Interview: James Yorkston

James Yorkston made the loooong journey down from his native Scotland’s Fife to embrace the Apple Cart festivalness of Hackney. With a new band, he battled through the rain to reach dreamy vocals in in the ears of an attentive crowd over the thumping background bass.

He took the time out to speak to Hackney Bubble about the Apple Cart Festival, his music and his days in a squat in Hackney.

How was Apple Cart for you?
It was great fun, thanks. I saw lots of old friends and generally had a nice relaxed day.

I love a harp! Who is and how are the new band you were with? 
Well, two of them, Emma & Sarah, have played with me since around 2007 and the harpist – Serafina Steer – is a new recruit. I loved what they added as a trio, the blend of their voices and their playing. Very happy to have them involved.

What would be your dream collaboration? 
Holger Czukay [Can] producing Oumou Sangare.

You looked decidedly unwoozy – lack of cider at Apple Cart? 
Ha! I was on stage at 3:30pm – Believe me, I’d fallen off the wagon a few hours after that!

Not sure if you saw Chili Gonzales, but he got the audience to sing gospel style prayers for sunshine and it actually worked! What did you pray for yesterday?
I prayed for my daughter.

What are your memories of Hackney from when you stayed here?
Crazy times. I was 15 or 16, just out of the village, staying in a squat. I remember it as a foreign country. I had no idea what I was doing down there and probably shouldn’t have been there. Mostly fond memories? Perhaps. Pleased I left though.

Can you tell us a little about your book? How did it come about?
I was asked to write a piece for a magazine called Loops and I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote a books worth. That’s the short and long of it. It’s basically a book of tour diaries, but written retrospectively, using notebooks and such to nudge my memory. It’s supposed to be funny. Nothing happens in it. It’s not an action packed read – if you want that, buy Andy McNabb.

[You can buy the book HERE]

I always imagine that you write sitting on a rock, staring out to the sea – what landscapes or vistas inspire your music?
Ha! No, I sit wherever I am. Sometimes it might be a rock, I guess, but more often a comfortable seat somewhere. I just grab ideas from whenever they appear, then flesh the songs out from there. I used to say a hangover would inspire me but I am so rarely hungover these days. It tends to come from anywhere – but mostly I find from having fun and looking back on said fun.

How is the new guitar coming along? We’ve been watching it get built on Facebook. Looks lovely!
Yes, I’ve been very lucky there. It looks like an amazing guitar, but as yet it’s way over yonder in Australia (!) The guy is making it for me for free as he’s a fan of my music. I’m flattered and don’t think I’ll quite believe it until I have it in my hands!

What’s coming up? More books, more music, recording or live shows?
All of those things. Hopefully a new record first. We’ll see. My fingers are crossed.

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