Interview The Child Of Lov: ‘I Have A Vague Idea What I’m Supposed To Do…’

DIY meets the new soul kid on the block; The Child Of Lov.

“I was too young to listen to music when Blur was around, and I don’t listen to them nowadays either. I like Gorillaz though…”

Cole Williams, the man behind The Child Of Lov, is doing his best to explain to us how it is that, despite no one knowing who he actually was, a certain Mr Damon Albarn has ended up with a couple of credits on his debut album.

It turns out that his manager – to whom he was introduced by a mutual buddy – put him in touch with one Brian Burton; better known to the rest of the world as Danger Mouse. And it was he who hooked Cole up with the King of Britpop. “It’s not like it was through a friend of the family or anything,” he chuckles, “not like I was friends with ‘The Albarns’.

“I look at him in a very different way to most English people, I think,” Williams considers. “To me, he’s a guy that makes music, instead of being the rock star that he is around here. Even then most people [from the Netherlands] only know ‘Song 2’. He’s quite soulful, in his own way. It’s been good.”

Another artist might have seen the connection to Danger Mouse and stopped right there, but it seems like Williams wasn’t ever tempted to work with Burton himself. “I don’t really like Danger Mouse,” Cole admits. “I like Gnarls Barkley, but mainly Cee Lo. Danger Mouse as a producer is very neat, if you know what I mean. It’s very obsessive, it doesn’t work that well in music.”

Listening to the eponymous debut The Child Of Lov album, you can hear some traces of a Cee Lo Green influence. Cole describes what he’s creating as soul music, although the sound is far more contemporary than that might suggest. There’s a definite sense that if, in a fantasy recording studio kind of way, Gorillaz, Prince and James Brown were able to get together in 2013 and make an album, this would probably be it.

Cole himself, lights up at the comparison to Prince. The purple guitar god is a massive hero of his, and every time it’s suggested that he sounds something like him, he takes it as a huge compliment. “He’s a big influence.” Williams grins, “The first time I heard that, I was happy.”

He’s reticent to consider who else might have influenced him musically though, confessing that he’s not a big consumer of other people’s work. “I don’t listen to a lot of music,” he points out, “It’s basically just a few albums I listen to obsessively. I listen to ‘Voodoo’ [by D’Angelo] every few days. A lot of Sly And The Family Stone. ‘The Black Album’ by Prince… and that’s about it.”

Which probably goes some way to explain how, despite holing up in his room creating his debut, his own family had no idea that he was actually interested in music, much less pursuing any kind of career. “I used to make music when my mum and my brother were away from the house. It was too much of a self conscious thing,” he tells us. “I mean, they would’ve liked it, but I’m not that kind of person.” Was it shyness, that caused the secrecy? “No… I actually liked hearing myself, but other people hearing it would’ve been weird, I thought.”

When the time came to break the news to his family that he was (gulp) a musician, they took it pretty well. “My mother was very proud I think. I’m not really sure how she really feels,” Cole says, admitting that he only got around to telling them after he’d secured a record deal. “My brother understands it more. But when you’re not that person in someone’s eyes, it’s very hard for those people to adapt to that.”

Still, at least his family can comfort themselves with the knowledge that they weren’t the last people to know. In a tactic that’s been employed by a number of new artists recently, Williams initially kept his identity a secret; although he’s insistent that the move wasn’t designed in any way to drum up publicity.

“I just wanted to focus on the music basically. I didn’t really think about it, I just really hate image first. It is important I think, in the end… Like Hendrix, he had the best image ever, the best face ever, but you never get the feeling that the music isn’t coming first. Because it’s so good, it still has so much focus on that.” But Hendrix, we remind him, sadly didn’t live long enough to become a creaking rock dinosaur, he didn’t get the chance to fuck it up by trying to do it as an old man. “Right, right,” he laughs, “Now he’d be a Johnny Marr kind of thing. Like, stop already. Take off that jacket as well. I mean, come on. Just leave, please.”

He pauses momentarily to consider why it was that he even decided to reveal himself, before explaining that after a while, hiding out became “an image as well. That’s image first in a different way. You can’t really avoid it. It’s just day to day, I have a vague idea what I’m supposed to do, but I trust my own instinct to determine what to do at any given moment. If it works, it works.”

As he stretches out on a sofa in an east London bar, nursing a fizzy water and looking earnestly at us across the table, you can’t escape the feeling that Williams would rather just be concentrating on making music, than all this. He is, he tells us, already halfway into his follow up album. And the debut itself is apparently only half the story. Well, actually, make that a third. “Actually there’s going to be a triple album,” he confides, “Originally all the songs were for a triple album, ‘Light, Oxygen, Voltage’. What’s on this album is a selection of those songs. It’s going to be a big special edition, I’m really happy with it.”

Which isn’t to suggest he’s not happy with his debut. “It sounds quite coherent to me; it wasn’t intended that way, but I’m very happy with the coherence. From the beginning, making music, I always try to recreate the anger, the full love, with the crappy means that I had. I used to play keys on my computer keyboard. So that was the way that I used to do things, I didn’t have many control over things…

“The big thing is that it comes from this very solitary place. I was alone in my room making these songs, and that shines through in the music as well. Not in a negative kind of way, just soulful image. But apart from that,” he grins, “it’s just music.”

The Child Of Lov’s self-titled debut album will be released on 6th May via Double Six.

Taken from the May 2013 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

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