Music interviews #2

These are a few of my favourite interviews with bands and musicians I was able to produce as a presenter at EURadioNantes.


Richard O’Brien meets prolific musician Darren Hayman to discuss songwriting and the Seventeenth Century

When your most recent album is an instrumental concept piece about open-air swimming pools and your next release is a folk opera set in 17th-century Essex, it’s understandably galling to hear people refer to you as ‘the guy who used to sing in Hefner’. But Darren Hayman isn’t bitter, although his career has evolved enormously since those days ; we talked about his songwriting process, and the challenges he’s set himself on the forthcoming ‘The Violence’ in the name of historical accuracy. With the recent release of ‘Lido’ on London micro-label Clay Pipe Music, Darren also wonders whether instrumental music can truly be ‘about’ anything – even when its author is a well-known and evocative wordsmith.

Richard O’Brien meets Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman.

With his third album, Jens Lekman claims : ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’. It’s a clever title, but here he talks to Richard O’Brien about whether pop music can really teach us anything about love and life. As a Swedish national singing in English, the process of songwriting is already a kind of linguistic experiment, a game he plays with language and persona. But Jens also speaks about something closer to home, as he discusses the effect of shifts in the political climate in Sweden and, more specifically, his home city of Gothenburg, to which he has recently returned after years of living abroad.


Richard O’Brien meets Jean-Louis Brossard, musical director of the TransMusicales.

For 34 years, Jean-Louis Brossard has been visiting festivals from China to Colombia and everywhere in-between, to find the most interesting new artists to play at the TransMusicales, Rennes’s flagship festival of contemporary music. Despite its reputation – Pulp, Nirvana, LCD Soundsystem, all made their first French appearances at Brossard’s event – he no longer feels a pressure for the TransMusicales to be ‘the place you saw them first’; its reputation is assured enough. Instead, he enthuses about this year’s discoveries, and explains how he goes about putting a programme together. Interview in French.


Richard O’Brien meets Franklin Bruno, singer-songwriter and music critic.

With over twenty years of songwriting and a PhD in analytic philosophy behind him, Franklin Bruno has always been pulling in multiple directions. In recent years his interests in music and academia have merged, with a forthcoming work of criticism examining the role and contribution of the bridge, or middle eight, in popular music. The work of the cultural critic Theodor Adorno dismisses the aesthetic value of pop music; although Bruno disagrees with many of his central theses, he points out that his arguments are themselves frequently misunderstood or dismissed without due consideration. Adorno aside, he continues to write and produce his own songs, notably with current project The Human Hearts, whose second album, ‘Another’, was released on October 30th. Here Franklin Bruno speaks to Richard about the relation of form to creativity, and the importance of occasionally putting such concerns aside; even if he points out that the assumption of the musician as free creative spirit, paying no attention to the conventions of genre, is in some ways a convenient myth.


Richard O’Brien meets David Gedge from The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present are one of the most influential bands in the development of British indie-rock; singer and guitarist David Gedge one of its most distinctive voices. As the only constant member since their formation in the 1980s, he acknowledges there’s something unusual about their current project – revisiting their 1991 album, ‘Seamonsters’ in its entirety, on the back of similar tours for their first two releases, with a wholly different group of musicians beside him. But although many bands from the late 80s and 90s are exploring their back catalogue in a live format, Gedge explains that far from nostalgia, it can have a reinvigorating effect on the artist’s current music. In conversation with Richard O’Brien, he identifies the roots of his own songwriting in the crafted conventions of classic Motown, and the immediacy of film dialogue. He also considers the competing claims to our attention of cinema and literature, and reflects on his own artistic development through the prism of ‘growing up’ with, and within, his songs – a development now being chronicled in a new comic book series, ‘Tales of The Wedding Present’.


Richard O’Brien meets Jean-Daniel Beauvallet, editor-in-chief of Les Inrockuptibles, France’s best-known music magazine

Jean-Daniel Beauvallet is passionate about Nantes. For the editor and driving force behind Les Inrocks, it’s a city like no other, constantly moving and changing, which recognises the importance of young artists and gives them a huge financial and cultural headstart. The September 2012 issue of Les Inrocks features a 16-page Nantes special, and Jean-Daniel shares his views with Richard O’Brien about C2C, Jacques Demy, Pulp, and the future of music as we know it.

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