Change comes to us all – even musicians.
Jamie Lidell certainly seems to embrace this. From his work with Super Collider on the English artist has continually sought out fresh ideas, shedding his creative skin on a regular basis. New album ‘Building A Beginning’ continues this process, featuring a new method of writing, a new method of performance, and a new home.
2013’s electro funk inspired self-titled effort completed the performer’s deal with Warp Records, leading to a spell of introversion. Chatting during a rare trip home to London, he openly admits that he needed to start anew. “There are pro’s and con’s to any kind of contract, right? You have the security of the contract but you also have the burden of it. So towards the end of it, it felt I needed a fresh start. I needed to sort of feel like I had a new set of team, fresh faces. Just a chance to start over.”
“I wanted to make sure that I really wanted to do the work,” he insists. “It was going to be something that was going to be making my life better, making it exciting. That’s the thing: having a fresh start is a good buzz, as you feel like you can do your thing. It's a blank page.”
Now based in Nashville, Jamie Lidell began sketching out potential fresh directions, seeking out new musical topographies. Work as a co-writer followed, but he was forever jotting down sketches, marking out ideas.
“I worked with a lot of other people and as a result I generated a lot of material, and I also worked out what it was that I liked when those songs worked. When I did a song I thought, why does it work so well? I was just like, well, it’s just the core of the song is solid; it’s the sort of song that you pick up a guitar and it speaks on its own. It doesn’t need a lot of trickery. I guess I like all the gadgets and I like all the trickery, but I think you can get blinded by that.”
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What followed was a journey into soul. Jamie Lidell has always been a fan of vintage R&B – right back to breakout record ‘Jim’ – but ‘Building A Beginning’ frames this in a new light. “Obviously back in the day songs were really, really crafted and a lot of that we’ve lost,” he argues. “So I think I just wanted to make an album of songs. I guess in that way it’s really quite Nashville, too.”
“I also wanted to make sure that everything I was talking about was something that was really going on, something that meant something to me. I think that’s where the soul comes from; you’re digging into something that’s close. It’s a personal thing.”
The new material is informed by Jamie Lidell’s new life as a family man – happily married (his wife co-writes much the lyrics on the upcoming album, and shot the cover) he also recently became a father. It’s this shift in priorities and responsibilities that underpin much of his new work – such as new cut ‘Julian’, written in honour of his son.
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It’s a very specific writing universe we operate in...
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“She and I are super close anyway but now we’re closer than ever,” he says. “You know, since everything… it just kind of gets you. There was no choice but to make it. Other times I would say, 'hey, I need some help with this verse' and she would just sit with me and we would just work through it. She likes to work how I like to work; she just likes to have inspiration, and write quickly. She’s not very good at you know doing something that she doesn’t believe in. It’s a very specific writing universe we operate in and that keeps it really intense.”
Recorded over a three year period, ‘Building A Beginning’ boasts an imposing cast – more of whom have never actually met one another. “None of the album is recorded by all the same musicians in one room,” he tells Clash. “It was a process of lengthy overdubs and re- writes. It was all Frankenstein-ian in that way.”
Yet the material hangs together remarkably well. A fresh-sounding salute to soul, it’s the sound of Jamie Lidell being as open and honest as possible – working alongside the people he loves and trusts more than anyone else in the world. It’s clearly had an impact on him – his mood is buoyant, jubilant almost, with ideas bubbling from every sentence.
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I feel like I know what I’m trying to do and it’s really working...
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“Musically I’m really satisfied,” he smiles. “I feel like I know what I’m trying to do and it’s really working. That’s hard, especially when you don’t have tonnes of money and people are doing it for the love. They’re top players so I feel really like we are all doing it for the music, which is amazing. I feel really lucky because, technically, I should be paying them three times what I’m paying them.”
It’s an old school ensemble – tight, riding the beat fast, and playing in a completely unpretentious style. “I’ve got what will be an eight piece band; we’ve already done two shows,” he explains. “I wanted to have a band that had an independent spirit that just kind of rolled with me and we can just destroy the songs off the record. It’s crazy we’ve only done two gigs and it feels like it’s pretty much a perfect fit for me.”
Perhaps in music – just like in love – when you know, you know.
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'Building A Beginning' will be released on October 10th.
Catch Jamie Lidell at the following shows:
26 Brighton Concorde 2
27 London KOKO
28 Manchester Gorilla