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Clementine Valentine tell us about the influences behind 'The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor'

Jun 16, 2023

After two albums as Purple Pilgrims, New Zealand sisters Clementine & Valentine Nixon rebranded using their own names as for their third album. It’s just as bewitching a moniker, fitting their earthy, spectral sound. Clementine Valentine‘s The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor is out now via Flying Nun and you can listen below.

We talked to Clementine and Valentine about the influences behind the new album, which include everything from moonbathing and myth, ’70s cult film The Wicker Man, wishing wells, the paintings of Andrew McLeod, and more, all of which make perfect sense when listening to The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor. Read their commentary below.

The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor by Clementine ValentineThe Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor by Clementine Valentine


1. Wishing wellsThe idea of throwing dreams and wishes into a dark watery void really resonated at the time of writing these songs (lol).

Throwing coins in a body of water is a ritual present in so many cultures around the world – in the village where we grew up in Kowloon (Hong Kong) there was a little temple with a pond full of turtles and thrown coins – it’s an image that’s stayed with us. We’re really visual people so it was an inspiring image/theme to start writing from.

2. Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia LaingA really wonderful book, when the world felt like it was ending it was comforting and inspiring to read.

“In this remarkable, inspiring collection of essays, acclaimed writer and critic Olivia Laing makes a brilliant case for why art matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the twenty first century.”

3. FamilyOur family was a major influence on these songs. Our grandmother comes from a long line of folk ballad singers and musicians, stretching back generations. Making music is a direct link to that culture and way of life for us, and it was something we wanted to express in our own way on this record. As far as the other side of the family goes, our songs are always pretty word-y – a trait that comes from our dad, who has a photographic memory for poems (only the most depressing ones) and constantly recited them around the house when we were growing up.

4. The Wicker Man – 1973 film by Robin HardyA film we’ve referenced visually in the past (see Purple Pilgrims ‘Ancestors Watching’ music video) that never ceases to inspire us. Easily one of the best film soundtracks ever made in our opinion.

5. Electric Eden by Rob YoungAnother fab book (see answer no. 3) “Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music is a seminal book on British music and cultural heritage, that spans the visionary classical and folk tradition from the nineteenth-century to the present day.”

6. The paintings of Andrew McLeodOur friend who masterfully painted us, and generously let us use it for the cover of our album. All Andrew’s paintings are incredibly romantic and rich. They’re also so detailed that every time you look at one you’ll see another aspect that escaped you the last time.

7. NatureAlways an inspiration, when we wrote these songs we were living off the grid in an isolated valley on NZ’s Coromandel Peninsula – when surrounded by that much nature it tends to seep into all aspects of living.

8. The Full MoonWe got quite into moon bathing during this period. Exactly like sunbathing, but under the full moon. It’s a nice ritual to assess the month that’s past, and like sunbathing it gives you a nice relaxed glow-y feeling / the most restful sleep. We were living in the middle of nowhere at the time, this is not as practical for city dwellers (the neighbours will likely freak out).

9. IsolationWe wrote and recorded the album during lockdowns, and were really inspired by a host of outsiders – “The Lady of Shalott” (a favourite poem of our childhoods childhood by Tennyson) was resonating with us at the time, as was the photography of Francesca Woodman (both were influences behind of video for ’Time and Tide’).

10. MythWe’re always inspired by all things mythological – mermaids and selkie, lotus eaters, serpents and quite a few nods to Arthurian legend get a mention on this album.

Clementine & Valentine NixonClementine ValentineCLEMENTINE VALENTINE ON THE INFLUENCES BEHIND ‘THE COIN THAT BROKE THE FOUNTAIN FLOOR’1. Wishing wells2. Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing3. Family4. The Wicker Man – 1973 film by Robin Hardy5. Electric Eden by Rob Young6. The paintings of Andrew McLeod7. Nature8. The Full Moon9. Isolation10. Myth