Track Premiere: Alexander Wolfe - 'Catherine'
Alexander Wolfe’s album ‘Little Death’ is out later this month on the 29th March, and we are delighted to give you an exclusive listen to his latest offering from the release with his new single ‘Catherine’.
He took a moment to talk to us about the track and the album.
Where was the track ‘Catherine’ recorded? Any behind the scenes stories?
I’ve got this broken classical guitar, I've had it forever, it’s got a big hole in the body where someone stepped on it years ago. It just hangs on the wall in my bedroom. That’s the guitar I wrote Catherine on and It had this character that I couldn’t better, so I ended up using it on the final recording of the song.
I wanted to capture the song as a live performance. It always feels better to me when the bones of a song goes down live. You can access something that you can’t get if you separate the process too much. Also, then you can’t drive yourself mad editing it and trying to improve it. It just is what it is.
I seem to remember I’d drunk quite a bit of red wine and there were a few people in the control room hanging out and I remember getting really offended by someone saying it sounded like Sting. I hate Sting.
The next day I took the song to my little studio in Hackney and messed about on the piano for hours, improvising around the vocal, I felt like it needed counter melodies and textures but nothing too traditional or anything that would detract from the words. Lastly we put the string quartet on the song. I remember having quite an emotional reaction to hearing the strings go down, it just brought everything together and wrapped it in a bow.
What is the track ‘Catherine’ about?
I wrote Catherine a few days after breaking up with my ex. I wanted to tell the story of our relationship from meeting in a bar in Edinburgh to sleeping together, falling in love, growing apart, our last kiss and the intrinsic link between pain and love. I don’t write a lot of love songs, I usually feel a bit patronised by them, a lot of the time they feel edited and sanitised and I didn’t want this to feel like that. Love and pain are so intrinsically linked aren’t they, I wanted to capture that gamble.
For a while I was a bit uncomfortable with how raw it was, I thought about softening it and changing names, taking the sex out, but in the end I decided to keep it as it was, back then in the eye of the storm when the feelings were fresh.
Listening back to it now it feels pretty brutal and exposed, you can hear the defeat in my voice I think, there’s not a much use of poetic lisence in there to be honest, it’s all pretty much as it happened. Ive always loved those bruised romantic records... Jaques Brel, Leonard Cohen etc, I suppose this is my version of that. It’s quite a heavy listen and it’s 6 minutes long. The original had eight verses and was thirteen minutes long so you can count yourself lucky.
Your album, ‘Little Death’ is out later this month, what can we expect from it? What inspirations helped form the album?
I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to make another record. I needed to find a little space where there was nothing else, no distractions. (He took up residence in a Hackney studio and found that he simply couldn’t avoid songwriting).
Everything’s just a snapshot of who I am at the moment, I’m not the same person as I was when I wrote the last record. I’m dealing with different stuff. Looking at the world in a different way. This record is definitely from the ashes of that. It feels like a re-birth, in a way. I’m leaving mistakes in, I’m making a record where the energy is what counts. Not the technicalities.
This feels like making my first record, It feels like I’m beginning again. The acoustic guitars were live takes in my bedroom, and we recorded drums set up in stairwells. It’s raw.
You can get locked in a tunnel vision situation as a songwriter. If you’re not letting other influences in then it’s easy to get lost. I definitely feel that I’ve let go of some sort of self-imposed rules that I used to have.
I’m appalled by what’s going on in the world right now. You can’t just write a record in a vacuum. All good art is a reflection of the time it’s made in.
Lyrically, it’s about momentum, going forwards, and leaving the past behind you. And that made a lot of sense. It’s kind of a theme that runs throughout the record. Let the past be the past. And go forwards.