Louder Than The Music Interview – 24th November 2011
Singer/songwriter Liam Blake released his debut album, ‘You And Other Stories’ earlier this year. With festival appearances this summer at both Greenbelt and Glastonbury, his hook laden pop songs have been featured on the BBC and continue to entertain audiences during his persistent touring. LTTM caught up with Liam to find out more.
For those who haven’t heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
I’ve been writing, recording and touring in different bands and as a solo artist for about ten years. I gave up a degree in Law and German to study for a BA (HONS) in Contemporary Performing Arts, majoring in music and after graduating formed my first group with whom I played for about four years. Other projects followed before I decided to be a solo artist and moved down from Preston to Bath where I studied for my Masters. I had three weekly residencies in Bath whilst I was studying and that’s how I came to know producer Chris Hughes and eventually sign to his label, Helium Records, who released my album ‘You And Other Stories’ in July this year.
Tell us a little bit about your album ‘You And Other Stories’ and what the inspiration behind it was?
The songs on the album span the last ten years and as I have always continued to revisit and perform them it made sense that they should be assembled together to make a record. It’s interesting for me listening back, because there are eleven autobiographical songs which came to be over a decade and so the whole album plays like a diary of my twenties!
Liam Blake – You & Other Stories: Which is your favourite track on the album and why?
My answer to this question changes all the time but at the moment I think my favourite track is ‘Heart & Soul’ which is going to be my next single. I think it’s the most anonymous track on the record, saying less about me and more about stuff that might be interesting to other people.
What’s your song writing process?
I seem to be writing songs most of the time and in different contexts which means it’s hard to describe my process, but I suppose most of the time my songs are born out of guitar parts or chord sequences which I might stumble on and find interesting. From there I usually find a melody by singing along phonetically until a line fixes in my head. Then it’s a process of deduction, where I establish my impression of the overall feel of the thing at which point I can examine what’s been going on internally to work out what it is that’s taken me there and what my subconscious wants to write about. The final process is one of reduction where I try to identify the song’s essence and remove those aspects that seem complicated or verbose, in the hope that it might become meaningful to someone else.
If you could work with any song writer, who would it be and why?
There are so many writers I would love to work with and all for different reasons but mainly to discover how much of their writing is/was process and how much pure inspiration: Cole Porter; Holland-Dozier-Holland; Lennon/McCartney; the Gibb brothers; Carole King; Paul Simon; and Harry Nilsson just for starters!
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I don’t consciously try to write within a certain genre but broadly speaking I think the product of my endeavours tends to be observational and confessional song writing which I present in a folk/pop style, largely due to the nature of my voice and the fact that I usually write on acoustic guitar. My influences are vast but I guess amongst those whom you might identify most immediately would be the likes of Cat Stevens, James Taylor, the Beatles and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
What advice would you give to any aspiring singer/songwriters out there?
My advice to all upcoming singers and songwriters is to get out there and do what you do as much as you can to establish your own voice, whether you’re a writer, performer of both
How would you define success in your career as a singer?
For me success manifests in many ways. If I’m out there and loving what I’m doing I think that’s a form of success and if somebody says to me that they enjoyed my gig or my album then I’ve won the jackpot. Oh and a few million quid would be nice too!
You’re stuck on an island, it’s hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?
4’33” by John Cage to defy the situation or ‘Mr Blue Sky’ by ELO to celebrate it!
What does the next year hold for Liam Blake?
I’m going to keep on writing and keep on gigging!
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