What’s been happening recently?
I released the first single “1985” a few months ago so it’s been all about that up until now. It’s been received pretty well and the official video was screened at a film festival here to great praise. It’s been fun getting it out there and just excited to release the full album now. Also I’ve been writing more music, good times.
You have a debut album ‘Cowboys & Africans’ coming out on November 5, what influenced the title for this album?
It came from the concept that all humans originate from Africa (at one point in history) so as laymen, we are all ‘Africans’. The ‘Cowboys’ reference is to the people in positions of power, who take advantage of the everyday person (or those they have power over). Basically – Hacks, who are bluffing it, but with our quality of life. The songs challenge how we see ourselves in today’s society.
What influenced the sound and songwriting?
Big sound influences are Fela Kuti, Talking Heads & Ennio Morricone, Production sounds were inspired by D’Angelo (Russell Elevado), Bowie (Tony Visconti) & of course Joel Hamilton. Joel produced my last two ‘Federation of the Disco Pimp’ records, he changed it all for myself & Ross Saunders (Dusty Reel, who engineered & mixed ‘Cowboys & Africans’). He literally changed how I listen and write music. Them coupled with lots of African percussion & Baritone guitars. A major songwriting influence is Bill Withers – he just always has a way of saying the ordinary but making it art! I just try to write in my own voice with that in mind.
How did you approach the songwriting process?
This album was way out my comfort zone in regards to it all being based around the lyrics, that up until this point, I’d never really written much of. It’s always been instrumental but then I just started writing down words. This was mainly because I spent a lot of time either travelling to and from gigs, or looking after my (at the time) baby girl Maya. Both meant I couldn’t really sit at the piano and write like I usually would, so I just wrote down what was going on around me, and in the world. Turns out it’s been a pretty interesting few years for this place we inhabit.
How did you go about writing the music for this album?
It all was based around the lyrics & melody. Every step of the way from writing guitar lines to mixing the strings – they all had to serve the message of the song. It’s all just a platform for the message of the lyrics & melody to sing out. Again because this was a new process for me it was exciting to serve a different ‘voice’. That age-old question you hear everyone asking artists – ‘What do you write first, the lyrics or the music?’ For me it’s the lyrics/melody, how can it not be when they’re the most important part of the song. They inspire every last part of the process.
What programs/instruments did you use to record and produce?
This being my first solo album, it gave me the freedom to put whatever instrument / sound on it I wanted too. When writing for my band in the past, I’ve always known I’m writing for a certain bunch of instruments, but this time it was all about what would serve the lyrics. I wanted to use instruments & sounds that you’d recognise but they’re not what them seem, for example the piano isn’t an acoustic one but rather a Yamaha CP-70 that is electric/acoustic (the one Prince & D’Angelo use), I went for a Hammond L-100 rather than the classic B3 because that’s what used in a lot of African Funk, there’s African bells rather than your standard triangle, baritone guitar rather than electric in some places, you get the idea. There’s old school 80’s synths like the Korg Poly 800, & of course the LINN drum. It’s all small moves that combine into giving these songs their own sound. Ross had fun with some great plug-ins including ‘Taupe’ & a bunch of ‘Acustica’ ones (too many to mention – ask him!).
What did you find most challenging and rewarding during the creative process for this album?
The most unexpected but rewarding part of this process was that I ended up inviting so many of my close friends to be part of it. That wasn’t my thinking initially, but after I got my core rhythm section sorted (Ross Saunders, Michael Berrich & Ross Whyte) who I’ve had for nearly 18 years on and off and trust no one else as much to have my back when recording and performing. I then realised these songs where autobiographical and I was baring all in them – it just clicked at that point, I want to surround myself with people I love, that will make this album with me. I had the most fun inviting friends I’ve not seen properly in a LONG time to come guest on it, to newer friends who are all as equally as close – it was the best time and never for a second did I realise it was going to go this way. Bringing all these amazing people together and some of them
meeting each other for the first time inspired more energy and creativity in the studio. Also I have to point out I couldn’t fit everyone on this album, so just means I can invite them for the next.
The most challenging part was just logistically getting them all in the room, that coupled with working on a tight budget. It never stifled the creativity or energy thankfully though.
Please tell us about how and why you came to be involved with Kickstarter for this album, what you learned through the process and what advice you would give to other artists intending to use Kickstarter:
I had little (or no) money to make this album initially, I knew the scale of what I was writing was ambitious, and I’ve been spoiled with the last few albums being able to go to Brooklyn to record them. That led me to launching a crowd funding campaign for two reasons. One I needed money to make it, and Two, I wanted to see if there was an appetite for me to do this. I set a target of £5k, that would show me if people would want this album to be made plus I knew it would cost a lot more, but it would give me start I needed to make it right. I choose Kickstarter as with all their campaigns you need to hit your target or you get nothing! I liked that – all or nothing, I subscribe to that a lot. I knew if I didn’t hit the target I wouldn’t want to make it anyway – thankfully I smashed it.
Another unexpected gift I got from crowd funding was that I had this instant community and family who I could connect with about the whole process and I am still interacting with. It’s actually amazing, getting feedback and the incredible messages and love sent my way has been wild. I had no idea this would happen but I would TOTALLY recommend this to ALL artists who want to actually connect with their audiences. THANK YOU ALL MY KICKSTARTER FAMILY – you made this album happen as much as anyone.
When campaigning I’d recommend showing everyone who you are outside of music too, what makes you tick and your influences. They want to know about you and where the inspiration comes from. It is scary being that open and honest publicly but they’ve got your back and they’ll respond with what you need!
What’s planned for the remainder of 2019 going into 2020?
Promote & start gigging the album – I want to take it everywhere I can. Who wants it? Invite me and I’m there!!
Favourite movie and holiday location?
Hardest question by far – I love movies as much as music so can’t pick one sorry. I’ll cheat and give you Top 5 (in no particular order)
– A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, American Psycho, Vertigo & Last Tango in Paris.
I love Brooklyn but would rather be working there than holidaying. Rome is one of my favourite places too & I want to go to Tokyo (I’m cheating again but I don’t care!)
Please include links to socials and website.
FB / Instagram / twitter – @CAFOLLAMUSIC
Spotify – https://spoti.fi/2BDS1ll