Changes can be liberating, scary or simply necessary. Whether they happen to you out of the blue or you initiate them yourself, it usually takes a lot of strength to feel comfortable and to adjust yourself to all things new in your life. Considering his musical achievements, JAMIE LIDELL has successfully mastered the art of changing his perspective and approach when it comes to songwriting and experimenting with sounds and styles over the years. Moving to Nashville from England, leaving his long-time label WARP and also the birth of his first child can be added to the major beginnings he has experienced lately.
If there is someone entitled to call an album Building A Beginning, it is definitely Mr. Lidell. So he did. In this new chapter of his recording history, he puts aside all the temptations of his beloved electronic playground in favor of the classic soul song. Gone are the lonely days behind the computer, too. JAMIE LIDELL is back with a full band. A damn good one. We caught up with him to talk about the beauty of simplicity, his new found satisfaction and his love for collaborating with friends.
Spirituality and satisfaction
Apart from longing for an exciting start of something new, there is one other thing the British songwriter has been eager to achieve. Spirituality. Taking a sip from his coffee and soaking up the urban noises of the surrounding, Lidell speaks boldly of his wish: ‘I always wanted spirituality. I come from a family of atheists. My mum and dad are both atheists. I wanted spirituality that perhaps felt right to me. I think I’m finding it, but in my own way. There is no particular God involved, but something is there now that is adding a new richness to everything. An appreciation, really, of the passing moment. When you don’t become complacent about simple things. You can really be happy a lot easier with less. At the same time, I still get upset and frustrated. I’m not a Buddhist. I’m not zen.’
‘I’m satisfied, but I’m still a mess. It just has a calmer centre.
There is satisfaction at the centre of the mess.
It would be amazing to have a Zen button. Instant Zen! Instant karma!’
Until someone manages to invent this button, the Nashville bound musician continues to work hard to achieve this satisfaction when he is working on new songs: ‘I’m quite hard to please. I’m sure that it’s exhausting for everyone involved, actually. I always feel bad about that. As a satisfied person, it would probably come as a surprise to other people how hard it was to satisfy me. I think it’s just experience and knowing how things can be. Whether it’s the quality of a recording or the emotion in a take. Whether it’s how something feels or even the length or tempo of something. All these things go around my brain. I want to try everything out in a different key. It feels like it takes me a while to go down this road and figure out that’s where it should be.’
In a sudden flash of inspiration, JAMIE LIDELL jokes about how he would like things to be done in the future when thinking about recording his ideas: ‘Maybe I should just do it all in one take for my next album. It’s a good idea, actually. A purely one-take-thing. Maybe just some lyrics on a page, but never recorded. The band just improvising. There you go. The next album will be done in a week!’
Teamwork is the key
While fans had to wait three years for Building A Beginning, Lidell spent some time working together with close friends and enjoying the benefits of exchanging the fruits of his imagination with like-minded people. On Jamie Lidell, he heavily relied on electronic experiments. This time, it was a home-made affair that reminded him why he loves to collaborate: ‘I’ve been enjoying co-writing because every time you enter the room to make a song with someone you are in that beginning state. You’ve got nothing on the page. At the end of the day if you have something good to show for it, it’s just really a great feeling. I think you don’t get that if you don’t take the risk to jump into the deep end in a way and kind of make a start on something.’
In this case, Lidell’s decision to involve many of his talented friends turned out to work quite well: ‘I made sure that I surrounded myself with people that are really positive in my life. Mocky is back on there and my friend Justin Stanley.’ While it’s not always easy for artists to hand over their unfinished ideas to others, JAMIE LIDELL doesn’t seem to worry much about this part of collaborating: ‘I got to admit. I like giving something to someone and saying ‘Go crazy. Just do you” and let me not guide you. Sometimes it’s not what you had hoped for, but most of the time it’s definitely at least something you had never thought of before and that is like a new beginning in itself. Being taken by surprise is really nice. Getting parts back by email is like a mini-Christmas moment!’
‘I knew there was something gold in these songs. Well, bronze maybe. Hey, a metal. Something shiny.’
For this shiny core to reveal itself, LIDELL realized that he didn’t have to do endless digging through sonic layer after layer. In fact, he had to step back to let simplicity take over and shape these deeply personal songs. Not an easy thing to do as he recalls: ”With compositions and art, sometimes the simplicity of things is its strength. Adding more would just be a big mistake. “Walk Right Back” would be a good example. it came into focus real quickly and I didn’t want to add too much. In fact, I tried to add more, but quickly decided to take it away again. Sometimes you just know it has to be simple and that’s a great feeling. It’s nice when it’s that clear.’