21 DISARMing Questions for Beth Rettig of Where We Sleep

Beth Rettig was raised in Africa (Nigeria, Botswana and South Africa) and moved to the United Kingdom in 2000.  There she hooked up with Debbie Smith (Echobelly, Curve and SPC ECO) to form the band Blindness.  They had a solid run before playing their final live show in 2016.

Beth says “When Blindness ended – solely down to a change in my personal life – I didn’t know if I was going to write again. Where We Sleep is the result of discovering that you don’t know how not to make music”.

The 5-track debut EP, Experiments In The Dark, features a contribution from Debbie Smith on the track “Into The Light”.

We asked Beth 21 DISARMing questions about music, art, travel, and life as a musician.  This is what she shared with us.

Hi Beth. Congratulations on your new project Where We Sleep. It’s great to see you set to release your debut EP.

Hi Disarm. Thank you!

What are you listening to right now?

Pete International Airport – Safer With The Wolves

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The first one I remember buying (with Christmas money, I think) was Bad by Michael Jackson on cassette. That doesn’t seem so appropriate now. I had others, but I can’t remember what they all were and I guess they would all have been bought for me. I remember having the Mini-Pops when I was really young. Anyone else remember them? No? Just me, then.

Editors:  We remember!  🙂

Vinyl or CD/Digital?


What are your favourite bands?

There are so many and it’s always changing. But a few are Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Stooges, Night Beats, Talking Heads. This is just bands. Not solo artists. I could go on.

Why do you live where you do?

London’s great. It can seem like quite a tough place at times but there’s so much going on – loads of events, be it music, art, theatre or whatever – and I know great people here. Once you’ve settled into London, it can be what you want it to be. You can get involved and do loads of stuff, or you can keep yourself to yourself.

What is your favourite journey?

The drive from Cape Town airport to my Dad’s house. The long, cramped flight is over and there is a shower and a cold beer or glass of great wine ahead, followed by a couple of weeks in the sun with good food, good wine and good company in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Pancakes, tea and records in the morning. The garden with a couple of gin and tonics and my book in the afternoon and later some writing on one of those days when the ideas keep flowing and you end up with something you’re excited about by the time you go to bed.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

The usuals – iPod (I still have one), book, paracetamol, lip salve, and a laptop, if I’m away for a while.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Costa Rica. It’s the top of my list of places I’d like to visit. I’d like to go to the reserves, hike up volcanoes and through the rain forests, stop over in the sloth sanctuary and then have some time on the Caribbean coast. And, if money isn’t an issue, then I’d like to see some more of Central and South America while I’m there. I’d particularly love to see the Nazca Lines.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Find out which area is the best for street art, head there and spend a few hours walking about with my headphones on looking for as much street art as I can find in the time I have.

What inspired you to take up music?

I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t interested in music. In my memory it just always seems to have been a main focus for me. I took piano lessons when I was really young and I guess I just took to it.

What was your most memorable day job?

I’ve tried to forget most of them.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

You’re a pale-skinned redhead growing up in a hot country. Wear sunscreen.

Editors: Baz Luhrmann would agree!

What should everyone shut up about?

How tired they are. Everyone’s tired. If it’s always that bad, see a doctor.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

There are so many. This seems like a bit of a cliche but I’m going to choose Nelson Mandela. He’s a hero of mine. I bet he was funny and charming and has to have, not just stories but, life lessons. For the menu, I’m going to keep things South African and go for a braai, because it’s such a great way to spend an afternoon, followed by a delicious malva pudding.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Special Agent Dale Cooper (The good one).

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

I’ve been to so many great gigs but I have to say Before The Dawn, the Kate Bush gigs a few years ago. She’s one of my favourite artists and I never thought I’d get to see her play live so it was always going to be special to me but it was sensational. The live album on vinyl is really great.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

I actually use YouTube a lot and for a lot of things – news, funny stuff, some music. The Guardian & The BBC for news. I also love reading the We Rate Dogs and Thoughts Of A Dog Twitter pages. I’m a bit boring online, really.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

This is a tough question. I don’t know about mind-altering but something that blew my mind a little was the Eiffel Tower (that counts as art, right?). You become so desensitized to it because you see it all the time so when I went to Paris, I obviously wanted to see it because it’s so iconic but I wasn’t that excited about it and it really stunned me when I saw it. Absolutely beautiful.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I’m not sure really. Get this EP out and get working on new stuff, mostly. I’m hoping to treat myself to a few days in New York with a friend – I’ve never been and am very excited about the idea of going. And hopefully enjoying some decent summer weather in London so I can spend plenty of afternoons drinking gin and tonic and reading in the garden.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Never meet your heroes. Not because I think they’d be assholes, but because I’m pretty sure I’d embarrass myself.

Thank you for your time Beth.

That was fun. Thank you!

Experiments In The Dark is available now on Bandcamp.  Go get it today!

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