Interview with James Yorkston – Part 2
James Yorkston has just released a very fine new album called The Wide, Wide River, which is currently our album of the week! We caught up with James to ask him about the new album, life during lockdown and more.
James writes “This beautiful album I made with The Second Hand Orchestra, a Swedish band ran by Karl-Jonas, a man I have known for a few years now. The Second Hand Orchestra hadn’t heard any of these songs before the sessions. I flew to Sweden and said my hellos, then we all sat round and set up our instruments. I would run through a song, once, perhaps twice, and simply encourage the musicians to react to what they were hearing. The engineer would press record and – voila – we’d have a song down. This here album is the result of eight such castings of the net. We all love it – it was a joy to make and is fresh, spontaneous, and full of life x”
You have a fairly big back catalogue at this stage over nearly 20 years. Are there any albums you’ve made that you’re particularly proud of?
I tend to judge them on my memories of the sessions and for that When The Haar Rolls In is the one. It was the last album I made with The Athletes, we had Emma Smith and Sarah Scutt with us, with Nancy Elizabeth dropping in – a lovely group of people, and a magical time, being holed up in a rural recording studio, eating good food and having many late nights, talking music, playing Scrabble and sipping whisky.
Do you listen to much music for pleasure? Anything, in particular, you’ve enjoyed recently?
I do, and it’s getting easier to do so now my children are older. The first album that springs to mind is the new Oumou Sangare album, Acoustic. I always preferred her stripped-down sound – no offence to her drummers – and this is that. The heart of her music, for me, is her incredible voice, with those great polyrhythms going on behind her. I never feel artists like that need ironing out, hence YTK never working with drummers. I’ve rediscovered a Serafina Steer album from a few years back, and that’s getting a few spins in the car. It works well with the wintry roads, somehow.
What’s next for James Yorkston?
We’ll have to wait and see. There are always things going on in the background in various states of production and fruition. But nothing to announce, just yet. Oh – there is one thing that will probably happen – a company is putting together a book of my lyrics, and we’re going through that process now, but it’s early days of the project and The Wide, Wide River is taking up all my time right now, so I guess it’s a while off, yet.
Musically, I’m writing, most of which will go to either JY or YTK, plus a few people have asked me to guest on their albums, so I’m doing little bits here and there. These guest things don’t always get released, or they sneak out on a tiny label somewhere, but I find it satisfying to do. My podcast – 46-30 – rumbles on, but that’s just a fun thing. Basically, though, I just keep on working. I love what I do, I’m very lucky with that.