- How did you get your initial start in music?
Music was always a part of my life from as long as i can remember. I grew up in Wolverhampton with a single mother and listening to music and dancing was a big part of our household. Then at around 6 I moved in with my grandparents and it was a huge part of that household too. My grandfather had a terrific voice. He would be singing more often than not singing and I just adored him for it. It became a big part of my physical expression as a child to go about my day singing my face off. Both pre-existing songs and stuff i made up in them moment. I began writing poetry before I was a teenager. I picked up a guitar and began crafting songs around the age of 15.
At 17 or 18 I began playing out in the live scene in Birmingham. Through other musicians I heard about a guy in Wolverhampton that had a studio in his back yard called ‘Magic Garden Studios’ where we recorded my first record ‘First Blood Mystery’. After releasing this through a friends label based in London one of the employees there took it to Dave Stewart who, after a curious meeting and a speedy writing session signed me to a label he was starting in the UK. That label folded but I used my advance to record ‘The Disconnection’ also at Magic Garden but in a different location on an industrial site. I released it myself and toured it in the UK, then Dave played it for Jimmy Iovine at Universal who then signed me to Interscope and released it in the US and put me on my fist US tour. That’s what inspired my move to the states. There are a lot more details before, in between and after but you get the picture.
- What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
TO BE LOVED BY EVERYONE SO MAYBE ONE DAY I CAN LEARN TO LOVE MYSELF!!!!!!!!!
- How long have you been writing your own music?
With a view to it going out into the world, almost 20 years. As a child I would write all the time too. Simple expressions of my feelings about some event in my home with abstract beats and sounds from a Bontempi organ that I didn’t know how to play. I started crafting songs with conscious direction around the age of 16.
- Who are your top three influences and why?
Musically, As a child Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music and David Bowie played a big part in inspiring me to express myself through music. Japan and the voice of David Sylvian. I discovered Can very young. Bob Dylan, Neil young, Nick Cave are a constant. Kate Bush of course. The honesty and warmth with which Patti Smith writes poetry and the rawness with which she performs is an ongoing inspiration. The recording of Chess Records and Northern Soul music where a big presence in my youth. As well as whatever was on the radio at the time.
- Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?
Funny you should ask—
It’s a retrospective called Deranged To Divine spanning over the last 15 years.
I released the album partly because I knew I was going to be traveling through the UK and EU with Puscifer this summer and the response our latest album has been so great. It’s picked up a lot of new people and I wanted to release something that would be a cohesive yet eclectic, experimental and very personal introduction to my solo work for people who have never heard it before.
When choosing the songs I actually used a close friend for help. I started by simply listening through my entire catalogue and taking note of the songs that to me felt most “necessary”. The songs that had a definitiveness that was expressed by a congruence between the melody and the lyric, generally were the songs that I ended up including. There are two songs that, following that logic, should be on the album but in the end I just couldn’t make them flow in the sequence. Those were “Pick Up The Phone” and “Do You”, which contains the lyric that “deranged to divine” is taken from. In a way, I think those two songs stand alone so well as their own complete little narrative universes that once they are taken out of the context of the album (Tigermending) and EP (Things You Should Know) that they come from it was very hard for me to find a place for them amid all the other songs from different records.
Overall I made a conscious effort not to worry about being objective. I could have gotten a consensus from friends and fans and built the song list from that. But really I wanted the retrospective to be my own personal introduction to my work, for someone who has never heard me before. I didn’t want it to be balanced or have all the “favorites”. More than anything I wanted it to encompass the most eclectic examples of moments in my career where I’ve had a breakthrough and achieved something with a song or recording that was unexpected. ‘Message To Apollo’, ‘Backseat’, and ‘Mother’s Pride’ for instance share nothing in common thematically or mood-wise but the feeling I had while writing and then when they were completed was almost exactly the same: that in spite of whatever ambition or focus I initially had going into the process something inspired happened out of my control and the result was better than anything I could have consciously willed into existence.
There are also a couple of songs on there simply because they have never been released before and I wanted long time fans that bought the record to be getting something that don’t already have.
- Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?
I live in Los Angeles.
As far as I can tell its pretty disconnected, a fucking free for all. There seems to be lots of different little scenes depending on what area you are in. It’s hard to get a single pulse because it so spread out and also I’ve been on tour for the last couple of years.
I love seeing and playing shows at the Wiltern and The Ace Theater. I also have a soft spot for The Hollywood Bowl because I had a great experience seeing Arcade Fire there on the Neon Bible tour and its a pretty magical place but on the whole its not ideal to see a show there.
The Hotel Cafe is actually a good venue to play when you’re starting out and there’s a heavy scene based around there. The bootleg has a great sound and people really come for the concert as there’s nothing else around it. And of course School Night curated by KCRW DJ Chris Duridas is a good place to just show up and trust that there’s something interesting happening every Monday night.
- Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?
LA based trio Autolux just put an album out called ‘Pussy’s Dead’ produced by Boots. Failure just put out their first record in 20 years. Jenny Lee from Warpaint just put out a solo record. Alessandro Cortini is an Italian minimal electronic artist based in LA. He plays with NIN but his solo project is called Sonoio. Telefon Tel Aviv is currently opening for Moderat. Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens Of The Stone Age) is out playing with PJ Harvey right now but his solo stuff is amazing. My friend and collaborator Aidan Hawken is recording new music. My other band Early Winters you could say is LA based, apart from the other singer Justin Rutledge who lives in Canada. We have a new record set for release early next year.
- Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.
Its also a good idea to join the mailing list on my website for regular updates whenever something is happening.