VASHTI BUNYAN

 

Now based in Edinburgh, Vashti’s story tells of the thwarted promise of early fame, disenchantment, long-term exile and eventual rediscovery. In the mid-‘60s, after quitting art school to concentrate on music, she was discovered by The Rolling Stones’ guru, Andrew Loog Oldham, signed to Decca and recorded a single written by Jagger / Richards. Reviews touted her as ‘the new Marianne Faithful’ or the ‘female Bob Dylan’ (though Vashti claimed to be neither), yet further singles remained unreleased, leading to a sense of despair and a rejection of the music industry.

 

After living under canvas in the bushes behind Ravensbourne College of Art, she bought a horse and cart and set off in 1968 with her boyfriend for the dream of a creative colony that the singer Donovan was setting up on the Scottish Isle of Skye. It took them nearly two long years to get there, by which time Donovan had left, but the experience formed the songs for ‘Just Another Diamond Day’, the album recorded by Joe Boyd (and featuring members of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention) in November ‘69, during a trip back to London.

 

On the album’s muted release, rather than hang around to promote the record, Vashti left the city again to live with the Incredible String Band in the Scottish Borders, and then (with horses, wagons, dogs and children) on to Ireland and obscurity. The record slipped out in a tiny pressing and was rapidly forgotten, yet gradually over the years accrued a cultish currency as a lost English classic. In the late ‘90s, typing her own name into an internet search engine, Vashti became aware of this interest, and after tracking down the masters / rights, ‘JADD’ was re-released on the Spinney label – almost thirty years after she had “abandoned it and music forever” - to huge critical acclaim (The Observer Music Monthly placed it at 53 in their ‘Top 100 British albums’).

 

A host of young, new admirers emerged citing her influence, and Vashti has since recorded with Piano Magic, The Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde, Devendra Banhart, and with Animal Collective on the ‘Prospect Hummer’ EP that FatCat instigated in 2003 and released this spring. Following our contact with Vashti, we began chatting and offering advice on some new songs she was writing and looking for a home for. After a while, it occurred to us that instead of advising her on other labels, maybe FatCat could be that home. Vashti happily agreed and the result was her new album, the truly beautiful 'Lookaftering'.

 

With a new journey starting here, 'Lookaftering' achieved huge critical success, and saw Vashti once again taking to the road for a string of successful live shows and radio and TV appearances across Europe, North America, Australia and Japan. Following months of discussions, searching for masters and attempting to obtain clearance for them, in October 2007, we released the stunning double CD, 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind', a lavishly-packaged collection of Vashti's early singles and demos, dating from the period pre-'Just Another Diamond Day', 1964-67, the second disc containing material on a tape she'd accidentally discovered, which was from her first ever recording session. Vashti will be playing more shows in 2008 and is currently writing material for her next album.