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Jamie Lidell interview: Don't Blame Us

Author: Guido Farnell
Thursday, 9 February 2006
WE TRIED TO CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW WITH ACCLAIMED ELECTRONIC SOULSTER JAMIE LIDELL, BUT HE OBVIOUSLY HAD OTHER PLANS. HERE'S THE RESULTS, IN ONE OF THE MOST BIZARRE SET OF ANSWERS WE'VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME.

Interviewing musicians can sometimes be a difficult process. For instance, as much as I love Japanese pop music it can be hard work crossing the language barrier in a brief phone interview from Tokyo. Sometimes the interviewee is just plain boring and needs to be trapped into a corner and forced to say something that's actually interesting or memorable. Sometimes the interview has been scheduled at an awkward moment that might not be conducive to a little chat about their music. They might be in the middle of a soundcheck before a big show, hungover from a big night before, in bed and about to go to sleep, cooking dinner or on a mobile phone in a transit lounge waiting for a plane. Some talk at a million miles an hour giving you very little space in which to actually ask any questions. Others can answer 100 questions with one-word answers in fewer than 20 minutes.

The usual frustration most experience is answering the same or very similar questions over and over again. Email interviews seem to be preferred by artists who want to exert a lot of control over their answers and don't want to be misquoted. Jamie Lidell who is touring Australia this month seemed to be in a particularly frustrated and freaked out headspace when answering these questions sent to him by email. In any case, Lidell's music speaks for itself. Considered by many critics one of the best albums released in 2005, his album 'Multiply' is jaunty excursion into electronic soul and funk with Lidell singing on all the tracks. He even manages to come off sounding just a little like Otis Reading in places.

What can we expect from your show when you get down here-
"Why is this your main concern- Is it a value thing- How much will we get for our dollar- Do you want me to hype the show- Thing is I'll be there in a pair of speedos and a leather jerkin. Can't say fairer than that!"

Is it a laptop show or do you travel with a band or other musicians-
"Do you want to be in my band- Sod it - you can be me. Just take the helm. Two scabby sailor types, a dog and two egomaniacs. We'll be fine. Let's sail. I promise not to bring any odd immigrants over. I know this isn't too cool right now."

Do the songs off 'Multiply' require more of a performance when you play them live-
"I like a show like the rest of these so-called performers. I guess nobody gave a shit about me before. I was always doing shit that was taking far too much energy for the return. Back in the day I was a squirrel in a school play. Nothing has changed. Today I'm just assumed to be another performing monkey. It's a zoo. jamielidell.com
Check the live videos."

Was it difficult to translate 'Multiply' into a live experience-
"No."

Do you play any material off 'Muddlin Gear' in your shows these days-
"Yeah I like a good crop of old and new in the mix."

It was five years and quite a shift from 'Muddlin Gear' to 'Multiply'. What prompted the shift from experimental electronica to funky soul-
"That's my business."

Was your label surprised by 'Multiply'- Were they enthusiastic about releasing it-
"They hated it at first. Yeah everyone likes to see sales figures they never imagined!"

Your vocals are a real focal point of 'Multiply'. Did you always know you could sing like that or is it something you just discovered-
"That's my business. As I said, I was a squirrel in a school play. I knew I could grab my nuts and run with it to milk an audience even back in those days."

Do you find yourself concentrating more on the vocals when you play live-
"Yes and no."

Is soul a temporary distraction- Or are you keen to keeping moving in this direction-
"None of your bus
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