It’s almost a biannual event, I get to write an in the studio piece with Baxter Dury for Q. It’s a tradition I hold dear. Here is the latest installment (originally published print only in January 2017), although there’s been some changes since the last time Baxter and I convened.
Hello Baxter, your recent albums have been natty, lo-fi records born of home recordings. Same again?
No, I’m in a big studio in West Hampstead! I signed a deal where we got a bit more budget so we could get everyone I wanted. It’s still bonkers music, so sometimes I do feel quite fraudulent being here. [laughs]
Whose money are you spending?
French PIAS. I think they got me mixed up with someone else [laughs]. There must be a French popstar somewhere going: “I can’t work with this shit!”
Identity theft aside, France’s love affair with Baxter Dury continues?
It’s all good. I just did a little tour there and there seems to be more people at the gigs. European money and British bands is where it’s at!
Nice to hear it’s going well, usually when you speak to Q at this stage you’re tearing your hair out.
Yeah, it’s been stressful before, but I’m going into a Bob Marley autumn of my life where I’m unstressable. Also I’ve selected my band on their ability and their level of friendship to me. My crew understand my weird ways. I’ve also done a bit with Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson, which might make the record, and we’ve got Metronomy’s co-producer Ash Workman, who is so good I’ve only tried to fire him once, so far. [laughs] So not only are they all brilliant, they’re my mates and they totally indulge me!
How indulgent have things got?
None of the songs have beginnings, middles or endings yet. Prejudice is weakness – we’re not trying to be cool so we can do anything. There are a lot of pianos and strings, it’s quite cheesy, but fortunately I can’t sing which de-tones it a bit.
What’s the least fashionable reference to get through?
The demos sounded like Lionel Bart’s Oliver! taken to Russia to make an ’80s hip hop album. I was a bit worried. It’s being slightly normalised by the band since, but it still sounds weird. We’re going to work with an orchestra after this, so fuck knows what that will sounds like. It sounds arduous, what I’m explaining, doesn’t it? If I was reading this I’d feel musically nauseous. [laughs] It just sounds like the most indulgent, 40-year-old nonsense.
That’s worked for you before.
Yeah, totally! “Are you in that nauseous scene? Yes!” [laughs] It’s fun! It’s funky but depressive, though not dour. Ray Winston over a tear-soaked Wurlitzer.
Finally, does not recording at home mean your neighbours are happy? You sung about the Sky weather girl who lived upstairs calling the police last time…
Some new neighbours moved in last night actually – I can start the whole thing off again! [cackles] No, no angry neighbours. It’s all harmonious. The only danger here is we’re a bit over indulged. We’ll see what effect that has….