They met at Westminster University after being brought together by Ali’s guitar tutor. It is assumed the tutor was trying to put together a session band with Mike Appleby and Ali Warren, but it didn’t really happen. What did happen was Ali and Mike forming the folk-rock duo Ali Warren. Influenced by artists like Cate Le Bon, Rodrigo Amarante, Jeff Buckley and Pentangle (to name a few), We spoke with vocalist and acoustic guitarist Ali Warren about the band, their single ‘Don’t Mind Me’ and future plans.
Why did you decide to enter the music industry?
In terms of the “what am I going to do with myself” question, music was the only thing that really interested me aside from sport. I was no elite athlete, so music won. In all honesty, it was a terrible time to go into the music industry! Streaming services weren’t really established yet (and even now they don’t really benefit the unsigned musician), putting up music for free was (and still is) very much expected. No-one really knew, including the Uni I went to, what the landscape was or what it would become.
Can you tell us about your track ‘Don’t Mind Me’?
‘Don’t Mind Me’ was intended as a self-portrait. I was inspired by a Francis Bacon painting and figured I’d have a go. Luckily, mine didn’t turn out quite so ugly.
What was the recording and writing process like?
Inspiring, fun and stressful! ‘Don’t Mind Me’ is the second single off of our upcoming album Rhyme and Reason. We recorded, mixed and mastered all 10 tracks in less than a week. Luckily, we had the expert help of Anthony Neale (producer) and Tim Hamper (mix and master genius) who was the in-house at Koko for years. We couldn’t be more pleased with it. We work well under pressure and had an amazing time, a good laugh and we got an album out of it. I’m not a prolific songwriter, but I love the process. Essentially, the songs are done when they’re done (unless someone wants me to get it done sooner).
Does the single have a significant meaning for you?
It’s very much about me. An “I’m starting with the man in the mirror” moment. I find it hard to write songs about things that haven’t directly affected me. Perhaps I just don’t want to?
What do you hope people take from your music?
As with most musicians, I’d like people to be able to connect with it. I’d like to stir something. One of my favourite hobbies is staring at the ceiling, so if I can be the soundtrack to someone else’s ponderous moments, then it’s a win. I’d also hope people buy it so that we can fund a second album and not embark on one of those crowdfunding campaigns.
What is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?
Lyrics, always. The song and melody always come first, the lyrics second. When I listen to music I don’t really hear the lyrics unless they’re really good or really bad. Despite this, I often spend a long time chopping and changing things until it’s as I want it to be.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Michael (electric guitarist) and I are really enjoying writing at the moment. We’ve also recently been joined by Jess Warren (not a relative) on keys and vocals. If we’re enjoying it, it’s easy.
I think a lot of it is a habit for me. When I’m in the habit of coming home and playing I enjoy it much more. If I get out of the habit, it seems to be a struggle; like exercise. Then I have to pick up an instrument I don’t know how to play to get going.
I’m also motivated if life is busy. If I have things to write about I feel more inclined to do it. I work as a speech and language therapist for the NHS, primarily in stroke. A lot of those experiences make their way into songs.
How would you describe your sound?
An emotionally charged, singer/songwriter inspired folk-post-rock two-piece with more than a hint of vulnerability.
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
Friends, always. That and the radio. I’ve found Spotify algorithms have become scarily good at predicting things I like, but I resent that so…
What does the future hold for you?
We’re in the process of releasing a series of singles. Check out our Spotify page and you’ll also find ‘Long Story Short’ and ‘Rhyme and Reason’ to listen to. We’re really proud of all the tracks and we’re looking forward to getting the whole album out there soon.
We’ve also started writing new songs, which are amongst the best we’ve ever written. Once the global pandemic subsides a bit, perhaps we’ll play some gigs again.
I’d also like to get good at cooking Thai food.
Do you have a message for our readers?
Don’t be a twat. Don’t vote Tory. ‘Black Lives Matter’, and if you’re inclined to respond ‘all lives matter’ fuck off and do some reading.