- Tue, 2008-07-08 17:07
Morcheeba came to the fore-front of the music scene in 1996 with the release of their critically acclaimed debut, Who Can You Trust? Brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey are commonly tagged as predominant members of the trip-hop, chill out collective. However, their consistent innovative approach to music making and their vast list of collaborations suggests they are keen to avoid any rigid definitions.
Dive Deep is the sixth and latest album from Morcheeba. Created in their own studio, full to the brim with an eclectic array of instruments and toys, the brothers invited a series of vocalists to compliment their ideas and offer their own creative input in the studio. Their latest worldwide tour has seen a fresh line-up of musicians accompanying the brothers, fronted by vocalist Manda. We caught up with Paul Godfrey to chat about the journey Morcheeba has taken through the music industry, how his inspirations have changed and what exciting treats you would find lying around their studio.
"I Like Music because… it has nurtured me throughout my life.” Paul Godfrey, Morcheeba
ILM: Your sixth studio album Dive Deep is out now. Can you describe the vibe of the album?
Paul: It's an incredibly eclectic album featuring some incredible guests. It's based loosely around an aquatic theme. It's fairly down-tempo and moody and dreamy.
ILM: You contacted a lot of the artists on the album through myspace, which I think is a very positive, organic approach. You've spoken on your website about how a lot of the songs are written spontaneously in the studio with the artists. How do you begin that process with a new artist?
Paul: They weren't all new artists, the majority of them had experience. Basically we would sit and have a conversation, our likes and our dislikes. We would establish common ground and then we would start talking about the mood of the music and how we thought it would come togther. Then we would go through our ideas and decide on a concept that would fit in with the overall mood of the album. Once we had got to the point where we were focused and knew where we were going we just ran with it. It all happened very naturally.
ILM: You've stated that making this album was a very cathartic process. Were there any major stand out moments?
Paul: I had confidence in the project the whole way through. Being patient with myself was one of the biggest challenges. When we were mixing and the tracks were really coming together, I really felt like we had pulled it off. The album still had mystery and intrigue after listening to it so much. That was when I knew we were onto something special.
ILM: Do you find it difficult to know when to stop? When to step back and say 'Yes. This is finished.'
Paul: Not really. I'm not a perfectionist like that. Once I know where it's going I just have to put the hard work in along with everybody else to bring it to fruition.
ILM: What is your ethos for making music? How has that changed and developed over the years?
Paul: Well, you know, when we got into it we had the same kind of superficial motivation that a lot of bands have. The sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll thing. Trainers and T-shirts...you know. But really, I think the real reason we got so into it was because music nutured us as children. We were living in a very volatile domestic atmosphere so we've always been great believers in the healing powers of music. Now we have got all the superficial stuff out of our system we have been able to come back to the place where it is very much about the music again. And nature is just such an incredible inspiration.
ILM: You've stated that with this album you weren't looking towards what your contemporaries would think, that you just made the record that you wanted to make. I think that sounds like a really positive approach. Can you tell me about how you came to that conclusion?
Paul: Mmmm. Well....we failed in quite a big way. I think that really humbled us. It made us question what we really wanted to do. We realised that we wanted to make music, to carry on and we felt blessed by it all really. The failure was also a very positive thing because it took a lot of the pressure off. People weren't really expecting anything. They thought we had completly lost it. Without people looking over our shoulder we were able to do exactly what we wanted and feel very comfortable with it and just use our own internal feelings to make the decision.
ILM: It must have been refreshing to step away from any pre-conceptions?
Paul: Mmm. Indeed. We've made so many records. We've chased our tails and chased fashion. We've tried to stay ahead of fashion. All of that is just detremental to the soul of music itself. It's all window dressing. With this record we weren't concerned with any of the superficial aspects of music.
ILM: I would like to get down to the nitty gritty of your music making process....What is your studio like? What instruments did you have lying around for this record? How did they come together?
Paul: Wow! I'm not used to questions about music! Fantastic...um...yeah...our studio is full of toys. Vintage toys, modern toys. Lots of old keyboards lying around, an old upright piano, drum kits, percussion - about 20 different synthesisers, computers...We just sort of jam around. Ross is the multi-instrumentalist, so he'll pick up instruments and do weird things and bring them in and go 'Look at this!' and that'll spark an idea and we'll go from there. On the one hand we are very intentional and on the other, we are just making it up as we go along. The great thing about having our own studio is that we can just lock the outside world out and get on with it. It was all mixed completely out the box, all analog. All very old fashioned. It's a real luxury in this day and age to have access ot the equipment that we have access to.
ILM: Certainly. It is still a positive thing to keep the balance and let the old and the new compliment each other, rather than focusing on one. You do that very well. As a successful artist, what advice would you offer to anyone looking to form a career in the music industry?
Paul: I'd say don't listen to your friends and family. Be incredibly hard on yourself and work very, very hard on song writing because that is the most imporatant aspect. Get yourself out there and keep trying until you succeed.
ILM: How have your inspirations changed and developed throughout your career? What inspires you to write songs?
Paul: I just absolutley love making music. I really am my happiest when I am lost in music. The clock just whizzes round and it is just a different world. It is the greatest escape.
ILM: You have just been on tour. How has that been?
Paul: It is going incredibly well. We have a new band, everyone is fresh in our outfit and everybody is really enjoying it. The audience reaction is probably the strongest we've ever had. Manda is fronting the band and she is doing a great job. In terms of stand out shows, Paris was unbelievable, but they have all been fantastic, it's hard to pick one show.