Indie-folk (and then some) outfit Twin Falls have been a presence on the scene for some time — so what better opportunity than their inclusion on the new Circus City compilation to finally talk shop with songwriter Luke Stidson.
So your track ‘Janie I Will Only Let You Down’ is out on Circus City’s ‘Brand New Faces’ compilation this month, how did that come together?
We were approached by the label asking if they could include ‘Janie…’. That song was actually the first one I recorded when starting to call myself Twin Falls. It was the first track that got us radio play and pretty much the first thing that gained us any attention. I guess the Twin Falls sound, whatever that now is, has changed quite a bit since then and I sort of wish I’d written a better song as ‘the catchy one’. It’s a song about trying to be a good, honest ‘modern man’, trying to not be a Nuts Magazine-style lad, but then figuring out that there are certain parts of that mentality hardwired into us as males.
You just got back from some solo shows in New Zealand, go well?
I had a great time. We’d just come back from a tour of Germany, which went really well, we made some money and had gained some new friends, sold out of our merch and all that stuff. I was a bit depressed at the thought of going back to playing the odd gig in London to a few friends and the soundman. In reality it’s still, after all this time, hard to get people to shows in the UK. So a friend of mine from NZ asked if I fancied hanging out there for a month or two, and then he had the bright idea of encouraging me to play some solo shows whilst I was out there. I’d never played solo before and I wanted to do something more than just acoustic guitar-type shows, so I put a set together with lots of toys — synths, laptops, live tape loops and things — to make it something more interesting.
I sort of wish I’d written a better song as ‘the catchy one’.
Much scope for getting the full band around the world this year?
The full band will be making it’s way back to Europe in 2015 for sure. It’s funny how more receptive the audiences are abroad. People actually turn up, which in turn means the promoters pay you well and treat you brilliantly. In Germany we actually had our best nights playing in some of the slightly smaller cities. Somewhere like Bamberg for instance, where we were literally the only thing that was going on in town that night so 300-odd students turned up to this little club and we had an incredible night. Touring is tough and you just have to take the rough with the smooth.
And you had time to write whilst abroad too?
I just took as a great opportunity to write with no distractions. Before I got to NZ I spent some time in Sydney; somewhere I never thought I’d want to visit particularly, but I had to go through it anyway and a good friend offered to put me up. I actually loved it and found I got a lot done whilst sitting in craft beer places and chatting to the locals. I have my own studio at home and have tended to always record as I write. So doing it this slightly more traditional way, sitting down with just a pen and paper or humming tunes into a dictaphone, is actually something new for me. We’re due to go into the studio early 2015. The time will be split between my own studio and Orchard Studios in Somerset, where I sometimes freelance when producing for other people. It’s close to home and has a great collection of gear. It’ll be the first time I’ve opened up the early process of making a record to include others. James Wilkes, who owns Orchard, will be engineering too and he brings a huge technical knowledge that I just don’t have. Our current plan is to release a record in two parts, almost like two EPs coming out over the course of the year.
As fun as it is to run things yourself, it’s always nice to be part of a family.
Although you’ve been almost exclusively DIY so far, you may be working with Circus City again on those releases, what made now the right time?
I ran a label prior to starting Twin Falls and I still had some of the distribution and PR stuff in place when we first started the band, so I it was a natural thing to put a name on the back of the first record and release it ourselves. As fun as it is to run things yourself, it’s always nice to be part of a family. Two collective sets of heads are better than one… or something!
Of course the band is centred around your songwriting, how permanent is the lineup live?
There’s always been a bit of confusion about our band. Whether it’s a ‘band’, a ‘collective’, a ‘solo project’ or whatever. Honestly, the only time it’s ever been confusing for those involved is when we have to get band photos and we have to think about who’s going to be in them. In truth, the band started as a recording project for me just in my own studio. I called upon friends to help as and when required and up until now that’s how it’d always worked. Where we are now is that Emma and Jim have been playing with me for many years and we’re more a ‘band’ than before. The reason really is that we’re on the same page with it all. Each person does whatever he or she believes is best for the song, not whatever is best for them. There’s very little room to show off in this band and I feel lucky and privileged to be working with people that have enough faith in my songs that they want to put all their effort into them in that way.
Check out a live version of ‘Janey I Will Only Let You Down’ right here: