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Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 15:03 UK
Clever Girl - There's something about Cevanne
By Graeme Mac
BBC Suffolk Introducing

Picture of Cevanne with her harp
Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was founded in Thorpeness in 1986

"I jump around like a lunatic and stick weird things on my harp to make interesting rattling noises." Cevanne is clearly one to watch on stage.

From the very first listen, it also becomes clear that she is an extraordinary artist and composer.

The Arts Council must agree because it has part funded her latest project, the [Big Ears] album.

The title refers to Cevanne drawing on a whole host of influences, including, Picasso, Magritte and Alexei Sayle.

"The eighties have become very fashionable again but the eighties I'm interested in isn't the big shoulders and make as much money as you can eighties, it's Alexei Sayle and all the bouncy stuff that The Young Ones used to play.

"Those acts were exciting and funny and not afraid to be politically conscious. They were great visual acts as well."

Clever girl

As an ardent fan of the anarchic sitcom, I instantly thought Series 1, Episode 5, and a post punk band called Rip Rig and Panic when I heard one of Cevanne's signature tunes, Clever Girl.

Photo of Cevanne with music sheets in studio
Cevanne in the studio working on the experimental [Big Ears] album

It's a track that takes a swipe at some of the girl groups and female singers currently doing the rounds to a reggae or jazz-like beat.

"Girl I like to hear your song, woman I like to sing along, but your music video is wrong, I like to see you sing not see your thong."

We're Watching You is equally mesmerising for how it sounds and what it's about.

"If you attend any demonstration in the UK, you can be filmed, photographed and have your DNA recorded and put into a database regardless of whether or not you have committed a crime," said Cevanne.

"So in my way of laughing at the world I decided to create a song that describes fans of the police or their paparazzi desperate for your DNA autograph."

Neverland (and the weasel)

Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was founded in 1986 and raised in her very own Neverland, the timeless village of Thorpeness.

It was there where in 2009 together with her sister Nina, she established the Out of Neverland festival, bringing exceptional performances to the picturesque seaside retreat.

Nina is one of many musical talents to appear on [Big Ears] along with special guests Zoe Rahman and Kuljit Bhamra MBE. Instruments range from harp to cello to weasel!

"It's actually a cornetto. Not an ice cream, but a 16th century wooden instrument which sounds absolutely vile if played incorrectly. I thought it was just a waste of wood, but Nina has managed to get quite a nice sound from it."

Picture of Cevanne with harp on the beach at Thorpeness
Cevanne: Composer, Singer, Dancer, Harpist, Lunatic, Beachgoer

[Big Ears]

The album is experimental in both its musical and lyrical content, combining classical music with pop sensibilities and at times political undertones. Cevanne, however, has had her reservations about the whole project.

"I am scared of recording things and possessing sounds and not letting them go. I will take that into account when mixing the album."

Thankfully it will at least be going ahead. It is an album Cevanne felt she had to make, ceteris paribus. At times it is personal, not least when it comes to the title track.

"I was partially deaf when I was younger, but certain frequencies were allowed in by my nasty ears."

These included her heartbeat, the vibrations within her skull and usually pitches G and A, which are also supposedly the sounds the earth makes spinning on its axis. Science lesson over.


Thorpeness itself is also pivotal to the album.

The author J.M. Barrie made regular visits to the village which takes on a Peter Pan theme.

"Shadows are quite fascinating. Peter Pan loses his and is described as being heartless and light enough to fly," said Cevanne.

That idea of being irresponsible in a permanent state of childhood has clearly had an impact on Cevanne growing up.

"While I like to encourage seeing the world through fresh eyes and laughing at the world like a child would, I wouldn't encourage irresponsible behaviour and I think a lot of popular music is pretty irresponsible now."

Picture of Cevanne on stage
We're Watching you - Cevanne performing on stage


BBC Suffolk Introducing was delighted to confirm Cevanne as one of three Suffolk acts it would work with at the county's ever growing Latitude Festival in 2010.

"It will mean a lot to perform at Henham Park because it's a local festival and I love being involved with things on my turf.

"The show has done so much for me and I don't mean that in a superficial way in terms of giving me more exposure. You've noticed references in my music that others haven't. So you're obviously just as mad as me!"

We like to think so.

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