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Lone Doe was a musician we found just by chance as his new album 'Window Window' was streaming on Bandcamp. We gave it a highly favourable review but had very little info about the man himself. To go about changing that we sent him over a few questions, and here's what he had to say.
TSOC: Hi James, 'Window Window' has apparently sneaked out without very little fanfare etc. Is this a conscious decision?
LD: Not at all... that's just how it is. When I released 'Upon First Blush' it was really only my friends and family who were listening and then it got a couple of write ups on a couple of cool blogs. I then put out the 'Marion' EP which got a few more mentions on a few more cool blogs and that is basically how we got to where we are. From the outside it may seem small scale but on the inside it's bigger than I ever imagined. I'm totally blown away by how many people, from all over the world, have taken the time to listen to my music.
TSOC: All of your releases so far have been via Bandcamp and without charge. Is this from a desire to just have your music heard without constraints?
LD: Yeah, definitely. I have a full-time job and two kids so recording and releasing music is something I do in my spare time. It keeps me creative and inspired. There is no agenda, I'm not doing it to make money, I'm doing it for the simple reason that I love doing it. By making it free to download it hopefully encourages people to give it a whirl and maybe find something in there that they like.
TSOC: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Is Lone Doe your first solo outing?
LD: Lone Doe is pretty much the first time that people outside of my circle of friends and family have been interested in what I'm doing. I've been writing songs since I was about 14 or 15 and in my youth I recorded little acoustic demos and played terrible acoustic gigs but nothing ever came of it. I'd been working on some tracks with a friend and I started writing these new, different songs like 'Coney' and 'Dawn'. I'd never written music like it before. It was really interesting and inspiring. My friend encouraged me to do something with them so I bought a cheap version of Pro Tools, started recording them and after 9 months, it turned into 'Upon First Blush'.
TSOC: Do you feel constrained or a freedom creating by yourself?
LD: A song will usually start as a very frail skeleton of an idea and then, when I get a few hours, I sit down and start recording. There is a lot of recording, re-recording and editing that goes on so I feel that in order to get the most out of an idea I need to be on my own, working my way through how I want a song to sound.
TSOC: The three releases you have put out so far, roughly encompass the last twelve months. There seems to be a real organic progression and development from '…First Blush' to 'Window…'. How do you view those releases in comparison with each other? And where do you see yourself heading?
LD: I consciously put 'Window Window' out on the 1st July as it was the anniversary of 'Upon First Blush' being released. It was a kind of statement. I wanted it to close out a year in which I feel that I've really grown as an artist. I've gained a lot more confidence in myself as a songwriter. I was unsure of how 'Upon First Blush' was going to be received, even amongst my friends, so receiving positive feedback for that and the 'Marion' EP gave me a real shot in the arm and a belief in my own ability. There is definitely organic progression there and although all three records are similar in sound, I've tried new things on 'Window Window'. For example, twelve months ago I wouldn't have ever started a record with a track like 'Nightfall St. Paul's' but from the moment I finished the track it just had to come first. I guess I've learned to trust my instincts more and not over think things. But I have no idea what the next Lone Doe record will sound like. I'm not really working on anything new at the moment so we'll see where I'm headed when I next sit down in front of the laptop. To me that's what keeps it interesting and exciting.
TSOC: On 'Window...' there is great use of ambient/soundscapes. Are these used purely to enhance the whole feel of the record, or do you see yourself immersing more into that electronic world?
LD: I've always had an interest in ambient/electronic music but there isn't ever an intention to make an ambient song or whatever. It just happens like that when I'm recording. If it seems to fit a song, it invariably stays.
TSOC: What and who influences you?
LD: I'm hugely influenced by artists like Woods, Ducktails, Bon Iver and Songs of Green Pheasant. I love music that sounds organic and natural and isn't overproduced. I've been listening to Woods' early stuff lately and the way they go about making their records is really inspiring.
TSOC: To me your music has a great ability to conjure feelings of places, whether open skies or intimate rooms. Where do you write? And how much do you feel that environment has an impact on what you write? Or is it more of going with the flow, or drawing from personal perspectives?
LD: I write when I can... it might be 5 minutes in the kitchen or a snatched half an hour here or there. Once I have a few bare-boned ideas and lyrics I sit down in front of the laptop, usually late at night and record. That's when the songs come to life. I'm usually in the kitchen, everyone else is in bed and I just see where it goes. I think that definitely plays out in the music.
TSOC: In the day and age of the all seeing internet and the ubiquitous Facebook, you have a small profile, not even a Facebook page. If I'm honest it's a refreshing change. (I really don’t want to know what you had for breakfast). Is this you wanting to keep it all small and personal? On the flip side, your music is there for the world to enjoy. If there was the demand would you tour? If so any chance you are heading near Bristol soon?
LD: I do think that there is an element of over-exposure and major marketing in certain genres of music these days. For me, the music comes first and whatever happens after that is secondary. If people like the music and download it that's brilliant. If they don't it doesn't matter. As long as their decision is based on the music and not on my breakfast choice or what shoes I wear, that's cool with me. With regards to live shows, it's something I've mulled over. I haven't done any gigs as Lone Doe for a number of reasons. I'd definitely be open to touring though and Bristol is a nice place so who knows, one day maybe.
TSOC: Is there anyone new that you would recommend to us to check out? (I really wish your next question had been "What did you have for breakfast? - Ed)
LD: I tend not to listen to a great deal of new music to be honest. I'm currently listening to a lot of Woods' back catalogue. That new Volcano Choir song is just amazing though. There's also a label called Fire Talk Records which puts out some really cool stuff.
TSOC: And so to the last question. You are headlining your own festival. You can have any five bands/artists to play on the bill with you, past or present. Who would you choose?
LD: I'm a bit of a Beatles geek so they'd headline. The rest of the bill would probably be made up the artists I mentioned earlier: Woods, Bon Iver, Songs of Green Pheasant and Ducktails.
Lone Doe's website
Stream or download 'Window Window'
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