Jamie Lidell: soul man turns the page

Jamie Lidell's latest album is feel-good and funky, and reflects a growing optimism. It's all down to his new wife, the singer tells Elisa Bray

It's hard to keep up with Jamie Lidell. He left Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he was born, to live first in Bristol, then Brighton, then Berlin for nine years, then he moved to New York before settling last year in Nashville. His music is just as restless: leaving his beginnings in dark, cutting-edge electronica as one half of the duo Super Collider for soul and Seventies funk with 2005's Multiply - all the while retaining his distinct soulful vocals applied to electronic beats - gained him the tag “musical chameleon”. He was a solo artist for many years, he's had a band, and now he's gone solo again.

Except now Lidell appears to have settled into a new, comfortable place. We meet to discuss his forthcoming fifth studio album at a plush London hotel, and it's a strikingly pretty blonde American woman – his manager – who first greets me. She, it transpires, is Lidell's wife, and the source of the newfound relaxed stability that radiates from him. The pair married six months ago, turning Lidell's lifelong cynical views on their head. “I always was adamant I would never get married,” he says, sunk comfortably into an armchair. “I've come from a family where marriage has always been pretty miserable – for my parents and sister, it never worked out. But then my [now] wife said 'just do it for the romance'. I'd never even thought of that”. He smiles. “I'm much more grounded than I was.”

Marriage prompted him to reflect on his former self, and to realise quite how unhappy he'd become after the release of his third album in 2008, Jim. His previous album, Multiply, had spawned two songs played on the hit US television show Grey's Anatomy, and given him his first taster of success, and hedonism was just around the corner. “It was quite an optimistic time, I'd done [Jim] and it had taken me forever to do and I was really buoyant and up for it. It was a huge success comparatively to anything I'd done before so of course I was really enjoying the ride.” No stranger to analysis – Lidell has a degree in philosophy and physics – his recent self-deconstruction, coinciding as it did with the writing of the new album, found its way into the lyrics, most candidly in the album's opener, “I'm Selfish”.

“Learning in love, and being responsible and good and who I want to be, all that comes out in the lyrics. I got really into the habit of living a completely selfish life, being hedonistic. It's a lonely life. I was often touring solo and the loneliness almost rules that hedonism because you're all out for yourself, which is miserable. I remember doing long tours and coming back to my house in Berlin on my own, shutting the door and desperately trying to call people. When there wasn't anyone there I'd be almost scared. I just remember that feeling; I was really lost.” One of the benefits of having a spouse for a manager - a companion on tours and promotional trips - means that loneliness is a thing of the past.

Another pointer to his new sense of self-realisation is that, despite being several years into his career, this fifth album is self-titled. For Lidell, it's a statement of where he's at. “It does feel like it's very me,” he agrees. “It's got all the things that I love crammed into one place. Even though it's later on in my release schedule, it feels like a new beginning. I'm really proud to put my name on it.”

He eschewed ballads, and made the whole album as pop and accessible as possible, taking in funky grooves from the Eighties, while pulling them into a futuristic electronics sound. He started to listen to Janet Jackson, and lots of it. “I got into Rhythm Nation and Control and thought 'these are amazing songs, why don't they make them like this anymore? I want to make them like that!' So that's what kicked it off for me.”

On that same electronic soul tip, he discovered George Clinton, Mtume and Cameo. “It's just good, positive electronic music. When you live in Berlin, a lot of that electronic sound can become quite minimalist, dark in a way. The first albums I did, with Super Collider, were all about making these crazy barren landscapes. This album is a lot more pop - familiar chords that are quite bright, and more accessible, but at the same time there's a lot of that electronics craft that I'd been honing for a long time. I tried to marry that with my love of pop and soul and make the songs communicate on a lot of levels: be fun, but also ambitious. I wanted it to be more ambitious than the last record, which is quite a lot to try to achieve.”

Achieve it he does, with the kind of album you could play at a party and be sure to have the most sophisticated guests on their feet. It is also appropriate that his most self-sufficient album should be self-titled. For an artist so famed for his collaborations with heavy hitters such as Beck, Simian Mobile Disco and Feist, this album was created almost alone by Lidell, and recorded in the couple's vast house in Nashville, where every room became a recording studio at different points. It was also the first time he mixed a record at home. “Literally, from the minute I started to the minute I finished it was all in-house. It's definitely more my sound”.

It does, however, borrow much from Lidell's idol since childhood, Prince, whose funk style is apparent on the new album. And in 2010 Lidell met his idol for the first time, when he played the same night as the then rising star Janelle Monáe, who Prince had come to watch at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

“I was petrified,” recalls Lidell. “I was incapable of answering anything – not that Prince asked me a damn thing. Prince wouldn't even look at me. The simplest gesture would have made my year. He looked at my wife, which I think is more the way he likes to do it. There he was, acting like royalty. At the time it really pissed me off. On reflection, it was a perfect meeting with Prince – very odd, very mysterious, and really uncomfortable. You wouldn't really want it any other way.”

Lidell will once again be back in restless mode, travelling the world when he goes on tour. But right now he's grounded in a way he's never been before. “It's been a great time,” he smiles. “It's definitely closer to a Disney movie than I've ever had.”

 

'Jamie Lidell' is released on 18 February on Warp Records. The single “What a Shame” is out now

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution