Showcase: Jack Cheshire
Published on August 3rd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
We found ourselves somewhat awe-struck by Jack Cheshire’s recent “Gyroscope” single, awarding it four and a half quails in a recent singles round-up and describing it in the following terms:
Ooh, brooding mystery psych folk loveliness! It’s been a grand year for this rough sort of thing – see also Balthazar, Matthew E. White and Oliver Wilde – and this is as beguiling as any of them.
In fact, as it crashes into its tumultuous final section, it occurs to us that it’s bloody brilliant and we put it on again. Damn, it’s like a one-man Grizzly Bear or something.
Naturally we sought answers, so we stuffed some questions into a tiny little rucksack and sent our resident carrier pigeon off in search of this Cheshire cat. First, though, have yourselves a simultaneous butcher’s at and earful of the song in question…
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
I’ve always had vivid dreams and an overactive imagination. Every time I’ve written anything that I thought was any good I’ve been in some kind of unthinking state. So I suppose there’s a transporting/hypnotic quality to my music.
I think lyrically it revolves around the subconscious and can be pretty obscure/figurative. It’s melodic, dreamy, there are some psychedelic moments and improvised ‘wig outs’. It’s hard to categorize because it has various elements intertwined.
Where are you based, and what do you use to record with?
I am based in South Tottenham, London, have been here for a while. I record onto a Fostex 4-track, use it as a ‘sketch book’ to work on songs before I take them to the band.
Are you signed to a label? If so, how did you come to their attention?
I am still independent but have signed a deal with a distribution company. All the label interest I’ve had has come off the back of radio airplay and album reviews.
Is there a full album in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it? (Feel free to be as abstract as you like…)
LONG MIND HOTEL is released 02/09/2013. We recorded it over 5 days and nights in June last year, at Sawmills studios in Cornwall. It rained for the duration of our stay (which I was secretly glad for).
It was a very focused time. We pretty much worked non-stop; when we finished band takes I was layering up vocal harmonies, Jon was adding percussion, Andrea played mandolin, wurlitzer and piano overdubs, David did some beautiful E-bowed & shimmering guitar layers.
Tommy Williams (our engineer) was relentless, he must have worked fifteen hours straight every day without any dip in concentration. I salute him!
Though the album was written for a while before we went out there, certain sections were left deliberately vague and unrehearsed. I wanted parts to be spontaneous, and some of the arrangements left open as late as possible. Jon and Andrea (drums and double bass) are both jazz players and they prefer to have the freedom to improvise.
We completely reworked one of the songs (“Daily Races”), and others morphed and changed throughout our stay. There’s something about seeing things coming into focus as you work, as opposed to trying to recapture something you’ve already worked out, that makes the process much more engaging.
I hope people listen to it as an album, because I think it has a good flow, and makes best sense in that context. It’s the most dynamic recording I’ve made, I feel like it’s pretty hallucinatory, drawn from eclectic influences and recorded honestly in one go.
Where can we hear your music online?
Which have been your most exciting gigs and/or overall moments so far?
Well I am still pretty obscure so Lauren Laverne playing ‘Gyroscope’ on prime time BBC 6 music was a buzz. I played a solo show to a sold-out Union Chapel (supporting Roddy Woomble), that was pretty magic. We played an epic full band gig at the King’s Place last year, I loved that!
To be honest, just getting the finished albums back from the pressing plants gives me goosebumps.
Got any more coming up? (Gigs, that is…)
We’re playing out at Dragonfly Festival in Sweden 16th August.
Album launch show is at the Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston 27th August. Tickets here.
Full Uk tour to be announced shortly; watch this space!
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Eyes & No Eyes (London), The Resident Cards (Paris), House of Trees (Gothenburg), Sarah Johns Music Party (London).
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Billie Holiday, Fela Kuti, Hank Williams, Can, Thom Yorke (Radiohead and solo work).
Jack Cheshire, thank you.