Judging by the number of gorgeous songs yet to reach vinyl, it's not hard to fall instantly in love with
a handful of demos. Kevin Pickstock, the innocent love--sick victim, asks the former Shiny Two Shiny singer/songwriter a thing or two about the things that matter...

Why did you change your name from Flo Sullivan?
Mainly for numerological reasons - "Sullivan" in particular added up to a really bad number, and "Flo" had unsuitable connotations - it would have been great if I was a nurse or social worker. Without going into too many details, I was inviting the kind of luck and events I could have expected to with the name I had.

Have you ever felt like giving in?
"Yes, top myself. But not until I'd done some serious damage to the people I see as being responsible for the current dreadful state of the music business."

You've recently signed to the 'Ugly Man' label. Do you think you'll follow in Black's footsteps, in attracting the majors as a result of an indie release?
That wasn't particularly the idea. It had been so long since I had "Higher" out that I got to the stage where I had to put something out or die. I also wanted to do an indie release, to put out something closer to my heart, and I feel lucky to have Ugly Man's support - they're a great label. I'm just very interested at the moment to see what the reaction to "Are You In Pain?" is like.

What inspires your- songwriting? Your lyrics are very moving.
Personal experiences! I've tried politically vehement & globally relevant things but found that they seem contrived - I came to the conclusion that anything you feel strongly about, and which other people can identify with, is political in a sense - particularly as my. songs are written from the standpoint of someone female in an obviously male-dominated industry.

Who are your personal heroes and heroines?
To follow on rather smoothly from the previous point, I don't see many women who take a truly independent role in music. I admire Laurie Anderson for that (and other) reasons. and aspire to anyone who's had a long(-ish) musical career because they've been genuinely innovative (of which there are -few).

Your demos have been really impressive, often a simple portastudio recording, with an intimate, soothing voice. Would you agree that it's sometimes difficult to recapture this "closeness" when you're in a recording studio?
A difficult one, this. I often feel quite happy with the really rough original version of a new song - and sometimes it has a quality you can never obtain again - then when you get into the studio it's really tempting to use all the gadgets and do a mega-production (Luckily, perhaps, finance never allows, with me!). I actually like sparse but large & spacious arrangements so I enjoy the flexibility of working in a proper studio to get this. But to be tautologous, a good song is a good song and any version should stand up. When we supported It's Immaterial recently at a large Liverpool. venue called Pickwick's, the backing tape broke down and we had to do the most important part of the set without it. But everyone (after reeling in amazement at the fact we carried on) came up afterwards and said it was actually better when the tape went off.

What would account for the fact that there is still a consistently good music scene in Liverpool?
There's nothing else to do here! With 90% unemployment in some areas, and such a strong tradition of musical success, for a lot of people it's the only hope of "getting out". I also think desperation often lends a
cutting edge to what one does: and the competition's fierce enough here already for the quality to have to be fairly high. (Mind you, for every good act there still must be another 20 dogging up the circuits!)

What's on the cards for the rest of the year?
After the last live experience where the disaster was not remotely of my making I'm seriously questioning the validity of playing live at all. It's bloody hard, uphill work rehearsing a band (for everyone concerned), very expensive, and for such a transient result! Hopefully the record will get some airplay (thanks Janice!), some people will buy it and I'll be able to make another one soon! (I've certainly got enough songs ready). And finally I'll be doing a couple of projects with other people.