Category: Best of…

Bright Young Folk interviewed Seth before the London Union Chapel gig on 24 May 2009. The video interview is in two parts. The first is devoted to the new tracks showcased on the tour and Benji Kirkpatrick joining the band line-up, and is probably the most in-depth interview to date on plans for the next album – which will be the first not produced by Seth and brother Sean. The second part covers questions sent in by website readers.

Part 1, on the next album:

Part 2, in which BYF put some of your questions to Seth, including his favourite Equation record, writing on the fiddle and working with brother Sean:

You can add your own comments on the interviews on the Bright Young Folk website.

Catching up on some bits on pieces from December which I didn’t get round to posting at the time, here’s a really good, original interview which talks in some depth about the EMI experience, musical control and, most intriguingly, Seth’s thoughts on the direction for the next album.

Well worth a read, regardless of your obSethion level.

On Kitty Jay

“In many ways the style and sound had a lot to do with my own naivety at the time, but when I came upon something that was very rhythmic and riff driven, I knew that it was the sound I had been looking for.”

On signing for EMI, musical control and going mainstream (or not)

“EMI bought into the business and that took away a lot of the administrative and organisational burdens that we had … Of course, it is hard to let go of something that you feel is your baby – but once you reach a certain level it becomes too big to physically retain control every aspect of what you do. So the compromise, if there was any, that I made was to make sure I retained complete control over the music while in most other areas I am kind of flowing as I go.”

“What I do is quite unique, which makes it quite difficult for people to interfere … the music is always going to have a rhythmic, quirky element which is always a bit alien to being massively popular.”

And finally, teasing hints about the direction for the next album:

Listening to him describe his music and its direction highlights the crossroads at which his career stands. On the one hand he has successfully defined a sound that he is happy to continue to work within, on the other, he talks of expanding the scope of it by engaging a third party producer…

There are contradictions too: at various points he suggests both that he would like to go back to the naïve approach of ‘Kitty Jay,’ at others he suggests that album number five may be the time to engage a producer of some reputation.

“I’d love to work with someone like Tchad Blake or Brad Jones, maybe even someone like John Leckie, who would probably strip everything right back. It would be great to work with a real guru like that at some stage. I think so far the records have moved from a very naïve sound to one that is much closer to the live sound, maybe there is another step to take.”

Other interviews, however, have suggested the most likely next release will be a live album.

“We are definitely going to do a live record next year,” says Lakeman. “People have been calling out for one for a number of years.” – Interview with Brighton Argus, 14 Nov 2008

So don’t go holding your breadth for a new studio release just yet!

Full Interview:
‘Seth Lakeman’, interview for The Herald by John Williamson, 8 Dec 2008 »

I don’t normally blog about other people’s blogs on here, but this is both an amusing review of Seth’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig (at which there were allegedly “exactly zero hipster douchebags”) and good general intro to Seth’s career post Mercury Prize nomination from back in the days when, the writer says, “I must still have been thinking that the award was still relevant and inspiring … because I watched the preview show, which featured Lakeman. I was blown away by his musicianship and haunting, resonant songs, many of which were arrangements of traditional English airs.”

Arguably all the better for not being an uncritical fanboy/girl, and definitely recommended if your love for “Handsome Seth Lakeman” is still in its infancy, or you’ve accidentally arrived here looking for something else and are now intrigued.

Shades of Caruso: Emphatically Non-Hipster Non-Douchebag Recommendation Of The Week: Seth Lakeman »

Good long interview by Martyn Joseph at the Greenbelt Festival in August 2008. The interviews roams over Seth roots in the Devon folk scene, future directions and growing Seth’s audience – Seth ‘keeping it real’ against EMI pressures for no. 1 singles – his forthcoming trip to Malawi for the Lake of Stars festival, and being Greenbelt what part, if any, faith and religion has played in Seth’s upbringing.

(Thanks for ceakayone from The Mire for the find)

Sean Lakeman — “one of the UK’s foremost musical masterminds” according to The Mirror — is interviewed in the Plymouth Herald about his work on The Levellers’ new album, Letters from the Underground, and, of course, Seth’s albums:

“At the time [we recorded Kitty Jay] no-one would give him any gigs,” says Sean. “We’d play absolutely anywhere anyone would have us – upstairs in village pubs, wherever, just me, Ben (double bass player) and Seth.

“It was quite good fun, actually, just the three of us in a van, playing the toilet circuit.

“Seth came up with this Dartmoor-themed concept for an album, but even if you sat him down in a room with a big button saying ‘record’, he wouldn’t know what to do, so it was left up to me to come up with the idea of how to bring this concept to life.”

Much was made in the national press of Kitty Jay being recorded in Sean’s Dartmoor kitchen for less than £300. “The kitchen was perfect, as it was all river-stone and slate, a harsh sounding gritty acoustic which really helped bring the songs to life.

“Seth has the attention span of a sparrow, so you’d have to fire him up with coffee and encouragement and he’d give you about 40 minutes. Half the trick of production is getting the performance”

Although the kitchen studio was replaced with more conventional surroundings for recording Poor Man’s Heaven, Sean continued his producer role on the new album. Though not, it sounds, completely free of at least a little record company meddling:

“There were lots of people with strong opinions on how they didn’t want Heaven to sound, and I worked on it until last Christmas, then left them to it.

“Fortunately, they didn’t change it all that much. There was a huge amount of pressure for the album to perform, so when it went to No 8 in the charts, there was a real sense of relief.”

Full interview: ‘Lesser-known Lakeman is making ripples’, Plymouth Herald, 15 Aug 2008 »

Five tracks from Seth’s performance at the iTunes Live Festival 2008 are available to buy on iTunes.

  • Poor Man’s Heaven
  • The Hurlers
  • Blood Red Sky
  • Kitty Jay
  • Greed and Gold

Individual tracks are the usual 79p, or you can get all five for £1.99.

Seth Lakeman, iTunes Live: London Festival ’08 – EP »

Good article and interview in the Telegraph from the Poor Man’s Heaven album launch at Perranporth. Well written, it deftly recaps the Seth Lakeman Story So Far and throws in a few good quotes for good measure.

On assuming folk’s ‘poster boy’ mantle

He rails against the “poster boy of folk” tag that’s been hung on him…”There’s a lot of great music on the folk scene, and I’ll be happy if I can help bring it to a wider audience, but I never want to be its spokesman or public face. This new album is a lot rockier and I’m not massively concerned about what the folk audience thinks of it.”

On resisting the commercialising formulas of a major label

A devout T-shirt-and-jeans kind of fellow, he rejected all attempts to get him to go shopping with a stylist and cheerfully admits he’s miserably failed to write a catchy hit single for them … Fears that Relentless would turn him into James-Blunt-with-a-fiddle have been blown out of the sea by the fiercest, darkest, danciest record of his career.

On Solomon Browne and raising money for the RNLI

“when I was 19, my best friend and his mate died surfing at Polzeath. There was no lifeboat there. I was in a band – Equation – and we did a couple of concerts to raise money to help build a lifeboat station there. Those lifeboat guys… they’re heroes. I just wanted to honour them.”

Full article: ‘Seth Lakeman: to the sea!’, The Telegraph, 3 July 2008 »

Geoff Lakeman writes about his transistion from ‘The Man from the Mirror’ to ‘Seth Lakeman’s Dad’.

Top groupie tip:

At all the festivals, very attractive young girls engage me in conversation – old fart though I am.

They’re only after a ticket backstage and a chance to meet my famous son. It doesn’t work, of course, but Seth thinks it’s hilarious.

Mirror Man Geoff on his famous son Seth Lakeman, by Geoffrey Lakeman, The Mirror, 3 July 2008 »

Interview: Spiral Earth

Folk+ website, Spiral Earth, caught up with our man on his way to Crawley Folk Festival (for more on that, check out Ruby’s write-up on the Mire). Covering not just the new album, but also his approach to song-writing, working the advantages and resisting the pressures of a major label, and the first hints of a proper UK-wide tour this Autumn, this packs a lot of great stuff into a short space.

Spiral Earth Interview, 27 June 2008 »

Part I

Part II

Part III