The structures of these songs have very old fashioned grace. Which classic songwriters do you admire, and have you deliberately studied the way they construct a song?
I learnt how to write songs accidentally – by studying jazz guitar. Jazz standards are vehicles for improvisation in bebop. In order to navigate the harmony freely, you must become very familiar with the mechanics of that style of music. When i began writing years later, it was this style of harmony that naturally came out of me. As with all artists I am a product of my environment.
Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Those are the people I idolised as a songwriter. It was only later on I got into Carole King, Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan.
In Nothing, you sing about watching The Notebook: “I’ll say it’s stupid, then you catch me crying.” For anyone who has weirdly never seen The Notebook (like me), in your opinion why is it considered the total epitome of romantic drama for people who normally never even like the genre?
Dude, just watch it. Bring a box a tissues. The end gets me everything time.
Do the little descending chords at the end of this song – difficult to describe but instantly recognisable as classic as soon as your hear them – have a name, in jazz-language?
I guess that is a little jazz/blues cliche, isn’t it. Jazz has tons of little musical idioms like that. On that song, I just played it at the end of one of the guitar takes; it was one of those things that I got so used to hearing whilst we were working on the tune that it had to stay in. It is definitely the end, isn’t it – a musical full stop.
In the video for The Most Beautiful Thing, you’ve included the guitar chords as well as the lyrics in karaoke fashion. Do you get many requests for chords from fans, or does it come from more from your own angle of encouragement?
I do get a lot of chord requests. I’m aware that my music has a lot of chords in [each song], and extensions flying around all over the place (is it a C713 or C7b13?). [Extension choices] bring different emotions and feelings to a particular lyric, so I think it’s important to have them out there accurately.
At the end of the clip we finally hoon through the Earth’s clouds and in to you in a field, but it’s hard to tell where in the world we are – where is that little spot of sunny grass (or did you purposely leave it up to our imaginations)?
Haha, it’s just a random field near my parents’ house. It’s not meant to be anywhere specifically – “I don’t know where you are, but I’ll save you a seat.”
To Let A Good Thing Die by Bruno Major is out now via Inertia Recordings.
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