Interview: Gill Landry (Part 2)

By on Wednesday, 15th November 2017 at 11:00 am
 

If you missed part 1 of TGTF’s interview with Gill Landry, you can find it back here.

After discussing the production of his new album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, Landry touches on the vocals, which were recorded quickly, once he had established the sound he wanted to achieve. “I have a pretty deep voice,” he tells me, in case I hadn’t already noticed. “For most of my career, I’ve keyed everything up as high as I can, for [the] immediacy and intensity that comes with that. But it also loses subtlety and it can definitely lose emotion. So with this one, I brought everything back so that it was closer to my speaking voice.

“I sang [each song] like maybe twice”, he continues. “And that was the take, because I was really feeling it, and [because] I feel like when I get too into re-recording again and again, I start to lose the essence of what I’m saying. Now I’m just worried about technicalities and over-perfection. You know, some of the most beautiful singers in the world bore me to tears. I’m unmoved and I start to think something’s broken in me when I listen, because I’m like, ‘Why do I not feel this? I mean, everything’s perfect.’ And that’s why I don’t feel it, because nothing’s really perfect.” “So”, I ask him, “is it safe for me to assume that when you sing these [songs] live, that’s the kind of take we’re going to get? Essentially, what we hear on the record is what you’ll sing?”

“I think I sing them better live”, he answers without hesitation. “Generally when I record an album, I wrote the songs not too long before. [But] the more you become familiar with them, the better they become and [the better] you become at putting it across. I feel like my singing live is better in many ways because the words, and the feel, and all that are now embedded in me.” I can almost hear him smile over the phone as he talks about a particular favourite. “‘Denver Girls’ is a song I feel like I could sing for years and not get bored of.”

I mention that my parents had liked ‘Denver Girls’ when they listened to it, and Landry laughs. “I just said this the other day, I don’t know if it’s true. But I make ‘adult music’ or I try. Like, there’s kids that dig what I do, but certainly there’s a lot of, I mean, up to octogenarians that are like, ‘Oh, that’s so great.’ I love that.” [I must note, for the record, that my parents are not octogenarians. Yet. -CC]

After talking about that generational shift, we naturally fall into mourning the demise of the album as a format, which seems a particular shame after hearing one as beautiful and cohesive as ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. “It’s definitely going away”, Landry says. “And we’ll probably have to change with it. Which I’m actually fine with, because there’s a lot of songs that you write that just don’t belong on albums. Like, I wrote half a dozen more that just don’t fit with these. And I’ve got piles from before, and a lot of them are good but they haven’t fit with any specific record.” “That will be your collection of b-sides someday,” I suggest.

“Yeah, I like those. I always loved b-sides. Actually, that’s kind of my favorite thing. I was never really a ‘hit’ guy, which actually says a lot about my writing. I always liked the hidden gems. They’re more subtle, but they’re really powerful. That’s my usual jam.” He laughs. “I just recently kind of realized that maybe that’s why I don’t write any hits. If I had been listening to nothing but hits my whole life, then I’d probably be a completely different writer.

“I’m a slow burner”, he explains. “That’s my game. I’m not here to make a million dollars next year and then quit. Up till I’m dead, I want to be doing this. All the people that I worship and love as artists, I mean, they had hits early in their career that probably helped them have a long career. But it’s the body of work that just doesn’t get old and continues to stay true to their life. That’s always been my aspiration. I would be happy if when I’m 50, I could have 300 people sitting down with me in a room, in any city in this country, enjoying what I’m doing.”

I’m not sure how close Landry is to 50 (and I didn’t ask!), but I suspect that 300 people in a room isn’t an unreasonable goal for him. His upcoming live schedule includes playing support slots in America, Scandinavia, and the UK, with the goal of getting his music out to people who aren’t already familiar. I ask how well that works for him, and he answers candidly: “I personally don’t know. You never can tell, until the next time you come through.”

He mentions the possibility of booking a headline tour next year, possibly with a full band. “It depends,” he says cautiously. “It’s really all about money. At this point, the people that I want to hire cost money, as opposed to, when you’re 21, and it’s your mates and you just go out and it’s all-for-one, Musketeers-style. That’s a great time. Once you’re past 30, you gotta start paying people. And if they’re not busy, they’re hopefully getting paid enough that they’re enjoying their life. So it really has to be worth it, they have to really love your music. There’s only so many tours you can go out and lose your savings on and keep going, period. So, it’s survival.”

Speaking of headline shows, I ask Landry how a solo headline show would be different for him than playing a support slot, as I saw him do back in January. “I talk a lot more,” he says with a laugh. “Which can sound boring, but hopefully it’s not. Since a lot of [my show] is narrative songwriting, there’s a lot of stories. I started this in Sweden, if you want the whole story …” 

Landry continues, “I was in Sweden and I was doing a tour, like 15 shows in these little towns, and I’d never been to Sweden. I did the first gig, and I played through the songs, and it was a good response. They dug it, I played well, all that. But at the end, the promoter was like, ‘Everybody here understands English pretty well, but sung, it’s a bit different. You should talk, tell them what the song [is about]. They’d like that.’ So that whole tour, I mean, I got to the point where I would be talking for like five minutes before I played a three minute song. And it seemed very engaging, and people started commenting on songs, like with some information [that] gave it more depth.

“So, it’s much more personal”, he says of his solo shows, “which I feel like, with these types of songs, because they’re not pop songs, because they are stories in their own way, actually enriches the experience [more] than if I just got up with a band and hit song after song after song. They’re both fine, but I really enjoy the intimacy of solo.” You can get a taste of Landry in a recent solo performance just below, courtesy of One on One Cellar Sessions.

At press time, Gill Landry is on tour in Europe, playing dates in Sweden and Norway supporting The Americans. Readers on the UK side of the pond can see Landry very soon, supporting his Loose Music label mate Ian Felice on a run of UK dates starting on the 22nd of November in Manchester. You can find a complete listing of Landry’s upcoming live shows on his official Web site. TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry is collected through this link. Special thanks to Kevin, who helped to arrange this interview.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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