MAPS: No Noodling Maps Layed Out


An interview with James Chapman, Maps.

Mai 25th, 2008 | 0 Kommentare ...  

MAPS: No Noodling Maps Layed Out

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The Maps recently released debut album, We Can Create, has generated rave revues. In the English media. Dorfdisco spoke to James Chapman, cartographer in chief, about his journey out of a Northampton bedroom and how the string section’s loss became electronic pop’s gain.

Dorfdisco :
So what’s the music scene in Northampton like these days?

J.Chapman :
It’s alright. People tend to sneer a bit because no-one really big has come from there but its getting better. There are some great bands taking risks at the moment.

Dorfdisco :
How did you first get into music?

J.Chapman :
I started playing the violin when I was about seven, I was kind of forced into it by my parents. Later I started playing the drums and when I was fifteen I started playing the guitar.

Dorfdisco :
You were in a band?

J.Chapman :
Yeah I played with the Ideals, that was my first experience of playing live, it helped overcome the hurdle of getting on stage. It was around the time of Britpop, I was a bit of a Britpop kid. I was really into Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and the Stone Roses.

Dorfdisco :
So tell me about the development of The Maps sound.

J.Chapman :
Well as well as the Britpop stuff my first love was really electronic music, the Warp stuff, Four Tet but also song based artists like Elliott Smith and Low. I guess it all helps in making Maps sound a certain way. The sound wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve been doing it for so long it just kind of came together

Dorfdisco :
I read somewhere that there might be a Low remix on the cards?

J.Chapman :
Yeah, I wrote an email to Alan Sparrhawk not really expecting to hear anything back but he seems keen. They are thinking of doing a web only remix album. I saw them at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and spoke to him after the gig and he’d read all the reviews and was really cool. Hopefully I will remix Murderer from Drums and Guns.

Dorfdisco :
Critical reaction to We Can Create has been pretty euphoric, 8/10 from the NME….

J.Chapman :
Yeah it’s been amazing. I used to read the NME when I was growing up and anything that got an 8 I would check out – so its really cool. The attention was pretty daunting at first. I couldn’t think on my feet especially in a live interviews and stuff but the more you do the more confident you get.

Dorfdisco :
You previously released something as Short Break Operator?

J.Chapman :
I released a CD on Radiate in 2003 as Short Break Operator – Glory Verse, the single from We Can Create is actually taken from it but we reworked it from scratch in the studio. The original was less electronic, more guitar and song based but the sound led into Maps and as I got more into the electronic side of things I changed the name because it was a bit crap.I wanted to keep the same theme of escapism and travelling away though.

Dorfdisco :
Googling it can cause some problems…….. Maps too.

J.Chapman :
Yeah there is an American society called MAPs the multi-disciplinary society for Pscychedelic research or something, they do research on MDMA and stuff. I sent of for a calendar – maybe I could play at the institute.

Dorfdisco :
Sounds like it could be a good sideline for you. So tell me about how the experience of being in the studio Iceland differed from working in your bedroom…..

J.Chapman :
The experience was quite different but also similar in that we were quite isolated in the studio in Rekjavik. It was out of the town in a quiet suburb and Valgeir Sigurdson (the producer) and the guys at the studio were really chilled out. It was similar to being in my bedroom but with more gear. A lot of the record was done in my bedroom but mixing with ken Thomas changed things quite a bit as well as programming at Mute. Each song is different really. Some are taken directly from 16 track demo. I think its worked out pretty well in the end. The 16 track remains an essential piece of kit for me – if you have a basic piece of equipment and you know it really well, if you know it inside out, then that’s the best way of working.

Dorfdisco :
How did the signing to Mute come about?

J.Chapman :
I Didn’t send many demos out because I couldn’t play live but Sketchbook, which is a small label run by a guy at Mute, was interested. I gave him some new tracks and he played it to Mute and they thought it was their kind of thing. Daniel Miller came to visit and checked out the equipment in my bedroom it was really cool and a bit surreal. Mute have been really supportive and haven’t rushed things giving me a couple of years to develop. They wanted the first three singles released in 10″ vinyl on my own label.

Dorfdisco :
You are still releasing in this format?

J.Chapman :
Yeah, I always thought 10″ was the coolest of the formats, 7″ is to small and 12″ to big. The album is also released in a 10″ gatefold but the next single’s on a 7″.

Dorfdisco :
You have a band together now. What has the response been to the live dates you have been playing?

J.Chapman :
Converting it into the live thing made I made a decision that it wouldn’t just be me and a laptop. I think its more interesting to have live musicians. We still use a laptop to play stuff that we cant recreate. We go through the material and take out what we can play live and leave in what we can’t. We have had varying responses.
We played a couple of club nights and they were awesome but each gig is different. I think it’s pretty danceable.I love being on the road and we have toured with The Long Cut and Blonde Redhead as well as playing a few festivals this summer. We have a lot of live percussion on stage which adds to the groove. We have an extra snare drum that we all take turns on.

Dorfdisco :
Cowbells? Guitar Solos?

J.Chapman :
I’ve nothing against the cowbell and yeah, we even have a few guitar solos … no noodling though.

Dorfdisco :
Will experience of playing with a band affect the writing and recording process for you in the future?

J.Chapman :
I think there will be more live instruments on the next album but writing and recording will remain a solo activity because it sometimes takes days of fiddling around on your own to get the sound that’s in your head and you can’t do that with other people. I prefer to do that on my own. I was a bit of a recording perfectionist but I’m getting a bit better and there are live inputs in rehearsal from the band.

Dorfdisco :
Any plans for dates in Berlin?

J.Chapman :
We are playing some British festivals this summer as well as the Accelerator festival in Stockholm. Hopefully we can do some dates here at the end of the summer before heading off to America in October.

www.myspace.com/mapsmusic | www.mapsmusic.com



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