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Be specific: Soul singer Jamie Lidell talks about working with Beck

jamie lidellJamie Lidell had plenty of help in making "Compass." (Courtesy of Windish Agency)

By Allison Stewart

British soul singer/one-man band Jamie Lidell's May release "Compass" is one of the year's most underrated, a falsetto-happy, deconstructed soul disc co-produced by Beck. Lidell, who plays the 9:30 Club on Monday, talked to Click Track about working with Beck and Lidell's longtime compatriot Feist.

What was the process of putting your album together like?

It came together pretty quickly. The whole album started with Beck making a call to me, asking if I wanted to make an album. To be honest with you, at that point it was the furthest thing from my mind. I'd just moved to New York and just wanted to chill out. But to have Beck make the first move - I couldn't help but be motivated by that. I was like, "All right, I have to do it, then." Working with Beck encouraged me to work really quickly. Whatever genre it would be, I just followed it down the path.

Musicians would seem to make either the best producers or the worst. They know [how to make music], but might not always know how to articulate [what they want].

Beck is a very particular producer, and it was clear to me that he was more interested in working as a songwriter with me. It's a strange combination when you're a producer and you're kind of like a fan [but] you're kind of like a musician, and you don't want to upset the vision of the artist. It's not an enviable task - I've never done it meself. Beck really put me in touch with a lot of musicians, and in a way it sets up a chemical reaction.

(On working with Feist and the perils of losing yourself, after the jump.)

There's a track with Feist as well.

I'd worked with Feist a fair bit already. I was present for the recording of [her disc "The Reminder"] and I'm on a lot of those songs as a backing vocalist. I'm credited as an "energy arranger" on that record, which is a bit vague, but kind of apt. So we'd done a fair bit of work together, and she was in L.A. doing her own thing at the time and she came down and it was brilliant to have her there.

She's one of those naturally gifted musicians who'll seem like she's [just hanging out], but the moment the "record" button is hit she'll just nail a perfectly crystalline, heartbreaking vocal every time, and it's like, "Where did that come from?" It's one of those things that doesn't seem real, that voice coming out of that body.

Are you already thinking about how your next album might sound?

I've started to have a desire to maybe make a dance record. I've been doing a lot of dancing lately. I've bought a lot of good shoes. Maybe I'll kick it up and make it a bit more electronic, a bit more modern.

Do you mean pushing what you did a bit farther, or [something else]?

What I do find interesting is, [what would happen if I tried] to completely outrun myself, if I say, "What's the furthest from what I am, and what I've been? Let me try and lose myself so people don't even know it's me." But as long as you're using your voice, it's hard to ever lose yourself.

Maybe the key is to not think about it too much.

There you go. I'm quite good at that.

By Allison Stewart  |  September 15, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Jamie Lidell  
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