Interview: Thank Folk For That Meets Nick Mulvey

After making his trade with the Mercury-nominated Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey launched himself into a solo career, supported the likes of Laura Marling last year, released his wonderful EP Fever To The Form and took a slot on the BBC Sound of 2014 Poll longlist. Now, he’s set to unveil his debut album First Mind on May 12th. Earlier this week, TFFT caught up with the incredible Nick Mulvey, to discuss all of the above, and more…

You’ve just got back from Europe, How was the tour?

Really interesting run, at this stage different countries are so varied at this point because of different amount of radio plays and exposure. Depending on where I’ve toured and supported, almost all of the nine tours I did went to Holland so it just means I’ve done a lot more gigs there and less in Germany. Germany is a lot more introductory and Holland I’m getting two hundred people at a show who know what I’m about.

Do you feel like your music is being received quite well?

Definitely! I’ve been amazed by that. Each time is a good window into the place you can feel how different France is from Holland and Belgium, I haven’t been down much further south yet to places like Spain and Italy.

Do these cultural encounters extend into your music?

Certainly in principle it does and has done but I wouldn’t say this tour last week has played any part yet.

Your debut album First Mind is out in May, how was that process and how do you feel about it?

I feel really excited! I feel really happy with what I’ve made; we recorded the album in September and we got a lot done very quickly. So in a way we recorded it in about a month but actually it’s been two years worth of preparation, so in another sense it took me two years to make the album. Because I was in a band for five years before that, I’ve been waiting to do this for seven years so the anticipation is quite long and people have been encouraging me to do this so it’s quite satisfying to get there.

Was there a big difference in going from being in a collective to trying to put your work down as a solo artist?

I think when you’re in a collective you also try and put your work down so it doesn’t become a different thing. There are differences on the surface but at the heart is the same thing. It’s all about having a practice as a musician and learning all the stuff you need to learn. Once you get a hand on writing, there was a lot I had to learn about the recording process and how I wanted my music to sound. Beyond the surface, it’s about inspiration and letting it happen.

What a lot of people find fascinating about your music is that it’s quite eclectic and it’s not particularly pinned to a genre. Where do you feel that comes from?

What that is, is that I’ve always had an interest in all kinds of music. I love all the music my friends loved at school like guitar bands, pop music, hip hop and dance music but then I was also really into music from Zimbabwe, West Africa, old American folk music, blues or Phillip Glass and Steve Wright’s kind of minimalist music … the list goes on. I mean I love dark reggae music. The point is each one of these leaves a mark; then when I come to writing I don’t think about genres, it’s the last thing I think about.

I think about getting into a quiet space and letting it bubble up and when it bubbles up authentically from beyond your thinking, it naturally has little elements and imprints of all these things.

In terms of influences, you genuinely seem interested in art and the things going on around you in a creative sense. Do you see this interest as separate to your music?

Not in the slightest! I’m interested in all of these things, there are different mediums of the same thing and mediums are important but I love what’s being expressed between all of these things. That’s why my album’s called First Mind.

A lot of people who follow your music would say that a lot seems to be happening for you at the moment, can you sense this excitement around you?

Very much. It’s interesting because I’ve been building towards this for a very long time so in a way I don’t get carried away with the hype too much because once the album is released, I can’t predict the future. I do know that I will always be an artist and what is ever unchanging is my relationship to my practice and that keeps me level headed whilst things change all around me.

That said, I’m having a great time and I’m really loving all the things that are going on and there’s a lot of hard work that my management and team have put in. we’ve been really focused for a long time for what’s happening now so I’m not forgetting to smell the roses.

Now that you’re going deeper into the music industry are there things you find harder to comprehend about the whole thing?

There’s a lot of learning, I don’t go too deep into the industry, I go deeper into being an artist. They are different things and caring about one can be at the detriment of the other; you have to remain a bit innocent of the game and yet you’ve got to know the bottom line and you’ve got to be shrewd, it’s an interesting thing.

I think one of the real growing points for me has been music videos because I was a bit unprepared to the fact that as soon as you get to a point in music everyone’s like “and now the films please”. It’s taken me fifteen years to get to this point of command with sound and music and now you want films, I don’t care if they’re four minute films, they’re still films with a different language and vocabulary so that was a shock. But then you work with film makers who are specialists in that so that’s been a real growing point for me.

Are there things about being an artist that even though you love them, they still bother you?

It’s not of question of if there are things that bug me it’s about frame of mind. When you get to a certain frame of mind whatever you put in front of you will grow. Often I’m in a ‘can do’ frame of mind, that’s where I want to be and it’s important to how I got here. I don’t have any complaints at the moment because I feel very lucky!

Questions by Simi Abidakun