Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Feeling - Dan Gillespie Sells

The Feeling - Dan Gillespie Sells
It’s been just over two years since The Feeling shot to the top of the album charts with their last album, 'Join With Us'.

Fans may have “thought it was over but it’s not” and will be pleased to hear the Ivor Novello award-winning pop quintet are back with their 3rd offering, 'Together We Were Made'.

The 13-track album was recorded at lead singer Dan Gillespie Sells’ home - the newly converted and former East End pub, The Royal Oak - and will be released on Monday June 20th. A double deluxe version of the album will also be available and features late 80’s rapper Betty Boo, Róisín Murphy and Cathy Dennis.

To date the group named after a bar - Le Feeling - in Paris, have sold more than two million records in the UK and are one of the most frequently played bands on British radio.

Lead singer Dan Gillespie Sells took time to speak to Music News’ Victoria Dillingham ahead of the album launch next month.

Music News: You’re currently gearing up for the release of your 3rd album 'Together We Were Made'. What can fans expect from your new material and how does it differ, if at all from your last two albums?

Dan: I think it’s just the next stage for us. We wanted to push ourselves to a new level and took a lot of time to make it. Getting the production right is quite a tricky thing. Trying to make it the huge production that you want to can often mean the songs suffer, so you’ve got to find a balance. It’s still us doing what we do best, that is making beautiful pop songs. It’s a lot more grown up for us and is an expression of where we are now as a band and for me where I am as a musician. It’s as honest as we have always been and is full of love and joy which we are all feeling right now.

Music News: You’ve teamed up with fellow Sussex born musicians, the Freemasons for a number of tracks on the new album. How did this partnership come about and what made you decide to work with them?

Dan: We actually worked on a song with them a while back. It was a dance type track of ours. We wanted it to sound like Prince, but it sounded like Fleetwood Mac (laughs). I was a massive fan of their work and Richard Jones (bass player) knew of them through Sophie (Ellis-Bextor) his wife and they ended up working with us on 5 more songs on the new album.
We produce and engineer all of our stuff and know how to make it sound like The Feeling. We wanted to push the dance and synth elements of these tracks without making it sound superimposed if that makes sense? We wanted dance to be at the heart of the track and they did a fantastic job, we’re thrilled with outcome.

Music News: As a group you recorded the new album at your home Dan, a converted pub in the East End which is also a fully-functional studio. Tell us how that worked out?

Dan: Yes at the start of the year I bought an old pub in the East End of London called The Royal Oak, which I have converted into my home and it’s now known as The Dog House. We previously used Damon Albarn’s place, but I’ve now had a studio built in to the lower level of the pub and we record there.
For us it’s nice, having spent years in darkened studios to finally have a space where we can practice and record with light and the dog just walking around, it’s great!

Music News: Rumour has it that in addition to the standard 13 track version of the new album, you’ll also be releasing a double album with an additional disc featuring the vocals of Betty Boo. Tell us more?

Dan: We knew Alison as a songwriter and we had this song called 'Virtually Art' which we just knew her voice would be great on. We asked her if she’d mind doing a rap as Betty Boo and she said "yes" and did an absolutely marvellous job. We also worked with Cathy Dennis and Róisín Murphy on the double album which was great!

Music News: You’ve been together and managed to maintain your original line-up for nearly six years now - post record deal - which in the disposable world of pop is a considerable length of time. What’s your secret to staying and working together as a band?

Dan: We’ve actually been together a total of 16 years, as we were playing together for 10 years prior to securing our first recording contract and we’ve been through thick and thin together in that time. We have a language and a history and I think that’s the difference. A record deal can be the breaking of a band that hasn’t been together and played together for long enough before it arrives. When you’ve weathered the bad times prior to it, it makes you stronger as a group.

Music News: As a band you were awarded The Ivor Novello Award for Songwriters of the Year in 2007. How do you continue to pen some of the catchiest and emotive pop lyrics and melodies?

Dan: That’s a really hard question. I try not to think about it too much. I’ll hear a melody in my head and then I’ll forget about it. If it then comes back to me and I hear it again and again, it’s good. If I don’t and I’ve forgotten it then it’s not strong enough.
Lyrically I just try and write the things I really want to say. I don’t write stuff that I think people want to hear, I don’t write stuff I think people like, I just write the stuff that I want to hear and want to say. I forget there’s an audience. I think it’s really important that I do it this way, as I want to be very honest with my lyrics and the minute you start to think about there being an audience and someone to please, you can become self-conscious about what you sing and I never want to be that way. I always want to be completely truthful and open, which I am.

Music News: Who are your biggest influences musically?

Dan: Again it’s a tough one as I have such an eclectic taste it really is a mix. I like listening to music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s through to Elton John, The Rolling Stones to Motown, the Eurythmics, Talking Heads and the 80’s gay pop scene. I equally like Bob Marley, Abba, The Carpenters and Nirvana, I’m just so diverse in what I like and will listen to.
For me what really matters in a song is that there is a truth and a message and that can come from Neil Young say or the Bee Gees, it’s about engaging with the listener and being honest about what you are singing.

Music News: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the music industry over the last six years and how has it impacted, if at all on the music you make?

Dan: I’m quite unaffected by it all to be honest. I’m aware there has been considerable changes and there always will be in music, but I’m very much in my own little world and we just do what we love to do.

Music News: You’ve clocked an impressive number of live performances as a band, including Glastonbury, Coachella Festival, Top of the Pops and the Diana memorial concert at Wembley Stadium. How important is it for you as a band to be seen as live performers as it is polished recording artists?

Dan: It’s really important. We toured unofficially with this album before we recorded it to road-test the songs. It’s really important for us to do this as when you’re in a studio recording you can become somewhat isolated and you need to make a decision at the end of it as to what songs make the album. It’s the one time you really want feedback and road-testing the songs on a mini tour is the most immediate feedback you’ll ever get as an artist, so it’s what we did. We love performing live.

Music News: If you could go back in time and be a part of any music scene when would it be and why?

Dan: That’s an interesting question. There are so many periods in pop music history I can think of, but I’ve always had a child-like dream if you like of sitting in an old smoke filled, sweaty jazz basement listening to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Yes, I think it’d have to be then for me.

Music News: As a band who persisted for 10 years before getting record deal, what would your advice be to struggling musicians today awaiting their lucky break?

Dan: Just keep at it for as long as you physically can. We were on the verge of running out of money just before we were signed. Our money had dried up and we had no overdraft left. We stuck at it and gave it one final push. It’s not just about your efforts though, it’s also about timing. When we finally emerged, the radios were all playing the same Indie bands and we were offering something different, we were pop and upbeat. We went from being the band that had approached every record label in the land and got a ‘no’ to being the most played band on British radio. Don’t give up!


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