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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Slo Light: an interview with Neil Davidge

Acclaimed Bristol based producer Neil Davidge talks about the making of his debut album, featuring many wonderful collaborations.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Neil Davidge by Gemma Cotterell

Neil Davidge by Gemma Cotterell.

Bristol based producer Neil Davidge has worked with the likes of Sandie Shaw, Cate Le Bon, Karima Francis and many others to produce a stunning debut album. Slo Light came out last month and builds upon an action packed career, which includes highlights such as co-writer and producer for Massive Attack, score composer of Halo 4 and collaborations with David Bowie, Snoop Dog, Damon Albarn, Primal Scream and Mos Def. The album is deeply-schooled in Bristol beats, electronica, soundtracks, orchestral music and more, creating a fantasy world in which tension, darkness and beauty find the perfect equilibrium. I asked Neil about the creation of Slo Light...

Neil Davidge portrait

How did you pull together such an amazing roster of artists to work with?
It took a fair amount of patience and belligerence. I didn’t want to accept anyone with a good voice who could spell their name correctly. The list of potential collaborators grew over the course of the last 10 years, some I’d met whilst working with Massive (Attack) and some I bumped into in train stations. On each occasion meeting the people I’d eventually ask to sing I felt a connection that went beyond a purely musical appreciation and gravitated towards those I could talk about life and love and who I felt were tapped into something beautiful other than music.

Gallant Foxes feat. Cate Le Bon.

What were your ambitions when you set out to make this album?
For it to be honest and unguarded. I don’t find it easy to be authentic in my daily life, much of the time I find myself being polite and accepting stuff I really should take issue with. The studio is the one place where I feel brave enough and selfish enough to stand my ground and expect better of the world and myself. I also wanted to make it quickly (comparatively, the last album I made took 7 years).

Neil Davidge by Simon McLaren

Neil Davidge by Simon McLaren.

Can you describe the Bristol music scene in 2014, who do you hang out with and where would we find you making music and finding inspiration?
I hang out with Drew with who I made the album and works with me on most of my projects, and Tom, our wipper-snapper programmer… 7 days a week, sometimes 17+ hours a day in the studio. It’s a rare occurence for me to stray further than the 4 walls of our converted loft apartment studio or my house on the edge of the city. I’d love to tell you about the current Bristol music scene but I’d bet you good money that you know more about it than me.

Who were your biggest influences in your formative years on the music scene?
I’d have to go further back than when I first started making music, back to childhood, hearing Bowie, Debussy, the Beatles, Marvin Gaye, that stuff gave me a measure for what’s worthy I still use today. When I began playing my tastes shifted slightly, listening to bands like The Pop Group, Gang Of Four and A Certain Ratio, but I’m influenced by pretty much everything I hear, including sounds that are not traditionally considered ‘music’, in some way or other and always have been.

Sleepwalking feat. EMI Green.

What is the secret to good production (any tips)?
Wow, If I knew the answer to that one… Working really fucking hard, staying open minded and listening to my gut is how I do it. I’m envious of those who seem to have it sussed but I’m sure that’s me being hard on myself. When it comes down to it I’d guess no-one achieves and sustains a successful and creatively exciting career without a lot of effort and many sleepless nights.

What underground artists do you recommend for us to look out for in the coming years?
I don’t know how ‘underground’ they are. I’m currently listening to Benoit Pioulard, Low Roar (who sang on ‘Home From Home’ on my album), Stars Of The Lid and Emptyset (from Bristol).

DAVIDGE SLO LIGHT

Slo Light by Neil Davidge is out now on 7Hz Recordings.

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