This is, surely, Damon Albarn’s year. While we are awaiting the singer’s first solo album, Everyday Robots (due April 28), the Blur and Gorillaz frontman is set to tell his story on BBC2’s The Culture Show tonight, February 17, at 10 P.M.
Albarn is the subject of tonight’s special half-hour edition of The Culture Show, entitled ‘Damon Albarn – Solo.’ In the documentary, Albarn will be revisiting his childhood homes in Leytonstone, east London, and Colchester, Essex, which were vital inspirations for his ‘very personal’ solo album. The singer lived with his artist family in Leytonstone until he was nine. He found that ‘growing up in multicultural London in the 1970s played a big part of who I am,’ and discovered that his family’s next home in Colchester was quite different. ‘[Colchester’s] a very Anglo-Saxon, quite conservative place, the antithesis of Leytonstone. But it’s got a magical Englishness about it. Those are the two big influences on my life, the Englishness and the multicultural,’ he reflects in tonight’s program.
The production will include samples from his new album, as well as a rare clip of Albarn’s father, artist Keith Albarn, displaying an interactive installation on a BBC science show called Tomorrow’s People in the 1960s.
Discussing his new work, Albarn admits that he found working solo to be a ‘difficult’ process. He said, ‘I’ve spent so long in bands, playing to large groups of people, that doing a solo album is quite a difficult thing for me to do. That’s why I put it off for so long.’ The singer described his work: ‘If you like my melancholic, introspective stuff, you’ll like this album.’
Everyday Robots‘ 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.’
NME recently announced that it will honor Albarn with its Innovation Award at this year’s NME Awards ceremony. The award is bestowed upon groundbreaking artists whose musical legacy has had a major impact on the state of music today. Previous winners of the Innovation Award include Gorillaz in 2006 and Radiohead in 2008.
Albarn will be recognized for his influential work with his internationally-acclaimed bands Blur and Gorillaz, as well as the many diverse and fearless projects and collaborations that have rounded out his musical career. The singer, songwriter, producer, and composer has been named ‘one of the UK’s most influential and consistently groundbreaking musicians,’ and a statement from the NME continues, ‘the NME Award for Innovation not only recognizes Albarn’s past, but equally celebrates him as one of the world’s heavyweights of 2014.
Albarn has also announced a series of UK and European dates in late April and May, and he’ll continue with appearances at American, European, and UK festivals throughout the summer. For more information about dates and tickets, check out the official website.
EDIT: Damon’s episode of The Culture Show is now available to watch online.