I’m sitting in a church beneath a large picture of Jesus Christ on a cross. Blood is gushing from his feet and I’m guzzling expensive cheap wine.
An anxious Woody Allen style character runs from pillar to post sorting out final details and it’s safe to say St. Andrew’s Church in Holborn hasn’t seen this much retro ’70s fashion filling its pews since, well, the ’70s.
So it’s surreal enough already when a church organ with parts dating back to 1750 starts playing behind me, accompanied by a choir all decked out in matching denim.
Rachel Zeffira’s voice rings out, as does the assembled orchestra and then the singer emerges from behind the organ.
It’s as grand and surreal an entrance as you’re likely to see at any gig this year, and it perfectly matches thescope and ambition of the music that Rachel Zeffira is reaching for,Zeffira released in solo debut album form next
“I’m from a small place on the west coast of Canada called The Kootenays,” she’d told me a week previously while rehearsing in St. Andrew’s.
“The nearest city is Vancouver, which is twelve hours away, and it has the
world’s largest copper and zinc smelter, which pours mercury into the river.
It has some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen and it makes Twin Peaks look like a big city. “My dad emigrated from Italy and most people there are Italian.
It’s like nowhere else. You can fly there, but it’s the world’s most dangerous airport. To get there you have to fly through a hole in the mountains and if it’s cloudy,
you can’t see so you just have to wait in the air and the wings can just ice up and the plane goes down.”
“It’s a really remote place then,” I say. “Did it influence some of the space and dynamic in the album?” Rachel Zeffira: “Yes, definitely – I hated it when I was there, but now I’ve come to appreciate it.”
Olly Parker: “Every interview mentions the fact you were classically trained, what was the journey that took you from that to the music you make now?”
RZ: “I always thought I’d be a classical music professional. I was working as an oboist in a symphony orchestra and I thought, ‘Now what? What’s the next challenge?’
Then I thought I’d be a soprano and I was determined to sing, but the deportation changed the course of my life completely.”
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