Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Friendly Chat With... Fyfe Dangerfield

After an apprenticeship that encompassed jazz improv, modern classical and a place on a Fierce Panda compilation, Dangerfield formed Guillemots, who have taken off with a succession of brilliantly inventive, oddly attuned art-pop singles, a fifth place in the BBC's Sound Of 2006 industry poll and a major label contract. Luckily we've caught him just before it all skyrockets.

STN: Given nobody else has quite managed it yet, how would you describe the Guillemots' sound, or at least what it reaches towards?
Fyfe: Um, we're worse at describing ourselves than anyone, really. In a way the point of it is that we want to make something a bit indescribable but that of course sounds very pretentious if you go around saying it to everyone. Ruffled soul music maybe? I want to hi-jack the term "soul music" and make it a good thing again instead of it conjuring up images of coffee table bland R'n'B.

STN: How easy was it to find common ground with all the members coming from different musical backgrounds?
Fyfe: Surprisingly easy really - that's the strange thing. It shouldn't really work, the four of us playing together, but it did right from the first time we played together. We don't really know why! Just luck I think. There's pretty much no "style" of music that at least one of us doesn't like aspects of, so it just means that whenever we come to play or write things together there's a massive casserole pot waiting for us.

STN: How do you write songs - working to something pre-planned or organic development?
Fyfe: At the moment, most of the songs in our set and on our records are ones that I've already written; some of those I pretty much know how they're going to sound before we start recording them, some of them change completely. A song like Made-Up Lovesong changed completely when Greig and Arista added the whole drum'n'bass rhythm. But we also come up with loads and loads of things as a band, some of which we're going to - when we get a chance - release in their original rehearsal room minidisc form (but that's another story...), but some of them come out as songs right from the start. Sao Paulo and Go Away, which are both songs we've recorded and play live, were both improvised out by us in rehearsals and then just sort of edited and refined...

STN: Is there a place for Guillemots in the 2006 mainstream?
Fyfe: I hope so. In our heads we're a pop band.

STN: Do you see it as important to make the live approach distinct from the records?
Fyfe: Yes, very. There's nothing more boring than going to see a band live who replicate every aspect of their record with click tracks, backing tracks etc. It's lame really. If there's no risk of it falling apart live, how can it every be truly exciting? I think that's the way we look at it. We always try to slip little improvised bits into the gigs too, though its hard when you only have a 45 minute set or something.

STN: What's South By Southwest actually like?
Fyfe: Meat/music/madness.

STN: Out of pure curiosity, this one - what happened to We're Here's chart position? In the top 200 on downloads alone and then disappeared...
Fyfe: Yes, a bit of a weird one. It would have got in the charts, in the top 30s/late 20s i think, but we decided to run a competition with it, where we go and play at someone's house, and that made it non chart-eligible. Made-up Lovesong, in a slightly revamped way, is going to be our next single, and that will be the first one of ours that will hopefully chart.

STN: Name three albums crucial in your musical development.
Fyfe: I can't speak for the others, but for me I'd say everything by the Beatles, Homogenic by Bjork and Grace by Jeff Buckley.

STN: What's coming up in the near future?
Fyfe: Lots. Lots. Just lots. I can't remember any more than this...

Many thanks to Fyfe. Visit their official site and/or their Myspace. Made-Up Lovesong #43 is, as he says, currently scheduled for a re-release in late May, with album Through The Window Pane following on 12th June. If that's too far away, mini-album From The Cliffs is available on import. Guillemots tour in May and have confirmed so far for Wireless, Summer Sundae, The Great Escape and Wychwood festivals.


Anonymous said...

Fyfe is amazing, you should hear the two acoustic songs he's sung on Crossthepond Music. ( He improvised Sao Paolo, as he'd never played it acoustically before.

Fari said...

He also did a brilliant improvised set at A Month of Sundays for Resonance104.4fm, live on air. It was with the male members of The Guillemots and Chris Cundy.