With the release of, and subsequent hefty praise for his debut album, James Vincent McMorrow has been invited to play some of the most interesting venues the country has to offer and found himself compared to some of his most-hyped contemporaries. Before his performance at this year's Latitude Festival he talks to Dazed Digital about sonic diversity and the merits of cave singing...
Dazed Digital: I've heard your music compared to acts as diverse as Bon Iver and James Blake - that's a pretty wide net to cast over someone...
James Vincent McMorrow: Those two artists aren't as diverse as it might seem. I hear a lot of things in James Blake's record that remind me of Bon Iver; the way he arranges his vocals, the soundscape nature of the music. All that aside, I think it's a huge compliment should people choose to put my name alongside people as creative and talented as that. Comparisons are an inevitable thing in music, especially early on in a career. My hope would be that once the album is out in the world for a little while that any comparisons would fade away - that the album, and myself, would be judged and evaluated on their own terms.
DD: Do you think that broad spectrum has helped bring people who might not otherwise have found out about your music in to your fanbase?
James Vincent McMorrow: I certainly think a diverse range of comparisons could absolutely help draw in some people that might not otherwise hear your music. I had two guys from Canada who call themselves Adventure club do a dubstep remix of 'We Don't Eat', and the reaction to it was insane - they totally re imagined the song, and opened it up to an audience that I could never have tapped into on my own. I think things like that are amazing.
DD: The diversity in your music, is it an organic thing or a cultivated idea to avoid being typecast or sounding to twee?
James Vincent McMorrow: Yeah, I think the diversity you mention perhaps comes from my love of a lot of different music, it's certainly not something I've done knowingly - I'm following the songs where they lead me. I don't sit down and write songs on acoustic guitar or piano - it's an experimental process to me: I've always found the notion of a guy strumming away at an acoustic guitar, then putting simple arrangements behind it, a bit tedious, things can become very repetitive very easily.
DD: You've played live shows in some of the more interesting and intimate venues - St. Pancras Church, for example - is that the kind of environment you prefer for your music?
James Vincent McMorrow: It really depends; I think the nature of my voice is such that sometimes people put you in churches and resonant rooms! I've had the opportunity to play some incredible places this year, from St. Pancras church to The Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert halls - my performance doesn't change dependent on the venue. I'm playing a show in a cave next month, that will definitely be the oddest place I've ever played!
DD: In that sense, is there a particular sonic aesthetic you try and create for your gigs?
James Vincent McMorrow: My shows tend to be pretty quiet and intense affairs, but not through any conscious decision on my part; people come to hear the music being played - they know exactly when to contribute and when to not, which is fantastic. In terms of the sonics, when it's a solo show I tackle the songs in a different way: I play them quietly, I don't try and overpower them with my voice at any point.
DD: Songs like 'Down the Burning Rope' and 'If I had a Boat' are quite stripped back and intimate - how do you think those songs will translate in a festival environment?
James Vincent McMorrow: You have to make certain decisions for festivals, some songs just won't translate well and others will, so a track like down the burning ropes probably won't make the cut - not for bigger crowds anyway. Sometimes the instinct is to speed up the songs, or play more aggressively, but i think that's a mistake; you have to trust the songs you choose to do their work, for them to grab peoples attention and hopefully hold it there for the entire set.
James Vincent McMorrow plays Latitude this weekend. More info on Latitude HERE