- Sun, 2008-02-24 17:00
Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly releases the first single Find The Time from his brand new album Searching For The Hows And The Whys on the 25th February 2008. I Like Music caught up with Sam to talk about the new album; Damon Albarn and Nitin Sawnhey and The Africa Express project.
''I Like Music because.... music is a special thing that is not like anything else in the world. You might argue that you can translate emotions through films and through books but anyone can make music, whether that be humming or singing along to the radio, it’s something that gives enjoyment and positivity to many people.” Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape Wear Cape Fly
ILM: Your new album Searching For The Hows and Whys is out on March 3rd 2008, which track did you enjoy laying down the most and why?
Sam: Could've Seen It All, I remember just watching the orchestra play that five minute string arrangement and just thinking, ‘yeah, this is going to be a good track’. I’d never watched an orchestra play one of my songs all the way through, so to witness that was definitely an amazing experience.
The Children Are [The Consumers Of] The Future was another track I had a lot of fun making, simply because of how we did it. A lot of that track was done at 5am after the Christmas party, we’d all stayed up and had a lot going on in the studio and we just decided to go back and whack a few bits on the tracks and a lot of the crazy distorted horns we recorded early in the morning and then, during the day, fed them through delays and messed around with the sounds we’d made.
It was a couple of days at the end of a fairly long stretch of recording and it was just good fun to let our hair down and experiment and just play, which I think gives that track a sense of fun and a sense of interest.
ILM: You started making the album on your computer while touring but decided, rather than make a bedroom sounding record to call in an orchestra… Like you say, that must have been amazing?
Sam: It’s mind-blowing to be honest. It’s a bit weird and unnerving because you know how much an orchestra is going to cost and although you know how talented they are and that it’s not going to be a problem, just watching it there’s a sense of knowing it’s got to be done in one take.
We were incredibly nervous, because me and Nitin didn’t know we were going to record with the orchestra until the day before, so a lot of the scoring was done all night making sure everything came together musically. So it was nerve-wracking and an experience that I’ve never had before.
You spend a lot of time doing basic scores on the computer or watching Nitin play with orchestras and see how he operates, for that to be involving one of my songs was something I was really proud of.
ILM: So, the album was produced by Nitin Sawnhey who you’ve been a fan of – what did you learn from him?
Sam: I learned a lot of specifics rather than one overall lesson, which was a better thing. From Dean the guy who was mixing with us and the engineer I picked up a lot of just how to use reverbs and compression on my voice to make it work.
And, for Nitin, just less is more, and that’s a lesson I could’ve done with learning a little bit sooner to be honest. When he’s scoring strings it’s all in the build, it’s all in where you’re going to get to, it’s not about having 200 things going on and getting more complicated, it’s about building tension. It’s all about holding back and making sure that the moments you do want things to kick and you do want that pay off, that you’ve spend the time building it.
ILM: Better Things features a duet with long time friend and touring partner, Kate Nash. What was it like working with Kate?
Sam: I’ve known Kate for a long time, and she’s done the track with me a fair few times on the road before we’d recorded it. The main thing with Kate that surprised me was how good her voice was so quickly. Unfortunately she gets a lot of stick and I don’t know whether that’s to do with the production or how pronounces some words, but her pitching and her tone were incredible.
We did her vocals in about two minutes. We’d booked the whole afternoon session and we were done by 2pm. I’ve always known her to be incredibly talented, but in the studio I was a bit surprised with how focused and how quickly she could deliver it. I was really pleased. You know it’s her. The best thing about Kate is you hear her and you know it’s her voice.
ILM: Who is currently at the top of your collaboration wish list?
Sam: Damon Albarn is number one. I can’t think with of anyone I’d rather work with than him. He’s a modern master really.
ILM: You’ve got a great lyrical talent plus now how to come up with some fine laptop beats, folkish guitars and there’s even a bit of afro-beat in this new album. Please can you describe the GET CAPE. WEAR CAPE. FLY music making process? Is it lyrics first then melody or vice versa or random?
Sam: I think it was Stephen King who said, ‘when you’re writing a book the best thing to do is immerse yourself in the character and spend time just focused on that and then when you start writing it’s already ingrained in your process, so you’re not sitting there with a book trying to become something as you’re writing it.’ And it’s quite a similar process to how I write music, in that I’ll pick a lyrical theme and I’ll revel in it; read a book for a couple of days on it, watching documentaries, staying focused on it or, if it’s an emotional thing, just wallowing on it, to the point where you don’t want to wallow in it anymore.
Whether it’s something I’ve written before or something new, I just play the guitar and just ad lib over the top and I tend to find, the lyrics and the things I’ve been immersing myself in just fine a natural home and they kind of come out. Songs like Let The Journey Begin, that song pretty much wrote itself. I’d be playing the guitar and the lyrics would just come out and I’d write it down and then I’d come back a couple of weeks later and pick out the duds and replace them but the theme was pretty much captured in that initial playing of the song.
The big fear of mine is that something sounds laboured when you listen to it, that’s one way of getting rid of it: by writing it very fresh and then coming back and doing the edits and amending, as opposed to spending loads of time pouring over something and then getting to the point where you read it back and it’s too overly wordy and it doesn’t have any personality to it.
ILM: You traveled to the Congo as part of Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project – tell us more about that?
Sam: The Africa Express project involved 25 of us who went out to the Congo do to a bit of writing, meet some of the musicians and get a handle of Congolese music culture specifically. So we spent seven days just going from different outdoor ‘gigs’ and people would just come and dance and hang out and you’d witness a totally different enjoyment of music and different atmosphere. It really complemented the difference in style. Congolese music is a lot more poly-rhythmical than the music I’m used to listening to. It really opened my mind and some of the characters and people we met out there were incredibly inspiring; musicianship like I’d not witnessed before.
ILM: You started your music career as a gig promoter and now look. You’ve followed your dreams. What advice would you give to young people on following their dreams to get the career they want for themselves?
Sam: If you think you can do it, then do it. If you think you’ve got the abilitly to work in a field or do a certain thing; then go for it full heartedly. There’s no point beating round the bush and thinking I don’t know if I’m going to meet this or that person. If you need to make contacts to do what you want to do, just go and find out where they’re going to be, hang around those places and go and meet them.
If you want to make music, then make music regardless of whether you’ve got a record deal or regardless of how many friends you’ve got on MySpace. People get so bogged down with the semantics of it, that they actually forget the whole point of doing what they want to do in the first place, which is to go out there, get the experience, have fun and enjoy doing the thing that you’re passionate about.
ILM: What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?
Sam: It’s hard to answer that, because I can’t imagine not doing this. It’s always been my passion. But, I was very into advertising, and that was what I was doing at school and I was going to go to uni to study that. That was my original plan, to go into advertising and make music on the side. But, fortunately the music on the side turned out a lot better than I thought it would, so fortunately I didn’t have to move into the dark world of advertising.
''I Like Music because.... it gives you the ability to connect with other people and connect with your raw emotion. Music can sum up a small period of time or it can sum up a whole lifetime. You can put a song on and it takes you back to a place that you haven’t been to in years that you want to remember, or it can enhance your relationships on a day to day basis.
Music is one of those things that is never going to go away. In films and TV music is often used to lift themes and build characters and portray emotions, and that translates in real life. There’s such a frame work within us as human beings we have a natural and innate desire to make music and to be musical.” Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape Wear Cape Fly