Roddy Woomble takes a seat as we plug in the quick-fire question machine and press the “Go” button
Hello Roddy, where are you right now and what can you see?
“I am sitting at my kitchen table. It is old, wooden and very worn. To my right, out of the window, I can see the Atlantic Ocean. It’s raining.”
You live in the Hebrides. Is it the sort of place you didn’t notice lockdown?
“I didn’t leave the island for six months, and usually I leave it every few weeks, but it’s almost exactly the same here in or out of lockdown. There are no restaurants, theatres or nightclubs here, and the only pub was shut. Otherwise the cycles of life went on as they always do.”
You say the new album is “the most unusual record I have made”, how so?
“I’ve never recorded an album where I wasn’t in the room with the people I was making it with. The remoteness and isolation we all felt from each other was a big influence on the overall sound. Musically too, it’s almost all made up of keyboards, beats, bass and vocals.”
That’s something of a change in direction for you, right?
“For the last 25 years I’ve been associated with either folk-tinged solo albums, or making rock music with Idlewild, so ‘Lo! Soul’ is quite a different sound and feel. Last year’s ‘Everyday Sun’ EP was an indication I was making songs without guitars and speaking as much as I was singing. ‘Lo! Soul’ is a continuation of that, although it’s probably more melodic than the EP.”
You were sharing ideas with producer/bandmate Andrew Mitchell in Dundee, while collaborator Danny Grant was sending you tracks from Glasgow?
“We were just swapping ideas back and forward as lockdown begun and they seemed to be turning into songs. We realised we were making a record in a strange, isolated, collaborative way. Another friend Luciano Rossi was also involved on a few songs from his home studio in Hackney.”
We know Andrew’s work as Andrew Wasylyk, but Danny Grant is new to us…
“He’s a Glaswegian musician and director. He makes very cool music videos. We’ve worked together on and off for the last 10 years. Danny was involved in my last album ‘The Deluder’. A talented man, and excellent company.”
The ‘Slow Focus’ mixtapes on NTS Radio and ‘Night Tracks’ on Radio 3 acted as influences on the record didn’t they?
“I drift in and out of them in the best possible way. They provide a very subtle, cosmic soundtrack to the day or evening. They’re particularly good when cooking, cleaning, or procrastinating. Which are my three main occupations when not working on songs. “
You’ve mentioned before that you see electronic music “a bit like jazz in that I have no idea how you make it”. Are you any clearer now?
“No, and I’m glad about that. There is a freshness and a mystery to electronic music for me, and I hope I never learn how to make it properly.”
Do you have a synth of your own? Toying with the idea of getting one now?
“The only instrument I have in my house is a 3/4 size acoustic guitar, which I’ve had for about six years and I’m still not very good at playing it. I wouldn’t know where to start with synths.”
As the album has turned out rather well, is this the beginning of an all-new electronic Roddy?
“I guess I’ll see how much people enjoy ‘Lo! Soul’ and then decide…”