So you’ve just released your sophomore album, ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, the follow-up to 2011’s ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’. Where did the name for the new album originate?
It came to me in a dream. It was about me and saying to myself ‘some say the particular feeling goes down the particular path would follow a particular crowd’. So instead I say light so I go down my own path, see my own thing. That’s it.
You ran the Paris half marathon earlier this year. Running seems central to your life. Does it affect your song writing?
Up to a point. How can I explain it… It covers a different focus of my mind a bit more, trying to be general as well as being creative. The discipline you need for completing runs and races, at least for me, links into my mind-stream, my general mind-stream, which is good. It helps me to keep as healthy as possible. Music has so many potential pitfalls health wise and I just wanted to try and maintain a long-lasting career. Being healthy is very important for me anyway, to try and attempt that. So I’m happy that I’m doing it and especially as a big part of my life.
Was there a lot of pressure to follow up on your Mercury-Prize-nominated debut? How did you deal with it?
I didn’t find any pressure, no, because I just make what I want. I don’t need to toe the line so to speak and match particular songs to particular people.
I just make what I want and I’m lucky that I’m able to do that. I know this time around I guess there is a bit of expectation or anticipation for the record. But I have to make my music for myself first and foremost. That’s what I did the first time around and I feel that I should I just keep going along these lines. So if I’m happy with what I make then I hope other people will be. That’s all I can do.
One of the things that stands out when comparing the new album with your debut is the number of guest vocalists present. Could you tell us how did some of these collaborations came about?
I felt this time around that I wanted to get people involved who were going to help enhance this album musically. The idea of getting massive names or household names that would just help with selling record is not really what I care about. It’s more about trying to create something musically that I can have people contribute to in the ways I can’t. I felt the issue was important to get people involved whom I admired as musicians or people that I knew who could help to bring in some magic to the record. So it was a mixture of people that I knew and the people that I admired a lot. I’m just really happy that they all wanted to get involved and help me create an album I’m happy with.
Now that the new album has been released and you’ve had a listen to it, are there any influences that you feel sneaked into the record?
Well the influences… they make up our lives. It’s about trying to maintain a life and gain experiences that are in it. That’s all I to do. I’m trying just to soak up experiences and use that creatively when I should need to. Yeah, that’s really it. I don’t really feel the need to be influenced by any particular artist or music. I listen to a lot of music but I’ll not actually be looking for influences or allow it to seep into my work.
In a previous interview you talked about making “a skeleton of a beat”. In ‘Cold Win’ you sing about the sun going cold on your heart; in ‘Them Waters’ Lucy Rose whispers wearily about “constant calamities”; you’ve got a track called ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, what is the reason behind all this sombreness?
I don’t really feel down overall. It started off in quite a dark place so it goes through personal changes and some bad times. I need to write whilst being in these dark places. But by the end of album recording process when I got to the studio to finish the record off I wasn’t in the same state of mind. So it kind of became a bit lighter. But yeah, you know, it’s life. Life isn’t always great. It’s the same for everyone. It’s always the more extreme things, a mixture of emotions and I felt it was important to be true to myself and not hide behind a particular façade or a character. It is very much about me talking about emotions, be it my own or who it was around me.
Throughout your album you have lyrics such as ‘Maybe it’s time to find out where I really wanna be’ (track 5); ‘I have never found something I believe’ (Sloth Trot); the sudden proclamation of ‘I feel, I feel’ set to strings which is a really beautiful moment on Comatose; are these moments of introspection or existential crisis?
Hmm… it’s a mixture of things. I always think way too much about everything and I feel it’s important to ask myself questions, if I wanted truth or if I wanted to work out something or get over something or develop myself as a human being I have to keep asking myself questions. A lot of my lyrics are very self-consciously based in a sense of I don’t have any kind of real direction when it comes to writing and to my composition. It’s very much about just allowing my mind to be free and whatever comes out I will follow that. So a lot of it is a subconscious thought and stuff that is on my mind or stuff that I’ve either read or seen or overheard or whatever. A combination of things.
You are about to set out on a long UK tour. Anyone that has had the pleasure of seeing you perform will know that your songs change substantially in a live environment. Which of the new album tracks proved most difficult to translate into live performance?
None of them really. We’ve performed most of them live already, about three or four gigs. It’s kind of a case of I’ve got a new band and they are great musicians and we very much wanted to use as much from the record as we could and make it as interesting as possible for us as well as for the listener. I’m quite pleased and quite excited [about the tour].
Last time we spoke to you, you were supporting Metronomy. Fast forward a couple of years and you are about to headline again, after your last tour with Breton. To what extent and how do the two experiences, supporting and headlining, differ for you personally?
Well, supporting is great because you learn. I’ve learned a lot from supporting Metronomy and previous to that supporting Jamie Woon. And it was very much about, for me, observing them and seeing how it works. Seeing how they play live and then seeing how I could relate it to me. It’s great to play and also support, potentially for new people who know nothing about your music, which I think is a great challenge to have. It’s nice to headline I’m not gonna lie. Great to be a headliner.
I’ve learned a lot from supporting. I think it is very important to when you are starting out. I wouldn’t know how to, I would learn but I think it would take longer and it would be more difficult in the beginning if I had started on from the idea of straight into headlines rather than supporting. So I’m pleased that I did it and that I got to support the artists that I really admire.
Last but not least: there seems to be a theme running across your albums. On your debut you talk about pork pies, now you’ve switched to cooking French Fries. What other titbits of British cuisine should we expect in the future?
I don’t know. It just comes to me. It’s a case of how I feel. I don’t really know what’s gonna come next. I love food, I’m a big food fan so I’ve got nothing against putting it into my music. I don’t really think lyrically of what is gonna come. It’s very much a self-conscious thing and I guess I’m always hungry.
By Alex Jasinski