James Vincent McMorrow: Where It All Began

The story of the Irish singer's second album, in his own words

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1 | My first record was made in Termonfeckin, which is a small town on the north-east coast of Ireland. I had been in London, but it didn’t click. So, at home, I didn’t think about making something, just whether something could be made. There was no grand plan.

2 | The summerhouse there I stayed in is just the other side of the sand dunes. Termonfeckin is a stunning place to go to make something. I was there from January to May 2009. The cutting myself off aspect wasn’t a conscious thing; I don’t know any other way to work.

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3 | You just wake up and make music. If I felt like making something, I would and if not, then I wouldn’t. I would run a lot on the beach to clear my mind out. My day went on to 6 or 7am. I would get up again at noon and work right through.

4 | For the second record, I went into the studio in Dublin straight after my tour in September 2012. It got until the end of December but it didn’t have that elusive thing… it wasn’t that I wanted to go to Texas.

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5 | I heard of this Texas studio. The owner, Tony Rancich, wanted to fly us out for the day to see the studio. I booked it the next day. He’s that rare guy that is in it purely for the love of it. It’s this pecan farm, 50 miles south of El Paso, outside the town of Tornillo. It was a two-mile row of trees in a cross between a ditch and a bath. Once a month, they fill the bath. One night you go to bed and it’s a desert; the next morning you wake up on an island. By the evening the lake is gone.

6 | It’s half a mile from the Mexican border. People are a little freaked out by the prospect. That is justified. The fence that Bush put up [to deter illegal immigrants] finishes a mile down the road. It’s a free-for-all. Tony was telling us of having dinner with Mexican drug lords, and how everyone knows someone who has been killed.

7 | Tony was the greatest guy. He had this old Nissan sports car and he sold it to buy this old synthesiser from the Eighties he had missing from his collection. There’d be a room with five old keyboards you’d never seen before. We’d pull them out and suddenly it was 5am and you have this sound you never predicted.

8 | American trains, 200 carriages long, would go by for 20 minutes and you just hear this wash [on the recording]. And there’s birdsong all over the piano, hyper melodic, in a different key. It’s just there and you can’t get rid of it. I loved it.

9 | I don’t know about folk music. I play guitar so there’s a feeling I make folk music. I grew up listening to speed metal, but the first record that made me want to make music was The Neptunes Present… Clones. On this record, it was about going back to listening to things like that and going “this is amazing.” The first song, Cavalier, is a four-minute slow jam. I couldn’t give a fuck about genres. I just want it to be good.

Post Tropical (Believe Recordings) is out tomorrow

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