Arborist Records with Indie Legend Kim Deal

Mark McCambridge takes time out from mixing his forthcoming album to discuss new single 'Twisted Arrow', featuring vocals from former member of the Pixies and Breeders

Songwriter par excellence, and friend of Culture NI, Mark McCambridge is founder and chief creative force behind folk act Arborist. Earlier this month, McCambridge uploaded the track 'Twisted Arrow' to his Soundcloud account, a new song featuring none other than former member of the Pixies and founder member of the Breeders, Kim Deal. Currently putting the finishing touches to his new album, McCambridge took time out to reveal how the unlikely collaboration came about.

Your new single, 'Twisted Arrow', features Kim Deal, formerly and famously of the Pixies. How did the collaboration come about?

Quite simply, we asked her. I’m currently working with the good people at Generator NI, the music industry support programme, and we had discussed getting someone to sing the harmony parts for the song. Kim was the only name that really came to mind. 

It's a beautiful track, wonderfully arranged and produced. What is it about?

Parental woes. And a wee bit about driving.

For many, the Pixies are the greatest indie band of all time: uncompromising, influential. Bass player and singer Deal was an integral part to their unique sound. What did she mean to you growing up as a music lover?

I’ve been a fan of Kim's work for as long as I’ve been into music. Back when I was 16, my first band were called Pilgrim after the Pixies’ EP Come On Pilgrim.

Your voices complement each other perfectly on the recording. Did you write the song together?

No, I wrote it myself here in Belfast during a long winter, and recorded it with the rest of the band at Start Together Studios. I wrote the main violin refrain but the blistering solo at the end came courtesy of violinist Luke Bannon – it was really one of those studio moments where he was right on the money. Kim recorded her part in the basement of her home in Dayton, Ohio on New Year’s Eve, no less.

What was it like recording with one of the most iconic rock stars of all time?

Kim’s been incredibly accommodating and helpful throughout. I provided a guide vocal initially, so there wasn’t a great deal of discussion on delivery et cetera. She just got it, and the result was extremely powerful.  

Your folk sound seems like a departure for Deal...

Not completely. There are examples of similarly styled and paced songs in the Breeders catalogue. 'Driving on 9', for one, is very similar. Obviously, I can’t speak for Kim but she liked the song and some footage of me playing a show. That seemed to be enough. It’s not something she normally does, so I’d like to think something stuck a chord. Ultimately, she seems to be a musician above all else and thinks in those terms.

Is the single part of an album?

Yes, the album is called Home Burial and will be available later in the year. There is some tinkering going on at the moment but it should be ready to air very, very soon.

What are your plans for the immediate future?

We are off to Brighton to play The Great Escape on Friday, May 15 in the Spiegel Tent, the full six of us, which is exciting. After that, the focus is very much on getting the album out.

Have you had any contact with Kim since recording the song?

I mentioned how I was enjoying her solo single series and a few weeks later I got the entire vinyl collection through the post from her personally. Just an example of her generosity.

Arborist launch 'Twisted Arrow' at The Menagerie, Belfast on April 30.