Contactmusic caught up with Fyfe Dangerfield, prior to his upcoming UK tour, to discuss the success of his recent solo album Fly Yellow Moon, the new single Barricades, and what's next for Guillemots.
How does success as a solo artist compare with your success with Guillemots - is it different in that it's more of a personal high?
No, it's all the same to me really.
Your song 'She's Always a Woman' was used in a successful John Lewis television advertisement recently, what's the story behind that and why did you choose to cover the song?
Because I was just asked to [by John Lewis] and I thought there was no reason not to do it really. They're a cool company and I like the song, so why not?
So where do you stand on the argument of whether music should be used for commercial purposes?
I mean, we've had offers in the past, I remember someone wanted to use Trains To Brazil in a car advert and things like that, and at the time I was like..no..no..but I spoke to someone about John Lewis and apparently they're a really ethical brand, and they're very well respected and I like the song. But, I think it's difficult anyway, I'd like to always be able to turn down ads but I think it's a funny time, and sometimes you have to do these things.
It strikes me that the critics only pipe up once an advert becomes successful anyway, and surely that has nothing to do with the artist.
Oh definitely. And definitely in this case I'm really glad.
So, Fly Yellow Moon has been out a few months now, how was the recording of that record? Were all the songs written specifically for a solo album?
No, it wasn't really like that, they were just songs. I don't really remember, it wasn't a big plan to make a record though, I just had some songs and I wanted to lay them down quickly before Christmas 2009, and spend 5 days in the studio, two-thirds of the record came out of that, and then it was just a case of adding a few bits of pieces here and there. The recording was great, it was just really fun. I'd been on tour with Guillemots just before that, which was fun, but it was a relatively stressful tour, so it was really fun to get in the studio with my mate and record some new songs. I just felt like a kid again really, and I think that comes across on a few of the songs.
Did Bernard Butler co-produce the album?
Well, Adam Noble was very much the mastermind behind the album. Bernard just came in to mix a few tracks, but he also played guitar on She Needs Me, which doesn't actually sound like a guitar, it sounds like a synth. No, I've always been a big fan of those first two Suede records and Bernard Butler stuff so it was cool.
Your new single is Barricades is a double A-side with She Needs Me - any particular reason behind that?
No, no, it's just a record company thing.
She Needs Me is a re-release?
Yeah, you know, we just thought [jokingly] we'd release She Needs Me every three months.
The track strikes me as a song that could potentially do very well in the charts - I just wondered whether that was a reason behind the re-release?
Yeah I mean, I think maybe in the charts, but I don't really know. I definitely wanted it to sound like what I hear in my head as a radio song. I think it's be serviced to some radio stations so maybe there will be a bit more interest now.
You played with Africa Express in Spain recently - how was that?
I did, that was great actually, it was really fun. It was the other weekend in Spain and it was great. People just got in touch and asked me. But it's a really joyous thing really - I wasn't sure what I thought about it, but it's just a bunch of people celebrating music together and that's all there is to it.
Damon Albarn has a habit of picking diverse and unique artists for that particular project, so how does it feel to be regarded as that type of artist?
It feels great, really flattering you know. I really respect him as an artist so it was definitely nice to meet him and stuff, it was really cool.
You're off on a UK Tour this September - besides the obvious, how is touring as a solo artist different from travelling with Guillemots?
Well, I haven't really done it before, this is the first time I've done it - this is the longest one. But I'm playing a mixture of venues, from Shepherd's Bush to Leeds Brudenell Social Club - it's definitely nice to mix it up. It's not really a case of preferring intimate gigs over big ones, or vice versa, it's more to do with the fact that I just enjoy different venues.
Where does the success of Fly Yellow Moon leave Guillemot's future - will there be a new album?
Oh yeah, we're recording it, and it's really good actually. It's quite exciting, and it's been lovely, it's been the first time I've ever written a song and been able to bring it into the rehearsal room the next day and start playing on it and working on it. Because on the last record we wrote everything together, but on the first record.a lot of the songs I'd had for a few years, so it was really nice to work on things that were so fresh. But, the record isn't finished yet. We're thinking of titles at the moment but we just haven't had anything good so far.
After the Guillemots second album, Red, in 2008, did you feel pressurized to release a quick-fire third album?
No, I don't really think like that.
You once said you'd most like Neil Young to cover one of your songs - which one do you think he'd cover?
'If The World Ends', I think, from the first Guillemots record.
And if you were to create a super-group would he be in it?
He might well do, but I can never really think of answers to these Super Group questions - I usually think of good answers after the interview!
So what can the people who've never seen you perform before expect from the upcoming tour?
Erm, utter disappointment. No, I don't know really.
Are you playing any festivals this year?
I'm playing the Moseley Folk Festival in Birmingham in a couple of weeks.
Well it's been very nice speaking to you Fyfe, and good luck with the record and the tour, and the new Guillemots album.
Thank you, thanks for that.