William Fitzsimmons has recently released his new album ‘Gold in the Shadow’ its a beautifully gentle listen, I’d recommend to fans of Iron & Wine or Bon Iver. I got the chance to email him and asked him about his influences, working with Julia Stone, and his rather impressive beard.
1. Hi William, thanks for the interview, for those readers who don’t know your music, can you give us a quick description?
I think the closest descriptor would probably be folk music, but it’s got a lot of different things thrown in there here and there, electronic stuff, strings, etc. But to me it’s confessional, and that’s folk music at the core.
2. I know your busy touring at the moment, how is it going?
Touring has been great. I’m currently out on a couple month run with the band playing the new record. I do love the process of writing and recording very much, but once a record is complete and I’m very pleased with it, I feel compelled to see how it connects with other people in person. It always feels a little incomplete to me until I’ve shared the new songs live. Most of the rest of the year will be spent touring, both in the states and overseas, and I’m looking forward to it.
3. I love your new album ‘Gold in the Shadow’, how do you think it differs from your previous work?
Thanks very much. And I do definitely think it’s a different record, probably more so than any of the other ones are to each other. To me the primary difference is in the perspective and the field of focus. It’s not just about exposing or understanding a type of pain or struggle, it’s about the movement towards a cure or balance, and so forth. It’s not a happy record, honestly I think the idea of making a “happy” record for me is extremely foreign. But it’s an optimistic record, one that is forward looking.
4. You recorded the song ‘Let You Break’ with Julia Stone. How did that collaboration come about?
I’ve been a fan of Julia and her brother Angus for a while, I think they’re fantastic, and i think she has a beautiful and very unique voice. I had a very long, drawn out struggle with getting that song to the place I new it could get to, but there was something missing which I wasn’t able to rectify on my own. For a while I was sure I’d never be satisfied with it and was set on never releasing it. Julia and I are actually on the same record label, and when her name came up in a casual conversation I thought she might be perfect for the song. She was kind enough to do the duet and once I heard it, I knew it was done. She really is something very special.
5. What are some of the main influences for the record?
The record is about sickness and cure. It’s about what it would look like to assimilate both the conscious, light aspects of our selfhood with the shadow, subconscious parts we deny, run from, or bury. I wrote it as a sort of record keeping process while I was trying to get my life back together and fixing a lot of the very old psychological issues I’ve never really faced up to. There’s external perspective taking as well, however. I don’t want to be one of those writers who thinks their only framework should always be what’s inside one’s own head. That’s a faulty and dangerous road to be on. So I wrote several of the songs from an empathic external perspective as well, mostly from salient experiences I had with a few patients I worked with in the years I spent working as a therapist.
6. What are your favorite new artists at the moment?
They’re certainly far from new, but probably my favorite band at the moment is the National. I think their latest, “High Violet” is one of the best records anybody’s done in several years.
7. If you could play a gig in any location, real or imaginary, what would you choose?
Probably my backyard. It’s quiet, beautiful in the spring, and I wouldn’t have to travel that far to get there. I’d still charge $12 for beer, though 😉
8. What would your dream festival line-up be?
Nick Drake and James Taylor playing duo style for about 10 hours. Probably Robyn would play during the intermissions, just to keep the mood up.
9. You have quite an impressive beard, how long did it take you to grow that?
I trim it back all the time, otherwise you end up scaring the hell out of little kids and getting crumbs in it after every meal. The current iteration has probably been over a year, but it’s not something I really keep track of.
I’ll get tired of it sometimes and shave it almost totally off. But then I get lazy and just let it go again.
10. Thanks for the interview! What else can we expect from you in 2011?
Thank you. My main focus for the rest of this year is to get out and share the new songs with people as much as I can. I enjoy seeing how they effect people and it’s also a great thing to watch the songs actually grow and develop when you play them live. I have a brilliant band, so playing shows is a wonderful experience.
Below you can here Williams song ‘Let You Break’ which features Julia Stone.