Close to the Frozen Borderline

Posted by in May's Magazine

I’m paraphrasing here direct from Forward Play’s own publicity material, lazy journalism you say, but, in truth, it is a better introduction to Forward Play’s ethos than my humble pen could fashion: ‘What if you read your horoscope and it said exactly what you wanted it to say? Would you pack in your job and flat, say goodbye to all your friends and family and take off to warmer climes to make even warmer electronica, with only your backpack and laptop for company? That’s exactly what 29-year old Caroline Baird from Edinburgh, aka Forward Play, did and she has never looked back’.

“I’d been dreaming about making music for a very long time,” says Caroline, “but never actually had the guts to do it. Initially I went travelling to get it out of my system, the fact that I made some music I liked was a bonus, when other people liked it too, well, that was overwhelming!”



The resulting album, Stop Repeat, is a thing of shimmering, stainless steel beauty. The first two tracks are hardly there, it’s not the chords it’s the space between the chords…a sort of vacancy of future. Then the minimalism gives way to grandeur and beauty. Cinematic soundscapes – Brian Eno’s Music for Films springs to mind – swirl and throb in loops that repeat but are never repetitive. Frozen has more in common with Nico’s Frozen Warnings than Madonna’s song of the same name, after the sparseness of the openers we are offered the luxury of two counter melodies, no wait a minute, that’s three. Forward Motion is positively skittish, carried along by what sounds dangerously like bongos. Skylight is all sampled strings and glockenspiels with tambourines shimmering in and out. It is a thing of loveliness. More Than A Minute is the sound of winsome keyboards tinkering over a propulsive beat. The brassy barps of Dementia round off a hugely accomplished debut album. If we must look for labels then let us have ambient electronica, and can we also have majestic? This music is so majestic that if Forward Play tours I recommend she plays cathedrals.

Travel bugs
The Leither spoke to Caroline Baird on the phone, for she is a busy girl… “I got the travel bug something rotten when I was 20 and set off around the world, returning to Leith in 2005. I’ve always been a music nut and worked in roles involving music, but never had the courage to make my own. With no formal music training, except violin as a child, I think I was just really worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it. In 2009 I got the software programme Ableton Live and spent months trying to work out how to use it. Eventually writing one song, More Than A Minute. I started up a myspace page with just that song and got such positive feedback that my confidence was boosted practically overnight. I wrote loads more, started to get a few live bookings and radio plays and was approached by a couple of labels, including Alex Tronic Records, who I’ve always respected as they release quality electronica. I snapped up the opportunity to work with them and began working on the album, which took about nine months. I produced all the tracks at home on Ableton and mixed and mastered them with label boss Paul Croan at the Alex Tronic studio. That was brilliant fun! I would go round to his studio every day and we’d separate everything out and mix it together through his analogue-mixing desk. It was very much a joint effort and Paul was more than happy to have me get stuck in and make the final decisions on the record, teaching me loads along the way.”

One of the things she loves about the production of the album is that everyone involved is living and working in Leith. It was produced at home on Easter Road, mixed at Paul’s studio on Hillside Crescent, the album sleeve was shot at Leith Docks, her live performance visuals are by Alan Stockdale of Foundlight – who operates from Out Of The Blue – and the publicity shots were taken out back of a pub on Leith Walk! She is keen to point out that all of this has come about because there is a vibrant community of creatives working together right on her doorstep. She smiles, at least it sounds like a smile from the other end of the phone, “So, all in all, it’s quite apt that I’m launching Stop Repeat as part of Leith Festival!”

Info: Alex Tronic Records present Forward Play – 20th June, 8pm at the Iso Bar Tickets from the Leith Festival website.

One response to “Close to the Frozen Borderline”

  1. […] life like a spring lamb. This month we have Protempore on that election. Rising electronica star Forward Play. John Cusack in decline. Tony Benn’s dad. The exploits of Leith Beige cricket team, Sexy […]

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