Enigmatic singer, Liela Moss, tells us about The Duke Spirit's third album
Kim Taylor Bennett
The Duke Spirit have returned with their third album, Bruiser. We chat to the magnetic frontwoman Liela Moss.
They supported Duran Duran for four tour dates, but drummer Olly was the only one who met Simon Le Bon. Every night Olly would see Simon after having a massage. They’d have a bit of banter and then off they’d go. Olly would come back and report, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve just seen Simon Le Bon again, he’s in his underpants.’ We were all in awe of his ability to see this amazing ’80s popstar in his pants, and the rest of us never even met him!
Liela played on some legendary pianos for this record. ‘Villain’ features the piano that Axl Rose wrote ‘November Rain’ on. We also did ‘Sweet Bitter Sweet’ in Wales and used a piano that Freddie Mercury played to work out ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. By total accident I think we’ve used the two most important pianos in the world!
Olly suffered a horrific snooker accident as a child. When he was about 10 years old he was running round his lounge with a snooker cue. He tripped and it went up his nostril, through his nose and out the top! He gets a lot of ladies coming up to chat to him, so if they read this they’ll know what the scar on his nose is from.
Liela has been a muse for Alexander McQueen and more recently Antonio Berardi and Phillip Lim. What I love about performing and writing your own material is that you’re entirely liberated. You aren’t subject to any restrictions and that’s the same with your body. Not being size zero myself, and meeting someone who deals with that every day, you can feel a bit self-conscious. Most of the time with designers we just talk about music, which I love! It’s confirmed to me that artists draw on other artists to get them into the headspace to do whatever they’re doing.
They would never allow a Duke Spirit song to endorse fast food. When we were young, two of us were a little bit overweight, and you might lose that problem but it still sort of stays with you. However, being overweight is one thing, but the obesity we see now is another level. Fast food, fizzy drinks and depression are all intrinsically linked, so I feel really sad about the way people eat and the way they’re educated about food. It seems so innocuous, but it’s changing our population.
Liela once had a dance with Nick Cave. I had a demo day in the studio with Nick Cave and I was singing the girl harmony. We were killing some time and we ended up basically barn dancing, me in my gold jacket, and Nick pulling these quite Elvis-y shapes. Through the glass everyone else in the studio was probably just seeing flapping chicken-wing arms, a country hoedown: but inside there we thought we were Elvis. Five minutes of ridiculousness that was pretty much the highlight of my year.
And that’s not the only pinch-me-I’m-hanging-out-with-a-legend experience Liela’s had. I worked in a Memphis studio with Jerry Lee Lewis and Ronnie Wood, singing some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, and we were doing a few takes at different speeds. Ronnie said to Jerry, ‘I like the slower one! It’s a bit boogie woogie.’ Jerry Lee shot us both a glance and said, ‘That ain’t no boogie woogie, this is rock ’n’ roll!’ I felt like I was in a biopic! I was almost trying not to blink in case I missed something!