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Beth Orton On Her New Album
The Quietus , May 20th, 2016 13:58

Beth Orton goes in-depth on her new album ahead of its release next weekend

With the release of her new album, Kidsticks, just a week away, you can now listen to the album in full, via the player, above.

The album comes following Orton's decision a few years ago to relocate to California and experiment again with electronic music, using loops and other sounds to bring together the album, a process that she says saw her return to her early recording process. The album is her first since 2012's Sugaring Season and is co-produced by Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung.

With the album now streaming, Beth fills us in below on just how the album came in together taking in her relocation from London to California, her work with Hung and the processes behind writing and recording the album.

"Los Angeles is such a massive part of why Kidsticks sounds like it does. I’m not sure I could have made a record like it in London. I grew up in London; I played my first gigs in pubs there. There’s so much history in the city, it’s like there’s a constant access to my own past. Changing course is a hard thing to do as an artist; there’s the fear that doing it is like turning up at school one day with a stripy jumper on, suddenly standing out as different.

“'Why you wearing a stripy jumper?'

"'Shut up, I’ve been wearing these at home for a really long time.'

"In California, under that huge open sky, anything seems possible. There’s a real open-mindedness about the place itself; no one asks why you’re wearing a stripy jumper. No one cares. That freedom ended up being a huge help in just getting on and creating something entirely new.

"Before I started the record, I knew I wanted to do something else. I’d hit my limit on the guitar. I’d had lessons with Bert Jansch - playing with one of the greatest guitarists on the planet made me realise I’d never be a virtuoso guitar player. I write best very simply. I wasn’t always a guitarist – I became one when I started writing songs. When I started working with Andy (Hung, Fuck Buttons) in a friend’s garage in L.A., it was my natural instinct to take my guitar along. It’s always been my fall back position. Once I started playing around on the keyboard, the guitar didn’t get a look in. That idea of writing songs simply – two chords and an acoustic – wasn’t really any different to working with four bar loops on the keyboard. And fuck me, it was actually fun.

"After Andy headed back home, I carried on recording in the living room of my house - a Spanish adobe in the Laurel Canyon. There were kids everywhere all the time. Sometimes we were all in the same room, me plugged in to the computer building on what we’d made in the garage, my kids and mate’s kids going crazy all around. It was a bit like how people picture how those freewheelin’ Laurel Canyon musicians lived in the early ’70s, only with Ableton and a Casio midi keyboard.

"Gradually, the loops began to form into songs. I used to drive round the city singing melodies into my mobile, layering things one journey at a time. All the way through, it was an intimate process – homespun in part because it was mainly recorded in people’s gardens. I did bring in live musicians once I'd fully written the songs and that brought beautiful results and helped make a complete opinion. Still, even during those excursions there was a lack of preciousness or planing. When I recorded the vocals with Alain Johannes, we did it in his front room. He’d be sitting there smoking fags and texting on his phone while I sang. He genuinely didn’t care about stripy jumpers. When David Wrench came over to mix it, we did it in my friend’s living room.

"That sense of freedom that the city brought was there at every stage. When the writing needed deep focus and the kids needed to be removed from the room (forcibly or otherwise) there was space for that too, always somewhere fun for them to be- which always helps with the guilt factor involved in being a artist parent person. The days rolled into evenings and the evenings into nights, a seamless quality. Rather than teas-on-knees and 'Stenders signalling the end of another day, dappled light and the warm breeze let me know what time it was. Pretty sweet!"

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