Innovative artist Larry Mindel stopped by to have an interview. We spoke about writing processes, dream support gigs, and what’s in store for the rest of 2021.
To anyone new to your music, describe your sound.
Well, I believe it’s the listener who matters most – what people bring to music themselves shapes how they hear it. One word people use a lot is ‘evocative’. I hope that means my music stirs up emotions, memories – and hopes. People also say it’s ‘warm’ – which I think means it invites you in, and the romantic sound envelopes and involves you – my guitar, more recently the piano – and the real strings I love using. I’ve got a real thing about acoustic instruments! And a third word? People say my music is ‘complex’ too… musicians in particular hear all the unusual chord changes that go on in my songs. I’ve been writing songs and making music all my life – I was playing Soho folk clubs in the 70s. I’ve run a music club in London, played in duos and fronted bands, made music for contemporary dance, and also for charity projects. So it’s fair to say my sound has evolved over many years!
What would be your dream support gig? Bonus points for place/venue.
I’m very competitive – so can I go for the Bonus Points first please?! My favourite venue in the world is a converted church in London – Union Chapel in Islington. Yeah, it’s in a trendy part of the city, but it’s what’s inside that counts… it’s a community based venue running projects for the homeless and others you don’t always associate with an arts venue. There are simple fixed pews for the audience, horrendously uncomfortable – people sometimes bring cushions – and the seats fan out like a theatre, downstairs and in the circle The smell of the wood is beautiful.
There’s a wonderful old organ on the stage, and before a gig, the evening light shines through stained glass. When the stage lights bring the focus back downstairs, the light and the air shimmer across the space. And the acoustics are to die for!
I’ve seen countless gig there and I would gladly support any one of them – folk singer Kate Rusby, blues man Kelly Joe Phelps, traditional folk singer Martin Simpson, The Penguin Café Orchestra one of whom – Geoffrey Richardson – plays the strings on my album Love in Troubled Times. Also Eric Bibb who, like me, plays one of only six 30 th Anniversary guitars from legendary makers Fylde, of Cumbria. I know these aren’t household names, but I love them! Bigger names to support? I get that gig? OK. Laura Marling please. Joni Mitchell. Paul Simon
What’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t. Give. Up. Ever. Wish I’d heard myself say that!
What’s in store for you for the rest of the year?
Last year I put a lot of effort into my lockdown album, Love in Troubled Times, that people have been very kind about. I recorded that in rural Kent with young jazz musicians from London’s Soho jazz scene, and some older guys from the folk tradition. It was so difficult to make it happen!
Now I’m switching gear a little. I’m working with an Italian producer, Matteo Galesi, who is a master of creating large soundscapes with – at the same time – a feeling of intimacy. I’ve always loved Matteo’s approach, and I’m delighted he’s agreed to work with me on my new project. I’m also working with a brilliant virtuoso violinist from Portugal, Joâo Silva, who lives in Barcelona, and we’re extending the family as we go with keys and drums – and even synths.
First up – release date 11 th June – is my single, Whisper The World Away, which is about moving into adulthood and family life – and welcoming that. I think life in your 30s starts to shape up a bit differently! It’s aided and abetted by a sumptuous sound orchestrated by Matteo.
Of course – though I can hardly believe it’s possible – I can’t wait to get on the road again and play some gigs! I often travel to far away places – just with a guitar. Sometimes in Europe it’s a duo, sometimes it’s a band – depends where and when! Right now, I’d take any gig I was offered – desperate to be part of the live music scene again!