An Interview with Amy Mason and Eddie Argos, The Islanders

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After bringing our Ferment audience to tears in last July’s Ferment, Amy and Eddie have been developing The Islanders ready for their return this April. We interviewed them both to find out more about the production. 

What is the show about?
Amy: The show is about a trip Eddie and I made to the Isle of Wight as teenagers, when we were going out, and lived in a horrible bedsit together. Perhaps slightly oddly, Eddie and I are actually both on stage telling the story – him in songs and me in stories. Our friend, folk-musician Jim Moray, wrote and plays the music.

Describe it in three words.
Amy: Wonky nineties musical (well, musical might be pushing it. It’s got some songs).Eddie: F**k! My! Life!

How has the creative process worked?
Amy: I came up with the idea about a year ago and sent Eddie some questions about the trip, asking what he remembered. What he said was so different to what I remembered that I thought we could explore it some more and started writing a couple of monologues. He started writing some songs, and we spent a couple of weeks trying things out and seeing where stuff fitted. We tried it out at Ferment and got a really great response, and it’s all gone from there.

Eddie. Amy had the idea of doing a show about our Isle Of Wight trip and asked me if it was ok to do. I was secretly very jealous that I hadn’t had the idea and then thankfully she asked me to be part of it. We both knew and liked Jim a lot so he seemed the perfect choice to help with the music, he is brilliant. To me the whole thing feels like an unusually talky band with Amy as the lead singer.

Has the music effected and changed your perception of the memories in the show?
Amy: Eddie’s songs are so upbeat and optimistic, and the contrast is pretty massive between them and some of the stories I tell. Which is funny in itself. As the development has gone on the show has become less about individual memories, and more about the way we view our past experiences – how our general outlooks are different.

Eddie; With my band Art Brut all my lyrics are autobiographical, I’m used to singing about myself. The parts that are strange for me are hearing Amy’s memories. Her memory is much better than mine and she has reminded me of a few things I had completely forgotten. My perception of the holiday has stayed the same though, I had a nice time.

 

What made you decide to create The Islanders?
Amy: It just kind of happened. I wanted to tell a story about our trip and it seemed natural to tell it like this…I’m really interested in telling stories in different ways.

Is it hard to cut when working with autobiographical material?
Amy: I’ve found it harder to add stuff. Sometimes people suggest they want to hear more about a certain thing and I think ‘oh God, I’m not sure I want to go into that much detail’. The whole thing has been a bit weird – it was perhaps the most intense, difficult period of my life, so standing up going on about it is quite a mad thing to do!

Eddie; I’m used to writing autobiographical material, what’s strange with the Islanders is that I’m the subject of somebody else’s writing. I think Amy has done a great job of giving just enough detail to make me squirm sometimes but not so much that I’m totally freaked out and embarrassed. It’s a fine line.

What do you hope your audience will feel?
Amy: Happy and sad. I want them to remember their own first relationships.

Eddie; I agree with Amy, I want people to feel happy and sad and remember their own first relationship. When we performed it for the first time at Ferment some people were in tears at the end which I wasn’t expecting. It felt weird to have affected people in that way with our true story but also proud we’d manage to make people feel such strong emotions

What’s next for you and the show?
Amy: Excitingly we’ve won funding to go to Edinburgh Fringe through the Ideas Tap Edinburgh Fund. So we’ll be at the Underbelly throughout August. And Nasty Little Press are publishing the script as a graphic novel – it will be out in late summer.

The Islanders runs 18-20 Apr in Bristol Old Vic Studio. Find out more here.

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