I've spent more of my life playing music than speaking. If I ever really wanted to express an idea, emotion or even a storyline, music has always been my first choice. But having released eight albums, I was keen to find a fresh approach for my ninth so this album started as something quite different – a script.
For me, the last general election felt like a tri-party battle to capitalise on the fear, narrow-mindedness and intransigence of little Britain and I wanted to create a character to embody that. I already knew John Hurt, from working with him on the BBC's Human Planet series, so I decided, optimistically, to write a draft with him in mind.
Donald Meaning is an embittered old man raging against the outside world within the safe confines of his austere flat. He fixates, from his dusty old throne, on a small cassette recorder sent with a mix tape by his ex-wife (the album's music). Between tracks, Meaning complains about immigrants, terrorists, the council, the cold, his ex-wife, noisy neighbours, aging and loneliness.
When he graciously accepted, John found exactly the right quality almost immediately and the music flowed easily from that day on.. The music of the mix tape offers an antithetical perspective, celebrating human diversity, memory and life itself through an instrumental and lyrical narrative. Ironically, given its themes, the album's release has been deferred by the incineration of my distributor PIAS' stock in the riots.
The journey ends with Meaning opening his door to a stranger and inviting them in. His fear finally dissolves and hope beckons.
Nitin Sawhney's 'Last Days of Meaning' is out 19 September. He performs at Union Chapel, London 3 & 4 November ( www.unionchapel.org.uk)Reuse content