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Damon Albarn: Solo Artist?

DamonAlbarnsingingliveIn a new interview with Rolling Stone, Blur frontman Damon Albarn discusses his decision to release his first solo album after twenty-five years. The prolific artist admits that he was often so busy with his various bands and projects that ‘I just never imagined [that releasing a solo album] was something I’d do.’

Albarn changed his tune at the end of his recording sessions with legendary soul singer Bobby Womack two years ago. Working closely with XL Recordings honcho Richard Russell during that project lead to thoughts of starting another band. ‘We wanted to keep exploring what we were doing. We had the inevitable conversation about starting a band. It was fun to come up with concepts and names, but one day he came in and said, ‘Look, if you ask me what I want to do, I want to produce you.’ And I went, ‘Alright, I suppose that means I’ve got to put it out under my own name.’

From that point, the seeds of Damon Albarn’s first solo venture, Everyday Robots (out April 28), were sown. Albarn gave Russell over sixty songs in multiple formats and let the producer choose the best. ‘In an ironic way, it’s sort of the most collaborative record I’ve ever done when it comes to songwriting. Some of the songs just came from the two of us experimenting in the studio.’

Everyday Robots has been described as a very tender, reflective record. The album is a personal narrative that has a brutal honesty at its core, and, as such, it is Albarn’s most autobiographical record to date. ‘What I tried to do with this record,’ he explained, ‘it had to have happened and it had to have a geographical place in time. Every line happened.’ One song in particular, ‘Hollow Ponds,’ is a very condensed autobiography of Albarn’s life. ‘The lyrics were the hardest part,’ Albarn noted. ‘It took me a long time because I wanted it to be about my life, in a way, and I went right back to 1976.’

Producer Richard Russell has also chimed in on the reflective turn in Albarn’s music. ‘It’s definitely a different sound to anything he’s had before. He’s been very conceptual for the past few records he’s done whereas this one is just a personal record that’s about him. He worked very hard to express things that were very personal but to do it in an interesting way. That’s what makes the record him. He brought me in to create a particular atmosphere and particular mood, so it’s quite an atmospheric record with a certain palate of sounds and a certain rhythmic feel and very personal stuff.’

Despite his satisfaction with his first foray into solo territory, Albarn concludes that the form his music takes now is not indicative of his future projects. A versatile chameleon by nature, Albarn defies being tied down to one project or style. He concludes that he may never make another solo record. ‘I’ve always made music,’ he explains. ‘This one just has my name on it. You could say that I’m embarking on a new stage in my life, but really I could turn around next time and do something else. So it’s not a given that I’ve become a solo artist.’

Britpopping since I first heard 'Animal Nitrate' in 1993

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