July 17th, 2012
Liam Bailey’s knocked about with collaborators like Chase & Status and Amy Winehouse, but the singer-songwriter’s come into his own with his soulful blend of blues and dub. Wonderland catches up with the man himself ahead of his headline gig at Cargo.
What are you working on at the moment?
This year I’ve been really fortunate gig-wise as all of my shows have sold out. My sound has truly started to take a solid form that’s unique to me as an individual and although the lows bite lightly at my ankles, I’m finding a lot of positive things are coming my way. I’ve been touring, writing with Chase & Status again, and doing a lot of collaborations with people from different scenes & genres which I plan to keep doing. I’m fortunate.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From life, really…. Does that sound cliché? From lots of things: memories or ambitions, wants, losses, gains. The fakery of our fickle systems. The beauty in truth.
Are your songs written about genuine past events/ relationships?
Of course, yes. I’d be a fake if not. I really find it difficult to sing things I haven’t been through.
How was it growing up in Nottingham?
Sound. I never got shot, anyway! My mum and dad are hard workers so I was fed and clothed well. I got bullied a few times and most likely bullied a few kids on the way. I shouted at the teacher but never swore at my mum. I got a thorn stuck in my knuckle once picking blackberries and I never found dock leaves to be a particularly soothing remedy for nettle stings. I had a big LP collection. Pretty bog standard stuff really.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
God. Or my 12-year-old self.
Do you think that you’ll go down a different route musically?
Last week I swore blind to my mate that I didn’t and would not like sushi. I tried it, found out what I did like, and then came out with the intentions to eat there again. Aren’t we so cleverly fickle? We should always evolve and develop things.
Do you think pop music is generally in a good place?
There’s a lot of lying and a lot of fools being taken for a ride at the moment. The radio can be so soulless. Though, in some ways I’m glad that good soulful music doesn’t always get on mainstream radio because I think that helps preserve it. Keeps the corporate dogs away from tearing it too pieces.
What would you most like to change about mainstream music?
Artists like Chris Brown should find something new to do I think. He seems to be sad and tired. So do many of these pop stars. I would put more people in organic recording environments as it’s only fair to them really. If you polish a turd you will forget it’s a turd and that’s not good for the soul.
Are you completely self-taught?
I had one guitar lesson where I was told to hold the G chord down for as long as possible while I watched Eastenders with my mum.
What do you think of fame?
I’d rather go to Asda with my mum than sit at an exclusive restaurant for the stars, though I’d rather play to 65,000 people in Belgium than 20 people in Highbury & Islington on a Friday night. So I get quite perturbed by the whole notion of fame.
Who’s your favourite contemporary musician?
The Black Keys, Jake Bugg, Radiohead, Wu Lyfe and Adele.
Where would you most like to be in 15 years?
Happy. I want nothing but soulful, happy and creative years now.
Liam Bailey plays at Cargo on 7th August, 83 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY.
Words: Christabel Reed