Exclusive Interview: Discover

Exclusive Interview: Interlopers

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Listen to Tara’s exclusive interview above with Scottish singer, songwriter & artist Steven Lindsay. Interlopers is his new project and we spoke about creating the new album 14 years after his last one with former band The Big Dish plus brining his art into music, plans for touring and more.

interlopers, the new project from Steven Lindsay of influential Scottish band The Big Dish, released their self-titled album late last month. In both music and the art world, where he’s been a full-time painter since 2011, Lindsay has always felt something of an outsider. Hence the title, interlopers. Although written and co- produced by Lindsay, rather than go under his own name he decided the project and live band he has formed should have a group name. “I never saw myself falling into the singer- songwriter category anyway,” he explains.

The Big Dish didn’t achieve the commercial success they deserved, nor did his previous two solo albums, while the art world initially viewed him as a dilettante singer trying to intrude on their turf. “In my music career, I’ve never known where I fitted in,” confesses Steven. “When I began dipping my toes in the art world, I felt the same way.”

Yet, for believers and newcomers alike, Steven’s return to music after 15 years is cause for celebration. interlopers is a sixth magnificent album in a 36-year odyssey. And, at long last, the time feels right for Steven Lindsay.

His sense of detachment is ironic for a singer whose music has offered a feeling of solace and belonging ever since The Big Dish’s three albums – Swimmer, Creeping Up On Jesus and Satellites from 1986-91 – established Steven as a songwriter of rare poise and grace. The Big Dish were hailed by those who heard them as coming from the same place as contemporaries Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti for creating accessible songs with humanity and insight at their core. Steven’s solo albums Exit Music (2005) and Kite (2007) developed his vision and were similarly embraced by a cult audience.

In truth, there’s no one big moment of upheaval to explain the 15-year wait for new Steven Lindsay music. After his second solo album for the Echo label Steven became a full-time artist and consequently was shortlisted for Scotland’s prestigious Aspect Art prize. “I thought I should put music to one side for a while,” admits Steven. “I thought I’d hopefully get back to it soon. I certainly didn’t think it’d be 15 years, and it doesn’t seem that long. The gap doesn’t feel a big deal, to be honest. I’ve still been writing songs.”

With lockdown putting art exhibitions on hold, Steven had time to assess approximately 50 songs he’d written since Kite – ‘The songs that stood out presented themselves quite quickly.”

As with Steven’s previous music, there’s a sense of space and stillness to the songs on interlopers, a feeling that every note matters. It’s one of the key similarities between his music and paintings. “As with my music, it’s been commented that my art has a lot of space to it,” notes Steven. “My work has what’s called ‘negative space’, which allows you to focus more on the subject matter.”

There’s an obvious metaphor there for Steven’s career. Even promoting his previous solo albums, Steven was heralded as “The greatest singer you’ve never heard of,” a tag which still feels apposite now.

Reminded of the accolade, Steven considers: “It’d be nice to get recognition. I’ve had a certain amount of recognition before, but I was never that well-known. All you can do is try to be authentic. It’ll be nice to see the reaction to interlopers and I hope that, if you put a decent record out, it’ll be seen as that.”

interlopers ends on a cover version with a difference. “twins of gemini” is a typically dramatic Associates song, but one which Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine didn’t finish. Steven was given the honour of bringing it to completion for interlopers by Alan, the pair friends since they had a brief period as a songwriting partnership for other artists.

“As soon as I heard the original demo, I thought ‘I could do something with this,’” Steven recalls. “I changed it from a guitar track to one on the piano. It was a gamble to try it, but it came together quite quickly and it’s something nice to remember Billy by.”

Now that he’s remembered how much he loves finding the right songs, he vows it won’t be another 15 years before his next album. “I’ve started writing for the next record already,” he insists. “Maybe it will end up taking years again. Who knows?”
interlopers recently supported Deacon Blue on two dates of their Arena tour, stand by for news of upcoming headline shows.

Listen to more emerging artists just like this on “Discover”, playing Sundays at 10am PT/1pm ET on Channel R – Today’s Hits & Your All-Time Favorites.

Written by: Channel R

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