Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Why lo-fi trailblazer is back in demand in the States
WHEN I was making music, lo-fi was just a cheap way of recording my songs, now it’s a whole genre of music,” Wivenhoe’s Martin Newell laughs.
The former frontman of Cleaners in Venus is being called the forerunner of lo-fi – well in America at least.
In recent months, Newell has been in demand from a number of US music magazines, after American indie pop band MGMT covered Only a Shadow, one of Cleaners From Venus’ songs.
The band was started by Martin and friend Lol Elliott at the start of the Eighties when ‘Thatcher had just got in’.
At the time Martin had a deal with EMI, but after problems with the record company, he started recording his own stuff in what he describes as a very simplistic way.
“Lol and I were kitchen porters at a bistro, on North Hill,” he says. “In fact that was my job on and off for about 13 years. We ended up recording some songs and put them out there and the NME and Melody Maker got wind of them and wrote some nice reviews.
“People used to say to me, why are you writing all these beautiful songs and then recording them in such a slap dash way, but that’s just what we did.”
Now it appears that DIY approach to recording music has struck a chord with musicians across the Atlantic.
“It’s all gone a bit mad over there,” he admits. “Apparently a band called MGMT have cited me as an influence. I asked a young person I know whether that was a good thing and she replied ‘are you kidding me?’.
“They really like the early stuff we did in absolute poverty, which back then you would have called amateur recordings, but now it’s called lo-fi.”
Right from his early days, Martin has never been overly concerned with courting the music industry. Flattered is as far as it goes when it comes to this new attention to his work, although the money is a bonus.
“It’s surprising what comes around,” he adds. “This American record company asked whether they could re-release some of the old stuff and it’s doing well. It’s a bit like fishing, you put in a number of small lines and sometimes you get a bite and sometimes you don’t. It’s turning out to be a nice little pension for me.”
These days Martin is best known in this country as one of the country’s most respected poets.
Next month he will be taking people on a fascinating walking tour through the streets of Wivenhoe, using his poems, stories, and humour to delve into the mysteries of his home town Tours will leave the Wivenhoe Bookshop at 10.30am, on July 7 and 8. To book in advance call 01206 824050.