Saturday, 11 October 2014

Sounds Like Interview: The Magic Lantern - Love Of Too Much Living

Love Of Too Much Living cover art

Ahoy there and Happy Saturday. And it really is a Happy Saturday too as I'm about to bring you the second of my "Sounds Like" interview features, which I hope you enjoy reading (and if you don't, please keep it to yourself, I can't stand audience participation). 

Today, I'm exceptionally pleased to be bringing you yet another fine act associated with PinDrop Publicity. The Magic Lantern and the exceptional new album "Love Of Too Much Living". Jamie Doe, the brilliant singer/songwriter/musical genius behind the act agreed to be gently probed by me (and I mean, who wouldn't fancy having that done...?) and here is the end result, chaos, classical guitars and Kleenex. No finer combination I think you'll agree. 

1. Your new album “Love Of Too Much Living” seems like a real labour of love – and it has a very intense feel to it. Do you think that keeping the instrumentation as simple as possible plays a part in this?

Yes I was really keen with this record to focus on the intensity that comes with stripping everything away, of trying to distill something to make it stronger. I think of these songs as miniatures, where the world, mood or experience they suggest is greater than the sum of their parts. In the same way an artist implies a face with a few lines, I spent a long time in the studio thinking about how I could make each song more powerful by the space I leave around it. I know for some people, all they’ll hear is what is there but I like the idea that with so much space, you leave room for the listener to colour in the arrangement themselves.

2. I noticed from your bio that you studied philosophy. Do you feel that this influences your lyric writing?

Ha! I don’t know! Certainly not stylistically as the language of analytic philosophy is pretty dry. If there is a connection it’s that the same impulse which drives me to write songs is what drew me to study philosophy. I’m curious about people. I think we’re remarkably fragile but surprisingly resilient and I have this urge to tell people that it’s going to be alright. I think that most of the time we’re doing our best but I really believe we could be better. Trying to understand what that could be but forgiving ourselves when we fail to reach it is something I think about a lot.

3. The album was recorded live – I love the idea of this, as I think you can capture more emotional depth and genuine feeling that way – would you agree or not?

Recording the album live was something that just felt like the right thing for these songs but posed some technical challenges in the studio. I don’t think it’s the only way to convey emotional depth, there are plenty of very moving studio albums where everything is multi-tracked, chopped, diced and edited but for the kind of record I wanted to make I wanted to create the impression of playing the songs directly to the listener in a very personal way. The way I play and the type of songs means there will always be some imperfections with each take. It took me a little while to be comfortable with that but once I stopped worrying that every take had to be perfect it freed me up to concentrate on ‘performing’ the songs rather than trying to just ‘record’ them and I think that helped to make each track sound like its being played just for you. 

4. From listening to the tracks, I can see that there may be inevitable comparisons drawn between your style and other artists like perhaps Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake, but there are also some lovely traditional folk music touches too – such as in your song “28 Years Old”. Who has influenced your music most – whether well known or otherwise?

Influences are a funny thing. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and as a kid I always wanted to be a jazz pianist before picking up the electric guitar when I was 16 and wanting to play like Jimi Hendrix, then when I was 18 I got a classical guitar and wanting to play like Bert Jansch. But the singer that has influenced me the most is definitely Chet Baker. He sings with a such an unshowy simplicity that long before I started writing my own songs I’d learnt to sing along to all of his records. After Chet, there are just so many… when I lived in Bristol I discovered West African music for the first time and played in this crazy group with a flamenco guitarist, kora player, mbira player, I learnt so much in those three years. Since then, I’ve tried to play and learn as much as I can about lots of music but in particular I’ve been very lucky to spend time and becomes friends with a lot of musicians who really inspire me like This Is The Kit, Nick Mulvey, Fred Thomas, Sam Lee, Zac Gvi, Jiri Slavik, Alabaster DePlume and too many to name here!

5. The record was released on 29th September. Can you let my readers know if you’ve got any gigs planned to promote the album?

Yes the album came out on the 29th September and I’m currently on a UK tour promoting it. I hope some of your readers can come along to one!

09/10              The Speak Easy at Fudge Hull^
10/10              The Fuel CafĂ©                      Manchester^
12/10              The Independent Cafe       Scunthorpe^
16/10              Catweazle Club                   Oxford
20/10              St Pancras Old Church      London 
24/10              The Grain Barge                  Bristol* 
25/10              The Goods Shed                  Stroud*
26/10              The Lexington                      London*
27/10              Norwich Arts Centre            Norwich* 
28/10              Portland Arms                       Cambridge*
29/10              The Loft Sessions                Brighton*
30/10              Railway                                  Winchester* 
31/10              UCLU Folk Society              London
02/10              The Jam Factory                  Oxford
12/11              The Green Note                   London
18/11              Woodburner                          London
19/11              Bath Gallery                          Bath
05/12              House Show                            Fife
10/12              The Carlton Cinema             Westgate^
11/12              The Lighthouse                    Deal^
13/12              Irregular Folk                        Oxford

 6. I played this album late last night and again this morning. It did actually make me cry, both times. Will you pay for my next box of tissues?

Yes of course I’ll pay for the tissues! But seriously, I’m really glad you were able to relate to it. Since the record has been out I’ve been really pleased to see different people’s reactions to it and how different some interpretations are from what I thought about when I wrote the songs. More than anything though, I hope people who hear this record are able to find in it something that speaks to them and their own experience.

7. What’s next for you? I mean obviously, I think being interviewed by me is the pinnacle and it’ll be hard to top it…but...

Well after I get over the honor of The General interview, I’m focusing on touring for the rest of the year as well as getting together a collection of covers and remixes of the songs from ‘Love Of Too Much Living’ by some friends and fellow musicians including Rozi Plain, Sam Lee, Emilia Martnesson, This Is The Kit and others. It’s going to be out as a free download before Christmas along with a special vinyl version of the album which I’m really excited about. Then I’m going to lie down, sleep for a few days, and then go away somewhere to think about the next one!

You can find out more about Jamie here:

And follow him on Le Twitter here:

You can also buy his astonishingly fantastic album here:

Please please consider giving The Magic Lantern an hour or two of your time, this is quite simply a delightful album, start to finish. 

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