Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Interview - Fyfe Dangerfield

No, he's not a superhero despite his catchy name. He's the frontman of melodic indie misfits Guillemots and he's released a solo album, 'Fly Yellow Moon'.

Nearly two years after the release of the controversial new direction sound of the second Guillemots album ‘Red’, Dangerfield has decided to take more of a singer-songwriter approach to his music according to his influences. As driving force behind Guillemots, what can he be seeking to achieve through his solo album? - “I always feel like I’m going in circles, like at the moment I’m the opposite and want to make music that sounds like nothing else again but a couple of years back I was just feeling very much like writing just traditional song-writing I guess.”

The single She Needs Me is the most pop-sounding of the album yet entails powerful horns and strings revealing the true musical genius in the classically trained Dangerfield. He described to me his admiration for Neil Young and what little touches can do to a song - “The way he writes, it’s like he doesn’t tend to do stuff that is really out there and you could just make a couple of changes to make it sound really average but it’s just the way he does it makes it sound really beautiful.”

This same description can be applied to Dangerfield’s introspective ballads and satisfyingly to-the-point lyrics such as /I love you endlessly/ on the track When You Walk In The Room, with which the album (not dissimilar to Guillemots) is teeming.

Rory: The songs strike me as being vivacious yet with undertones of sorrow, particularly in ‘She Needs Me’. Which mood do you find it easiest to write about?

Fyfe Dangerfield: I think I probably find it a lot easier to write melacholy, sad songs really. I’m not sure why, I just like ballads a lot and I just feel like I could sit down every day and write a ballad, it might not be very good but...

I have to sort of force myself to write sometimes. I’ve been trying that at the moment, writing the new Guillemots record, trying to force myself to write songs that have a really big rhythmic part in them or something. A part of me is just always wanting to float away and be dreamy. I suppose maybe it’s more the musical tone of it than the lyrical tone of it.

Rory: Talk me through the songwriting process.

FD: It just varies really, there’s not really one way. The way it worked on Fly Yellow Moon I think I wrote in just little moments when I had a bit of time off, write a bit before I was just going out or something. They’d often be written quite quickly but then not quite finished and then I’d finish them 6 months later. It’s hard to say what the songwriting process is. It’ll always be music I generally come up with first. It’ll usually be like I just come up with a melody or something and then I’ll be singing kind of nonsense and eventually words will come out and it’s often as much the way the words sound.

Rory: Was it a deliberate decision to try to create something very different to Guillemots music or was it not quite so pre-planned?

FD: No it wasn’t really pre-planned, I don’t even know if it is that different or if it isn’t really. I think it’s just that most of the songs are very acoustic so that made me feel like I’d be better off doing them by myself.

I dunno, it just seemed to sort of happen really. I knew what I wanted to sound like and the way I was feeling at that time, I just wanted to focus on some way of doing some quite simple and straightforward.

Rory: Relating to the traditional song-writing approach to the album, I hear you are a Neil Young Fan. Did musicians such as Young inspire you to make a singer-songwriter or ‘one man and his guitar’ style of music?

FD: It’s weird cos I love listening to loads of that kind of music but I find that when I try and do it myself I get quite bored a lot of the time but yeah I love him.

As songwriters go he’s one of the best there is, it’s just something about the way he writes it’s so sort of...I’m shit at describing it but just kind of so simple but still manages to do and say things maybe in a way no one else says them and I think just because of the way he sings and plays guitar too.

Rory: How is performing without your fellow Guillemots bandmates?

FD: It’s just different you know, but it’s fine, it’s nice doing my own thing and I have string players on with me so I’m not completely alone for a lot of the gig. I always enjoy playing by myself but I love playing with a band, it’s amazing. But it’s just different.

Rory: If you could form a supergroup with anyone, who would you choose?

FD: Aw man, it’s awful questions like this, I always feels incredibly unimaginative when I’m asked them! [Laughs] Aw man I dunno! I’d probably just wanna do something daft you know like drumming but I can’t really think.

Rory: What are the future plans for the solo project with the Guillemots new album underway? Are you putting the solo music on hold?

FD: The Guillemots stuff is the main thing. I’m just kind of doing gigs here and there really. I’m going back to America for a week at the end of May and I’ll probably just do more bits and pieces of gigs as the year goes on.

Rory: Have you got any festivals planned this summer, solo or otherwise?

FD: I think I’m doing Latitude as a solo thing. I don’t think Guillemots are doing anything this summer though. Oh and Birmingham folk festival solo and hopefully one or two others.

[Laughs] I know that in 5 minutes after this I’ll think of a decent answer for that supergroup question.

I wonder if he did.


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