1. The First Song I Wrote
I think the first song I wrote was ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles… with other words. I’ve since let it go.
2. The Last Song I Released
The last song I released is called ‘Wasting Time’ from the Paper Doors album, recorded at the late Sing Sing (North) Studios with some of my favourite musicians and produced by Andy Baldwin. Katy Steele duets with me and brings her unmistakable sound. It starts as something quiet and suddenly turns into something anthemic, courtesy of a left hand mistake on the piano that turned out not to be a mistake after all. Lyrically, it begins with a tribute to Roy Orbison’s ‘The Only One’, which haunted me for a long time. The video is very odd; it has people holding framed pictures of other people over their faces.
3. Songwriting Secrets
There are no ‘secrets’ to songwriting, though it is a secretive business. It’s a funny combination of keeping everything to yourself and then telling anyone who’ll listen via considerable amplification. Songs can come from anywhere really. I write on piano mostly, and more recently on guitar (that I play badly enough for it to be a good stumbling block), but they can come from a sample, an idea, drunk, sober, whatever. It’s a lot of repetition, until something changes or sparks.
4. The Song That Makes Me Proud
Two songs come to mind, and they’re both album title tracks – ‘Steal The Light’ and ‘Paper Doors’. They’re very different, but I’m proud of them because I don’t know what they’re about, but they resonate all the same. That’s something I find worth pursuing these days.
5. The Song That Changed My Life
I feel about songs the same way I feel about personality – there isn’t just one, but a dizzying collective. I’ve been moved by so much music in my life, and I could make an equal case about ‘Rachid Ouiguini’ by Toumani and Sidiki Diabate, as I could for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen, or ‘The Future’ by Leonard Cohen. If you’re after a moment, I suppose the first time I was genuinely moved by lyrics, it would be the first time I heard ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd. I listened to that on repeat for months. ■
Felix Riebl appears, along with Regurgitator, Tripod, Kim Churchill, The Funk Hunters and more, at Dashville, Belford from Friday April 21 until Sunday April 23, at The Gum Ball 2017.