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Alice Wagstaffe

March 2010





Submitted by: Amanda Blazier


Suede legend Brett Anderson discusses why 'moving on' is an important lesson to learn in music with Artrocker's Alice Wagstaffe and tells us why he's over indie. Photos: Ollie Smith

“I simply can't understand people who want to make the same sound for twenty years." says a relaxed, satisfied Brett Anderson, with a puzzled expression, "It seems baffling to me. Absolutely baffling."

He is fresh from the completion of his third solo record, the icy, ambient 'Slow Attack’, which sees him make a clean break from his Suede days with an album that laughs in the face of indie rock.

"I didn't want to make an indie album again,” he says, "it would be pointless to finish with a band and carry on making music that sounds exactly the same as theirs. The whole point of being a solo artist is being able stretch yourself and do interesting things that you couldn't do before."

His latest project couldn't be much further from past records. Slow Attack is pensive and atmospheric, held together with a backbone of delicate piano melodies and soaring woodwind sounds. It's mature and confident, well constructed and sensitively produced.

"I wanted it to be very filmic, I love how the only purpose of a film soundtrack is to be evocative. I was very inspired by Gustavo Santaolalla's music to the film Babel, it has such freedom, and I wanted to take some of its elements and work them into 'Slow Attack'".

You can hear what he means, as ‘Slow Attack' meanders through eleven tracks of almost uniform, smooth sound - the album overall having a sense of pace, and aimlessness - it makes you wonder about the non-existent story that it soundtracks.

Co-written with Leo Abrahams, it was Leo's influence that provided a lot of the dreamy tones found on the record.

"One of the first things Leo said to me when we first got together was that he thought I should make an album that heavily featured woodwind,” he says. "It's quite an under used ensemble of instruments in pop and rock music, I think it makes quite an interesting texture on the record; I think it makes it sound like nothing else, I can't think of anyone who's making music that sounds like 'Slow Attack' right now. The last thing I've ever wanted to be is one of the herd, even in Suede I never wanted to be seen as part of a gang, I feel like quite a loner in lots of ways."

For all the album's successes, there will never be any escaping "the S word", a time that Brett seems keen to shake off and move on from.

"Up until now, I've felt that I always have to include Suede songs in my live shows, but I recently played a solo gig and, for the first time, didn't include Suede numbers, and it was my favourite show that I've ever played. I'm really proud of it, and don't intend to play Suede songs anymore. You can never say never but for now I feel like I need that space from them and I need to be able to evolve away from them".

It's obvious that Brett sees his latest project as a chance to start a new chapter in his career.

"I'm a solo artist now, not the bloke that used to be in that band,” he says, stony faced, "whether the general public will think of me like that is another matter entirely, but I certainly don't think of myself as someone who used to be in a band, I think of myself as someone who's making music in 2009 and really enjoying what they do.”

Brett comes across as content and serene. He has the air of a man who's in no hurry to impress, or sell himself or his music. He speaks very highly of his own work, with pride rather than arrogance.

"I'm very happy with 'Slow Attack',” he says, unembarrassed, "it's an interesting record for me because I seem to like it more every time I hear it, which is very strange, it's normally the other way round. you normally end up hating your record because you listen to it too much and start obsessing over it."

"'Slow Attack' has a lot of musical detail and doesn't seem to ever get boring. I find it constantly intriguing; it's a beautiful record."

He has the demeanour of a man whose past worrying about the opinions of the critics. He's been there, done that and grown out of the T-shirt.

"When I was in my 20s, a lot of the time I was tired and pissed off. Suede toured 'Coming Up' almost solidly for eighteen months and it's too long to be on the road, the novelty wears off within two days and you just end up turning into a prat. You can't communicate with anyone outside your little circle; it's a very repetitive, insular existence. Looking back on myself, I was a bit of a moody teenager, always like "Urgh do I have to do this gig”, but finally, I love everything about what I do now. I treasure it.”

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