Guillemots on stage at RockNess
Family holidays in France usually involved in-car arguments about what music to listen to. But thankfully my sister came to the rescue one year when she produced two albums - ‘Through The Windowpane’ and ‘Red’ by Guillemots.
I don’t go on family holidays of the same vein anymore but if I were to I’m sure any family squabbling could be calmed by Guillemots’ latest album ‘Hello Land!’. The foursome is to release three other albums this year and the Norwegian countryside is their chosen recording site.
I was lucky to meet the mellow Fyfe Dangerfield this Summer at RockNess. And in case you were wondering, he was fashioning a slightly less lion-like mane than I’ve seen in the past!
Hello there there, Fyfe!
You’ve been known to use quite weird sounds in your music, like a typewriter. Are there any other sounds that you’d like to use in the future?
The sound of a golden eagle maybe, yeh.
Would you ever think about actually going out to catch one?
I wouldn’t capture the golden eagle but I’d capture the sound! There’s a lot of bird sound on our next record. We’re doing four records this year. On the summer one we’ve got quite a lot of birdsong already. There’s a bird called a yellow hammer and a fieldfare.
Why do you like birds so much?
I don’t know! My mum and dad got me in to them as a kid and I was stuck.
What’s your favourite bird?
Well, that’s difficult. I can maybe give you a top 20. I did see a bird called the black woodpecker in Norway that I’ve never seen before. It’s not my favourite bird but it’s quite exciting.
What’s it like recording in Norway?
It’s just amazing. We’re hidden away from everything in the hills in our own little zone. It’s lovely. It’s gunna exhaust us this year but the Summer record’s sounding good.
Why did you choose four albums this year?
Well it started as “Let’s do something each season”. It began as an E.P. each season and then it turned into an album.
Is each one intended to reflect a season?
It’s not songs about the seasons but the sounds of them.
How many songs will you have on each album?
I thought it was gunna be eight on each but the Summer one’s gunna have ten I think. It will be somewhere between eight and ten on each one.
So you’re not struggling to get creative inspiration?
No, it’s not at all difficult to get things going. The hard part’s always finishing things.
The first of four albums this year
What would Guillemots be if it were a country?
Narnia I think.
It seems like quite an exciting place. I just haven’t found the wardrobe yet.
Are the Narnia chronicles your favourite books?
I don’t know. I read them as a kid. I should re-read them as an adult. I really liked them but I haven’t re-visited them yet.
What’s your favourite current book?
I really like Murakami, the Japanese writer. I’ve been reading a lot of his stuff. There’s one called ‘Kafka on the Shore’ and ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’…amazing. It’s the everyday world but there are always these sort of parallel worlds going on.
What do you think about tweeting?
I sort of tweet sporadically. My ex-girlfriend actually joined me on to it. I think she knew it’d be good, that I’d enjoy it but she just did it and then wrote to a couple of people pretending to be me!
I think we have to be very careful with the way the world’s going with all that ‘cos your brain just gets swamped with shit. I’m not anti the Internet but I think you need to ration yourself. It’s dangerous otherwise.
What will the ratio of instrumental to vocal tracks on your new albums be like?
In a way I’m trying to do less vocal stuff but then it varies. I love both. I find it weird being known as a singer ‘cos I always wanted to do music but I never planned to be a singer. It was just that I wrote stuff and someone had to sing it. So I do try and make sure I do stuff that isn’t about my voice. And Arista is singing a lot more at the moment.
Do you think your fans prefer vocals to instrumentals?
I don’t know. You can’t pay too much attention thinking about what people want from you because you get lost. I don’t mean it in a shitty way, like “Fuck the audience”. I just mean I think people liked us in the first place ‘cos we were doing our own thing.
A few years after the first album was out I felt like I started listening too much to what people wanted us to do. It defeats the purpose of doing music in the first place, which is to make a pure expression of something. As long as we’re really genuinely enjoying what we’re doing I think that comes across and other people love it hopefully.
How does having members from four different parts of the world affect the band?
We’re a bunch of misfits and it helps us sound a bit different I guess because we didn’t grow up in the same culture. I think I purposely tried to find a completely odd selection of people ‘cos we fit in this strange way and we all connect with what we like in music.
'Up On The Ride' from album 'Hello Land!'
Interview with Fyfe Dangerfield by Sophie Ellis at RockNess Festival 2012, Saturday 9th June 2012.