Polly Mackey performs as Art School Girlfriend at the Dials Festival, Southsea on October 6 as she tours on the back of her second EP Into The Blue Hour.
“I was in a band previously, some friends back home in North Wales, and when we split it was all very amicable. We just wanted to do different things, so I just squirrelled myself away, just working in my bedroom studio, just me. I got involved with a label and I turned my bedroom demos into what became my first EP.
“I was trying to think of a name for me for a while. It took two years to figure out what I wanted my sound to be. Because I was producing it myself, I was very possessive of the songs, and I just wanted to have a name that had a sense of mystery. I like the fact that in maybe ten to 15 years’ time I might do another project under a different name.
“All the artwork is done by me and my girlfriend. She went to art school, and I just like there to be a coherent aesthetic.”
And there is a point too to not going by her own name.
“I am quite a shy person. I am not that confident in every-day life. I will never sing unless I am recording or performing, but when I am on stage, I feel my most comfortable.
“It feels like I can express through music things that I can’t in my every-day life. That’s why I wanted to have a different name. On stage I can act in a way that I wouldn’t in my every-day life.
“The stage is like a special place where I can do whatever I want and then go back into my own world where we put up walls around ourselves.”
As for the music: “I don’t really tend to sit down with a guitar or at a piano and then take something to the studio to figure out the instrumentation. With me, it all starts with the instrumentation, whether it is the drum sound or the synth sound.
“It all comes from the sound first, which is why quite a lot of people say that my songs are quite atmospheric. It starts with the atmosphere and the song progresses from there.
“I write about stuff that I don’t necessarily deal with in every-day life. I am drawn to quite sombre music. I like listening to dark stuff, whether electronic or guitar-based or orchestral.
“I like listening to stuff that is quite dark and melancholic.”
Polly lives in Margate: “A couple of years ago, I moved from London. In Margate, there is a good creative scene, a lot of people who can’t afford to live in London anymore.
“For me, Margate is great. I come from a small town originally, in north Wales, and then I spent five years in London. It is nice to be back in a small town.
“You have to find your own gigs. If you are wanting something exciting to happen, you have to make it happen yourself.”