Monday, 29 November 2010

K&A with Little Fire

Just what you need after the long walk into work on a bitterly cold morning....  a Little Fire.  This particular one is 25 year old Jamie McGeechan, a singer-songwriter and poet from Ayr, who has fair racked up the accolades this year.  To name a few, he won this year's battle of the bands at the Burns And A' That Festival, had a piece of work commissioned for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and was selected to showcase his music for BBC Blast.  So it's fair to say he has 'lit up' the Ayrshire music scene over the past 12 months.  Here's what he has to say about all that, his plans and ambitions for the future, and his admiration for The Singing Kettle!  Over to you Jamie...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Little Fire, and what's the story behind the name?
Jamie:  Hello! I’m a 25 year old singer songwriter from the sea side town of Ayr and my real name is Jamie McGeechan.  The name Little Fire comes from my wee brothers name Aodán (Gaelic form of Aidan/Aiden), the meaning of Aodán in Gaelic is Little Fire.  I think it suits my music well as I’m a solo singer songwriter with a lot of fire in my heart and in my live performances. I’m not one of those singer songwriters who write about how depressed they are all the time or who finds it hard to relate to the world.  The world can be a confusing place but we’re all pretty much as lost as each other, fumbling about in the dark and looking for a lightswitch.  I always look at the positives in life and I think I convey that in my music, I’m an easy going guy with a positive attitude and not a hint of cynicism to be found.

Kowalskiy:  Who/what/where are your main influences?
Jamie:  Musically one of my main inspirations is John Martyn for the heart and soul he put into performing, the feeling in his vocals and guitar playing was just incredible. My guitar skills will never be comparable to his, guitar playing isn’t even my strength, I just love the emotion that he poured into his performances and the beauty in some of his songs.  Badly Drawn Boy is an artist I really admire for the storytelling in his songwriting and the melodies in his songs.  Vocally I consider Andrew Roachford, Kelly Jones, Sting and Rod Stewart big influences, I just love the tonal qualities and passion in their voices in their performances.  I’ve been singing for 10 years now and the tonality of my voice has obviously changed a lot in that time, even my accent and enunciation has changed along the way.  I have found my own voice now, it’s taken some time and I’ve certainly had periods of trying to imitate other voices but I think that’s all part of finding yourself in music and having the confidence to relax and sing from the heart regardless of what other people perceive to be cool.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Jamie:  I would describe my sound as being heartfelt and passionate for all it being ‘bare’ in instrumentation and featuring mainly just vocals and guitar.  I sing with conviction and feeling and I think that can resonate with people just as well as a band playing in unison. I’m not the most technical of guitar players and favour keeping it simple and letting the lyrics and vocals really deliver the song. Not to put myself down there or anything but just to be honest about my strengths.  Musically my songs are quite simple with my voice being the main focus piece.

Kowalskiy:  The last 12 months has been pretty successful for Little Fire. I'll leave you to explain what's been going on....
Jamie:  Wow it’s been absolutely terrific it really has been the year of my life so far. I’m over the moon with how well it’s been going and I’m grateful for all the good things that have happened.  It all really started off with winning the Burns And A’That Battle of the Bands competition which led on to some big gigs including performing for the Queen at the Epsom Derby near London.  Another highlight was being selected as one of 5 bands/artists to recieve the Demo Recording Fund from Chem 19 in conjunction with Creative Scotland (Scottish Arts Council).  To have been recognised as having merit by anyone at Chemikal Underground is obviously fantastic as they are such a well respected Scottish institution who have released some of the best Scottish music of the modern age. To have been played a few times on the radio by The Voice of New Music In Scotland Jim Gellatly is obviously fantastic and I've also had some radio play on Clyde 1 FM.  I’ve just been selected as the sole musician to be commissioned to record an adaptation of A Man’s A Man For A’ That for the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway alongside performance pieces by Eddi Reader and Brian Cox so that’s a great honour for me.  I must have played over 200 gigs this year and it’s really been fantastic for me to develop a real sense of confidence in my on stage performance. 2010 is the year that I got serious about music and realised I had to stick my head above the parapet and get out there. I had been afraid about my work not being ‘good’ enough previously but now I’m just believing in myself and trying hard to better my performances and my song-writing, working with other people and realising what my strengths are and what I need to improve at.  I’ve had some positive breaks and I'm working on my music all the time, I’ve went full time with my music. I’m fortunate to make a living from doing something I enjoy so much and receiving some recognition is obviously fantastic for me.

Kowalskiy:  Fancy name-checking some of the other bands you beat to the Burns And A' That Battle Of The Bands crown?
Jamie:  Betatone Distraction, Acrylic Iqon, Dead Generals, Six Stories High, they were all really good bands. I’m impressed that the judges felt they could go with a winner who was something a little different. I really did put all of me into that performance and I’m chuffed that the judges picked a solo acoustic performer when there were so many good bands.

Kowalskiy:  So, other than your music, what pipped it for you? Just, what is a typical Little Fire gig like?
Jamie:  I think with me it’s all about the music, I’m probably a remarkably unshowbiz type, extremely self deprecating but quite driven all the same. I believe in myself but I don’t believe I’m anything other than what I am, a 25 year old Scot who thoroughly enjoys singing and performing, and a very lucky one at that.  I think I’ve gotten a lot better at talking to the audience at gig and seeing them as fellow partipants in an event as opposed to just a static audience. My nerves have gotten a lot better through the year for sure and I really enjoy it each time I perform. My attitude is if you're not going to give it everything in a performance then it's really rather pointless. People expect to see a performance with heart and soul and I do my best every time.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Jamie:  My ideal gig would be the T Break Stage at T in the Park 2011 with a lot of my family and friends there to see how far I've come from being a bedroom musician to getting out there and doing it and improving on what I've got.  I’ve wanted to play the T Break Stage for as long as I can remember although I’ve certainly not had the goods or the confidence until now. A dream gig for me though would be to support someone like David Gray, someone I’ve really admired for a long time for his music and for his persona. He comes across as a very down to earth guy yet serious and passionate about his music, I really respect that in a musician.

Kowalskiy:  How did the younger audience at BBC Blast take to you? Because, no offence.... you're no Singing Kettle!
Jamie:  It was a really sweet gig actually and they were an incredibly receptive audience, there was certainly no heckling!  I don’t think younger people have that much access to live music events due to gigs mostly being staged late at night in venues serving alcohol.  Open air live music venues during the day time are pretty rare affairs here in Scotland.  The wee yins were really receptive and it was a pleasure to sing for them, I hope that some of them might just have said something like ‘I want to do that when I’m older’.  To inspire young people is surely an important thing and it’s important that young people have access to live music events. Live music shouldn’t just be a domain for adults.  Obviously the Singing Kettle do a great job for the younger audience but even from a young age I was listening to my mums records getting a musical high from John Martyn, Sex Pistols and The Police. At the age of five I would have preffered that to the Singing Kettle any day. Much love to the Singing Kettle!

Kowalskiy:  So, when does work begin on your Chem 19 recording? Will this be an EP, album..? Do you have a feel yet for what you'llbe going in there to record?
Jamie:  The recordings will go towards an EP due for release in January!  I’ve been up for two days out of three for recording and think the third day will mostly be spent mixing the tracks although I might add in some percussion and bits and pieces.  I was working with producer James Savage, a really smart young guy who is a real pleasure to work with. It’s fantastic for me to have my music recognised by the people at Chemikal Underground and to have been afforded time recording at Chem 19, truly a fantastic Scottish indpendant record label who have released some of the best Scottish music of the modern age. There’s going to be a showcase gig for the 5 winners of the Demo Recording fund at the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow on the eve of Saturday 22nd January.

Kowalskiy:  It's getting to that time of the year again, so are then any bands out there you'd tip for 2011?
Jamie:  Locally in Ayr there is such a strong wee music scene building, I really rate Rose Parade who are like my brother band in music, they are such good guys and I love their songwriting abilities, they’ve just released their EP and we’ve both been getting some airplay from Jim Gellatly and I think they’re going to do well in 2011. They’re a real good time band.  Trusty and the Foe are an excellent two piece from Ayr reminiscent of Kings of Convenience for their lovely tenderness and gorgeous vocal harmonies. They’re really lovely to listen to and meticulous songwriters. They dont rush anything and their performance quality is top notch.  The Fear are an Ardrossan based band who have really impressed me in 2010, they’re like a real high energy and melodic punk band with a superb front man in Joseph Elms, really a great live band.

Kowalskiy:  Lastly, what does the future hold in store for Little Fire?
Jamie:  I’m currently working on my debut album, I really hope it will be well recieved, it’s ten years in the making and hopefully a fine artefact of how far I’ve come with my songs and my voice.  I’ll be working on a number of collaborations including an interesting project with Ayrshire based producer and DJ Voltergeist which promises to be something a little different to what I’m used to.  I’ll be performing with King Creosote on January 22nd in Alloway , performing at the showcase gig for the Chem 19 / Scottish Arts Council Demo Recording Fund at Captains Rest in Glasgow at 8pm on the same day.  I’ll be flying out to New York to perform as part of New York Tartan Week in April which will be an amazing opportunity and hopefully I’ll be performing on the T Break Stage at T in The Park and one of my dreams will truly have been fulfilled!

Fingers crossed!  Here's a wee taster...

Little Fire - All I Need In Life

You can here (and buy) more over on Jamie's bandcamp!

Upcoming Gigs
4th Dec - Live @ Ayr Central, Ayr
6th Dec - King Tuts, Glasgow (supporting The Boy Who Trapped The Sun)
8th Dec - The 13th Note, Glasgow
10th Dec - Stereo, Glasgow (with Eoghan Colgan)
22nd Dec - Winter Wonderland @ Wellington Square, Ayr (7pm)
22nd Dec - Treehouse, Ayr
21st Jan - VIP Show @ The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway
 22nd Jan - The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway (with King Creosote)
22nd Jan - Chem 19 Showcase @ The Captains Rest, Glasgow (8pm)
24th & 25th June - Ayrshire Rocks @ Kilmarnock Rugby Club

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