Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Someone To You”?
I can! I wrote Someone To You at the end of a month long writing trip to LA. Writing trips are funny because you’re often working with a new person every day for an extended period of time, so there’s really no guarantee that you’re gonna have any chemistry or that the song you write is any good. What you do get by working with new people is a different perspective, people with different influences, so a different take on your music. Someone to You is the product of a session where the chemistry was great and it’s a little bit different from anything else I’ve got whilst still being me.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Well I’d done a lot of touring in the year before I wrote it and played a run of festivals for the first time. When you play festivals you need as many up tempo, energetic songs in your set as you can fit to keep people interested. During that run I was determined to concentrate on writing songs that are loads of fun to play live, so more than anything that was the biggest inspiration for this one.
How was the recording and writing process?
The most important thing for me was to keep it upbeat and poppy but get it to fit in stylistically with all my other songs. As I’d collaborated with someone new there’s always going to be the danger that it sticks out from my other songs and any identity that you’ve built with your music is lost a bit. I recorded it with a producer that ive worked a lot with here in Toronto so that helped to keep it sounding like me. That process essentially involves him being really grumpy at me until I sing it correctly.
What role does the UK play in your writing?
Well although I live in Toronto at the moment Liverpool will always be my home. Songwriting is really about condensing all your experiences and picking the bits you want to talk about in that particular 3 and a half minutes of music. So the UK, and my life living there informs my song writing totally. I’m obsessed by the sea, by setting out and coming home, and that’s absolutely because of the fact that I grew up in a port city. I don’t shut up about the sea in my songs, me!
I understand you used to be part of the Anglican Cathedral Choir on Liverpool – How has church influenced you as an artist?
It’s interesting really because I’m not particularly religious. The Cathedral has had a massive impact on my love of music and my love of making and performing it, but none of those motivations are anything to do with an ideology. More of the building itself. The feeling of filling such a glorious, massive, beautiful expanse of space with music is addictive, it gets in your bones to the extent that it’s the only thing you can comprehend doing. When you perform in a place like that you have a duty to honour the generations of people that tirelessly and skilfully dedicated their lives to building it. So every performance, regardless of how many people are there to hear it, has to be totally dedicated. That’s the greatest influence on me now as a performer I think.
How’s your new EP coming along?
It’s all finished now, we’ve just gotta figure out the best way to put it out. I have a song on there I wrote ages ago that now sounds like it’s about Donald Trump, and it’s not! That’d be tedious! But it really sounds like it is, so I’ve gotta figure out what to do with it. It’d be a real shame if I couldn’t use it because it’s one of my favourites.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Probably: “THIS REALLY ISN’T ABOUT DONALD TRUMP. LOOK, I WROTE IT 2 YEARS AGO WHEN EVERYTHING WAS RELATIVELY FINE AND NO ONE HAD VOTED FOR TOTALLY MAD STUFF YET.”
What aspect of life, dreams and death did you get to explore on this record?
Oh man, I am a big sleepwalker so all my life is a battle against not doing wild things in my sleep. I live on the 14th floor and have a balcony so any music I release is a celebration that my dreams haven’t involved getting a bit too close to the edge yet!
Any plans to hit the road?
Yeah, I’m gonna be touring all of Canada and the US in October and November. Canada is ace, and massive, and America is always brilliant to play live in. If only as a reminder that it’s a country of really cool, funny, charismatic people. And of the dangers of judging an entire population based on the actions of one orange madman, or by what we hear on the news!