The name of the album is ďHomageĒ, for those who might not have heard it yet,
a homage to whom or what?
Itís just to a sound, to an Era, homage to disco. And itís not pastiche.
Itís not trying to sound like disco, itís actually creating an actual sound
of its own. We tried to be true to the process as possible and that was a
really good experience, it was good fun. Itís all live, itís all acoustic.
There is actually one synthesizer on it, a 1970ís string machine called a
Mellotron, the same sound can be heard on Donna Summerís Love To Love You
Baby! Itís so synthetic but itís great, itís a special sound.
When a lot of people think about disco music, they often think about
synthesizer und electronic sound; however this is not really the case with ďHomageĒ!
There are horns, and full on chorusÖ
Oh yes, itís got strings, horns, bass guitar, drums, percussion, backing
vocals, itís got everything that made disco what it was. Itís just that
whole organic process.
So you are saying the whole organic thing was disco for you?
Yeah definitely, because that was before you had the technologies of Midi or
Sync or even computerized desks etc. It all had to be done using a feeling
and tuition and that was a great process because during that process
everyone who got on board, everyone who got involved suddenly got very
excited because it was something they hadnít done before especially the
backing vocalists who were quite young. For everyone who knows me I usually
work with Matthew and Jillian however I didnít use them on this because I
needed to have a sound that was very specific to what I had in my head and
it was about younger women creating a very unified sound. They already have
worked with each other quite a lot and are called the The Faithettes,
the backing vocalists for Paloma Faith. They brought an amazing sound to it
and they got very excited because they never had done something before where
the vocals have been so part of. This sound needed all these layers of
backing vocals so they got very excited about that. There are lots of
strings and horns. And the backing vocals need to be loud. It wasnít just
about me singingÖ it was more about making a choral kinda feeling. And it
was really nice to watch.
John Winfield is producer on the album. You have already worked with him in
the pastÖ obviously your work together is so good that you chose to work
with him again on this project!
Iíve known John for a long time. John is the husband of my friend Caroline.
Iíve known him for 20 years. John is a really great musician and has a great
ear. We have already done some stuff together; some EPs and we were actually
working on a new EP with the same kind of approach. It was computerised
electronic and I thought it would be great just to do a disco album.
Subsequently we took some of the songs from the old EPs and after we had
done them more in a disco style, more organic, it almost seems as if the EP
songs were just demos. The songs have actually come alive, as if this is how
they were meant to be.
Yeah, five of the songs are from one of the EPs and your experimentation
with them has really been good!
Well, everyone has their own taste when it comes to music but I personally
think this is how the songs should be. I like the other versions but they
were just other versions and for me this is how they should be.
It was probably fun working on them, too! Livening them up.
It certainly was because it was realising what could be done with them.
We Ďve seen that Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert are mentioned in the
Booklet of the CD. Known from the Banderas and other productions with you!
Well, Iíve known Caroline and Sally for a long long time and Sally was in
the Communards, a string player and Caroline was doing some things with the
Communards, so we have known each other for so long. Sally in her own
respect is a very well respected and in demand string player. She has done
things like Plan B, Josephine and the Machine, sheís done a lot of stuff,
she also did the Album by The Priests. Sheís done a great collection of
So, is it important for you to work with friends? Often you would have the
likes of Sally or Caroline in past productions?
Itís just because they are great musicians and we know each other well. I
know what they are capable of and thatís what makes it easier.
You know what you are getting!
ĄLearn To Talkď, ĄStrong Enoughď and ĄTravestyď are our favourite songs the
albumÖ can you just say a few words about each song? For exampleÖ
Travesty, great song, but what is the travesty here?
The travesty is really based around one lyric. There is a welfare war at the
moment and it is my way of putting across this message. For me it is quite
frustrating because I think people have not yet experienced the full effect
of the financial crisis that happened. And the fact that lots of countries
have now taken measures to cut back budgets. Itís very disturbing because in
the U.K. for example, the budgets for all sorts of welfare has been cut but
the government is still determined to spend 23 Billion pounds on a nuclear
deterrent. So itís that kinda stuff.
And for me welfare doesnít mean the government just paying money to people;
itís also about people looking after each other. There is a new generation
of people basically detached from people because they are walking along the
street and just looking at their smart phones. I am on my bike and
constantly shouting at them because they are not looking where they are
going. There is this real detachment. So when we get into a situation where
people are socially and economically vulnerable they become more insular and
less caring, so thatís what itís about. The last verse is about a generation
in which we possibly have to think about changing things. There is a lot of
idealism in it, I wouldnít call it being naÔve but I am being optimistic. I
like to have an optimistic end to something.
You have always been political but here it seems at a different level?
Well, itís less in your face. I donít involve myself in such opinionated
issues anymore. I have come to realise in the past 3 or 4 years that I had
always involved myself in things that overwhelmed me; this idea of trying to
change the world. I now focus on stuff much closer to home. And most of the
album is talking about how I feel from the heart, how I feel emotionally and
personally about stuff.
Strong Enough is really about a personal journey; I stopped drinking nearly
3 Ĺ years ago and I went into a very different frame of mind and realised
that for a good period of my life I had been quite insular and not open
enough and have now gone through a lot of personal stuff and have gotten
involved in stuff that allows me to be less insular. That is what Strong
Enough is about. Like the lyric says, too long I have been doing it ďmy wayĒ
and closing off, whereas if you allow yourself to trust people, then you can
actually do something even better and bigger. But you have to take that step.
So that is really what itís about.
Yeah in ĄStrong EnoughĒ you sing about your way in this songÖ and we were
wondering what is Jimmyís wayÖ but know we know.
Yeah, like the lyric says, Iím tired of doing it my way; the idea that I
could solve all of my problems myself but sometimes you do actually have to
ask for help.
What about the song, ďLearn to TalkĒ? It seems to be a very personal song!
Would I be right in saying that?
Yeah, that comes from the same sentiment as Strong Enough. And again, itís
about understanding that if you allow yourself to open up and connect to
your heart and have your heart and mind work together you can actually be
aware and be involved in much more and allow yourself to be vulnerable. But
as long as you trust in the process of support that you have. Thatís really
what itís about. Itís about the idea that I actually have found another
language; I have found another way to express myself. I have always been
opinionated and I was always involved in very extreme left-wing radical
politics but at the same time not realising that I was being very
opinionated and quite reactionary in a sense. It was like if you donít do it
the way I do it or if you donít believe in what I believe in, then fuck off!
Itís as simple as that.
But sometimes it is essential to say that!
Yeah, but itís about the balance. Itís about understanding where itís right
and where itís wrong. So I guess I have gone through a process of over the
past 4 years and have started to understand what I need to do to be more
accessible and to have connect to people more. Thatís what it is about.
Again, I believe there is going to be a lost generation that wonít know how
to communicate and to believe in themselves and things around them as well
as other people. We have become a very fearful and untrusting society, I
think. That makes me sad but I also remain optimistic because I believe that
could be challenged.
ĄLights Are Shiningď is also somewhat inspiring!?
Yeah, I think for me, all of these songs are very like or have the sentiment
of Small Town Boy. 30 years have gone by since that song which was about a
journey to find yourself. ďLightsĒ is about where that journey can take you.
Just believing enough, having faith and courage will actually allow you to
stand in the light and have you realise that you can achieve something but
you really have to believe in yourself and in the process and believe that
you can do or change something. But you have to be a part of something
bigger to be able to do that. You have to become part of a voice. You have
to look around to find the connection for that. That is really what itís
about. In a sense, my lyrics have had the same sentiment from the very
beginning; always with a sense of searching and optimism.
The lyrics seem to be more reflective of oneselfÖ perhaps more than in the
Yeah, the lyrics are reflective but what I have understood is that when you
sometimes listen to a lot of people my age, their reflective lyrics can be
like Oh, I have wasted my life, havenít done this etc, and becomes somewhat
self-pitying, quite remorseful, That wasnít for me. I realised that I could
still be optimistic. I am not one for self-pity or wallowing or regret. The
past is the past, I canít do anything about that. The lyrics are more about
now and the possible future and what I can sing about to perhaps encourage
someone to also think about their future. And even though it comes from me,
like Smalltown Boy, I try to do a lyric that someone can attach their own
feeling or situation to. If you can connect to people itís good.
The song Freak, now here you kinda list some requirements of what kind of
man would be idealÖ. Although the requirements seem quite normal, you
believe someone has to be a freak to meet themÖ. Why?
I think itís more to do with the fact that two men kissing in society freaks
people out. Two men being intimate, just desiring and looking for what
everyone looks for. We all want to be desired, loved, we want intimacy, we
want to love and be loved, to care and to nurture. Regardless of legislation,
I mean, I always point this out, legislation is legislation. It is something
that a government can give and take away. But outside of that, the idea that
someone could be beaten about the head with a brick because someone saw him
kissing another man is nevertheless still there.
This is what itís about. Like the lyric says, itís having someone join my
show and not to have a ringside seat. And there is still a part of me saying,
stop trying to hide in the fucking shadows. Try to find the courage and
believe in yourself and even knowing that the consequences could be
disturbing, you still need to take that step. There is a song which says the
greatest thing to know is to love and be loved in return and to do that from
the shadows and to keep it a secret, the people donít know you have a
partner, that youíre in love, just because of the other personís genderÖ
that depresses me. The song is also a bit of fun, I didnít want it to be too
heavy, I still believe we have to take that step, to be honest. What is the
point if you have a boyfriend, being in love, having a partner, being
natural if you canít celebrate that? Otherwise you have to think about where
are we going? Whoís going to see us? Who needs to know? So that is what the
freak is all about, you are a bit of a freak if you take that stand. You are
going against the grain. I still believe there are a huge number of closeted
relationships out there and that is kind of sad really. Itís like the enemy
within. These are the ones who are actually saying to a wide-reactionary
person, we are scared to be who we are, full of shame and guilt and fear.
Thatís what it is about but at the same time there is a fun lyric there
because if you want to be in a relationship with me, youíd have to be a
freak, cause I am fucked up in the head. Youíd have to be a freak to be with
Will there be a time in the very near future where your fans can listen to
the new songs live?
I am kind of working towards that. The reality of doing live stuff is
expensive. If you are a band and start out as a band, itís great but if you,
like myself, donít have a band, youíll have to find musicians and this is an
expensive business. All the extra stuff that surrounds that; the travelling,
hotels, etc. Itís all very expensive. Unless there is some rich old
homosexual out there who doesnít know what to do with his money and just
wants to see me play live, he should get in touch.
Any other plans for 2015?
Yeah, we are working on a possible project, an album for the backing singers,
which is great fun and they really want to do it. So, itís going to be
another disco homage. Barry White did this off-shoot once called ďLove
UnlimitedĒ. There he used all the backing vocals to do all the tracks on it,
so itís like that, a homage to this period, to people like Cyron and Love
Unlimited, where you would have the artists write songs but they would take
the backing vocalists to do all of the vocals, so I am specifically writing
for these vocals, for this production.
Is it going to be another Jimmy Somerville Album?
No, John and myself didnít really officially call ourselves a name, we donít
have a production company, we donít have a little team thing. However we now
call ourselves Hot Plate. In the 70s, if you had a hot plate, one side of
the 12 inch would be pressed with it and rushed out to the DJs. Thatís
actually what happened to Donna Summerís ďLove To Love You BabyĒ. They
wanted an extended version so they had to make a longer one, put it all on
one side and rush it outÖ so this was called hot plate, a vinyl press, So we
are calling our little company Hot Plate and do that as a production and put
other stuff out with it. Thatís the plan. Already we have got most of the
songs so we just need to get the time to start putting them into production.
You were talking about Hot Plate, is the new album also going to be released
as a vinyl LP? Is this also part of the Homage to that era?
Absolutly, itís also going to be released as gatefold vinyl. John and I got
excited about the idea of gatefold vinyl. When you open it the centre has
got Homage in big silver letters and the back is a picture of the disco
globe and the whole view of Manhattan in the 1970s. Itís like acknowledging
the birth of a sound. And for me its always amazing, youíll go somewhere
today and hear contemporary music, music from the charts or new bands and
then suddenly someone throws in a disco track and it will be Chic from 1974
, everybody knows it and everybody loves it, even people who think they are
too cool for disco. They may not dance but the toe will tap. They are not
able to stop their toe from tapping. Disco can do that. There is of course
shit disco but there is shit everything. Life can be like roses and a pile
Itís a bit like the ABBA phenomenon. Youíll get rockers also tapping to
Absolutely. Itís all about melody and itís uplifting. It does uplift!
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