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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Mr Fogg – Interview

Hailing from Reading, an interview with an electronic artist named for Phileas Fogg, whose edgy beats are garnering acclaim across radio and the web

Written by David McNamara

mr fogg interview

Reading-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mr. Fogg is a rapidly emerging young artist who is not afraid to take a gamble in order to ensure his vision is realised. The aspiring indie pop icon tracked down controversial director Tony Kaye (American History X) via Facebook to convince him to make the video for the first single from his debut album. He then followed Kaye across the Atlantic to ensure that the stuttering genius stayed true to his word.

This is not the first time the Mr. Fogg has gone out on a limb for his craft. In order to create the album he knew he was capable of, here the charmingly awkward young man travelled all the way to Iceland to work with long-time Björk collaborator and producer extraordinaire Valgeir Sigurðsson. The result is Moving Parts, a rich tapestry of beautifully-crafted electronic pop songs accompanied by heart warming synths and thunderous beats that will leave you wandering whether to dance with reckless abandon or close your eyes and drift off into the endless abyss of your own mind.

The intricate, sample heavy electronica of Moving Parts will no doubt provoke lazy comparisons to the emotive leftfield pop of British singer songwriter Imogen Heap, but one listen to the quietly menacing opening track, A Second Look, will leave listeners in no doubt that this man possesses the vocal intensity of a wild animal and songwriting skills that betray his youthful appearance.

Mr. Fogg recently set up his own pop up store in the heart of London to create a unique environment that would showcase his music without the restraints of pandering to mainstream radio or music television. This unorthodox approach to marketing created a truly original experience where the audience could interact with the music as it was being performed in front of them. It also allowed each visitor to discover his music on their own by simply popping into the store to see where all the noise was coming from.

I sat down with the young visionary to learn more about his brief, yet fascinating, career to date and find out what groundbreaking ideas he is currently working on.

You were recently in LA shooting a video for Moving Parts. How was that?

It was brilliant. The video is being directed by Tony Kaye who directed American History X. He is almost the definition of a mad genius. The day before the shoot I still didn’t know what was going to happen or where it was going to take place. He sent me an email the night before and told me to meet him in his hotel room and we would discuss his plan. It was all operated in a loose but valid kind of way. I never knew what was going to happen next.

Why did you decide to work with him?

I have made quite a few videos before and I was never that into them. When we started to get ideas for videos for Moving Parts, we had various ideas sent to us by people but we just weren’t that into it. I downloaded a few scenes from American History X, edited it together with one of my songs and showed it to my manager. We looked up who directed the film and then tried to find him. Tony is quite unique as he is the director, camera man and director of photography in all of his films. We knew the look of the film was all his work. The more we read about him, the more we were intrigued. I found him on Facebook and sent him a message. He replied and said he was coming to London the next day. I called him up and met him the next day at Baker Street station.

How would you describe your debut album?

The first half I was just writing lots of songs and I had about 50 complete songs and about 100 unfinished songs. I wanted to make it coherent so I started to think about where each song would fit. I didn’t have a song that would go at the end so I wrote one specifically for that purpose and there is a nice, long, pretentious one for the middle! A lot of those songs are quite old and some are new but they were chosen with the whole album in mind.

Why did you choose to work with Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurossen (Björk, Radiohead)?

I have recorded with all kinds of people, some of them well known, and I never found a person that was on the same page as me. I started writing a wish list of people that I had found from the back of records that I like. Then I found out about his amazing little label called Bedroom Community. I just started looking into people he had worked with and they all had this certain sound. It didn’t sound ordinary and I liked that.

Can you tell us about the Mr. Fogg pop-up shop?

I wanted to do an interesting gig to promote myself and I wanted to choose the others bands. We had an appointment at a venue and it wasn’t very exciting. We walked past a shop on the way home and I thought, “We could have a Mr Fogg shop.” I phoned the guy up and asked if we could rent the shop for four days. He didn’t have to anyone to rent it to so we got it for really cheap. We redesigned the whole shop and made stuff to sell. Then I played every hour on the hour for four days! People would generally walk in at random and we would play for them. We ended up doing a lot more gigs than one on the hour. People would start talking to me while I was playing and it was good because people were interacting with the music. I mean, you wouldn’t strike up a conversation with someone on stage at a gig.

How many of the instruments on the album do you play?

I play everything apart from the brass and violin on one song. I started off by writing and recording all the songs at home. There’s not really any room for anyone else because they were 99% finished. When I took the songs to Iceland, we re-recorded the vocals and used real synths so they had more depth.

When you perform live are you alone, or does a band accompany you?

I have a six member band including me that features a drummer, a keyboard player and a harpist. It’s good because I was never that keen on laptop performances. I wanted it to be live and something to watch. It sounds more exciting that way. It’s easy to have a harp trigger on the keyboard but to see someone play it live is amazing.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

It’s funny because I have been planning to release this record for a long time. The furthest I could see forward was the 19th of April and it is only now that I am starting to see there is life after the album release! I am going to Sweden and Slovenia. We have more plans for Fogg shop style stuff. I am doing a tour in May and then I have to start thinking about writing more songs!

(Moving Parts in out on April 19 via Kicking Ink)


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