Jamie Lidell - Whole Lotta Feel Good
Monday, 21 April 2008
Jamie Lidell astonished everyone with his second solo album Multiply,the most soulful record to ever come out of the warp stable. Threeyears later he’s back with Jim, a record that captures the currentpopular rhythm n blues explosion and personalises it for the charmingBriton-in-Berlin.
Lidell’s debut Muddlin Gear was a complex mix of growls and distortion and virtually unlistenable when compared to Multiply or Jim. In stark contrast, his newest offering opens with Another Day, a sort of Let The Sunshine In for a new feel good generation. Recorded in the US with Justin Stanley, Jim strips back almost all of the electronics and heralds a potential worldwide hit.
“Justin is a great fella – he’s a real music enthusiast and a great player and owns such a nice self-contained potent studio set up, so I can associate with him on so many levels. It was a real pleasure. And he has a bunch of music families around him – he called all of these amazing people to come by. He’s just a fuckin’ sweet generous guy,” Lidell says matter of factly.
The good weather and geography of Los Angeles injected a huge amount of soul into the sessions for Jamie.
“Waking up in the morning to the perfect blue sky – and me coming from Berlin – the contrast is amazing,” he says. “I knew that was going to spark off some really cool positive music.” Referring to the album’s opener he says: “that was the idea, we condensed the vitamins into the mix.”
After such a good time, could that be the next spot for Jamie-
“You think about it [moving there] when you have a good experience but the reality of living there 24/7 might be very different,” he explains. “It may be a little on the plastic side, you can find your escape here but in LA you’ve got to drive a car to get a coffee and that’s fuckin’ rubbish.”
By the very essence of calling an album your own name, or in this case, an abbreviation of your own name, the album takes on a very personal slant. I was interested to find out the differences and similarities between Jamie Lidell and Jim.
“Jim Shady!” he jokes. “Sure, I mean it’s more, uh… generous and a bit focused in general on a particular part of me and that particular part of me is Jim. I didn’t want to call it Jamie Lidell, because it’s just one part of Jamie Lidell: a dandified, gentlemanly generous, friendly part of me… and that’s a big part of me. It’s an optimistic part of me to throw more adjectives in the mix. It’s me right now. A lot of people like to call me Jim, they call me ‘Jim’ in a friendly way, they don’t often ask ‘Jim’ for money,” he says, which bizarrely puts it all into context.
Songs from Multiply, like Game for Fools, are starkly contrasted with beauties like Wait For Me which seem to signify a transition for Lidell, suggested by one as the former album representing a break-up and the current one representing new found love.
“These songs have universal themes I think people can get a little something from,” he says after a long pause. “It’s kinda like a picture of Jim, he likes to share his life experiences.
“But I’m Jamie Lidell and I don’t,” he says abruptly.
Before we get all tabloid, the conversation quickly comes back to the real world of just how he got to Jim. His immense popularity and two-man touring party has seen him flown around the world several times over the past years and all of these experiences have brought him to this point.
“Gonzo [Gonzales] and Mocky and I, we had the good fortune to be a trio: piano, drums and voice. It’s a lot of fun to work like that and Wait For Me was a new song in the repertoire around the Multiply tour [of Europe],” he explains. “You’d get to a point where you’d say, ‘This is a good song, I want to record it’. It’s all part of the experiences of making music, it all blurs in to a big happy pie to be eaten at your leisure.”
And will Jim be presented as a Vegas revue type showstopper- Somehow we think not…
“A big band- Possibly not,” he says. “I am trying to present the Jim experience with a small number of people but still high octane. I made a brief for myself – obviously touring solo for so many years the idea of doing something massive was daunting so now we have four other people playing and a touring party of nine. I have got into a comfort zone playing on my own so I am looking forward to trying something new. The guys are friends of mine, so we can have a bit of a laugh.
“A couple of them are Berliners, Americans, one from Canada, so they are spread around the world. And one guy from Belgium to represent the EU!”
It seems soul music grows out of some of the least geographically soulful cities in the world. Motown was not called that because there was Mo’ of it, after all, and Lidell having such success writing soul music in Berlin is something of a phenomenon.
“Maybe it comes from a lack [of soul in the city],” he suggests. “You have to make your own entertainment. Berlin is a very hedonistic place, you can go out and get wasted everyday of the week.”
Although for Lidell it’s different. “Finding myself in the studio, I come from an electronic background so having a studio to put drums in and make noise and play every day in a big space [as opposed to the small expensive spaces available in England]… the city offers space, it’s been about people and space rather than Berlin the city with the history and whatnot for me.”
With that electronic background, the question that has always interested me has been when, where or whom the pivotal point was with that made Lidell do away with the bugged out electronics and step up to the mic and sing. The answer is charming; the answer is Jim.
“It comes from a lot of sources, ultimately it’s down to me,” he says. “I make all kinds of music but don’t choose to release it all. It didn’t come from one influence or person, it was a crazy culmination of pushes and pulls and what I was comfortable being and what I set up for myself, making a commercial, radio record. I factored it all in to the mix. I thought to myself ‘Maybe this is my time to get on the airwaves- Am I ready for that-’ and maybe the world might be up for hearing some of me on the radio.’
In signing off he says “I’m going to go for that and filter some of my pop sensibilities and make songs I really love and bring it all together. [And] it felt good.’
Which goes to show, a little bit of feel-good goes a long way.
WHO: Jamie Lidell
WHAT: Jim through Warp/Inertia
WHEN: Out 26 April
MORE: jamielidell.com / inertia-music.com