Synonymous with ‘avant guarde’ Indie Rock ensemble Guillemots, lead singer Fyfe Dangerfield “had a bit of free time” after the band’s second album, Red. Two years later and his debut solo album Fly Yellow River got released into the musical wild alongside a smattering of ‘intimate’ UK gigs. Subsequent interest spawned more dates this September, including the Moseley Folk Festival and the HMV relaunch of the Birmingham Institute. The Birmingham Observer caught up with the man from Moseley before his imminent homecoming solos.
“I wasn’t really trying to make a record,” says Dangerfield, “I just was having a bit of a break from the band (Guillemots). I’d written a bunch of songs so I booked a few days in the studio with a friend of mine Adam (Noble – producer) and we thought we’d just see what happens. I hate having stuff lying around, you know, just clogging up the cupboards.”
Released in January 2010 the bulk of Fly Yellow River was recorded at the end of 2008 in Urchin Studios, the same East London birthplace of Guillemots’ EP I Saw Such Things In My Sleep. Receiving positive reviews from the national and music press, Dangerfield’s solo debut is a juxtaposition of melodic folk and energetic pop rock. Tracks like When You Walk In The Room and Faster Than The Setting Sun are obviously radio friendly, whilst on the other side of the seesaw Barricades and Livewire steady the balance.
“Originally the whole album was going to be in a more folk vein but certain tracks just developed. I suppose I could’ve done something more consistent, either all in a downbeat or an upbeat lane, but I wanted to put the styles together.” A volatile contiguity, one that has historically both embellished and eroded a musical showcase. Was it hard combining the genres? “Everything just felt like it sort of belonged together, although sometimes I have to push myself to write the more upbeat tracks. I could quite happily just write ballads everyday.”
Fly Yellow River served Dangerfield as an interim project between Guillemots’ studio albums, the third of which is currently under production. He also received widespread attention as a solo artist after his cover of Billy Joel’s She’s Always A Woman was used in a prominent department store advert earlier this year. Has Fyfe Dangerfield’s labour of love become a burden, or even a tempting distraction?
“Most of it was recorded so long ago I’m in such a different place now,” says Dangerfield, “but I still enjoy playing the songs live and finding new ways to perform them.” And the distraction? “All the time I’ve been working with Guillemots, writing and recording, so its like I’ve had two things going on at once really. There’s not been an awful lot of work on this one (Fly Yellow River). I’ve done gigs here and there, I’ve got the tour in September but it’s not been an exhaustive promotional trail.” Sounds like Fly Yellow River was the most stress free album in music history? “Yeah, it was pretty stress free really, it all came about very naturally. It’s exactly what I wanted to do at the time and I’m really proud of the record.”
Fyfe Dangerfield performs at the Moseley Folk Festival on Friday 3rd Sept and the HMV Institute on Saturday 25th Sept. Fly Yellow Moon is out now on general release, more details at www.fyfedangerfield.com