"It's an album that focuses on the relationship between two people. The good and the bad" - hmv.com talks to Lewis Watson
As he puts out his second full-length effort midnight, we spoke to singer-songwriter Lewis Watson about how he made it...
How did you want this album to move on from what you did on the morning?
"I think I just wanted it to be an evolution from the first record. I'm extremely proud of the morning, and I'll only ever have one first album and I'm glad that it's a fairly naive-sounding piece of work that I can reflect on and learn from. This album is much more mature in its sound and songwriting and I think that's down to me maturing myself as a person and a musician. It's quite a contrast to the morning, but I think that's a step in the right direction. I love the album and I hope other people will as well!"
You worked with Anthony West on the album, what did he give you as a producer?
"It was a dream to work with Ant as I've been a fan of every project he's been in, so I knew that I'd love his ideas. We worked really well together and he has a great set of ears to bounce ideas off and provided a bunch of brand new outlooks which helped me stay on my toes in the studio. We also share a very niche sense of humour, so the whole process was extremely enjoyable for me, which is so important during a block recording as it can get quite intense."
What was the song on the album that took the longest to get right?
"That would be 'la song'. It's a track that has been out as a demo for years, so I found myself going through the motions when it came to recording it - chasing a better/complete version of the demo I guess. Ant was keen to switch it up, so we took our time discussing a new outlook and I'm so glad that we attempted it. The bass chords and Rob's synthetic drum samples helped shine a new light on the song and it's been enhanced ten-fold in my eyes!"
And which came together most quickly?
"This is 'little light'. It's track two on the record and one of my favourites. Ant and I wanted a certain shuffle beat on it and Rob, my drummer, hadn't played that kind of beat for a while, so needed some preparation. The final take ended up only being the second attempt, and he absolutely nailed it. It had the perfect amount of swing and was just so well played. Everything else formed around that and it just all ran so smoothly!"
This is your first album for new label Cooking Vinyl, how is life on the new label and why did you decide to partner up with them?
"It's been a real dream so far. Honestly, I was pretty sceptical at first because the label system as a whole just didn't work for me the first time around. However, I read about Cooking Vinyl's history, researched their roster and how many career-artists were on it, etc, and they just fit perfectly. They have been great so far and everything comes through me, which I think it makes everything so much better. Nothing's forced, nothing's been done behind my back, and I'm very happy!"
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a common theme?
"It's an album that focuses on the relationship between two people. The good and the bad. The before, the after and the in between."
What lyricists do you look to for inspiration? Are they the same ones you grew up listening to?
"Benjamin Gibbard is a huge influence on me. I grew up listening to Death Cab For Cutie and I think that he has a beautiful way of telling stories. His imagery is not always orthodox, but it's always beautiful and I love that."
When did you settle on the title of midnight, and why?
"Fairly early on in all honesty. As I said earlier, I wanted this album to be a contrast/evolution to 'the morning', so I made everything showcase that. The title, the artwork, the songs, etc. It's also down to the 'secret' song at the end of the record which is also named 'midnight', just like the secret track on the morning was named 'the morning'."
Were there any other titles in contention?
"Not for this one. I was very particular in my decision making for this album, so most things were decided early on and the decisions remained!"
What are your plans to take the record out live?
"This album transitions so well onto the stage. Everything apart from the strings were recorded by me or the band, so live we are able to replicate the songs pretty closely to the recorded versions."