Last week we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to catch up with Nick Mulvey. The founding member of 2008 Mercury Prize nominated band Portico Quartet, Mulvey left in 2011 to pursue a solo career as a singer-songwriter. After the release of two EPs, he went on to release his studio album First Mind, which led to his second Mercury Prize nomination in 2014. Nick takes to the stage at Bestival in September, just a week after the release of his latest album Wake Up Now.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
My Dad used to play the guitar and sing to me, my brothers and sister each night as a bedtime story and my mum was also a professional classical singer. Making music has been normal to me since before I was making memories. I’ve been banging on the kitchen table my whole life.
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
‘Fever to the Form‘ – The song (and this particular recording) just all came together right. I’m proud of the message in the second verse.
‘The Trellis‘ – I’m obsessed with playing the guitar and I’ve always explored my own style. This song shows that.
What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
I’ve been enjoying the latest Bonobo release, particularly the ‘b-side’- “Bambro Koyo Ganda – Analog Version.” In this track, he samples north African ‘Gnawa’ musicians. I’ve loved Gnawa music since I was a teenager.. very hypnotic, deep grooves from Morocco, Tunisia etc… Communal singing. Devotional, ecstatic music.. so sublime. It mixes so good with Bonobo’s electronics as well. Gnawa musicians inspire me because with their music they are master ‘space holders’- they know how to create tension and hold it and this gives the music an architecture. It becomes a temporary temple in which we can all touch something higher. And that’s what I want from music.
How do you feel when you share your music for the first time? Do you prefer to share new music live where you can see the crowds’ reaction first hand or online?
I’ve started to notice patterns in myself around releasing music. Even if I’m really confident because I know I’ve made something I absolutely love, I still get anxious before I release new stuff. It causes me to self-examine deeply. Why do I do this? Who am I to preach or tell people how to live? Truth is, I get lost in my mind and for a minute I think that me personally, little old Nick, is the creator when actually I am just like a waiter bringing this music to the people at ‘the table’. That’s all. The chef in the kitchen is much greater than me and much more mysterious! Playing the first few live shows recently has been a relief and a joy because I can feel the music is being received so well. I never forget that I’m so privileged to do this!
Even if I’m really confident because I know I’ve made something I absolutely love, I still get anxious before I release new stuff.
As someone who owned a copy of ‘Knee Deep In The North Sea’ I am slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve only recently become aware that you were one of the original members of Portico Quartet. Was it important for you to incorporate those modern jazz influences within your solo work and how have you gone about doing that?
I’m proud of that album! It was a special time, we were free with our expression and we made the music we really loved. I haven’t particularly involved those modern jazz influences into my solo work. I left them there. But the attitude we had is something I always take away with me from that time. We made music to please ourselves and to give us joy. Even if that meant it was unconventional. We didn’t even question it.
I’m releasing my new album Wake Up Now on September 8th. I’m beyond excited.
Where can we find you at Bestival and what can those who are coming to see you expect from your live show?
At the moment I’m not sure of the exact timings but I’m happy to say my live show as grown a lot since the last album. This is because the musicians I made my record with are on stage with me. So we all made this music together. Plus they are all my friends! I’m happy, I’m enjoying myself. Expect to feel good. Expect life-affirming songs.
Will you get much of a chance to check out Bestival over the weekend? If so, who are you most looking forward to seeing?
If we have time I’d love to catch Tribe, Little Dragon, Loyle Carner and Johnny Flynn. Dope!
Nice choices. I’ve got three of them on my top five to watch list but I won’t say which, you’ll have to wait for my preview in September! So what does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
I’m releasing my new album Wake Up Now on September 8th. I’m beyond excited. I will be out on tour in the UK, Europe and America with this rad new band through the autumn slaying dem live shows, looking forward playing some more of the new songs to you all live for the first time.
Tickets to Bestival are available over on www.bestival.net/tickets and are priced at £196 for adults, with reductions for students, 13-17 year olds and under 12’s. Topping the bill this year is The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Pet Shop Boys and Jamie T plus Justice, Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow and Little Dragon.