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jamie lidell
jamie lidell interview
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The funk soul brother.

Jamie Lidell bounds into the kitchen at Warp Records, wearing white shoes and singing as he switches on the kettle. The 32-year-old producer, multi-instrumentalist, b-boxer and singer is in cheery form after an energising gig at London's Royal Festival Hall. “The idea was for me to be dressed as a fisherman,” he says. “But I'm not sure if it came across.” The costume philosophy (he previously performed in a plastic suit covered in money) is typically Lidell - off-the-wall, art-angled and at least 10 degrees left of his peers.

There's good reason for his bounciness: his new album, Multiply (released on Warp), is an energetic hybrid of southern soul and electronica with the occasional analogue boost. The first single, When I Come Back Around, flagged up Multiply as one to watch, and has become a bona fide club hit. It contains all the elements that make the new album such an enjoyable listen: Lidell’s letting loose on the microphone underscored by monster b-lines and mash-up sonics.

The follow-up to 2000’s angular Muddlin Gear is soaked in soul, with tunes like the title track coming across as a straight-up homage to Otis Redding or Sly Stone, a love letter to the deep soul talent of 60s Memphis. “I like the sheer vibration of singing,” says Lidell. “Humming, singing chills me out.” It was co-written with fellow Berliner, Mocky (“My spiritual guidance”).

Lidell has lived in Berlin since 2000, making music in a converted factory in the old East Berlin zone. “It's chilled and cheap,” he says, relaxing back into a leather chair. “It's no metropolis but has all the trappings of the big city.”

If you haven’t seen Lidell live, don’t worry. Warp are releasing a DVD, Live At The Albert Hall. It’s an extraordinary combination of laptop hijinks, scat vocals and Lidell's molecule-vibrating voice, as well as the eccentric costumes created by his in-house designer, Pablo Fiasco - hence the fishermen. It’s the kind of loose, chaotic performance kick-started by Matthew Herbert when he went on tour wearing spats and making beats out of crisp packets in the mid 90s. “Herbert did influence me,” he says. “He’s a brilliant performer.”

It has always been so. Lidell learnt xylophone and drums at primary school before writing a melodrama for music and voice which attracted the curious charge from the school of “playing with the devil”. And next? Well, he's taking his twisted R&B and own-brand southern soul to all corners of the world. There’s a new Super_Collider record ready to roll and more songs percolating inside Lidell’s frame. “Really,” he says. “It’s just about getting to the heart of the song.”

Emma Warren 10 June 05
Jamie Lidell - Multiply, released 13 June 05 on Warp Records.
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