk Roots or MOJO as well as Classical Music given their chamber music influences which come through in their song structures and arrangements, focused as they are on cello, violin, double-bass and piano. 'People try to fit us in a box, but we don t fit in any box,' says Amanda. 'They struggle with that.'

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