July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Back from the US part two…
I loved every single one of the shows on this US tour and was truly touched by the kindness and warmth of everyone who came to see me play. Special thanks also go to some of the organisers for their enthusiasm and trust – I’m thinking in particular of the great team at The Exploratorium and Resonance curator Wayne Grim, who were the first to invite me for a 2014 show that had to be cancelled due to my lack of visa at the time, of Peter Broderick and Andrew Neerman of Beacon Sound for the Seaview and Portland shows, of Ronen Givony of Wordless Music for the New York show, and King Britt in Philadelphia.
I unfortunately have few high-quality photos of the shows, but here are a few tpictures from Constellation in Chicago, where I was very excited to finally be able to meet the whole Thrill Jockey team, and pictures from one of the most special shows on the tour, the Sou’wester Lodge in Seaview, Washington.
Seaview is a tiny town on the coast of Washington, about two hours’ drive from Portland, and the Sou’Wester Lodge is a very special place indeed: a 1892 lodge surrounded by vintage trailers and trees, the sea just a few hundred metres away… The atmosphere at Seaview is so serene and everything contributed to make this a special day: Peter Broderick gave a truly beautiful opening set, Liz Harris aka Grouper did a sound installation in one of the trailers, the sound was great thanks to the Beacon Sound PA and engineer Jason Powers, and last but not least delicious food was served at the end of the show, everyone sitting at the same huge table , with the night drawing near and finally engulfing us… Here are a few pictures of the show that can give you an impression of the afternoon’s atmosphere…
Another highlight of the tour was doing a session for David Garland’s WNYC’s Spinning on Air radio show: I had recorded a session and interview with David 10 years ago and it was such a pleasure to reunite with him after all these years! You can listen to the programme here and also watch this video of me covering the song from The Night of the Hunter, “Pearl’s Dream” aka “Once upon a time there was a pretty fly”, which I now play at almost every show.
A few articles and interviews were published during the tour, including Time Out Chicago, Portland Mercury and Classicalite, and last but not least I got my first review in the New York Times for my New York show!
I’d like to end this post by sharing a drawing made by someone who attended my Portsmouth show: one of my favourite songs to play live is “This hammer breaks”, especially the ending, which until now had always brought images of some kind of nuclear alarm to my mind, but as the tour went on, nicer images came into my brain, specifically – for some reason – “Star Wars”, until in Portsmouth I actually strongly visualised some mice battling with laser swords throughout the ending of the song… I told the crowd about it and one audience member, Alyssa Grenning, did this drawing, which I just love and I think is the perfect epilogue to this tour!
Thanks so much everyone for your support and interest, as always your words and presence really mean a lot to me! Wishing you a wonderful summer :-)))
July 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
I have been back from my US tour for one week and am slowly recollecting my physical strength, my head still full of wonderful images and memories from what has proved to be my most fulfilling tour on every level – I truly do not regret the amount of time and effort that’s gone into getting the US visa and booking that tour as it’s been 100% worth it!
Life when you’re touring pretty much consists of packing and unpacking your suitcase constantly and making sure you don’t miss your plane (especially true if like me you’re travelling alone and no one is there to tell you what time you should get up and get ready to go), so I did not have time to update this website while on the road, although I did do facebook, which is faster to do. So I’ll give you an update in two or three parts on all that went on for my music in June, and there’s been a lot!
First things first, Christophe Thockler’s wonderful video for “I’m kin” was unveiled at the start of my tour.
Christophe was interviewed about the video on The Plus Paper and on The Creators Project, and you can also read Christophe’s own words on the video and see some stills on his website. Thank you so much Christophe!
I was invited by The Vinyl Factory to make a 100% vinyl mix, and after the two purely Jamaican mixes I did for Solid Steel and FACT (which were actually also 100% vinyl!), this time I decided to focus on the rest of my record collection, going back to old favourites and tying the past with the present. I hope you will love those tracks as much as I do, and you can listen and read what I wrote about the mix and some of its tracks here.
One of the highlights at the beginning of my US tour was getting to do a KEXP session in Seattle – here is the full session below, and you can check out photos taken on that day here.
More from me soon!
Ten years of Iker Spozio artwork, LSO St Luke’s photos and setlist, cover versions, Lee Perry tape, and more!
June 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
I would like to start this update with a celebration of my ten years of artistic collaboration with Italian artist Iker Spozio. On 23rd May 2005, my second album The Golden Morning Breaks was released and marked the beginning of my collaboration with Iker : ever since then, I’ve had the great privilege of having Iker illustrate and design every single one of my records, gig posters and websites. We both believe in the importance of the record being a beautiful physical object and it’s been awesome to know that whatever the musical direction I was taking, Iker was going to be able to translate it into visual terms way beyond my expectations each and every single time. You can see more of Iker’s work for me on my website and more of his work in general on his website. Thank you so much Iker!!!! :-)))
Thanks so much to everyone who came to the LSO St Luke’s show in London on 24th May and to Francis Gallagher for these beautiful photos! I really had a brilliant time playing in that amazingly beautiful space!
Here’s the setlist of the show, which those of you living in the US and planning to come to the US shows starting on 11 June can have a look at if you feel like knowing what’s in store for you!
1. Holding Horses
2. I’m Kin
3. This Hammer Breaks
4. Salina Stars
6. Soul Alphabet
7. The Weighing of the heart
8. O Willow Waly (from the film The Innocents)
9. Captain of None
10. Geometría del Universo.
11. Once upon a time there was a pretty fly (from the film The Night of the
12. Breaking Up the Earth
As you can see, the set now features two cover versions of songs taken from the soundtracks to two films, The Night of the Hunter and The Innocents.
If you’re not familiar with the films and the songs, I strongly urge you to watch the films, and in the meantime, if you’re curious as to what the originals sound like, here are two excerpts from Youtube.
Speaking of music that I like, here are more things that you can have a look at and listen to.
If you’ve read and heard some of my recent interviews, you’ll have noticed I keep mentioning a reggae tape containing mostly Lee Perry productions which my parents bought when I was very little (probably 4, as the compilation’s last selections are from 1979 and I was born in 1976). To this day my parents have no recollection of when or where they bought that “Kings of Reggae” tape, my best bet being that they got it at a motorway petrol station and were probably attracted by the Bob Marley mention (they’re definitely no reggae heads! ;-)). In any case, blessed be the day of that purchase, because hearing gems such as “Roast fish and corn bread”, “Return of the super ape”, “Come along” and “Little flute chant” probably had quite an influence on my subsequent development as a musician!
American radio programme The Dinner Party Download invited me to select my ideal dinner music for their programme.
Finally, in connection with a special concert held at the Barbican in April with music influenced by Terry Riley, I was among the artists to whom the Boiler Room asked what it is about Riley’s music that we like.
On the live front, I will be flying to San Francisco on 9th June to start my US tour, I’m very excited indeed to be hitting American shores for the first time since 2008 and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the stage with musicians that I love – you can see the full details on the live page and on my Songkick.
I will also be playing my first concert in Brussels since 2007, on August 24th, courtesy of Ancienne Belgique at the Park Royale (free event).
As always, thanks for your support!
May 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
So many things happening and too much travelling for me to update this newsletter as often as I would want to! Don’t forget you can check out my Facebook page for more regular updates, even if you’re not a Facebook user.
On the live front, unfortunately my two shows at the Cappadox festival in Turkey this weekend are cancelled due to legal reasons. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Lots of photos were taken at my show in Lisbon’s ZDB, both here and here – some of them are truly beautiful, and I had a very special time there, thanks ZDB! Thanks also to Fractured Air for the show in Cork’s Opera House and to GNRation in Braga!
More interviews and things to listen to this week: a long interview in English on the 405 and also on Music Won’t Save you, both in English and Italian (the interview was originally published in Rockerilla last month).
I had a double page spread in the cultural supplement of Portugal’s biggest national newspaper Publico, Ipsilon, here’s the link to the full article and a nice photo below!
I had the great and unexpected pleasure of Captain of None being chosen on the Album de Minuit radio show on France Inter, so for those of you who understand French, head here to listen to the show and the mini-interview in which I was asked what is my favourite midnight album.
I made a second 100% Jamaican mix, this time for FACT Magazine, focusing on songs that have specifically influenced Captain of None. Here’s the full text I wrote about the mix, and as always, thanks for your support! :-))))
My second 100% Jamaican mix, this time for FACT Magazine, focusing on songs that have specifically influenced Captain of None. Read the full text I wrote below:
This mix includes music which has specifically influenced me in the making of my fifth album Captain of None, mostly from the point of view of song-writing, interpretation, production, or just a general “feel” in the music, for lack of a better word. No other song encapsulates how these various aspects of music-making are intertwined in Jamaican music better than Burning Spear’s “Door Peeper”: released in 1969, the combination of Burning Spear’s voice, percussion, compressed horn line, minimal instrumentation and lyrics, and dry but deep production make this song one of the most earth-shaking I’ve ever heard. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Scientist’s “Dangerous Match 1” from 1982 sounds like underwater swimming in weird waters and shows how abstract and stylized Jamaican music can be. Tapper Zukie’s “Simpleton Badness” is a perfect example of idiosyncratic toasting, crazy tape manipulation and radical production from 1973. The Lee Perry-produced “Long Time Ago” by Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus marvellously mixes traditional Nyabinghi drumming and intense chanting with Perry’s extremely dense production style , and I just love how the volume and intensity increase unexpectedly at the end of the song with the arrival of a killer bassline. Noel Ellis, son of Alton, has one of my favourite voices, but I chose this track especially for the mind-blowing guitar parts featured in the dub version – guitar perfection in my opinion! When I first heard Augustus Pablo’s “Pablo in Fine Style”, the intricacy and delicateness of the melodica reminded me of baroque music and Mozart, which are not obvious reference points when you’re listening to Jamaican music! Another Lee Perry production, the unusual sounding “Paul Bogle” by King Burnett (NB: attribution to this singer has been debated, but that’s how it’s credited on the 7” label): slow and melancholy with a meandering melody, it’s one more example of how Jamaican music can sound so far from the clichés it’s unfortunately too often associated with. Niney’s “Weeping Lotion” is the opposite, a fast and frantic high-energy feast which is just amazingly mixed! With “Collins Sweat” by Collins Music Wheelers and Wackies Rhythm Force’s “Black Africa”, the amazing flute bended in ways reminiscent of early BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the lilting melodica against the half-tribal half-machine-like backdrop show once again the Jamaican knack for abstraction rooted in physicality which I’ve found so inspiring.
Prince Far I’s voice and vocal treatment on “Plant Up”, Tapper Zukie’s razor-sharp “Man Ah Warrior” and Little Madness’s stirring a cappella on “Mother Country Version” are more examples of the power of the combination of voice and minimal accompaniment in Jamaican music. The Gladiators’s classic “Bongo Red” has guitar that I’m jealous of and excellent lyrics to boot. Black Kush (also known as Black Kish)’s “Natural Rock” is a rare example of acoustic guitar in Jamican music, and its minimal approach to percussion also struck a chord with me. Last but not least, I just had to close with a track that I heard in my childhood: “Return of the Super Ape” is one of the many Lee Perry/Upsetters songs contained on a tape that my parents bought in the late 70s and which we played in the car on long trips. To this day I just love this track and still find it totally unique and one of a kind: you can never be sure of what it is that you’re hearing on this song: monkeys, spanners falling on the floor in a metal house, a jazz band lost in Jamaica, soap bubbles transformed into notes… before one of the best breaks and song finales of all time…
April 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
The “Thank You Jamaica” mix I did for Solid Steel can be listened to on their soundcloud and website, where you will find a text I wrote to accompany the mix. I hope you will love the songs I selected as much as I do!
You can also hear me interviewed on American radio NPR and on the Barbican’s podcast in anticipation of my concert in London on 24th May at LSO St Luke’s presented by the Barbican and Artic circle (tickets here), and read an interview in Polish for Nowa Muzyka here.
I have also updated the lyrics section of the website to include all the lyrics of Captain of None.
April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
You can finally view Naoko Tanaka’s incredible video for “Captain of none”, I hope you will love it as much as I do!
The video was premiered on Ad Hoc with an interview dealing specifically with the video and on the Nouvel Obs with a short interview in French.
You can also read another interview in German on Culturmag.
I also started a series of posts on my Facebook showing pictures from the recording of the album and explaining how each song was made. I will do one big post on this blog here once I reach the end of the album, but in the meantime, you can have a look on my Facebook for “Holding Horses”, “I’m Kin” and “This Hammer Breaks”.
And tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Holland where I’m playing in ‘s-Hertogenbosch at the FAQ festival on Saturday 18th April.
April 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Captain of None
has been released in Japan by Plancha and I did two dub-influenced versions of both “I’m Kin” and “Captain of None” for the Japanese CD which you can now stream from the Thrill Jockey website and buy from Itunes (you can buy the whole album or buy the tracks individually).
Here are some awesome photos of the album in Tower Records Shibuya and Tower Records Shinjuku in Tokyo last week!
Last but not least, I was asked by Self-Titled Magazine to choose 5 of my favorite Jamaican versions, so if you want to add some Jamaican dub goodness to your life head this way!
The video for “Captain of None” and the Solid Steel mix are coming up this week, so keep your eyes peeled for more news! :-)))