Music Promotions Interview with Giant Killers

Music Promotions is excited to share this brand new interview with indie-pop band and song writing duo Jamie Wortley (guitar, keys, lead vocals) and Michael Brown (bass, keys, brass, vocals).

Jamie and Michael spoke with Music Promotions about recording music, Touring, The release of the 1995 album, music the are listening to and much more chat.

Can you tell everyone more about your album “SONGS FOR THE SMALL PLACES”? How long did you spend recording the album?

M: Songs for the Small Places is a celebration of how where you come from shapes your outlook, your opinions, and your personality. The lead track sets the scene with the lines: Outside the shops and round the blocks, the kids who spit and smoke a lot are staring out the local cops, it’s bad – which suggests some tensions caused by a lack of opportunity. Which is a lived experience that is common to many across the UK, but it evolves to celebrate the qualities of resilience and community you get in the kind of places we’re from.

J: These are valuable qualities because, as the album progresses, failure is more likely than success in whatever endeavour you embark upon.

M: Exactly.  And to elaborate just a little further, the album deals with how you always carry a little bit of that place with you, no matter how far you travel, or grow as a person. Songs for the Small Places is about the person you might evolve into, your future potential so to speak, while celebrating the person you used to be.

J: Which is what some of the reviews are picking up on – Louder Than War referred to it as a kind of nostalgia for the future. It’s about loving who you are and where you’re from. But also, to not be confined by those things. Which is a journey that’s universal to everyone. Whether you’re originally from Grimsby, as in our case, or Gdansk or Ghana.

M: Which is fabulous alliteration Jamie. Really helps land the point.

J: Thank you for noticing – these things don’t just happen by accident.

M: As far as your question about the recording, we started with the demos first – for that we went up to an old stomping ground – Fairview Studios in Hull to work with an old friend, an amazing engineer, and a very talented producer too – he’s called John Spence. When we brought those ideas back down to London, we worked with other musicians to convert the stuff on the demos, which was mainly programmed music, to that very analogue live sound that is getting all the good praise in the album reviews.

This album was originally recorded in 1995, how did it feel to finally see it released after all this time having not being able to release your own music?

J: With very mixed emotions. I’m feeling  excited to see how it will be received, and on the other, I’m intimidated by what that reaction might be.

M: For my art, I’m accepting of the idea that it could be met with complete indifference – as an anachronism. The work was originally written in the 90s after all. But what I’m really hoping for is the exact opposite – as a work that deserves to be heard, and to be loved in its own right

J: And from all the positive press we’ve received so far, it seems to be the case that many other people agree with us – that it’s a work that stands up on its own creative and artistic merit – it is culturally relevant today.

M: Culturally relevant – you sound like a proper music critic there buddy.

J: Too much?

M: Maybe… just a touch. But let’s leave it in.

J: What I’m trying to say is that It’s been a long journey to get it here – there’s a strong  sense of closure.

M: Exactly. This has been unfinished business for both of us.

Is there anything you wish you could have changed about how this all turned out? Anything you’d do differently?

M: We should acknowledge that a part of our journey has been to restore some faith in our abilities as song writers. We spent the entirety of our young lives chasing a dream in the back of a van, on the road, in studios and on stages – we went on to have two major record and publishing deals in that period.  We achieved many of the things we set out to do as young musicians. Been on TV, heard our songs at radio, played Glastonbury, lots of festivals, toured with big names such as Blur.

J: Ultimately, we got dumped out of the business for not selling enough music. This was in an era with an unrecognisably different business model to that which exists today – back then, the expectation for any artist on a major label was to sell 100s of 000s of physical products in their first releases.

M: This whipping away of the carpet beneath our dreams triggered a period of re-evaluation, and inevitably disillusion, and a questioning of our abilities. We changed our dreams, had lives outside of those narrow ambitions of success in pop music. Our lives became more layered – in many ways, we became more human, maybe even more rounded.

J: What I think Mike’s trying to say is if things hadn’t turned out the way they did, say if the album had gone interstellar back in the 90s, then we would be very different people now – maybe we wouldn’t have met the people we now love, had the kids we now have – that kind of thing.

M: Precisely that, I think given the positive reception Songs for the Small Places is getting now, maybe there is some kind of destiny at play. Many apologies

J: My friend is getting a little poetic.

M: Apologies, It’s a genetic disposition. I‘m seeking help.

J: In short, the answer is no – there is nothing we would change, even if we could.

Do you have any live shows planned in support of this album? 

M: There are only two of us, and it’s a well-produced album, we’d need to bring in a few other musicians to recreate that sound. We had live violins, cellos, a brass section – it’s expensive to take that kind of production on the road.

J: Which means we will need to fund this if we are to tour it seriously –we’ll need to see how the album picks up over the course of the year.

M: That said we are looking at a couple of shows – one in Brighton and another in London

J: We played live acoustically on Patrick Kielty’s show on BBC Radio 5 last week – which was a bit of a hoot!

Who inspires you musically? 

J: Great singers are my thing, Nat King Cole, Sinatra, James Brown, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone. I love anyone who understands and get their tongue around a great melody – I don’t mind a bit of Bee Gees, Manilow or Bublé – kind of a guilty pleasure. Love a West End musical too. Some of those show tunes are brilliantly composed.

M: I’m impressed with anyone who looks and sounds like an otherworldly being – you can’t get much better than Bowie for that. But I like most anything from the canon of UK and US Punk and New Wave – I’m irresistibly drawn to angry shouty stuff as long as it’s got a melody. As my first instrument is a tenor saxophone, I’ve listened to lots of Jazz, and Swing, but love a bit of Disco and Dance too. I guess I’m musically promiscuous! I have a soft spot for Beyonce  and Taylor Swift – two of the best gigs I’ve ever been too. I had to be heavily persuaded to go to both and I became a convert over the course of their shows.

What music are you currently streaming right now? 

M: I’ve been listening to The Goa Express, Bug Club, a bit of Nadine Shah and Nia Archives – love that stuff

J: I can’t stop listening to Giant Killers.

M: Same, but I was trying to avoid admitting it, and you’ve just outed us both.

J: Well maybe we should be allowed a little bit of self-reverence – we’ve waited nearly 30 years for the work to come out!

Anything you’d like to discuss that I haven’t mentioned? 

M: Yes, at least £2 of every sale of our album at our Bandcamp site will go to the suicide prevention charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably. Why, because poor mental health is often an unwanted bedfellow, and a common struggle for creative people. 

J: It goes with the territory for a lot of folks in the creative community.

Look at what happened with Lewis Capaldi for instance. It’s not just him, many artists have spoken intimately about their own struggles with mental health. If people who need help, don’t get the right signposting, or counselling, then that is potentially fatal. 1 in 5 of us will harbour suicidal thoughts over the course of a lifetime – this is a public health issue and a societal phenomenon we’ve all been touched by. Which makes Campaign Against Living Miserably and their mission in suicide prevention something everybody should support.

Final messages? 

J: I’d say keep believing the horizon is bathed in sunshine and keep chasing that dream – whatever it is.

M: While accepting the strong possibility that when you get there, it may be raining heavily. Which brings us back full circle to the main theme of Songs for the Small Places. Give it a listen.

Bandcamp link:  but also available on all platforms: Amazon, Apple. 7Digital, Spotify etc


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