Into Scottish Creatives: Dot Allison

It’s been 12 years since Dot Allison recorded a new album but with the release of Heart-Shaped Scars on 30th July 2021, that’s about to change. Bursting on the scene in the early 1990s, Dot’s band One Dove were a breath of fresh air. Under the guidance of Andrew Weatherall, they coupled killer tunes with suave sophistication and a coolness few have come close to matching, before or since. After a number of well-received solo albums, working with the likes of Hal David, Paul Weller and Pete Doherty, among others, this long-awaited announcement of new music from Allison has been welcomed with real excitement. 

Dot was kind enough to chat with John Welsh about Heart-Shaped Scars as part of our Into Scottish Creatives series.

John: It’s been 12 years since your last album, did you continue to write during that period and secondly, when did you start planning the new record from initial thoughts through to fruition?

Dot: I did write as the writing part never really leaves, I find. I’m always getting ideas and imagining things so I just had to find ways of recording ideas that didn’t involve me going away from my kids so I have about 2000 voice notes & lots of text edit pages full of words. I probably started the album when I changed management in the summer of 2018.
 
How has your approach to your art changed during that intervening period?
 
I think I’m less cavalier with it and less avoidant too. I still have room to grow in that respect though.

Turning to the song writing and song development, can you tell us a bit about how the songs and album evolved during the creative process?

The songs always begin on an instrument then their first incarnations are on my phone. I write lyrics on my Mac usually and also my notes on my phone, then I draft them at my home studio and then record them in Castlesounds.

I now have nailed a process that seems to work for me. It’s taken a lot of feeling about in the dark but I know what I need to do these days

There seems to be a clear sense of nature/land/relationships/love in the lyrics. Can you perhaps elaborate on what and where you recorded the album and what, if any, influence that made in terms of both lyrical and musical creativity? Also, what and who else were your primary influences behind the album?

I think your environment does definitely inform the writing. I would not have made this album in central London in the same way, it would just have been different I think

The songs Ghost Orchid, Cue The Tears, Love Died In Our Arms began in London and are slightly different, I think. Everything in my life is probably in there to some degree, and Andrew Weatherall’s mentoring influence at the beginning of my career has affected the work since, I am sure.

You use the ukulele on some tracks – how did that come about?
 
I was bought it as a gift and I have worked with a few ukulele players over the years but being in lockdown kind of led me to explore it myself.

The songs, co-produced alongside Fiona Cruickshank, really bring your vocals to the fore and are perfectly accompanied by the strings in the background allowing the tracks to breathe and flourish. How did you approach this?

The playing of the uke, particularly, untethered my voice and I wanted a partner in crime re the production and Fi is just amazing !

You also collaborate with Amy Bowman and Zoe Bestel on the album. How was the experience and would you like to do more with them in the future?

They are both hugely talented and we plan to compose more together and as a three, too.

What’s the story behind the title of the album, Heart-Shaped Scars?

It was intended to be a song title in 2015 but I’ve never been happy with the various songs it became. One is recorded which I may release but it didn’t make it on the album.

You’ve also got an exciting project at the moment with Anton Newcombe. Can you tell us about that?

We’ve two, actually. We co-composed the TV show ‘Annika’ starring Nicola Walker which is out on Alibi soon and we have a slightly secret project too – more will be revealed soon!

What’s next for Dot Allison?

More musical mischief and no further long sabbaticals!

Finally, thinking back to all the gigs you’ve attended, which one stands out the most as really memorable and why?

The Fall at The Kings Theatre, Edinburgh in 1988 performing ‘I Am Curious, Orange’ ballet with Michael Clark.  Just mind blowing!

 
 
Into Scottish Creatives would like to thank Dot for taking the time to do the interview.

To order Heart-Shaped Scars which is released by SA Recordings on 30 July 2021, visit Dot’s official website here.

John Welsh

Links:

Twitter: @DotAllisonmusic

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