Filed Under: Interview
Soulman Jamie Lidell's Compass
dropped earlier last week, and he's taking some R&R in the before launching the U.S. leg of his tour at the World Cafe tomorrow. Lidell took some time out of getting lost in the Caymans to give you some free career counseling.
I did see on your Facebook that you are having a tough time relaxing. What's the deal?
It's more a question of it being so hectic changing the band for the tour, writing the arrangements and all that. I'm the boss, and I'm feeling that sometimes, there are so many loose ends that have to get tied up all the time, but today was the good day I'm starting to really just take it easy
. Right now though I'm here with the girlfriend on holiday in the Caymans, we're looking for a place to eat but like, this island is so small it's not like you just get an address and you're there, I have mostly just been turning down dark alleys and hoping for the best.
Where do you see creative people fitting into the industries meant to be their outlets in this sort of down economy?
Obviously, yeah, everyone gravitates to the live circuit controlled by major recording agents. You've got booking agents and the people controlling the industry, but at the same time there are people that just want to be creative in presenting their music
. In the '90s I started making techno, people were like "What the fuck?" and we'd end up doing these parties. But, its amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it. Some of that spirit needs to come back. Finding alternate venues
to the ones in the mainstream that will be booked up. Like, if the venue is making a bunch of money, you have to be making a bunch of money, your booking agency has to be making a bunch of money and chances are you're not going to get in there unless your agent is shaking hands and lalalala. You definitely have to just celebrate your independence in being able to play wherever. CP:
There's definitely a line between trying to do what you want to do, and doing what you have to do.
Yeah there's truth in that. At the moment I've got these sudden thoughts like, "What if I go out on the road if it turns into a big shit show?" I have been trying to expand the live show lately and have ultimately been losing money because I just want to get it great
. But, that's a creative decision. At the same time I'm trying to invest in the long term, the whole career. The key to it is just to believe and keep it going, if what you're doing is good it should pay off, and if it doesn't either people or stupid, or whatever. You've just got to be able to adapt to where you're at. Humans are brilliantly resourceful. Ultimately, sometimes I regret making music my career
, I envy people who just like singing and don't have to worry about making ends meet with it. I've learned that you just have to stay positive about any outcome possible, and to just experience things, keep it moving and doing what feel what is right.
What would Jamie Lidell have been up to if he was just a shower singer ?
When I went to University I was thinking I was going to become a physics professor. That was my thing, music was just on the side. There's an example of what I'm talking about, my dad would have been really proud and I would have been a scientist working for a big company. But then I ended up blowing it all and being a layabout musician
. I set to making something of myself doing what I wanted to do, rather than doing something someone else wants you to do. Luckily, I've never had to work for the man. In a way that's fucked me up because I get treated a certain way being a musician, I go about in a weird bubble sometimes
. I hate that. I'd rather be a bloke and not think about being looked after by other people or having expectations of things and where I'm at and getting caught up with all that. Sometimes I notice that happening to me I'm like "Fuck that, I just want to be a good person
." So, ultimately it's just turned out being about concentrating on being a good person, a career is just one little aspect of it.
You've said before that a lot of this album has good fortune and timing as central elements. What do you think about timing, immediacy, striking while the irons hot, especially given being in an industry that is completely self aware and constantly trying to brand the next big "thing"?
My time table of being the next big thing is over and I'm relieved. Now I'm just a career artist trying to make music that I think is good, not trying to be a supernova
trying to explode onto the scene. Shifting into another phase is a conscious thing, and a lot of it is easier just being on the scene meeting great people. I have been taking advantage of that through the whole process recording Compass
. Another thing about the album is that I wanted everything on my terms. Like, when I was younger it was all about collaborating with Bowie
and shit, but now I'm more open minded and I've enjoyed the process a lot more. It's about maximizing where you're at and who is where. If you're in town and someone else is in town, give them a shout. Working with Beck
like I did on this album, there's definitely time pressure. The guy is really busy, and the whole thing is a lot more loaded, you know like deadline pressure, expectation, make it good, do it now and that whole thing. There's something amazing that can come out of that if you're willing to jump in there with it, but it's love-hate thing, like, getting nervous versus getting it done. I worked with Matthew Herbert
and he used to book mastering dates as he started a record, so you had to finish by a certain date. So he would set a really fucked deadline on himself, but he loved the pressure that was his way. In my own way, I kind of did that with the record. Like, doing it a certain way at a certain speed moving with the characters that were helping me move. If they had a couple days, I made sure I had a couple of days, if they had a week or two, I made sure I had a week or two. That helped it all come together in a really distinct way.
It's like a starting off on the right foot in a really good relationship, letting things take the course they'll take and having faith that what you're doing will turn out in the end.
Well, yeah. It's great to travel, but it's also great to arrive
. The whole album I wanted to be more spontaneous, and I'm really happy with the results. By doing it this way it's still got a lot of my central core values, messy, spirit, and all that. I put myself in it and I commit, love it or hate it, it's what I do and what I see. Once you let yourself do that, it's a really great fucked up time in terms of thinking about all the songs and just making it happen.
Wed., June 9 , 9 p.m., $25-$37, with Alex B., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400