Modern Fairy Tales on the Piano

by Million Pebble Beach

Million Pebble Beach

Mrs. Penny was one of those teachers you remember – she encouraged me, enjoyed my stories, and often read them to the class. She told me to study sciences for a better-paid job, and off down that road I skipped studying engineering. But as Iggy Pop once quipped, if you’re creative, there’s something inside you, and it needs to get out…

Million Pebble Beach is my chosen “Nom de Guerre” – a nod to a local artist and the area (Pete Codling’s One Million Pebbles project in Portsmouth).

Listen to the album while reading the text.

Washed inland to Hertfordshire after university, I co-wrote a set of songs with a guitarist, Ben Walker, and we formed an indie pop band, amanaboutadog. It was a rollercoaster ride of local gigs, London gigs, and festivals, we had a video jockey (Jona). We even ran a week-long gig/exhibition in an art gallery in Brixton, but drummers kept disappearing, and it wasn’t the musical direction Ben wanted to take. He’s made quite the name for himself on the folk circuit and just released a beautiful album (“Banish Air from Air”).

In 2007, I formed Monocle Rose with a guitarist I’d met on a mutual billing at The Pleasure Unit in Bethnal Green. We rock-popped it in London’s iconic grassroots venues, including The Dublin Castle, The Camden Eye, 12 Bar Club, The Borderline, The Kilburn Arms, 93 Feet East, The Fiddler’s Elbow, releasing singles “Lolly” and “Alley Cat” in 2008, and appearing on Camden’s Balcony TV in 2009…then the drummer left, and Richey set off on a walk (from Lands End to John O’Groats!).

There was quite a gap before I climbed gingerly back up on the stage as a solo artist in 2018, largely due to an audacious project I set myself in the interval (learning to play piano as an adult), moving back to the sea and my hometown of Portsmouth.

One Day We’ll Go

One Day We’ll Go is my new five-track EP, released in February 2023. I had the absolute pleasure of working with Matthew Hovenden of Out of the Shower Recordings to create these sounds. Portsmouth is just bursting at the seams with talented musicians and producers. I love being a part of the musical community here. Matt’s studio is close enough to my house to walk around with a cup of tea in my hand, he has brought my songs to life with ideas for added instrumentation – guitars, bass and occasional weird sounds; you can also hear Teddy Trumpet, and Chris Arrowsmith on drums.

I like to write story songs, pulling listeners along with a narrative and imagery. The Archipelago is a whimsical anthem against procrastination (“one day, one day we’ll go”). It takes you from a sad, lonely place, tells you that even if you’re different, you’re not alone, and gives you hope that you’ll reach “the bluest blue, the greenest green.”

I read a book set during the witch trials between 1300 and 1850, a truly horrifying historical episode. In Witches, I wanted to convey that they killed nothing of that spirit, that we’re still here and stronger than ever – “the thinkers, the dreamers, the healers, following their hearts’ desires”. Fear the men who built the fires. Check out the video for Witches, filmed by Gareth of @Southseahoops – we had a lot of fun doing that!

The Sparrow and the Swallow is a bittersweet tale of hope, unrequited love, and crushed dreams. I have had so many people talk to me after hearing it at gigs (sorry for making you cry!).

Cat in a Box was written back in Monocle Rose’s days with Richey Ostrowski; basically a classic three-chord guitar song, but it never really had a chorus. I rarely revisit the back catalog, but in a writing lull in 2020, I went to visit an old friend in the form of that song. One of the lines – “stare into thin paintings, doors open up to a shady side,” tells of my time working in the City of London. At lunchtime, I would wander across Southwick Bridge, over the Thames to the Tate Modern and go to sit amongst Rothko’s deep red, many-layered Seagram Murals. I’ve always felt you might walk right into them.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a traveling art gallery where you can send things left over when a relationship ends – “a tiny vial of tears, a pair of your old shoes.” Serendipity took me into it one day when I had a bit of time to kill in Amsterdam before a flight home. It has stayed with me, and that is the inspiration for Broken Ships.

Matt and I have started tracking for the new album, so look out for that in (hopefully) Spring of 2024. You can catch me out gigging regularly in my local area.



Artist’s Note
Portsmouth, UK
Alternative, Singer-Songwriter
female vocals, piano, poetry, storytelling, fairy tales

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