I’m currently working on two albums. The first album deals with the death of my best friend, and the second album explores my American heritage. I chose the second album as I was worried concentrating solely on the first (the original plan) would drive me into some sort of emotional blackhole and as I’m currently applying for citizenship it seemed an appropriate way to mark the summer. I’m immersing myself in ideas to do so – I’m watching a lot of US documentaries, I’m re-reading Middlesex, I’ve got playlists coming out of my ears and I’ve even thrown together a Pinterest board of my american heroes..!
It’s all very well having abstract American references but I’m trying to work through those ideas to something concrete. I get my American genes from my mother’s side. My grandmother is a born and bred American, with other members of the family including a logger who built his own house (Little House on the Prairie style), a cowboy Uncle (complete with ranch, banjo and motorcycle), a nurse who ran away to live in deepest Alaska and a runaway Cherokee bride. There’s a lot of great stories and an even larger number of tragic stories – but I’ve decided not just to examine my family, but also the American culture in my life and how I’ve interacted with it.
The album is so far a mixture of covers and original songs about my heritage. Growing up I was always proud to come from such a wealth of stories and characters, but as I get older it’s important to start humanising the mythology. I’m also excited to interpret various classic songs through the lens of my family and ancestors, and it’s hard not to see the irony (or possibly poetry?) in hearing my very distinctive London accent sing about the Great Plains and Route 66. It couldn’t have come at a better time – July 4th is just round the corner and I’ll be in fine American form for this years celebrations (a big house party – I’ll be dressed either as Lady Liberty or aforementioned Cherokee relative). Will you be celebrating?
All photos from my epic trip round America last year – read here.