Interview with Jeremy Warmsley


From the Funky Mofo archives: Email chat with a fresh new talent. Make sure you keep your eyes and ears open for Jeremy Warmsley!

Funky Mofo: Hello number one. What’s your name and where do you come from? (in a Cilla Black voice)

Jeremy Warmsley: I’m Jeremy Warmsley and I’m from London. Ish.

FM: You’re described as half-English, half-French in your biography. Can you tell us more about that? Do you think it has any bearings on the kind of music and the way you make it?

JM: My mum’s French, that’s all. Of course it’s had some sort of bearing, but there was never really that much French music around when I was a kid. I like Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel. I sometimes cover “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” live, but apart from that, I couldn’t say. Having said that I just got a big book all about classic French pop music recently so maybe that will have some sort of effect. Oh, I used to have a song with some French lyrics but I don’t play it any more…

FM: You mix programmed percussion, found sounds, ambient guitar and broken-down electronics battle with classic pop melodies to create some unique music. What’s your musical background?

JM: Well, I was a pretty late starter as a kid – I didn’t really get into music till I was 16 and a guy at school gave me a mixtape full of indie from Glasgow – Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Arab Strap, the Pastels, loads of really cool stuff. I knew almost immediately that I had to get into this world. Weirdly I started playing guitar about the same time that I started listening to music. I spent about four or five years learning how to play and write songs, I had this great old 8-track recorder that I did loads of shit on, but I wasn’t very ambitious, I rarely tried to do much beyond your standard guitar-bass-drums ensemble. Then suddenly around January of this year I had an epiphany of sorts and realised that all the music I was listening to (Brian Eno, Microphones, Scott Walker.) was so much more experimental and interesting than the music I was making, which bored me rigid! I swore never to do anything that didn’t push some sort of boundary again. I still want to be accessible and I don’t expect people to “work” to “get” my music or anything arsey like that, it’s more of a personal thing I think.

FM: You perform solo. How do you make the transition from recordings to live performances? What kind of effect pedals do you use?

JM: Well, I’m in the process of putting together a backing band so this is all going to change. but at the moment I use a whole bunch of effects pedals with my guitar in order to try to capture some of the essence of my recordings and hopefully make it a bit more interesting than your average mimsy guitar-wielding singer-songwriter. I do a lot of stuff with loops, I’ll play a drumbeat or a riff or a bassline on my guitar, put it into a pedal so it goes round and round and then play on top of that. The only problem is it’s quite hard to change the beat or whatever once you’ve started it, but I’m working on that. and I found a way to use a backwards reverb, distortion and a slide to make this beautiful, huge, ambient sound you can really lose yourself in, it sounds almost like an organ.

FM: You will be supporting label-mates The Pippettes. Do you enjoy the live experience? What do you get out of it?

JM: I fucking love playing live! Recording can be a really weird experience for me, I’ll go up to my little room and spend hours with my headphones on tweaking things, but I never get to see people’s reactions unless I’m there when they hear it – and playing live is basically the exact opposite. And it’s a great way to gauge whether a song’s any good. And of course it’s really really nice when someone comes and tells you they enjoyed a set after a gig. But in addition to all that there’s a brilliant feeling you get when you’re on stage playing well that’s not like anything else. I don’t really think I can describe it. Once it starts going, well, you just feel indestructible, like nothing can go wrong, it’s very powerful.

FM: Your Interesting Lies EP is being released by Transgressive Records but you also feature on the Exercise 1 roster. What’s the story behind that?

JM: Well, just to get things straight: my debut single “I Believe In The Way You Move” is out on Exercise1 on June 8th and I’m following that up with an EP, “5 Interesting Lies” on Transgressive, probably in October or thereabouts. The reason for that is just that back in February, Exercise1 asked me if I’d like to do a single with them, and then in March, Transgressive asked if I’d like to do an EP with them. Pretty straightforward really! Both labels are run by really cool people, Transgressive obviously have a really good history with releases by the Subways, Ladyfuzz and Mystery Jets, but Exercise1 deserve to do really well too, and I’m sure they will!

FM: If you could work with any artist/s (past or present) who would they be and why?

JM: Hmmmmm. I’d like to produce an album with Brian Wilson. I’d get him to make the most depressing record ever. His voice is all creaky now and I didn’t think it worked all that well on Smile, which was too ecstatic. Obviously it was still fantastic to hear the greatest lost album of all time, but I couldn’t help missing his old voice. Instead I’d get him to do stuff like that was more like his weird contributions to Sunflower and Surf’s Up, really sad, insular pop songs. In addition I’d love to hear Four Tet remix my stuff – I think his recent remixes of Radiohead and Bloc Party are two of the most incredible pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Oh and having just started to remixes myself there’s now a whole slew of people I’d love to remix myself, but we won’t get into that…

FM: Last but by no means least, what are your plans for the near future?

JM: Trying to get my single finished in time for the release! I’m also currently producing the debut EP by my friend Simon Mastrantone (he’s like a cross between Jeff Buckley, Kate Bush and children crying, all his songs are about sex, death, his family, and haunted houses) and it’d be great to get that finished soon. Oh and it’d be really cool to play some of the indie festivals over the summer, that’s something I’m working on at the moment too.

C.B Lux & Jo Whitby

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