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My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Maps interview – 5 October 2009

The end of The Music Magazine is nigh, which is pretty sad as it was a fantastic online site which really championed new music, didn’t just go for all the predictable buzz names and boasted some top quality writing. I didn’t put this up on my blog at first as it felt a bit rude, but I don’t want it to get lost in the ether once the page can’t be viewed so here it is. My interview with Maps…

James Chapman - the face behind Maps

With his second album Turning The Mind released this week and a tour fast on the approach, The Music Magazine chatted to Maps about Mercury Prizes, misappropriation… and erm, Eminem. 

What are the themes and influences behind Turning The Mind?
I took the title from a form of cognitive therapy called Mindfulness, which I got into about thee years ago. The whole album is about mental states and is much more personal than We Can Create was. It’s really about euphoria and what I have seen people go through.

It’s a darker, angrier sounding record than We Can Create…
To be honest that album was made from a whole back catalogue of demos I had made since I was 19 so I had loads to choose from – there wasn’t a cohesive theme there. I’ve recorded Turning The Mind from scratch and I think it really shows where I am at the moment – I really let it all out in the music on this album!

You worked with Tim Holmes from Death In Vegas for the recording, did that have a bearing on the sound, especially as you’ve taken a more electronic direction?
Tim was brilliant. He’s really talented and down to earth and we clicked straight away. The demos I had done in my bedroom this time around were a lot more advanced. Some made it onto the album needing only a bit of brushing up and a bit of sparkle adding, but other tracks had a real overhaul. Nothing was the one that changed the most – before it was a banging techno tune all the way through, but Tim had the idea of starting it with a piano loop and building it layer upon layer.

Going back to your Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2007, do you view it as a bit of a launch pad for your music? Did it put any pressure on you?
The nomination was great I was totally surprised by it at the time. It just got more people listening to my music and helped with sales, but I didn’t really feel any pressure with it. 

Which makes it perhaps surprising that after her win, Speech Debelle’s sales haven’t risen too much and the hype hasn’t really materialised yet…
A lot of people see winning the award as a bit of a curse. But with that £20k that would just make me want to would go and make an album that was even better – it would certainly put a rocket up my arse! 

Looking forward to your tour, do you have any idea what you would like people to get out of the gigs?
We have been working really hard so I’m really looking forward to it. Up until now it feels like I’ve been testing the water and it can be quite hard playing new material to people, but hopefully they will have heard Turning The Mind by the time the gigs come around and there will be a good response.

What’s your view on the illegal downloads debate? Does it nark you?
To be honest if people are downloading music, like it and support it by buying the album then it’s fine. But I’m a bit bummed out because all of the illegal downloads of the album are missing out on a sample that’s on there, so I really want people to buy the real one! I must admit have done it though in the past because I’ve been so eager to hear an album, then bought it on CD and iTunes, so as long as the support is there that’s what matters.

Is there anyone you idolise in music?
This is going to sound funny, but Eminem; he’s a Bob Dylan of our time. He releases albums just when I need them. I have had a hard time with addiction over the last couple of years and I’ve got a way to go, but I love his honesty and that’s what really stands out. You always know people are going to slag off his records but he just talks about what he’s been doing.

What are your favourite venues to play and to watch gigs?
I love Brixton Academy for the layout and for the fact it’s sloped so everyone gets a good view. Obviously it would be a dream to play there. Of the festivals I played Latitude was exciting – it has a nice vibe and its size means it is fantastic for being able to easily walk from tent to tent.

Do you have any ideas and dreams for the future of Maps?
I really want this album to do well so I can make a third album. Times are hard in the music world so that is as far as I am looking ahead to at the moment – that and being a success.

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