Along with Ana da Silva, Gina Birch led The Raincoats from 1977 to 1984 in England, reforming in 1993, and still collaborating to this day. Their unique approach to music inspired many, including Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, who instigated their '90s' regrouping. Gina has remained busy, directing many music videos and painting, but music and creating new songs has remained a constant in her life. Her first solo album, I Play My Bass Loud, was just released, and was produced by Youth, also interviewed for this issue.

I interviewed Youth recently about working with you. When did this collaboration start to take off for your first solo album?

The first time we met and properly talked, he was with Vivien Goldman. He was making a record [Next is Now] with her. She and I were going to be playing some songs for Idler magazine. It's a particularly English magazine about how not to put all your effort into working for the man. It's an interesting philosophy. We met at [an] Idler party, and I was doing some songs on my own with some parts I'd recorded playing my guitar and singing. Youth was very taken with it. At that particular time, I had tracks with my electronic parts on them, but I think he was much more aware of me playing guitar, singing, and emoting. He said it was one of the best live gigs he'd seen. He invited me to his [Space Mountain] Festival in Spain that summer. The thing with Third Man Records when they were opening the London shop and label, David Buick [of Third Man, Tape Op #127] had asked The Raincoats if we'd like to make a 7-inch. Ana said, "No." I said I would, because I'd had "Feminist Song" for about 10 or 15 years, and I wanted to record it. I'd recorded it at home. Ana was playing her [Korg] Monotron [Synthesizer] on it. I put some more tracks on it, sent it to Youth with the parts, and he did a dub mix for the B-side and put a bit of drums and parts on. That was fruitful. He was in Spain, and I was in London. Then, David Buick came over for the opening of the shop. We had dinner, and we got on well. We decided it would be nice to try and make an album. We thought, "Well, we'll do a few tracks with Youth and see what it's like." I went down to see Youth three or four times. I took my guitar, and he was like, "Wow, you brought your guitar!" I thought we might play. We just talked three or four times about everything but music. I always had my little electronic songs from over the years. He said, "Well, I don't really want to do your electronic songs. I want to make a record with you, and your guitar and the emotion." I said, "I want to do these electronic songs." I don't know if you know The Hangovers record [Slow Dirty Tears] that I made?

No, I haven't heard that yet.

In a way, that was my first solo project, but I got lots of other musicians in. When you get a band with lots of musicians, it's weird to use your own name. I called it The Hangovers. In fact, when I was rehearsing the other day with two people, they said, "What's the name of the band?" I thought, "It's Gina Birch, actually." It feels weird!

Yeah, I know what you mean.

So, I went down to Youth's, and we decided we'd give it a crack. It was great. Right from the start, we flew. Youth is very inspiring, and he's quite mellow. I'm a bit more, "Ahhhh! Why aren't we starting on time?" He's like, "Mmm, [makes toking sound]," smoking over there. We complemented each other, in a way. Eventually, he said, "Yes, I do like your electronic songs. Let's do them." I think he knew I wasn't going to give up on that! In the meantime, I had written "I Am Rage." I'd written a middle eight, because I knew he liked a middle eight. Then he asked, "Which is the chorus?" I said, "Oh, I don't know!" He put a little pre-chorus in and said, "Have you got some words?" I said, "Oh, I've got this bit. 'Please don't ask me to be reasonable! I'm not listening.'" Then we just did it that morning. The first vocal I did whilst we were structuring the song is what's on the record. I was standing in the middle of the room; it wasn't like a control room and glass. It was just us, all in a room....

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