A few days ago I reviewed Richard Walter's EP 'Young Trees', a collection of tracks worthy of my unprecedented, incomparable praise. The five numbers recall the loss of happiness and Walters' determination to recover from the deprivation of such. It's humble and honest and truly heartfelt, a retrospective yearning pulling the songs into harmonious unity. Given my unparalleled adulation for 'Young Trees', I jumped at the chance to throw this talented Oxonian some questions! Read the interview below and find a link to my review at the end of it. I'd thank Richard Walters, for enduring our following dissection with the utmost grace!
Music Dissection: How did you get into music? Who inspired you to do so?
Richard Walters: I started playing guitar in a band at school called Odd? when I was about 13. We were playing Supergrass and Oasis covers, and not very well. That's around the time I began toying with songwriting, little two minute things. I didn't find myself singing until around 16, and even then I wasn't sure how to present myself. I had that ridiculous artistic awakening that happens to teenagers when the hormones kick in - I discovered poetry, books and obscure indie music, and thought I was the first person in the world to really get it. I guess everyone does that, everyone has had that moment of discovery and built on it.
MD: On your Facebook page, you filled in the information for record label with 'Why?' What are your feelings towards being signed?
RW: I've been signed and worked with two major and one indie label - the problem was always that I would write what I thought was a real treasure (in fact 'Regretless' from the new EP is one of those tracks), a song that you have so much faith in; you bowl into the label office, play it to your man and he says 'hmmm, yeah - it's not a single is it, bit meandering' and it's shattering.
MD: You are in the process of writing your third album. Are we going to hear an evolution to your previous sound? Are there any themes lyrically or musically you want to explore more in the future?
RW: I've worked with a couple of personal heroes for two songs on this record, so a new collaborative element adds something to the whole. The poet Simon Armitage wrote the lyrics to one track, and the singer and producer Joe Henry for another. It was so exciting to have that opportunity, to build bricks on someone elses foundations. Sonically I think the album is a lot richer sounding, more gospel almost, and a majority of the tracks are piano based now.
MD: Who are you listening to at the moment?
RW: The new Ryan Adams record is just beautiful. I Break Horses are also getting many many plays in the house. My girlfriend bought me a lovely vintage record player (with a small built in speaker) for Christmas, so I've been blasting 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' by Springsteen, 'Red Letter Day' by Buffalo Tom and 'Happy/Sad' by Tim Buckley lots.
MD: Your songs have been featured in a few television programmes. Did you ever imagine your music would become this popular? Have you any aspirations for the future?
RW: I find it ridiculously exciting to see one of my songs placed - it makes it feel solid and big. Just knowing millions of people have been tricked into hearing my song...I just hope it sticks in peoples heads when the shows finish. I haven't had a song used in a feature film yet, and I would love to see that happen - to go to the cinema and just hear one of the songs in sync with a 20 ft image would be incredible.
RW: Mad Men - I'm a massive Richard Yates fan, and that show embodies everything I love about his writing!
MD: How would you define your sound?
RW: Gospel folk.
MD: For me, the whole of 'Young Trees' is very emotional. Did you find recording it an emotional strain? Are there any songs that have brought you to tears? If so, which?
RW: The songs on the EP were all written in a period of change and movement, and I guess that was a very emotional period too. But the recording felt like a huge relief, I bottled it all up and then put it down. Every track on the EP is a single, live vocal take - no cuts or fixes - and I do remember recording Infinity Street (in a hotel room in Manchester) a bit drunk, a bit tired, and almost cracking...it's that line 'I have ordered all the words'...it was frustration more than anything else. Frustrated that I was able to say in a song what I couldn't say in person I suppose.
MD: Finally, if you weren't a musician, what would you be and why?
RW: Worse off. Real answer - I just don't know. I'd rather not think about it!
Thanks again to Richard for taking the time to answer our questions, and I seriously urge you to purchase a copy of 'Young Tree's. The five tracks retained within it are nothing but pure, uncontested beauty. Emotional moments captured in sound, they'll hold a spot in my heart, for a very long time! Read my review here, then buy the EP at the Bandcamp, here!