FAST & LOOSE will be releases on September 19, on Big Stir Records.
Apropos to its title, it’s a full throttle collection brimming with the hooks, harmonies and sophisticated arrangements his fans have come to expect, and bubbling with a freshness and energy that’ll captivate new listeners immediately as one of the UK’s best-kept secrets steps onto a wider international stage.
You released a lot of new music in the last couple of months/years. Inspiration keeps on coming?
There’s been quite a bit a material out lately, and plenty more still to come! I’m blessed/cursed with more ideas than time to realize them!
Fast & Loose is my fifth ‘proper’ album and my first with Big Stir Records. Alongside this are several side projects, and music I produce/create with other bands too.
I guess I benefit from being fairly self-sufficient with writing, performing, recording, mixing, etc myself – but the real thrill is that moment when you catch the first glimpse of a hook or melody, and then it grows into a song. Perhaps by having written quite a few things over the last couple of years, I feel more relaxed about writing than I did when pulling together my first album. Not every song has to be God Only Knows, indulging in the occasional Wild Honey Pie can be good for the soul.
How did Fast & Loose come together?
It came together quite literally fast & loose! Last summer I became a dad for the first time, and in the weeks running up to the birth, several songs emerged. It was in the weeks after my daughter was born though that the bulk was written and recorded. Maybe it was the endless sleepless nights, the hormones, who knows…but it was, and remains a very creative time in my head!
It has also triggered a huge and I think positive change in my writing technique. In the olden days (pre lockdown, pre-baby) I would spend hours and days tinkering with ideas at the piano. Instead, that time is spent being a dad. Which seems to involve a lot of bouncing and rocking a baby to sleep; but also loads and loads of singing. The majority of this album started from a vocal melodic idea and worked out top-down, rather than from a fiendishly elaborate piano part as before.
You are part of the Big Stir family now. What will the biggest change be?
I’m not usually someone to think about fate, but it seems very fortuitous that LA’s favorite record label started to put on events in my favorite pub in Croydon.
A few years back I caught their first Big Stir Britannia shows, about five minutes from my house, and now have a record out with them, as well as write in their zine, and do some mastering for the digital singles CDs!
Alongside the music I put out, for many years I’ve been recording and producing many bands here in London. This has always been a labor of love, and getting the records made that I think need to be made. This is very similar to the ethos at Big Stir and I’m sure lovers of adventurous pop music will enjoy whatever the future holds!
There are some fantastic records out on Big Stir this year – the Spygenius double vinyl is a particular favorite of mine!
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
There’s only one correct way to listen to records, and that is with the listener’s head in an equilateral triangle with the speakers. That said, a large chunk of this album was mixed on headphones in the Barbican library while on my lunch break!
The things my ears are drawn to in the music are some tasty chords ’That Ship Has Sailed’ in particular has my favorite harmony on this album. On a technical level, much of this record draws its harmonic tension from resolving augmenting fourth, within the context of a major chord. It seems to have wormed its way into lots of songs I write lately! However, I hope that listeners feel the energy and enjoyment I felt when making it. There are some sad songs on this too, but making them is always cathartic, a bit like the blues.
2020, what a year?
Indeed! I hope readers have found a way to keep on keeping on. We’re a long way off this thing being over, and inevitably we all have ups and downs, and the lockdown has brought out the best and worst in human behavior. We all know what is going well and what isn’t, so instead of saying how terrible <insert whoever> and their government has been, maybe it’s more useful to look to real leadership; Bill and Ted summed it up best with “be excellent to each other”. So yes, let’s try and be excellent, and wash our hands.