Dodson and Fogg released last November a 12 track record named The Call, showing the world a great way to combine an old fashioned way of composing with tons of experimental vibes.
This Chris Wade’s acid folk project clearly refers to certain sonorities from the early seventies, even if it’s easy to find lots of influences from some 90s indie pop atmospheres. The way he combined these pleasant vibes with marvelous oriental tones finds its peak in Suddenly, third track on the record. This song is a two step journey into a world full of hypnotic sounds and mellow melodies: the classic structure of the first section slowly turns into a mesmerizing mantra, with tribal percussion and fabulous sitar lines floating all around.
The entire track list offers several remarkable moments, such as the jazzanova-likely Windsmill, the enchanting I Remember, the lysergic Watch The Skies and many more. All these tracks are enriched with delicate arrangements and fine sound effects: just listen to the flangered guitar sound in Like a Fool to get an idea.
Wade’s voice perfectly fits with his music, finding the right way to express its warm and airy tone. On this record, Celia Humphris from folk band Trees added some heavenly voices, giving a celestial atmosphere to some of the tracks (It’s Not Time To Leave as an example). Sustained by steamy drum sections, cadenced bass lines and elegant guitar playing, these songs let you gently drown in an ocean of pleasant harmonies.
Here a short interview with Chris Wade, who kindly replied to some questions about his work and his music influences.
•Starting with a short introduction about your music career, I would like to know more about your background as a songwriter. What inspired you at most in creating these peculiar acid folk atmospheres? When and how did you realize that you could be a professional musician?
I started out as a writer actually, half professionally in about 2009, but I have always played instruments and I would record demos on a 4 track as I was growing up. It wasn’t until later on in 2012 that I started to gather some songs together and record them on the acoustic guitar with a simple arrangement. See, at first, I was just getting used to the PC and recording on that. I had always, when I was younger, recorded on cassette 4 track so getting used to this digital thing took a bit of time before I was comfortable with it (god I’m 28, I sound like an embalmed antique old rocker). As for acid folk, I had no idea what it meant until a reviewer mentioned the term when reviewing the first record. But seeing as I went on to read that ISB and Trees were classed as acid folk and I love them, I didn’t mind being called it so much. As for being a professional musician, I just love doing it, staying in and recording. Last year was a great year for that and I found I could keep creating music and some people were interested in it, which was always an ambition as a kid, that someone would want to collect my music. So it has a been amazing for me. When I was writing books I often felt like I was drifting from one weird project to another, comedy audiobooks to non fiction to the magazine, and felt a bit lost sometimes. For the first time with the music I feel I have found something real I could keep doing until I’m an old man in a rocking chair… with a guitar of course.
•Your way of composing is strongly connected with some typical classic rock patterns, even if there’s a remarkable experimental attitude. Where did you find the inspiration to create this mixture of elements? Which records would you pick up from your collection?
Basically when I record a track I always start with an acoustic guitar pattern and the vocals. I then go on to add whatever I think will sound good. None of it is really planned before hand, it’s all natural and comes together as I go along. I think ‘some keyboards might sound good here, some bongos, bit of flute maybe’. It’s all about colouring in the bareness really. Sometimes it needs more and sometimes less. I would say The Beatles are a big inspiration for the arrangements and putting in so many different ideas and sounds. They’re the pinnacle of all that. Basically, making music should be fun and although it can often be hard work when it isn’t going right, hearing the finished result is a big thrill.
•You collaborated with lots of great musicians on your records. How did you find working with other people on your material? How did they help you in constructing your sound?
Well the funny thing is that I haven’t met any of them in person. I send a track along for them to add things by email as a lot of musicians do these days and when they record it and send it back, I spend some time mixing it into the recorded track. When I have a track I usually think that something might add character to it, whether it be a vocal or another instrument, and I send it along. Celia Humphris of Trees always does superb vocals for me. We have done loads of tracks together now and I never tire of hearing her voice on my songs. I love mixing others’ work into my songs, it’s a huge thrill, especially when I happen to be a huge fan beforehand.
•Your compositions are filled with tons of sitar lines and oriental-flavored vibes. Sure, Ricky Romain made a great job on your last record “The Call”. How do you work with this kind of “unconventional” instruments? Which role do they play in the process of music composing?
I recorded the track Suddenly for The Call which was, for me anyway, more of an epic track with more changes. One day I heard some sitar played by Mike Heron on an Incredible String Band track and I always loved the sound of it anyway even as a kid. So I found Ricky on the internet and we had a chat on the phone about him doing some sitar for the album. I sent two tracks along which I thought would sound nice with some sprinklings of sitar and he loved them and did some amazing work for them. I just think that music should be for yourself firstly, to please your own ears and satisfy some creative urge. Then if others like it, that is where it becomes something special. I just love adding in different and unusual sounds, mixing and blending. The unconventional instruments as you say just give things a different feel sometimes. I don’t see them as unconventional really, I just think of the sounds they make. Hearing them blending in to the music can really bring a song to life I feel.