Neu Nick Mulvey: “You’ve Got To Trust Yourself”

Acclaimed songwriter gives a piece of his ‘First Mind’, around the release of a debut album.

How are you feeling about finally putting out the debut album?
It’s crunch time and I’m loving it. We’ve all worked hard and I feel as though I’ve done my best. It’s exciting to see all the hard work pay off.

Where did the title ‘First Mind’ come from?
It comes from a lyric I had; “Why would I ever second guess when we both know first mind is best?” It’s about reflecting about how most problems come from a lack of trust and experience. It’s about second guessing-a good neat way of saying all of that. Trusting your instinct and going with it.

Could this be a reference to branching out on your own after being in Portico Quartet for so long?
Yeah, man. It is fundamental, it relates to everything. I suppose you could see it as playing a big part in making decisions which change your life. You’ve got to trust yourself, taking that step into the unknown.

You’ve been known to play the Hang Drum-can you tell us a bit more about it?
The Hang drum is a very special modern invention. It was first invented in Switzerland in 2001. Primarily, it is an acoustic instrument, taking its cue from the steel pan. I found it relatively early in 2004 and we formed the band around it (Portico Quartet). It’s got a unique sound, very atmospheric, almost ethereal sound. [For me] it was always very self-evident.

Last year, you were invited to tour by Laura Marling. How did that come about?
We had met a few times over the years. It all came about when she heard one of my songs on the radio when she was doing a run of special gigs in London in a hotel…

The Secret Cinema shows?
Yeah. She heard my song in the morning, and I got a call asking me to come down and perform the same evening. She watched my set, and the next morning I was asked to go out on tour.

Was it a worthwhile experience?
Totally, man. I caught her set when I could. She is a wonder. Fiercely true in what she does which is great. I was really flattered to be asked on tour with her.

Can we expect a UK Tour in the autumn to support ‘First Mind’?
It’s all about festivals this summer; picking the nice big fruit to make the pie. I’ll be touring properly later on in the year.

How did you end up using D.H Lawrence’s ‘The Piano’ in ‘Cucurucu?’
I got the poem from a friend as a teenager. She’d sent a letter with nothing in the envelope, just this poem written on the back. From then on, I’d put it on a notice board every time I moved house. I knew from quite early on that I wanted to set it to music, and I’m happy with the results. I had to wait for a guitar plan to set it to but instinct told me to keep at it.

You studied Ethnomusicology at University. It’s a bit different from the Classical side of studying…
Yeah, totally. I was a hungry young musician and I hadn’t quite decided that I would make a career out of playing music, even though subconsciously I always knew I would. I didn’t want to study music in a classical sense and when I found out about this course and looking at music in its historical context, I found it to be the perfect starting point. It really broadened my horizons. It all taught me that every musical item is valid and interesting, and it makes you look at music as if you were an alien. Every note is loaded.

It must have influenced your songwriting…
It has, it’s all gone in somewhere! I loved learning about different cultures. If it has fed into the album then I hope people connect with it. I’m excited to get it out and for the people to enjoy it. After that, who knows?

Nick Mulvey’s ‘First Mind’ is out now on Fiction.

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