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Jules Maxwell - To play regularly but to do it at home and invite small audiences to come to you, that would excite me as an ambition for the future

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Jules Maxwell - To play regularly but to do it at home and invite small audiences to come to you, that would excite me as an ambition for the future

Jules Maxwell is a composer and keyboard player with Dead Can Dance. His solo album Nocturnes is available from 5th March and his album ‘Burn’ with Lisa Gerrard is available from 7th May.
We have write a review about the single ‘Noyalain’ , that you can read here .
Of course Jules Maxwell is a top composer who is at home in many markets and is working on many projects. We had a nice chat with Jules about his recent releases. We also went back to the past and looked at future plans.

Although you  studied music at school, it was while you was studying for a Political Science degree at Queen’s University in Belfast (Maxwell is from Bangor, Northern Ireland) that you  became involved with making plays for the drama society.  You had always been interested in drama and theatre and making music, so this trinity of creative arts became central to you  extensive work with a whole host of different genres. Can you tell something more about it?
I’ve always been interested in drama and I believe that there is a vital connection between drama and music. I sometimes think I am more interested in drama than I am in music. I hear drama in great music whether it be in Teenage Kicks by The Undertones or Finlandia by Sibelius. I also believe there are connections to be had in dance. In 2008 I was taking part in a music and dance improvisation workshop with French percussionist Lê Quan Ninh and Kirstie Simson in London. Before we began, Ninh reminded us musicians of the importance of listening before playing. “The first thing a musician accompanying dance must do is listen” he told us. “Because dance is full of music already”.
So throughout the years making music for theatre plays and dance performances has always been an integral source of inspiration for me.

Most people know you from you work with Dead Can Dance,  can you tell something more about this? The high and lows?
Playing with Dead Can Dance has many highs. To be inside the music is a great privilege. To understand the workings of it has been a revelation for me, teaching me much about the power of simplicity. To be able to watch the audience at the shows from the stage is an amazing experience. And to play some incredible venues throughout the world, from open air amphitheatres on the edge of the Acropolis in Athens to The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  I also believe that Lisa and Brendan are two of the most important singers of their generation and it is an honour to make music with them.  Touring can be tough particularly if like me you have a young family at home.

In 2018, You emerged from the shadows with Your debut album's release, the eclectic, personal and intriguing, “Songs from The Cultural Backwater”. It was a success? Did it open some more doors? and was this a reason to step out of the shadows even more?
I had already quietly released two or three other albums before 2018 but Songs From The Cultural Backwater was the first album where I sang my own songs. Prior to that my albums featured other singers. So in that respect it did feel like a step out of the shadows for me. We had been living in a cafe in Picardie in Northern France and I had been performing monthly solo concerts for 3 or 4 years in the cafe, so it felt like an easy transition to make once the record was released. I was encouraged by the response to the album and yes, it has emboldened me to sing more and see what doors open for me as a singer.  

You’ve been forming a strong partnership with Lisa Gerrard - both sharing the creative realization that theatrical disciplines like improvisation and exploration are at the heart of your music, is that correct? How did this cooperation going?
Lisa and I improvised a piece called Rising of the Moon as the final encore of the Dead Can Dance shows on the 2012/13 world tour. We both connected with each other during that process. She is an amazing person to improvise with. Her voice is so versatile and nuanced and her conviction is second to none. It always feels charged and important.

Your latest release, Nocturnes, due to be released on the newly formed Archangelo Recordings on March 5th, is an album of eight instrumental songs, how where the main reactions on this release?
Nocturnes was started long before but came to fruition during the 2020 lockdown. I had made a few quiet piano pieces for a dance company called Vincent Dance Theatre in Brighton and these formed the backbone to the work. I am very proud of it and it has got some amazing reviews. We are releasing a limited edition double vinyl version of Nocturnes and it’s second volume follow up Cycles in March 2022.

There is also a new release ‘Burn’, can you tell me more about this release?
Burn is the result of a session Lisa Gerrard and I did for an album with The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices. We had 4 songs on that album but several other ideas had emerged during the session which didn’t get used. Together with producer James Chapman I was able to shape a further 7 songs and these became the Burn album. It’s completely different to Nocturnes and Songs From The Cultural Backwater.  It’s euphoric and quite electronic. It feels like an early eighties record to me.

Our writer has written a review of the single ‘Noyalain’ He wrote: ''It's not a track that leaves you cold, but one that gives you goosebumps. It is electronic, threatening, haunting and it has a vague hint of Vangelis. The review can be read here
I have read this statement in an interesting interview you had:’’ One of the really interesting things for me as a composer is just to always acknowledge how simple much of that music is. And that simplicity for me is kind of the holy grail’’; can you tell us some more about this statement?
Working with Dead Can Dance taught me that you can create very complex sounding music with two or three very simple elements. I believe that simplicity allows the listener room to bring themselves to the work and that can be exciting. In my experience it’s much harder than it seems to be simple. We find it difficult not to complicate things in life.

We are still living in strange times with this pandemic, which just doesn't seem to go away. How did you get through this period as a musician, composer and human being? Did it bring you inspiration? The positive and negative sides of this crisis for you?
The oddest part of the pandemic for me as an artist was to be told to “Stay Safe”. As if  staying safe would do me good. I believe that artists have a responsibility not to make safe decisions in order to make good authentic work. So that has been odd. I can’t stand online chats with people and I have missed the art of assembly. It was a joy to be at a recital recently in London with an audience of 1000 people just being quiet together. That’s a very powerful thing which we didn’t have for a while.

Making plans is still difficult now, here the cultural sector has it difficult also again … What are the further plans?
Dead Can Dance will tour Europe a lot in 2022 and I have the pleasure of opening for them on many of the shows, performing from Nocturnes and Songs From The Cultural Backwater. I am also planning to perform some shows with Lisa in late 2022 in which we will re-create the Burn album and take it further and deeper.

Next to the project with Lisa Gerrard, are there other project you busy with? Please tell us more about it?
I am working with a wonderful Fado singer called Lina from Lisboa on a new album with James Chapman. I am also creating an album with Jason Cooper who is the drummer from The Cure. Both should be released in early 2023 hopefully.

After all this years, and success , do you still have ambitions or ‘end goals’, things you want to do in the far future? Any other releases coming up?
The model we had in France of living and playing in a cafe interests me. To play regularly but to do it at home and invite small audiences to come to you. That would excite me as an ambition for the future.

I think some composers or musicians will see you as a as a source of inspiration. With all the experience you have, what advice would you give them?
Show interest in people and listen more than play …

Aanvullende informatie

  • Band Name: Jules Maxwell
  • Date: 2021-11-15 23:00:00
  • Rating: 8
Gelezen: 102 keer
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