Lisbee Stainton enjoyed huge success at the end of last year with her latest album Go and now she is back with her new single Sidekick.
I caught up with her to talk about the new track, more album plans and hitting the road with Seth Lakeman.
- You are about to release you new single Sidekick so what can Lisbee Stainton fans expect from the new track?
It’s slightly more produced than what I would usually go for but it is still very much me. And I think it’s along the lines that it is happy and jolly and slightly cheesy (laughs), it’s always a good thing to have a bit of cheese in there.
I just hope that they like it to be honest; I hope everyone enjoys it as that is what I write for.
- You have mentioned that it is slightly more produced than what we are use to hearing from you so I was wondering why you decided to go down that path?
I think it was not really on purpose as each producer that you work with they have a different way of doing things. Chris Porter, the producer for Sidekick, it’s the way that he does it and I am happy to go along with that - it sounds great and that is all that counts.
It’s quite nice to be able to make a bigger sound than you are use to making and when you listen back it and it feels really full and textured there’s something really satisfying about that.
- The track is produced by Chris Porter so how did the opportunity to work with him come about?
He heard my albums Go and Girl In An Unmade Bed and really loved them so he got in touch with me and asked if he could work with me.
I had just written Sidekick before I met with him so I took my guitar along with me and played it to him and he was like ‘I would like to produce this if you are up to it? ‘ and I said yes.
- He has worked with the likes of Pet Shop Boys & Tina Turner so how did you find working with him and what did his experience bring to the track?
His experience is incredible and to get to work with someone at that level is just brilliant for me. Working with me was so easy in so many ways as he just knew what he was doing, not that any of my other producers haven’t, I think it’s just the number of years of experience that he has just brings something quite different to the table. The session musicians that he brought in were incredible.
We spent a day in the studio laying down the band tracks and I think it was a full twelve hour day but I barely noticed how long it was, I just looked up and thought ‘oh wow it’s eleven o’clock in the evening’ (laughs).
Working with people at that level is amazing for me but I felt very much like the newbie because they all had at least twenty five years experience on me.
- I was reading that you had worked with a whole host of musicians on this track and I was wondering how much of a learning curve that was for you?
It was a huge learning curve for me, if you could have seen the cog turns per minute in my head in terms of concentrating just to get it right; I knew they were going to get it right in one take where the likelihood of me doing that in comparison was slim (laughs).
I massively enjoyed myself and they were so nice to me (laughs). We didn’t use a click or anything, which is quite novel in the studio, to keep the tempo we just did it as a band.
There were three different rooms; drummer in one room, pianist, guitarist and bassist in another and me in the other with my guitar putting some draft vocals again.
It could have been a very high pressured situation but it really was it was so chilled out and we just put loads of energy and fun into it and came out with the single.
- Sidekick is about finding that one person that you can rely on - so who is that for you?
I am probably still searching for my sidekick. I didn’t want Sidekick to a love song as it can be anyone; your best friend or someone you know really well who will always have you back and that is why I used the word Sidekick, you are not looking for a lover as such.
I think it’s just that person that everyone needs in their live and it’s not the same person throughout these people change.
- You have penned the track so what are you major influences when it comes to your song-writing?
I have always been a huge fan of the song-writers of the seventies so Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King and I think it’s because of my dad’s record collection growing up, I am huge Fleetwood Mac for example as that was played all the time in my house as I grew up.
I have very much been taught over the years from studying music to remain open minded as much as possible and so I really listen to everything. I really enjoy hearing new stuff that I have never heard before and new imagined before.
Although my style is quite straight-forward, I suppose you could describe it as folky pop, I try and draw as much as possible, influence wise and inspiration wise, from as many inputs as possible - I tend to seek inspiration from as many places as possible.
- You only released Go towards the end of last year but Sidekick is not a track from the album so is there another album on the horizon?
Oh yes definitely, not within the next two months but soon. I have already started writing tracks for it. Sidekick was originally meant for the next album but I think what we are going to do is put it on to Go as an extra track on there.
I write all of the time but I write with another album in mind, once you have released one you kind of let it go and it’s no longer yours and you feel the need to do another one (laughs).
- You have released three albums before this new single so how have you seen yourself develop as a singer and a song-writer in that time?
I hope that it shows in the albums that I have developed. With my song-writing my method has changed, song-writing for is something that I have done since I was eight or nine, when I began it was something that I always wanted to do but it just felt like something I had to do everyday.
It was only as I was growing up that I began to take it more seriously and think about the method I was using and the quality of what was going out - as a result I am very hard on myself when I have written a song and if it is good enough.
Often I think that songs that become really good are rubbish when I first write them but I have got a few people that I use as a soundboard to tell me whether they think they are good or not, they are quite good at telling me.
I hope that my song-writing as developed in a mature and positive way over the years but it is hard to tell when you are standing so close to it. I know that I constantly work on my voice and it is a constant march towards a horizon, you are never satisfied with where you currently are you always want to move onto the next stage.
For me it’s a case of ‘right that was good but not quite good enough. So I am going to do this next thing and move the next level up’, so I hope each album is a step up from one another.
- You are about to kick off a tour with Seth Lakeman so how much are you excited at getting back out on the road - I read that you have been a big fan of Seth for some years?
Yeah I have. My music teacher played me his music when I was seventeen, it was his album Kitty Jay, and I just fell in love with it - I actually arranged one of his tracks Blood Upon Copper to audition for Goldsmiths University, which I got into with that track.
So it is pretty cool that I get to support him I think this the most excited I have been about supporting anyone.
Before you rang I was learning lyrics to a couple of his songs as he has asked me to harmonies with him on a couple of tracks on tour so I am ridiculously excited - so I am learning them as we speak and I have four days to learn them. So yeas I think excited is an understatement.
- For those who may have a ticket to any of the shows what can they expect from a live performance?
Usually when I support an artist I do it solo, headliners usually asks for a solo artist because it is easier, but this time I am taking my percussionist Andy with me and we have a tiny kick drum and a tiny snare drum - he basically looks like a giant playing a normal size kit because it is all mini. It’s still me and my guitar but it’s with percussion as well which is great.
Rehearsals have been sounding really good and we are going to half an hour of essentially all my favourite songs. I try and have as much fun as possible on stage and with any luck the audience has fun too.
I like talking too my audience, not too much because they get bored, but getting to know my audience is one of my big things.
- It seems like you are always on tour as you have recently toured with Gretchen Peters so how was that experience?
That was brilliant and I think that it was one of the most straightforward tours that I have ever done and that is really refreshing and nice. She was the least egotistic headliner that I have ever come across, she didn’t have an ego at all she was just so friendly and down to earth.
The venues were packed out every night and we sold loads of merchandise which is always great. When she asked me to come on stage on the last song on the last gig that was probably my favourite moment of the tour, it was great fun.
I really enjoyed it the tour was only two weeks long but I could have done longer.
- You have a huge fan base so for any fans who are reading this interview do you have a message for them?
Come and join in (laughs). Because I am an independent artist I am not looking for any quick fixes because they don’t exist in this industry, you get these overnight successes that have been working solidly for ten years.
It’s a slow development but it’s a solid development that I want and the more people that enjoy my stuff the happier I am. So yeah come along and I hope you enjoy it.
- Finally what's coming up for you between now and the end of 2012?
Lots more touring and gigging I hope. And by the end of the years I hope to have written if not recorded the next album - that is a very soft plan (laughs). Fingers crossed I will have something new to get going for the beginning of 2013.
Lisbee Stainton’s new single Sidekick is released 28th May
Click to buy: Lisbee Stainton - Go Album
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw