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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

In conversation with Little Fire

You've been doing rather well for yourself over the last few years. Some solid support slots with some very big names and a relentless gigging schedule.
Do you feel that things are starting to fall into place for you as a performer, that you have built yourself a solid foundation to progress from?

Little Fire - The last two years have been absolutely brilliant musically, all in all it’s been a really positive time and I’ve really enjoyed myself.
There’s been a good bit of progress made confidence wise and at the moment I’m enjoying performing more than ever. I love it.
I really feel like I’ve made some good headway in getting my music heard by people through gigging so often locally.
It's been worth all the hard work, and I do feel I have a solid foundation to work from, but I also have to acknowledge the support that I have received, as without the people coming out to see me there would be no foundation.
You can't do this alone.
So it's all good just now.
Right now my main focus is on finishing my album.
I've started recording it in Chem 19 studio and I want to push on with that.
That's not to say that I wont be gigging though.
I'll still be playing, but it's got to a point in my career that I have to manage my time a bit better.
So to fit everything in I will be cutting back on the local gigs so that I can play some gigs further afield than the bonny 'shire.

Apart from pushing your own career you have been a very vocal advocate in promoting the talents of others.
The music business is often portrayed as a back biting and narcissistic one, and there seems to be enough evidence to support that.
So how important is it for you as an artist to try and provide a positive alternative to that?

Little Fire - I think it’s important to share your enthusiasm with music that excites you and resonates with you, and for me there’s a lot of that around here.
It’s an exciting time for a lot of bands and musicians I know, and we’re all at an interesting point with festival slots being achieved and debut albums in the mix.
It’s an exciting and interesting time for sure and essentially I want everyone to do well.
This isn’t like a race at the Olympics where someone has to get the gold.
We can all share the gold.
There can be consideration that competition does exist for support slots, or opportunities, or whatever, but I think it would take a lot of enjoyment out of this for me if I honestly viewed it as a nothing more than a dog eat dog competition of sorts.
Enjoyment is the number one reason why I make music, and should that ever change I would stop, well I know I wouldn’t as I get too much joy strumming a guitar and having a bit of a sing song, but you know what I mean.
I am positive that that back biting exists in the music industry though, as it does in any other, but it’s not something I’m too concerned with.
I’m not somebody that does it, and I don’t really advocate it as a means to better or further yourself.
I just like getting on with life.
When gigging and having meetings with people in the music industry I've met the good and the bad.
You come across a lot of different personality types, and attitudes do manifest themselves in the music, the way people handle themselves, the way they conduct themselves and it’s quite interesting in a way.
But I keep shying away from the negative and reaching to embrace the positive and because of that I’m in a good place at the moment, but it’s not like I’ve always been so positive y’know.
I just think that I've come to realise that it’s of the highest importance to me to enjoy your music, not worry too much about what everyone else is doing and just get on with it.
Why spend your life overly concerned about what others are doing.
I mean it's your life. 
So while I'm not consciously offering an alternative I suppose subconsciously I am. 

Have you found that the positivity that you are known for can sometimes be viewed with suspicion due to it being virtually the polar opposite of what is expected?

Little Fire - I’ve only had a few people who have viewed my positivity with suspicion and it just made me laugh really.
Why would anyone be suspicious of someone being happy, or feel resentment towards it?
Why do people think there has to be an angle to being happy and wanting others to do well. 
Maybe it's a sign of the times.
They maybe have to question their own outlook on life if they feel suspicious about my positive attitude.
I just think that there has never been a more exciting time than right now and I think a lot of people just don’t get that.
I take a great deal of satisfaction from making music, listening to music, and mixing with people, and that’s it.
It’s just my personality type coupled with a real appreciation for what’s good and great in life that leads me to think positively.
As much as I could be considered an optimist I am most definitely a realist as well.
My optimism is rooted in me being able to feel the possibilities in life.
Why be an overly cynical negative bastard when there is so much you can do and so much to enjoy. Spiteful, negative cynics are not my cup of tea anyway.
I’d rather spend my time with, and around people with, positive energies who try to make the most out of this thing called life.
Make the best of it I say and fuck those who don’t or won’t. 

Currently you have one EP available to the public, and are working on the debut album.
Can you tell us how the album is coming along, what we can expect and who is involved in playing on it?

Little Fire - I’m really glad to be finally getting it together and getting stuck into making the album.
It’s about time really.
I’ve had a good staple of songs that I’ve been playing for the last two years which will go on the album.
The tracks are all pretty much decided upon.
I’ve a tendency to experiment and tinker a lot with my songs and I’ve found songs to have changed a fair bit in the last couple of years and I’m looking forward to committing them to a recorded form and I'm personally excited about how it’s going to turn out.
As I said earlier I’m recording up at Chem 19 in Blantyre, home to the legendary Scottish independent label Chemikal Underground.
It’s got a great feel to it and to know that so many smashing records have been made there by some great Scottish artists including Arab Strap, Mogwai, Emma Pollock, Franz Ferdinand, Teenage Fanclub to name just a few.
You know you’re in great hands recording there with people who really give a shit how you sound and that’s nice.
It's been a cool experience so far.
I’ve got 5 sessions booked to record in June and I'm really going to go for it.
It’s taken me rather a while to get it together to go and record but I think feeling ready to record the songs is a really important thing.
I could have done a few of them before, but in hindsight they wouldn't have been what I wanted.
Maybe I've grown into some of the older material
Other songs that will appear on it are brand new, but both the new and the old all feel ready for the studio.
It's the songs which I’ve been playing for the best part of two years that I’ll be a bit more cautious with in painting the picture of how they sound.
I’ve become quite familiar with them so I hope to treat them well and do them justice.
The recording experience is something I used to find a wee bit daunting, just the finality of a recording itself can be daunting, but of course it’s possible to do something many times before saying “ yep that’s it”.
Having a producer you are comfortable with is something I’ve really learned the importance of.
For me it’s vital to have a positive rapport and an open and friendly dialogue with the producer so that I can feel able to tell it like it is and try to get the sound that I’m looking for.
The young gentleman I’m working with at Chem 19 is called Jamie Savage and he’s a top class fella to work with, easy going but very much a guy who wants to make it the best he can and he really does try to understand me when I attempt to describe something in the music.
With me not having a great understanding of technical terms with the production side of things it’s important to be able to find your own language with the producer that you can both understand and relate to.
As for who’s playing on the album so far I’ve had Ari from Rose Parade come and help me out with some instruments on ‘ High Hopes’ and I think that’s sounding pretty good.
I’ll have some guest spots from other musicians in due course. The album will be at least half made up of band orientated productions with the other half solo acoustic.

Once it is finished then what is the plan?

Little Fire - Once the album is finished I’ll do more gigs than ever before and I’ll have something to sell which will be fantastic!
I’ll shop around and see if it’s possible to get a publishing deal for the album. do some travelling and touring.
New adventures. That's what I want.
I’ve been doing pretty well for someone with no album, so I imagine the album will open the door to other opportunities.
I will just have to wait and see but I’m really looking forward to what’s coming up this year.
The gigging is important though.
It’s really very easy for me with just being on my own and it’s the thing I enjoy the most.
The plan is to spread out around the UK and look to tour abroad.
The possibilities are endless, they really are. Whether I do a tour with the Secret Sisters in the US or I’m playing weird and wonderful gigs throughout Europe, or working on music with a childhood music hero, it’s all possible and I always have that in mind.

Apart from working hard on the album you have found time to get the ball rolling on a live event that will be taking place in the Burns Museum and celebrating the work of 'the Bard'.

Little Fire - Absolutely, I’ve put together an event called ‘Third Degree Burns’, it’s taking place on Saturday 2nd June at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway an it’s comprising of some very talented souls indeed.

How did that come about and who else will be performing at it?

Little Fire - Well there’s the Burns’ an’ a’ that festival which takes place in Ayr.
It’s been running for a few years now and I’ve had some smashing experiences with it in the past from seeing Pete Doherty to being impressed by Julian Cope, to dancing about off my trolley to Mylo quite a few years back.
I performed at the last couple of years of the festival supporting Dougie MacLean and Midge Ure to.
 So I wanted to do something similar to that, but concentrate more on promoting the talents of home grown artists.
Basically with my event Third Degree Burns it’s independent of the Burns Festival, yet it’s included in the festivals brochure and website and it’s being considered as a fringe event apparently.
With Third Degree burns all the performers are from Ayrshire, every one of them.
The night is going to have a diverse range of contemporary interpretations of Burn’s poem and songs, as well as performers doing their own original material.
It should be exciting stuff!
With the Burns an’ a’ that festival there aren’t very many performers from Ayshire, and it would have been logical to have a larger ratio of performers from the local pool of talent.
It's not as if we don't have any.
We have bands who have been selected to play T in the Park, others that the BBC have claimed to be ones to watch out for in 2012 and another who will be playing the large summer festivals.
 Third Degree Burns is all about Ayrshire talent celebrating Ayrshire, it’s my hope the event could grow year upon year, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is a stunning venue for it
On the night we have Rose Parade, Melisa Kelly and the Harmless Thieves, Alan Frew, Paul McGranaghan, Slanj, Hipshot Theater and myself.
I nice eclectic mix.

Is it true that you have recorded some Burns material that will be available on the night?

Little Fire - Absolutely! I’ve been working on an album of Burns songs which will be ready for sale on the night.
I really like performing Burn’s songs and doing it in a way which feels natural to me.
The magic is all in the lyrics and I really enjoy singing them.
I’ve sang at a few Burns suppers now and it was an honour to be invited to perform at the opening of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum two years ago. I really enjoy dipping my toes into the more traditional forms of music and putting my 2012 26year old spin on it.
So it's a mix of old and new.

As you are Ayrshire born is the Burns connection something that you feel some affinity to, and what relevance do you think he has to a modern audience?

Little Fire - Ah well really I’m a Falkirk bairn but I’ve been living in Ayrshire since I was 4 and certainly my heart is here, I love it. I just think it’s superb that the legend of Robert Burns lives and I think it couldn’t be overstated how important it is to celebrate your heroes.
His life’s work was amazing, his output, his revolutionary thinking and his vision live on today in his work.
I think he’s just as relevant as ever really. Burns was rock and roll.
His commentary on humankind shows a man of conscience, fairness and great intellect as well as being of a most romantic nature.
His defense of the peasantry, both Catholic and Protestant minorities, the American ‘rebels’ and French revolutionaries indicate a man who was not afraid to truly support liberty and freedom for everyone. He was a supporter of the intellects and place of women, whilst much is said of his womanising he was certainly someone who saw women as equals to men, something which was not the norm of the time.
It’s funny that there were people who considered that such grand ideals could simply not come from a poor ploughman and must be from some higher power, or from someone else.
It’s fantastic that an everyday man such as Burns was had such wonderful feelings towards life, whilst a poor man he obviously lived it to the fullest and I respect that.

You were recently out in Australia and while there soaking up the sun managed to do a few gigs.
How was that as an experience? Are the Australian audience different from the UK?

Little Fire - Gigging in Australia was superb, there were a couple of gigs which were on outside stages which was fantastic, last time I tried that here in Scotland my fingers were near freezing off, it was winter mind you, but still.
I came across some really talented people in Australia, and for me it was certainly good fun playing on being Scottish.
I’d consider that I hear a greater concentration of talented musicians in a smaller space here though although I did hear some cracking singers

I see that you are going to be supporting Joan Armatrading later this year with that show being confirmed and you have your fingers crossed to get on the bill with Suzanne Vega.
Is this the sort of audience that you feel could engage with what you do?

Little Fire - It’s going to be superb to support Joan I’m really looking forward to that, it will be on the 10th November in Stevenage just near London. It’s a privilege and it is going to be a fantastic experience I’m sure.
She’s an inspirational person as an artist, and I’m genuinely honoured to be doing it.
I’m very hopeful to support Suzanne Vega.
That's not something that is confirmed, but I hope it all works out.
I really appreciate her music, and like with Joan, it would be a privilege to support her.
For me there is little more satisfying than sharing a stage with someone you’ve actually grew up listening to and admiring. These two artists are both inspirational figures to me and many more I’m sure.
I think I’m very much in the way of feeling that I would much rather support artists who have had sustainable careers and are still getting stuck in with passion and love for it.
I would much prefer supporting real artists such as these than the buzz bands who will probably have a relatively limited shelf life.
I don’t think these buzz bands would want me gigging with them anyway.
For me I want this to be a life long career, with many twists and turns and happenings. I want to be doing this when I’m an old man indeed, still very much full of the joy for it. So I think I’m far more likely to get listened to when supporting artists of a particular ilk rather than supporting some indie band or something.
I’d rather be with the experienced pro’s and pick up tips and advice from them.

I'm sure this will be an interesting one to finish on, but tell us. If you could have a perfect year for yourself, and your peers locally, then what would it include?

Little Fire - Wow!
Well, wow.
A perfect year.
Well a perfect year for me personally would include being invited on tour with someone I really admired, that would be the coolest thing for me.
I’ve done support slots here and there but to go on tour with someone would be very exciting.
To get my album done this year and be invited out on tour, that’s my hope, I’m sure it will happen at some point I’ve just got to get the album done, stay positive and keep going and more good will come.
A positive attitude is always more likely to bring about success than a negative one.
For my peers locally, well I just want to see them all doing well, in getting support slots with more established artists, maybe with their favourite bands and singers, that can do a lot of good for your confidence I think.
I would like to see all my Ayrshire cohorts be received well nationally and for their albums to receive positive press and airplay.
Basically I want everyone to do well and to enjoy themselves.
Plus I’d like us all to be invited by Richard Branson to go and play on one of those planes going into outer space.

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