Second album done and dusted, what was different in the studio this time around?
This is the first time I've ever written the songs in advance. I wrote quite a few - almost 50. Then recorded and arranged them on my laptop and chose the best 11 to work on in the studio with Leo. It took an awful lot of pressure off not to be writing songs during sessions or on the night before. It meant that the proper recording sessions were a lot of fun.
There seems to be a whole host of people on the record, how do you choose who to work with when creating a new record
I try to be flexible and open to changing my plan if good collaborative possibilities arise. It ends up being a combination of people I've worked with before and me asking people I admire if they might be up for getting involved. I contacted lots of producers with the help of my label (Full Time Hobby) and was very lucky that Leo was interested in working with me.
How are you enjoying life in Sheffield and did the 'Steel City' provide any ideas for the record.
If I'm honest I moved to Sheffield because it's so much cheaper than London and it's not too far away from family. However it turns out I really love it here. Both my wife and I feel there's a very friendly way about people - it's a bit like living in a giant village sometimes. It's lovely being near family and in some ways being here has allowed me to be myself a little bit more.
I think both that atmosphere and a general increase in my own well-being have influenced the album. Plus I can afford to have a room dedicated to songwriting and that makes a massive difference to my creative output. The only song that directly name checks the area is Gentle Morning Song (A dog barks somewhere in Gleadless) but being here has certainly influenced the record.
Do you have much material lying around waiting that may see the light of day?
I wouldn't say that exactly but I do have loads of ideas. I'm hoping to win the lottery so I can build a little studio and get cracking on them!
The band plays The Lexington in London on 21st January are there any other dates or musical adventures planned for 2015?
There are a few European dates not long after The Lexington and then I'm open to seeing what offers come in. It would be great to have some adventures!
Are there any particular stories you would like to share behind the songs on the new album?
Gentle Morning Song is all about getting to the age where you find yourself lying in bed on a Saturday night instead of being out on the town and you listen to people coming home from the pubs and clubs in the early hours. You're in that twilight state between sleeping and waking and you're also in a place where you can relate to both being young and growing old. There's great comfort in the safety and security of home and family and yet there's also a small part of you that would quite like to be in the pub.
What was the idea behind the art on the album cover of Chromatics and who designed it?
The artist is the wonderful Chrissie Abbott - She's done all the Diagrams artwork to date. When we discussed the album we talked a lot about the mind and how it's the main filter through which we interpret the world and our experience of it. This led to Chrissie's idea of the mind as a magical box that we pull our existence out of and the artwork came from that.
How do you step away from music and is the spark of a new song more likely to occur on or, off the road?
I'm not someone who lives music all the time really. I love to read (popular science / psychology / good fiction / poetry) and I find exercise to be brilliant in keeping my head above water - I tend to find I drift towards and into anxiety and mild depression without it. Seeing friends and family is the best thing really. When writing I do get idea on the road and everywhere else but I prefer to sit down quietly and focus on them at home.
Do you think it is important for new artists to find a label in 2015 or should they take the DIY approach?
I think it makes a lot of sense for any artist to begin with a DIY approach. There are of course a few artists that get picked up by major labels and developed but in my experience smaller labels don't really have the budget to try lots of things until they get it right with a new artist. If you've got lots of ideas yourself then try and put together something that you think is release ready and then perhaps a label might be interested in helping you cross those final hurdles to get it out in the world. I certainly think that a good label and all the contacts, experience and assistance that they bring can do wonders for an artist just starting out. For many artists similar to myself it's a gradual process of moving from self-release to small label to medium label over a period of several years.
What music did you particularly enjoy listening to in 2014
I loved the Sweet Baboo album - especially the wonderful song Wild Swimming.
11th Feb - France, Paris, Le Point Ephemere
12th Feb - France, Lille, La Paniche
13th Feb - Germany, Berlin, Comet Club
14th Feb - Germany, Hamburg, Molotow Club
25th Feb - UK, Manchester, The Ruby Lounge
26th Feb - UK, Bristol, The Lantern
4th Mar - UK, Leeds, Brudenell Social Club