Tuesday 18 October 2011

K&A with Josef Llama

Everyone loves a grafter, don't they?  Well, how 'bout a mysterious, gravel-voiced grafter with a deep, dark, almost-menacing sound?   Well, it's my great pleasure to introduce you to someone who fits that bill perfectly.  The 'dark troubadour of the West End', Glasgow's very own, Josef Llama.  If you're a fan of a certain series of free monthly 5-track Scottish EPs, then Josef's name, and indeed, his music, may already be familiar to you.  Back in February, he contributed Loser On The Run to KEP#8.  Now, Josef is gearing up for his debut EP release (featuring said track), and if I'm being completely honest, it's an absolute gem!

Granted, it's not your your bread-and-butter indie-folk that I'm usually banging on about.  Like all good troubadours, it's got bourbon-soaked bitterness and despair running right through it.  It's got the dark, Scottish humour of Jacob Yates and along with the likes of Jacob and Adopted As Holograph too, it has a long-forgotten, dare-I-say timeless quality to the sound.  At least in the sense that if you were none-the-wiser, you'd have no idea if it was recorded last week, last decade, or some time long ago.  That's until he goes all Damon Albarn on us...

I spoke to the man himself last week.  Over to you Josef...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Josef Llama?
Josef:  Josef Llama is a singer/songwriter, I spend most of my spare time, holed up in my attic, writing and recording in my abode in Glasgow's west end [albeit in the seedier side] my only companion being a bottle Jack Daniels.  I sometimes venture out at nights to the local bars, to check out the local bands, to find out what's going down.  I've recently released a 4 track ep now available at http://josefllama.bandcamp.com.

Kowalskiy:  How would 'the dark troubadour of the West End' describe 'his sound'?
Josef:  I like to show attitude in my songs, obviously there's a fair bit of darkness, combining with anger and bitterness, but I like to think the black humour shines through also.

Kowalskiy:  Who/what/where influences your music?
Josef:  Tom Waits is a big influence, I love his diversity, and his willingless to push the boat out, I grew up listening to the Beatles, and I'm a great admirer of John Lennon, pre '71. I love John Lee Hooker stuff, an amazing voice, there's so many artists I admire, Dylan, Tom York, Ray Davies... the list is endless.

Kowalskiy: You've just released your debut e.p.  What can we expect from it?
Josef:  I like to think the 4 songs are all different, in style and sound, and even the vocals seem to differ from track to track. I think a song should grab you, and hold your attention, from the first second to the last, hopefully I've achieved that.

Kowalskiy:  Are there any plans afoot to play a live gig or two?
Josef:   I would love to gig, if I could get like minded musicians, so if there's anybody out there, who feels they could fit in with my music, get in touch. I saw Bob Dylan last week, an amazing gig...that's the sound I'm looking for.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Josef:  .John Lennon live at the Barrowlands, backed up with the finest musicians, playing his best songs from the Beatles backlog and from his first 2 solo albums....support act?  How about the Stones from Beggars Banquet era, complete with Brian Jones....that would be my idea of heaven.

Kowalskiy:  What's on your stereo at the moment?
Josef:  Well I've just checked my car.... I'm playing the new Tom Waits c.d. ' Bad As You' which I've still to decipher, and in my c.d. compartment I have Massive Attack, Portishead, Eno, and of course Josef Llama.
Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from Josef Llama in the future?
Josef:  More songs... I have a backlog of songs, just waiting to be released. I also enjoy experimenting with more ambient pieces, so I wouldn't mind getting into writing soundtrack music.  And of course, as previously mentioned, showcasing my songs live.

Kowalskiy:  Last one, if you had to pick one song that best soundtracks your life, what would it be, and why?
Josef:  There's so many songs that made a massive impact in my life.  'Good Vibrations' by the Beach Boys springs to mind, I would have loved to have written that, Carl Wilson sang like an angel.
But really, the song that blew me away when I first heard it, and to this day, still does, is 'Strawberry Fields'.....for  me, it's never been surpassed, for originality. from the mellotron/flute intro, to the freaky ending. Lennon's haunting slowed down voice, and those cellos, just make it the greatest song for me, even when you hear the original stripped down version, you realise how beautiful a song it is.

Josef Llama's debut e.p. is out now over on his bandcamp site.  Hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more from him!

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