Mr Fogg is gearing up for the release of his second album, ‘Eleven’ next week via his own record label. The Valgeir Sigurdsson (Bjork, Damon Albarn, Feist) produced effort was recorded over three trips to Iceland and is named after the year of its birth, 2011. We asked him to give us a track by track guide of the ten song effort, alongside an exclusive stream below.
1. Make A Fuss
The opening line sums up how I felt at the end of touring my last album. I chose this as the opening track because it’s me dusting myself off and starting over again. I had an idea to try and come up with a melody for the chorus that would make sense on its own without any harmony, so I created an hour-long loop of the drums first and then sang different melodies over the top in my car until I had something that worked on its own. Everything else took its lead from the vocal.
The drums are one of many examples on this record where I would hear a sound and rhythm in my head, or record a beat-box version, and then try and recreate that sound using real instruments. I spent several days getting the drums to sound how I wanted but when I finally succeeded the rest of the song came together in less than an hour.
3. A Little Letting Go
The songs on this album are directly influenced by the events - personal and otherwise - of last year. ‘A Little Letting Go’ is about how people behave in a crisis. Grabbing somebody by the lapels and trying to get them to snap out of their state of shock and do something about it. But it’s also sympathetic, even optimistic - that even the most stubborn of us can be persuaded with the right encouragement.
For this I recorded myself improvising based on a particular set of musical rules and then edited the result into a song afterwards. Lyrically, each verse is inspired by a different specific event. When I sing ‘this is in my blood / I didn’t have the choice’ I’m referring to my waking up to the fact that my grandfather and great-grandparents were musicians performing in the 19th and early 20th century and realising that I’m part of a musical tradition going back 150 years.
The lyrics are about responsibility and taking risks. Musically, it’s one of those songs that’s easier to create than to explain - the rhythms sound normal but don’t fit into any standard time signature so I played the drums and bass live in free time.
6. Stay Out Of The Sun
This song was written in a traffic jam. I was late for something important and the road was gridlocked, so to distract myself from what was going on I started singing into my phone. The bass sound was made by me singing into the webcam mic on my laptop.
7. Black Eyes
This was the last song I recorded for the album. I ended up doing the vocals at two in the morning because we were running out of time, reading the rhythm from a printed score. The engineer and I had been working since10am and were both exhausted, so when we abandoned work in the early hours we had lost any perspective of whether it was any good or not. Only in the morning did we realise that the late night atmosphere suited the rest of the track perfectly.
8. Plant No Seeds
This is the first song I wrote for the album. I had just bought an old electric reed organ from the 1960s and when I plugged it in for the first time I came out with the opening two lines of this song without thinking about it. The drums are based on a beat-box rhythm I recorded on a tube journey. Lyrically it’s about the overwhelmingly negative messages that have dominated UK politics in the last fee years.
‘Levers’ is a rare song for me in that it started with the lyrics. I heard the phrase ‘house fire’ somewhere late one night and immediately started writing lyrics almost in a stream of consciousness. The next day I recorded what I had so far a cappella and then built the rest of the track around that.
10. Oh Pearl
I borrowed the title from a Middle English poem that I heard on a late-night radio documentary. As soon as I heard the opening line something clicked and the song is pretty much an edited and polished version of my first attempt at improvising a song around the idea. It seemed a natural fit for the last track on the album - I can’t imagine it working anywhere else.
Mr Fogg’s new album ‘Eleven’ will be released on 4th June via Kicking In Recordings.