Singer Jo set for Gartnavel festival

IT MIGHT not be the biggest music event of the summer, but there are few better causes than the Over the Wall mini-­festival taking at Gart­navel Royal hospital.

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Jo Mango
Jo Mango

The free event on Saturday, on the green site at Gartnavel, aims to ensure activities like music and comedy can be provided for people using mental health services at the hospital.

The day will feature comedy, art, street food and a varied array of musical talent, including Glasgow's veteran guitar-popsters the BMX Bandits and up and coming groups Tuff Love and Poor Things.

Songstress Jo Mango will also be performing, and the singer is full of praise for the new festival.

"People who are in Gartnavel long term can feel quite isolated from their communities," says Jo, who's worked with the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Admiral Fallow in the past.

"So this is having the community in, and means the people there can feel involved in something, which is a great aim.

"If people want to come and get involved, there'll be a fun festival atmosphere on the day and it's a welcoming event."

For her PhD Jo investigated the relationship between music and mental health and she believes there are a lot of links between the two.

"There's a lot that musicians and academics can learn from people with different mental health experiences," she adds.

"I'm working on a few projects that at the moment, including one about how people deal with those voices that represent other parts of themselves.

"I guess musicians and artists can have the same thing, just more controlled. There's lots that we can learn from that in a respectful way."

The gig will also let Jo get gigging again, something she admits she doesn't get to do enough of at the moment, due to her day job teaching at the University of the West of Scotland.

However, she does have a new album coming out, in a way.

Transformation, released on October 13 through Scottish indie label Olive Grove Records, takes Jo's well-received 2012 album Murmuration and applies the remix treatment to it, letting 10 different artists work away on the record. The results met with Jo's approval.

"It's a good way to make an album - send out 10 tracks you've already made to other people and get them to make it sound new and exciting," she laughs.

"It's fascinating to hear other people's takes on it, and there are some incredibly creative things that have happened with the songs.

"A lot have changed the timing, so that the beat's different and all the emphasis on the words is different, which really changes the meaning of some of the songs."

There's even been an added bonus for the singer, who tends towards the mellow and thoughtful side with her tunes.

"I'm always excited to have music that people can dance to, because my music isn't normally like that," she chuckles.

"When I wrote Baby Lee with Teenage Fanclub I saw a Youtube video of people line-dancing to the song, which was pretty cool, and hopefully there can be more of that with some of the remixes…"

Murmaration was Jo's second album, and proved packed with gems of songs, from the piano-based Cordelia to the acoustic The Black Sun. Plans for a third studio album are underway, though at an early stage, but the songbird is experimenting with going electric.

"It's early days to tell what it's going to be like, but I have an electric guitar and some Moog organ pedals now," she explains.

"So it might end up more of an electric sound, we'll see.

"I just don't know, but starting with new instruments gives me inspiration, so we'll see where the guitar and pedals lead me."

Given that Jo teaches and writes about music academically in addition to her own tunes, it'd be easy to imagine she occasionally wanted a break from it.

"I can get used up, when there are so many ideas that can get poured out into words and music that I need time to take out," she says.

"I call it my eating phase, where I go and see some art, listen to some music and just digest it all. I don't really play enough though, so I never get tired of playing gigs."

n Over the Wall Festival, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Saturday, Noon-4pm. Free

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