VASHTI BUNYAN Q&A

Vashti Bunyan is an English singer-songwriter. Bunyan released her debut album, Just Another Diamond Day, in 1970, but was disillusioned by its reception and abandoned the music industry. By 2000 the album had acquired a cult following; it was re-released and Bunyan embarked on the second phase of her musical career. She subsequently released two albums: Lookaftering in 2005, and Heartleap in 2014. Wayward is her first book.

In 1968, Vashti Bunyan gave up everything and everybody she knew in London to take to the road with a horse, wagon, dog, guitar and her then partner. They made the long journey up to the Outer Hebrides in an odyssey of discovery and heartbreak, full of the joy of freedom and the trudge of everyday reality, sleeping in the woods, fighting freezing winters and homelessness.

Along the way, Vashti wrote the songs that would lead to the recording of her 1970’s album Just Another Diamond Day, the lilting lyrics and guitar conveying innocent wonder at the world around her, whilst disguising a deeper turmoil under the surface.

From an unconventional childhood in post-war London, to a fledgling career in mid-sixties pop – recording a single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – to the despair and failure to make any headway with her own songs, she rejected the music world altogether and left it all behind. After retreating to a musical wilderness for thirty years, the rediscovery of her recordings in 2000 brought Vashti a second chance to write, record and perform once more.

One of the great hippie myths of the 1960s, Wayward, Just Another Life to Live, rewrites the narrative of a barefoot girl on the road to describe a life lived at full tilt from the first, revealing what it means to change course and her emotional struggle, learning to take back control of her own life.

Marking the release of her memoir, Vashti will be performing a career retrospective show at The Barbican Centre, alongside an ensemble led by Fiona Brice, including material from Just Another Diamond Day.

‘Defiant and surprisingly unromantic, painting her cross-country journey in shades of muddy green, this is a fascinating and brave memoir.’ Bob Stanley, author of YEAH YEAH YEAH

‘A gorgeous account of outsiderness and survival; a map of how to live outside the boundaries and of striving for an authentic artistic life. A quietly defiant and moving work’ Sinéad Gleeson, author of CONSTELLATIONS

‘Wayward is an epic in miniature, a mythical tale with echoes of her ancestor John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, made all the more magical by Benjamin Myers, author of THE OFFING the fact it actually happened. I loved – and lived – every sentence’

‘A quietly beautiful and gentle read, full of light and kindness’ Jennifer Lucy Allan, author of THE FOGHORN’S LAMENT

‘This simply beautiful memoir cast the same spell on me as Vashti Bunyan’s music. Her account of a legendary road-trip taken at horse pace through a gone England is hedgerow rich in vivid detail. But this is no nostalgia piece: Bunyan is needle-sharp on the way so many men tried to cut her – and her songs – down to size: essential reading for women in the arts now. I read the last pages through tears, deeply moved by the wilder life she embarked on, step by step, song by song’ Tanya Shadrick, author of THE CURE FROM SLEEP

‘Bunyan weaves her captivating nomad’s tale with a rambler’s eye for detail and a dreamer’s visionary ambition. Her perpetual search for utopia, and the experiences behind her songs of innocence, are romantic and revelatory’ Rob Young, author of THE MAGIC BOX