Hamish Macleod Releases 3 Albums At Once
September 30, 2015
After working on tracks for the past 17 years, Melbourne's Hamish Macleod has finally unleashed his music on an unsuspecting world.
You have been working tirelessly for a number of years on your body of work; tell us a little about what you have compiled and how long you’ve been working on it?
In 2010 I said to myself that it’s time to compile all the songs that I have written and see what I come up with. I came up with one hundred and twenty songs in different stages of development. It would of sent me completely broke recording them all in a studio, so I decided to buy my own equipment and record them.
Some songs that I thought were great when I played them, sounded terrible when I recorded them and vice a versa, yet song by song I began to realize which songs held up and which ones didn’t. Those that didn’t quite work were by no means forgotten. Having them all on a computer allowed me to swap around choruses and verses from song to song, trying different combinations to see if I could create new songs from what was left. It’s a bit like having a junkyard full of spare car parts that you hope one day will help create a fleet of cars that will burst out of the gates and roar down the road. Any part that I liked and thought had potential was never lost on me and I still plan on reworking them until they are part of a song I’m happy with.
You also do your own artwork and you’ve mentioned previously that the artwork for each release was taken from a much larger piece. Is this correct?
I wrote a book called the Sea-lander chronicles when I was 23. It was an ambitious work that attempted to use all the songs that I had written up to that point in combination with prose and art to tell a Tolkienesque story about a mythical journey across land and sea. It was an ambitious project that made a lot of sense to me, and very little sense to anybody else… I recorded all the music for it in three days at the Bake house studios in Melbourne before I went and lived in Japan. If nothing else it compiled all the music I had written up to the age of 24 in one place. I have gone back to it time and time again to steal words or music to create new songs from the Sea-lander chronicles.
In regards to art, I love painting, and have created a painting for each of the songs on the three records I am bringing out. I think it is important that there is something visual for people to look at when they look up my work, be it on instagram, youtube, sound cloud or twitter or my website. My influences in art are abstract painters like Gerhard Richter, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko and Emily Kngwarrie, an indigenous painter from central Australia. Like anything I do creatively the emphasis is always on instinct, experimentation, inhibition, improvisation, inspiration, persistence and fun (in no particular order).
One of the reasons that I started painting again was because of the fact that I felt I had no more songs to write. In a sense it’s like driving the musical car till you run out of petrol and blowing the motor, then high-jacking the artistic car and taking it for a spin. Ultimately it represents as much as anything else my compulsive need to create. When I had destroyed my apartment with paint and received a light warning from the land lord, I moved on to creating photographic self portraits using lights and black face paint bought at the two dollar shop to evoke the dramatic effect created by the post renaissance artist Caravaggio, called chiaroscuro, which emphasized light and shade to express emotion. I will use these photos and my art as part of my two month social media strategy to bring out my three records which will hopefully begin in the next four weeks.
How have the years changed your songs? Did some start out as something entirely different to what they are now?
I first started to write songs in 1999, when I picked up a guitar and travelled up the east coast of Australia. Nothing remains of those first attempts at songwriting, as they have transformed and metamorphisized into other songs. I have a few remnants of those original songs in my head that still remain, yet all they do is show me how much I had to learn… Those first few attempts at writing songs are like the original seeds of the trees in the forest of song I have since created, with out them, I would have nothing to show for myself.
They are shape shifters, changing through time till they find what they truly are. Looking back through books of lyrics I can see an example of this shape shifting in a verse that was originally part of a sea shanti about a pirate that I wrote in Mullumbimbi in 2001. This verse and the music that went with it then turned into the melodic inspiration to a song about a golden sunrise on the shores of Bali in 2014. Sometimes where they take you is least expected…
What can people expect from the final product? How will the music change from release to release?
They can expect three really different records that best define what I have to give creatively after sixteen years of writing songs.
‘Under the cool shade of a mango tree’ is a kaleidoscope of narrative invention that takes people on a journey through characters inspired by worlds as far apart as the Jazz age of F Scott Fitzgerald, the wit and humor of the mad hatter in Alice wonderland to the surreal lyrical lunacy of sixties psychedelica. All of the narratives are set to music simple yet pulsing with life. After coming out the other end of this record, you’ll be slightly disheveled, yet carrying wicked grin upon your face.
‘Different ways’ is a more ambient, evocative, reflective and life affirming record. From the minimalism of Pink Floyd, the rolling rhythms of Niel Young and the Stone roses, to the exhilaration of the Police, it is spacious in scope, deep in meaning and woven with melodies both ethereal and yearning for something just out of reach.
‘Secrets of the lost river’ is a darker record, that has a more ominous and melancholic energy. The songs belong with the colours of the sunset and the dawn. From the electronica of Dj shadow, the irony of Leonard Cohen, to spoken word pieces cinematic and illuminating, it undulates with music that sets the mood and creates the tone.
You also do a bit of Uber driving on the side and I’m sure you have a story or two to tell. Have any of these stories crept into your songwriting?
After driving for five months with Uber, I could honestly say that I have had over four hundred people in my car and thus four hundred conversations, minus the occasional mute, and even then they can be interesting, silence can be intoxicating. But I have not written any more songs from this experience as I simply have too many songs already. I have made it a focus of mine to edit down the number of songs I have rather then create new ones. Otherwise I’ll just drown in a sea of song, when I should be promoting the ones I already have.
You can purchase all 3 of Hamish's albums here.
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