Current Issue #477

Jeff Lang Interview

Jeff Lang Interview

Self-described ‘disturbed folk’ artist Jeff Lang will return to Adelaide with his latest album, I Live in my Head a Lot These Days, in tow.

Self-described ‘disturbed folk’ artist Jeff Lang will return to Adelaide with his latest album, I Live in my Head a Lot These Days, in tow.

The ARIA-winning blues, roots and folk singer songwriter is one of this country’s premier exponents of the form with 15 albums under his belt and his latest shows Lang is on top of his game, as I Live in My Head a Lot These Days is another critically-acclaimed long-player from the master slide guitarist. The record moves from Indian-influenced folk (Watch Me Go) to moving slow jams (People Will Break Your Heart) to stomping roots cuts (I Want to Run But My Legs Won’t Stand). It is the album of an artist, who after 15 albums, can still surprise and delight. In Adelaide, to launch his latest album as part of the Nexus Live program at Nexus Multicultural Arts, Lang is also in Adelaide for the Cabaret Festival’s Vandemonian Lags production, which features Mick Thomas, Tim Rogers and many more iconic Australian singers in the MONA-commissioned musical journey about Tasmania’s convict history. Lang discusses his new album, Vandemonian Lags and more. Your latest album I Live in my Head a Lot These Days was released a few weeks ago – are you looking forward to getting on the road to play the songs? I certainly am. I’ve played the songs in solo performances a fair bit in the last six months but less so in a band setting, so I’m really keen to play them live with the band. You worked on a new mixing method for this album to achieve a depth of field heard in old acoustic jazz recordings. Is this how you will mix all your albums from now on? It wasn’t so much a matter of trying to find a way of mixing that rendered other established methods obsolete, just chasing a quality that was in my head. I’m sure I’ll mix projects in a traditional fashion in the future but I’m equally sure that I’ll return to this method also. Were you thinking about this depth of field before you started to record or, even write, this album? Or did it come during the recording process? I’d been thinking about this method of mixing the album before recording, somewhere amongst the writing of the material. It didn’t influence the songwriting but it was in mind when certain decisions were made in recording. With this in mind, did you want this to be more of a headphone record than previous LPs? Not so much “more than previous LPs” that I’d made, but the depth of field is apparent in headphones certainly. It doesn’t feel like the instruments are shrink-wrapped around your face, as can be the case with everything close mic’d. It sounds really good through speakers too – it sits back in the speakers in a seductive kinda way. You’ll be in Adelaide for the Nexus Live series as well as the Vandemonian Lags show for the Cabaret Festival. Can you tell me a little bit about the set you will be playing for Nexus Live; will you concentrate mainly on material from I Live in my Head a Lot These Days? There will be a fair portion of material from the new record mixed with songs from various previous recordings. I’ll have Greg Sheehan on percussion, like on the album, along with Danny McKenna on drums and Tim Keeghan on bass. How did you get involved with Vandemonian Lags? I’ve known Mick Thomas for a long while and he asked me to work up a version of an old traditional song for the original album project that he and Craig Pilkington were putting together. I’m not sure at what point it was worked into a theatre piece – might have been the intention all along – but when he asked if I’d take part in that I was keen. It’s a great show. It premiered at MONA in Tasmania. How was that experience and are you looking forward to getting back together with that talented bunch of Aussie musos? [It’s an] amazing show to be a part of. It’s quite a different thing to the usual live gig with its big cast, script and all. Quite moving too. It’ll be a blast to reunite with that motley rabble in Adelaide. After this Australian tour wraps up in July, what are your plans? Overseas touring for a fair portion of the second half of the year, and then I’ll be looking at finishing a world music collaboration with my friend Bobby Singh and two brilliant musicians from Rajasthan. We’ve recorded the album in Jodhpur, and now it’s a matter of mixing and pressing it, getting the artwork together, then working out when we can all be together to release it, hopefully with an Australian tour in the first half of next year. Jeff Lang Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre Friday, June 6 nexus.asn.au Vandemonian Lags Festival Theatre Wednesday, June 18 adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/adelaide-cabaret-festival jefflang.com.au    

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