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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 stuff.

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 past!

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 me.
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 of shit.

Itís a bit like the ABBA phenomenon. Youíll get rockers also tapping to ABBA.

Absolutely. Itís all about melody and itís uplifting. It does uplift!






















T
he videos of the interview can be found on our Youtube channel!
 

Part1

Part2

Part3


   

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