London based Modern Woman began life as the songwriting project of Sophie Harris, a literature graduate who started playing the songs solo at spoken word nights she ran. “I had a firm idea of the direction I wanted the project to go in, and I knew that couldn’t be achieved without a full band.” Harris says speaking of the band’s beginnings. “It was important to me to keep the tenderness and lyricism of folk music but blend this with heavier and weirder experimental elements.”
An introduction through a mutual friend led her to meeting David Denyer, an Anglo-German-Armenian composer by trade whose interests include Merzbow records and building his own instruments and pedals. The two started playing together with Denyer playing an array of homemade violins, synths, effects and percussion – including a battered wooden table with a metal colander nailed into it and jagged remnants of cymbals that take a pummeling throughout the band’s live show. Explaining the set up Denyer says; “We always talked about being influenced a lot by Tom Waits and there are lots of stories of him smashing up doors and using it as percussion so we gave it a shot. The colander was Sophie’s idea. I love pasta though so it sits really well with me.”
After a period of comings and goings of different line ups the band was completed after meeting Madrid-born bassist plus occasional saxophonist Juan Brint Gutiérrez through an ex-bandmate of his, who in turn introduced drummer Adam Blackhurst.
“I was very drawn to Sophie’s songwriting and vision that balanced tenderness and aggression in a similar way to our shared influences whilst remaining original and fresh. As a band this has been an amazing space to explore out-there ideas and recontextualise my background in improvisational jazz.” says Brint Gutierrez, “Meeting Adam and Juan was wonderful as it completed the sound. Adam was the last to join and after many drummers, his approach to playing perfectly complemented our love of experimentalism and noise” Says Harris.
Playing their first show in the later half of 2019 the band quickly built a word of mouth following around their incendiary live performances playing alongside the likes of Dan Carey’s Scotti Brains, Tiña and Automatic, before lockdown cruelly stopped them in their tracks.