Graham Reid | | 6 min read
Not many musicians would write a song about the misuse of the apostrophe in punctuation, but Matt Stalker isn't just any musician. He works as psychotherapist in London and for six years worked in maximum security prisons as a forensic psychologist. So of course Jenny Nendick, the cellist in his band the Fables, would be a research psychologist working on a study looking at bipolar disorder.
Yep, Matt Stalker and the Fables, who play a kind of "chamber folk" (with a drummer who likes Rocky movies) are just a little bit different.
They completed their debut album The Man Who Said This Died of Alchemy on Christmas Eve last year and shortly after Matt and Jenny flew to New Zealand for a two month trip which would include some gigs.
The album was pressed in Auckland but an over-promising but un-delivering promoter has meant their short tour was hastily re-organised. (See dates below)
But they took time out from the panic to answer the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
Matt: Probably the theme music for Coronation Street or The Bill; either meant it was bed time, which I was never very happy about.
Jenny: Mr Blue Sky by ELO;
my Nan made me a mix tape with it on and for some reason it just made
me stupidly happy whenever I listened to it. It still does actually.
I usually end up singing along loudly and dancing round in circles.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Matt: Jay Kay from British acid jazz
band, Jamiroquai. As a teenager I used to try to dance like him. In
retrospect I realise the man's a total idiot. Guitar-wise
it was Eric Clapton, Francis Dunnery from It Bites, and Steve Vai.
Jenny: My musical aspirations were mostly
classical when I was younger, so Jacqueline Du Pre was the big one
for me. But I also longed to be one of the "cool" string players on Top of the Pops.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Matt and Jenny: Lennon, Nirvana,
Madonna (not after her Music album though),
If music was denied you, your other
career choice would be . . .
Matt: Who'd do such a cruel
thing? Once I got over the trauma of the denial, I'd return
to what I already do: psychotherapist. Oh, or graphic designer.
Jenny: Clinical psychologist or a circus performer (I went to a summer circus school when I was
about 10 and learnt to juggle, spin plates etc and decided I wanted
to run away and join the circus).
The three songs (yours, or by others)
you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Matt: Winning a Battle, Losing The War by
Kings of Convenience because it is just one of the most beautiful
things in the world. And Hayloft by Canadian mentalists Mother Mother
because it is pathologically catchy indiepop genius.
Jenny: Us by Regina Spektor (Matt concurs)
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
Jenny: An unopened Coke can stolen from
the Travis tour bus in 1998. I've been led to believe it
could explode at any point. I like the banal danger of it.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Matt: I hate reading about music. At
least, I find references to music in literature are usually
cringeworthy, like hearing your dad pretend to be "down
with the kids" using phrases like "trendy".
The only exception has been High Fidelity by
Nick Hornby, and that's probably because the story was
really about a slightly pathetic music obsessive; I could relate to
If you could get on stage with anyone
it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Matt: Jeff Buckley. I wouldn't
play. I'd alternate between crying and taking notes.
Jenny: The original Pink Floyd line-up.
I'd do half the set doing the early stuff with Syd Barrett
too, and just make all sorts of crazy psychedlic sounds on the cello,
then the other half would be the later stuff playing beautiful
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Matt: I Love You, Man because Paul
Rudd's character's awkwardness around men's
men is scarily like me. And maybe Amelie for it's quirky
romanticism and attention to the minutiae of life others overlook. I
like to see that stuff and write about it.
Jenny: An Education; it is
practically a biopic of my life (it's about a cellist
called Jenny). I don't know how they found out about me
but it's pretty accurate!
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Matt: Jan Hellriegel gave me her entire
back catalogue as a (very generous) gift after I met her in January,
drank sake, and chatted about her tour with Jeff Buckley in the
mid-90s. I also finally got round to getting High
Violet by The National, which is phenomenal. Last thing I
downloaded was an album by Canada's Margot; The
Nuclear So and So's; it's amazing.
Jenny: CD: Holy Fuck -- who blew
us away at Laneway last week and Huey Lewis and the News' Four on vinyl from a flea market in Mangawhai.
I hate downloading -- I like the physical product;
but I did get Aint No Grave by (Bluegrass
pioneers) Crooked Still so I could listen to it immediately after a
friend recommended it.
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
Matt: We heard Bohemian Rhapsody on the
radio driving to Wellington this week. That's pretty epic
isn't it? Maybe that. It probably is embarrassing, but it
is also unique and, frankly, completely genius.
The poster, album cover or piece of art
could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
Matt: I get bored easily with pictures.
Maybe something by Edward Hopper. Or just a picture of Zooey
Deschanel. Mmmm, Zooey.
Jenny: Pink Floyd's Wish You
Were Here; where the guys are shaking hands and one is on
fire. Analyse that.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
We're both far too chicken to
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Matt: We agree on this one: we'd
pull together all of our musician friends and our other friends to
travel round the world playing music and eating amazing food,
starting in Canada and moving on from there. Obviously NZ would be a
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?
Matt: What makes you think it’s not?
Jenny: Also, it's the only one we have and it took us ten years to make it.
Matt Stalker and the Fables tour dates
Friday 11 Feb - The Kingslander, Auckland
Saturday 12 Feb - Okere falls store Rotorua
Sunday 13 Feb - Waihi Beach Hotel
Wednesday 16 Feb - Juice Bar Parnell Auckland
Thursday 17 Feb - The Waipu Hotel