|The art of old hymns
You are in: surefish > culture >Leigh Nash
Date: 10 May, 2012
Why is this a Leigh Nash solo project, as opposed to a Sixpence None the Richer project?
Well, Sixpence did make a record about two years ago, and it’s coming out this spring. But there’s so much time to do other stuff – the pause between projects is quite long. I had the time and I was asked to do it, so I jumped in.
And how was the experience, doing a solo record after being so used to working in a band?
It was good. John Hartley (the producer) and I worked really well together, and so I wasn’t completely alone.
I had a great producer and a really great band to play. It was very different, not having my usual partner in Sixpence to be there. But at the same time, it was very enjoyable. I had a great time.
How did you go about choosing the hymns for the project? Were there any personal reasons behind any of the song choices?
None at all, actually! I know that sounds strange, but I didn’t recognise any of them, except ‘Come, Thou Fount’; I recognised that one from church. The ones that I selected, I chose by their lyrics. I just looked up old hymns on the Internet and read a bunch of lyrics. I chose them by the ones I felt were the most inspiring.
You kept some original melodies, but composed new melodies for others. What went into those choices?
That was primarily Kingsway (the label); they take old lyrics and write new melodies to them to ‘revive’ them. Some people would argue that they don’t need reviving, but I find that in churches I go into as an adult, I don’t really enjoy contemporary worship music but do enjoy singing hymns.
I think that at least with this record, we’ve managed to write some new melodies that don’t distract from the words. The production is really simple so that the words stand out. For someone like me, who has always loved hymns, to be able to aid in keeping them around longer is great.
Oh, I’m not afraid! [laughs] There’s room for both, and I think people can choose what they enjoy and what inspires them. There’s definitely not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice. I just prefer the way things were said back then. They were more descriptive.
A lot of the art of the language got lost over time, so it’s nice to go back to that and hear how descriptive and beautifully poetic some of these hymns were.
You had a period of some not-very-nice things happening in your personal and family life. Would you say you’re at a happier place in your life right now?
Certainly. I feel like I’m now at a place where I have some space to enjoy having peace. I definitely feel that I’ve moved into a period in my life – or maybe I’ve just accepted it! And I’m getting older, and I expect that’s part of it too; just at peace.
And I feel really happy, thankful and blessed, and just try to live my life that way – to do everything from a thankful and grateful place. That’s a beautiful thing.
If this older, happier Leigh Nash could travel back in time to 1998 when Kiss Me was topping the charts everywhere, what words of advice would she give to that younger Leigh Nash?
I struggled with anxiety so much back then, so I think I would have told myself that the anxiety I was feeling was a trap. If I could time-travel, I would have a long conversation with myself… and most of it would be about anxiety!
I really wish that I could have, or somebody could have had the foresight to tell me back then that this was just a cycle. But now I’m 35 and I know that; I’m working on it and it’s a great thing to be aware of.
I’d torture myself over flying – and we flew every day! And I ruined it for myself because I was so terrified. I spent so much time being panicky and thinking things like ‘I might as well not pack for this trip, ‘cause I’m not going to make it there!’ You know, silly things like that.
So I wish I could go back and say, ‘You know what? There are more important things you could be thinking about.’ But I know now, so that’s good.