The Argotist Online
Clay Fox was born in Wensleydale in the UK. From an early age she was fascinated
by words and enamoured with music. Only now, at the age of 33, has she developed
the courage to fuse the two together, pursuing a life long dream to perform her
own music. She holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing
from Newcastle University.
Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
Yes. Very often the songs I write have been “born” as poems and appear a
little later reborn as songs. In a sense, those I choose to rework as
songs, require that little bit of scaffold that the music provides.
Hmmm... Songs always benefit from having some kind of rhyme and I think that
assonance in particular finds a good home in the lyric. I often find that songs
are demeaned by full rhyme, particularly when it seems that the lyricist has
desperately tried to push a rhyme into the song that is particularly clumsy. One
of the greatest examples of this has to come from Des'ree: “Toast and
ghost”. Oh dear!
Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as
clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can
also be like free verse?
I personally think that the only “songs” which work without particular
structure are in the operatic genre. I believe that songs need structure to work
and that choruses, refrains etc. are devices necessary for making the song
“stick”. Rather like the volta in a sonnet, they reinforce meaning and
memory. If a word is particularly powerful with a certain note, this power is
increased greatly and the situation arises when the song will not leave your
head. If that happens in a song I have written, I see it as success, because the
lingering memory of a particular phrase can only serve to reinforce the message
within the song.
When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to
the music you enjoyed?
Nothing jumps out at me in particular, but I do think that poetry helped me
recognise meaning in songs and allowed me to appreciate lyrical ability and to
appreciate the “song” rather than the aesthetic qualities of the artist!
Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
I would say no. This is simply because at present, I tend to perform live and
have few recordings. Therefore, I need the audience to be able to identify with
the song I have written, almost immediately, whereas the poetry I have studied
such as Plath and Sexton, needs to be studied and reread at leisure. The songs
are most certainly written with this in mind.
Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
A: I think this has all kinds of reasons and perhaps could be explained as far back as when music was a very tribal medium. There is certainly something physically, emotionally and sometimes sexually moving about music and the human vocal. There is an amazing symbiosis between the textual word and the melodic word, and when they sit together they are an amazingly powerful couple.
© Kyla Clay-Fox