Gregory and The Hawk, otherwise known as Meredith Godreau

Apparently named after her brother and his childhood imaginary pet, it was a happy accident that led to Gregory And The Hawk signing to FatCat records. One evening, in a sleepy bar in NYC, Meredith Godreau took to the stage where to label happened to be enjoying a few quiet drinks. Instantly captivated, they signed the singer straight away, and soon put out 2008’s Moenie & Kitchie. Just over two years later, on the verge of her next release Leche, we caught up with the quiet Meredith to chat about musical inspiration and what we can expect from the forthcoming full length record.

AAA Music: You have been playing under the moniker of Gregory and The Hawk since 2003 now, how has your musical direction developed since those first performances?

Meredith Godreau: I’ve certainly seen a lot more live music played since then, and expanded in terms of what influences me, but also I’ve grown older so I don’t know which is the cause. Not too much has changed besides how I feel when I play the songs, which is now thinking about more that just personal heartbreak.

When did you first start playing and recording?

About 15 years ago on a second hand four track. I would do demos for myself to help learn new songs.

What got you into music in the first place?

I guess just spending time listening to music I enjoyed and getting a good feeling by doing it myself.

Moenie & Kitchie generated an incredible about of buzz on the blogosphere, how do is Leche fairing at present? Is this something you follow closely?

Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure about M&K or how it was doing in the press.  I feel very good about Leche though! Blog away as much you like!

I haven’t been able to listen to the whole album yet, but I have heard ‘For The Best’, which is just staggeringly beautiful. Can fans expect a similar vibe from the rest of the album?

Thanks! Um, I don’t know it’s hard to say. There is guitar and singing on almost the whole album, but this is perhaps one of the very few with very coherent lyrics and there are a few other poppy ones too.

‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ is obviously a famous children’s game catchphrase. The song has a particularly strong nostalgic and playful tone. Is that why you chose this title, and why did you chose this as your first single?

I chose this title because a drunk friend said it and I liked it. I also thought it applied to the sentiment of the song – like “safe to come out now” but I actually didn’t know this until a week ago when someone reminded me what the kids game phrase actually meant.  I didn’t particularly choose this for the single, I think it sticks out on the album like a sore thumb though.

Female singer songwriters have overwhelmingly saturated the market of late, some good, some struggling with mediorcity. I know that particular tag is not one you are a fan of, but how do you feel your music sits within such a genre or perhaps rises above it?

[Laughs] I don’t know if it does rise above it or even if I think it does, but I feel like I don’t want to be thought of in that vein. Mostly because the way I hear my songs in my head has nothing to do with cute production or an image that I see in those situations.  iIalso have a very strong feeling about women in music that has to do with equality and not selling yourself out as a girl. The more I play shows, the stronger I feel about this, and the less I want to get up there and sing about my heart.

There have of course been a huge number of female artists, whether solo or part of a group, that are truly amazing. How important have artists like say Joanna Newsom been to you?

Actually in terms of women in music I love her.  She is definitely one of my favourites. I also love the family vibe like The Carter Family.

What songwriters – male or female – do you identify with the most?

I like storytellers in general and there are some writers of prose whose styles I really like such as Bukowski and Capote. Lyrically though I like a lot of different things.  I idolize people who can say a lot in a few words, but then also people who are very poetic.  The Sundays say basically nothing as far as I can tell, but I love their songs.

Elliott Smith is probably the most genius songwriter though – to speak of combining the music and words. So simple yet so creative.

What artists have inspired you the most?

Probably Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and this year it’s definitely been a lot of Grouper, Tiny Vipers, Karl Blau, Red House Painters and Land Of Talk.

What did you listen to whilst recording?

Friend’s music mostly or my own. Music listening goes down around recording times cause it’s all about my own ideas.

What kind of processes do you go through when writing songs? Do you find everything flows naturally or can it be laboured?

Pretty natural, I’ve learnt to accept that it’s won’t always be good or easy or quick, so it all seems ok whatever happens when I write.

Where did you record the album? Did this influence the atmosphere of the release?

Definitely, I did it all at home in the mountains, it was the most cosily recorded record ever for me. Hanging around with the cat and dog and watching the sky change kind of thing.

The album artwork is beautiful, who was responsible for that?

Dave Thomas does covers, posters and shirts for a lot of Fat Cat artists. He did this cover and I absolutely love it. He’s brilliant.

You have quite a hefty tour lined up for the winter, are you looking forward to it and playing with Les Shelleys?

They’re amazing, the tour really came together at the last moment thanks to their friend Mary. We’re all really psyched; it’s been going great so far!

Leche is out on November the 15th and ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ is out now!