Thursday, June 16, 2011

From the Archives - James Yorkston Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - James Yorkston Interview


I've just finished reading It's lovely to be Here: the Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent by James Yorkston. It's a great read and is up there with recent excellent music memoirs by Dean Wareham and Luke Haines. This tour diary is made even more enjoyable because James describes towns and venues in Ireland that I'm very familiar with from years of gig-going. I laughed when James described a sound engineer friend of mine as being, "nice enough, chatty and efficient." On hearing this the sound engineer in question reckoned, "that's like saying I don't sweat much for a fat c**t."

Postcard - Moving Up Country (2002, Domino Records)

The best praise I can give this book though, is that it made me want to go back and listen to a couple of James's albums. I hadn't played James's second full length album, 2004's Just Beyond the River, in years and had forgotten how beautiful it is, a gorgeous stripped-down classic. I interviewed James when he played in Whelan's, Dublin around the time of the album's release and asked him how he came to get labelmate Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) to produce the record: "We went with Kieran because when he heard that we had an album ready to record he said that he was interested. I was a bit shocked and I thought that I don’t really want to do an electronica album but he said, ‘nah don’t be daft James, I don’t want to do one either, I want to do a really stripped down raw album.’"

Postcard - The Lang Toun 10'' (2000, Domino Records)  

James continued, "That’s exactly want I wanted to do so I went to his house and we played each other some music and I just thought that if we could get along with each other in a working way. He played me some demos he had dome for somebody else and they just sounded very raw, there were no effects, there was no reverb or anything like that, it had just been recorded really well with good microphones. So that was exactly what I was after. I wasn’t after a producer who was going to stamp his personality on the record, I just wanted somebody who would let the instruments and the songs speak for themselves and I think that’s what we got with Kieran."

James was a really great man to chat to and over the course of the interview we also touched upon, signing with Domino Records, the success of Franz Ferdinand and what it meant to the rest of the roster on the label, King Creosote, Lone Pigeon and the Fence Collective and the landscape and weather of Fife and West Cork. The full interview can be listened to below.

 James Yorkston & the Athletes - Surf Song

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