“I don’t want to be in a two-year album cycle; I don’t think it’s necessary and it doesn’t suit me…”
If you care for top album lists — and let’s be frank, the music world is obsessed with them right now — one album topping all 2011 album lists so far is James Blake’s self-titled debut.
Praised for adding real emotion and soul to dubstep and rising above the genre with gospel chords and more traditional song structures, his album has resonated with people the world over and turned this young, intelligent guy from London into an overnight sensation.
“I’m very happy it has (resonated with people) and I didn’t expect it, really,” he says on the phone from Portugal the day after a show there.
“I thought it would only connect to … I don’t know really,” he yawns, his voice trailing off.
“I always knew that if you had something with a good melody it would connect with a lot of people, but I wasn’t sure if the album was so universal it could appeal to that many people.”
And so the fascinating rock’n’roll journey for Blake begins. In between his own shows, he’s recently played Britain’s Glastonbury Festival and Denmark’s Roskilde, before arriving in Australia for Perth’s On the Bright Side this weekend and Splendour in the Grass in Queensland later this month.
“I take my laptop around with me all the time,” Blake says. “I’m always thinking about music, I suppose because I’m always subjected to it, but (the best ideas) normally arise when I’m not being subjected to it. It’s nice to get away from it all and do something cool on the computer.
“Normally I don’t have a piano with me or any way of recording so it’s quite hard to come up with things,” he explains.
“It’s not a very easy way to work, which is why so many second albums are deeply uninspiring because no one’s got any time to write while they’re touring the shit out of their first album for 18 months.
“It’s a very destructive process towards the creative side of things, but luckily I’m in a place where it’s not necessarily happening to me.”
Blake is referring to his ability to not be reliant on studios, producers and vast amounts of equipment in order to churn out new tunes.
“I’ve written a lot of music that will end up on something but it’s not going to be an album,” he says adamantly.
“I don’t want to be in a two-year album cycle; I don’t think it’s necessary and it doesn’t suit me — I can just write it at home in my spare time.
“Although I haven’t really had a week where I can put myself in my own space since December,” he says, opening up.
“It’s kind of confusing because I don’t really know what the (new) music I’ve written really is — whether it’s coming from a space that’s true.”
He pauses, before adding: “Well, it is coming from a space that’s true but it sounds different.
“I don’t always feel like what I’m writing when I’m on the move is very good because you’re not in a space where you can really think. You’ve got the blare of the fucking plane engine and you’re at a festival and all you can hear is the other stage.
“It’s a strange time for the creative side of things but it’s definitely interesting and topsy-turvy.”
THE PLUG: James Blake’s self-titled debut album is out now.