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Seth Lakeman - The IndieLondon interview

Seth Lakeman

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SETH Lakeman talks to us exclusively about his latest album, Hearts & Minds, and the inspiration behind some of the songs.

He also talks about his career to date, coping with success, his favourite live memories and the lessons he’s learned, as well as the artists who have influenced him and why the folk scene is thriving at the moment.

Q. We think your new album, Hearts + Minds, is terrific… starting with the lead single and title track. There seems to have been a tremendous strength of feeling behind that song, so what inspired you to write it?
Seth Lakeman: I wrote Hearts & Minds as a direct reaction to what was happening to friends and family 18 months ago when the recession hit. It’s pretty powerful as a live song and seems to translate well onto record.

Q. Likewise another of the album’s highlights, Spinning Days… that’s a really emotional piece of songwriting. What moved you to write it?
Seth Lakeman: I wrote the music first to Spinning Days and that seems to of led me towards the emotive message behind these lyrics. The heartache of soldiers lost in battle.

Q. We also loved Changes… can you tell us a little about that song?
Seth Lakeman: It’s a song written with plucked violin and Double bass. Something not approached before in my records. A very fluid sound that feels hypnotic.

Q. And Tiny World?
Seth Lakeman: This is a cajun style song written for a young couple united in their own little world together.

Q. You’re often considered to be one of the UK ’s most influential contemporary folk artists, so how does that make you feel? Does it bring any pressure?
Seth Lakeman: Writing songs is a hobby of mine now so pressure isn’t something I feel. It does get quite demanding sometimes but no more than any other job.

Q. The folk scene is probably more vibrant and eclectic than ever before in the UK , with acts like Mumford & Sons and you, capturing people’s imaginations… Is that a fair comment? Is it an exciting time to be working in folk?
Seth Lakeman: It’s very exciting for folk and acoustic music now. Radio 1 and mainstream TV are supporting emerging folk acts and this is fantastic for the future.

Q. What about folk music first inspired you? And when did you know you wanted to pursue music as a profession?
Seth Lakeman: I first loved the energy within folk music. Tunes were incredibly addictive to learn and enjoy in pubs and festivals.

Q. Sonically, this album arguably rates as your most ambitious… was that a fun thing to play with and how did you decide on developing that fuller sound?
Seth Lakeman: Tchad Blake produced this new record and he played a big part in shaping the final sound. I think there is a lot more edge to this collection songs than anything so far.

Q. What else did Tchad bring to the studio sessions and what did you learn from him?
Seth Lakeman: He brought so much percussive edge to the sound. He pushed me as a singer also.

Q. Do you find that you still keep learning as an artist?
Seth Lakeman: I think you’re always learning and growing as an artist. It’s the only way you can keep your sound fresh and interesting.

Q. You’ve played some great gigs over the years… what do you love about going on the road?
Seth Lakeman: It’s brilliant to play in a different environment every time and react to a new crowd of people.

Q. What are some of your favourite live memories?
Seth Lakeman: Playing a live gig after the Scratch Perverts in Malawi /Africa and having 5,000 rave fans jumping around to Kitty Jay!

Q. Who inspires you musically?
Martin Hayes, Roger Wilson, Nic Jones, Richard Thompson… Dad.

Q. And what are the tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Seth Lakeman: Gracelands – Paul Simon
John Butler Trio – Funky Tonight
Weather With You – Crowded House
Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere

Seth Lakeman’s Hearts & Minds is now available in all good record shops and download sites. Read our review