1) Firstly, thanks for taking the time to speak to Repeat. I consider
you to be the most exciting singer songwriter out there at the moment,
so its an honour to get the chance to put some questions to you.
Im certainly excited about this years two new albums, but
how does the run up to a new release make you feel?
Thank you very much my dear.. it's a pleasure. I'm finding the whole
run up process really easy... I'm very well settled domestically this
time around and have my head screwed on properly.. no drama so far.
I found the whole magic position promo period quite stressful, I was
falling apart at the seams, having alot of behind the scenes chaos with
management and personal life. You should always make sure you enter
publicity with your feet well connected to the earth, there is always
a danger that if you're not in a good headspace before your album comes
out then you are not in a good place to deal with all the madness that
comes, everything from paparazzi attention to bad or good reviews or
even stalkers... bonkers things can happen, but life can really only
get bad if you are crazy to start with, and thank god I'm not this time!
2) I saw you play at St Georges church in Brighton in 2007, which created
quite a unique event. Do you feel a venue can have a significant role
in musical performance? And do you have any plans to play in any unusual
surroundings in the future?
I loved that concert so much... I love churches, I was a choirboy
in my youth.. I played a lot of cathedrals, I love the acoustics.. I
would love to do a tour of churches as there is a lot of church organ
on the new album. I have a dream list of venues, the biggest problem
with playing unusual places can mainly be financial or acoustic... it's
very hard to make a heavy electronic show in a cavernous acoustic space...
and a lot of prestigious venues cost a small fortune to hire... I have
many many years of shows ahead of me, many stages to explore.
3) You originally planned to release a double album, but have decided
to split it into two releases. Why was this? And do you see the two
as standalone records or still part of an overall project?
Both, I think with double albums both parts should work separately
as well as together. I think that's what's exciting about releasing
the two discs separately at first and then repackaging them later as
a double album... it will be a bit like watching a movie and then a
year later watching the sequel, then buying the dvd boxset I guess.
Like Neverending story 1 and 2.
4) On your last album you collaborated with Marianne Faithfull on
the superb track Magpie. Can you talk us through who you worked with
this time around?
The duet for this album was with the singer and fiddle player Eliza
Carthy. I wrote a song called "The Bachelor" for two voices,
for a spinster and a bachelor. She is the spinster voice.. she originally
came in to Olympic studios to play fiddle and I had these lyrics and
threw them her way at the end of the day... it was a spontaneous duet,
we were just totally communicating this story without having to discuss
or prepare anything, that's how a good duet should be I think. She is
an amazing story teller.. one of the world's greatest folk singers I
think.. It was such an honor to work with her.
5) Your lyrics are what fascinate me most about your recordings.
There always seems to me to be a wonderful mystery about them that leave
the listener to tease out possible meanings. Can you give me an idea
of the themes for your new songs?
Loneliness, self destruction and pessimism.. The songs are from
a time when I had closed my heart off from any romantic feelings or
from the idea or possibility of love. There is an exploration of male
stereotypes and archetypes.. the selfish male bastard who fucks around
and breaks hearts and never wants to marry (the bachelor, Theseus) the
career obsessed lonely business man (Theseus, oblivion), the suicidal
poet (the sun is often out), the boy who is becoming man and looking
for a bond with his father (Blackdown), the Catholic son of a vicar
who chooses his duty to his religion over true love (Damaris), the American
soldier boy who wants to go to Iraq and play war, shoot to kill (Oblivion),
the political/social activist (Hard Times/Battle)... the list goes on!
6) Do you feel these albums capture specific times and places in your
All the albums are like chapters of a diary.. I just reached chapter
four with this last album.
7) It has been said that your last album gained more attention because
it was apparently more "accessible". I don't think that's
entirely true, and like to think its qualities are enough on their own
to gain merit, regardless of how it fits into the commercial scene.
Does the perception of your albums concern you?
It just had a huge marketing budget behind it... I don't think the
sound is particularly commercial in hindsight.. I think in about ten
years people will be able to hear the album for what it is and maybe
see and enjoy the more experimental side to the album. I am not concerned
with being misunderstood or misinterpreted anymore.. it is something
that comes with age and experience, my duty is only now to keep my focus
on producing and writing the best music that I can.. to not let any
fear of ridicule or commercial failure into the creative process.
8) Who have you been listening to recently? And have any of these
artists had any impact on this album?
I only really start listening to other music once my albums are finished...
I listen to a lot of "classical" music to de-stress or to
take on walking trips or get to sleep to while making an album.. composers
like meredith monk, henry purcell and stephen micus. On the flip side
I listen to a lot of music like recent Britney or Lil Kim to dance to..
any hard super electronic produced pop or hip hop...I really like a
group called Brick and Lace and I still have a big thing for late 90's
9) If you were, somewhat unrealistically, only allowed three albums,
desert-island-discs style, what would they be? And what is it about
those albums that captivate you?
That is a bloody hard question to answer so I'm going to go from
the top of my head....
Joni Mitchell "Ladies of The Canyon". a recording of Henry
Purcell "Dido and Aenas" Kate Bush "The Dreaming"
10) You've already announced four dates in March. Do you have an
extensive tour in the pipeline? And would you like to play some of the
I've just confirmed about 9 or 10 festivals over the summer across europe
and a huge american tour.... all to be announced very soon. I'm very
excited to playing many states and cities I have never ever played before..
It's going to be one hell of a journey and I plan to enjoy every moment.
11) Good luck with both records, I for one cant wait to hear
Finally, which do you prefer, chips or cream buns?
Chips all the way... with mayo. I once got fired from a restaurant
for sticking my finger in the mayo all the time, my bad.
Thanks to Patrick for his time and to Heather at
Big Machine Media for setting it all up.