FFS Interview: Gideon Conn

FFS: Huw Stevens’ twitter said recently that your album is coming out soon. Is that right? Can you tell us a bit about it, if so?

Gideon: Huw’s a nice bloke.  The album is all recorded and finished and sounds great. It features 12 of my absolute best songs, performed by myself and my band, and has the potential to become a contemporary classic. I’m in the process of courting record labels so that it can get on shelves. Realistically it should be released at some point between December and May.

It’s great to hear the album’s on its way soon.  We’ve been waiting a long time for it! FFS first saw you live at Glasto in 2007, and you had a tentfull of soggy, smelly festival-goers smiling their heads off and imitating electricity pylons within moments.  How important to your act is the audience’s response?  Is making people happy an important part of your music?

I think you’ve hot the nail on the head.  Making people smile is key to my perfomances, and a song doesn’t have to be funny to get a smile. It can be sweet, soulfull, exciting, or simply a sound or a way of playing that the listener hasn’t heard before.  That’s what I look for – a new sound, which i then team up with the best words i can find.

Pylons and wires is a good example of instinctive songwriting based on a moment of inspiration, and it makes people happy so it will always be one of my most treasured possessions.
The gig you refer to at glastonbury was a special moment. Over the months that followed I met people who had seen it and said that it was their highlight of the festival. There is no better compliment than that!
You don’t really fit into any one genre of music, but your songs seem to sit very happily alongside many different styles. What are your strongest influences, and can you hear particular acts/styles of music you like coming through in particular songs?

My influences are very wide ranging, often a specific song rather than an artist will capture my imagination and may go on to have an abstract bearing on a song that I write around that time.  I dont want my songs to sound too similar to other songs though, so if I think they do I discard them.

I also spend a bit of time sight reading classical piano pieces for inspiration – thats where all the good stuff originates from. Here’s a selection of artists I love:
Soul – Stevie Wonder/Bill Withers
Jazz – Nat King Cole/ Louis Armstrong/ Count Basie
Hip Hop – Outkast/ The Roots
Indie – Maximo Park/ The Young Knives/ Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Your eclectic musical tastes are clearly reflected in your own songs, but you’ve also done a few covers in your time.  What makes you choose to create your own version of a song like ‘Ms Jackson’ rather than use it as inspiration for your own work?  What do you get out of doing covers that’s different from writing your own stuff?

I’ve been playing ‘Miss Jackson’ regularly since I learnt it years and years ago.  I love playing it because it sounds nothing like the original but is totally recognisable. I think it works particularly well because of the energy I am able to put in to it. Learning other people’s songs is important in order to develop as an artist. Often a song will catch my ear and say ‘learn me!’ and I do, but they rarely make it into my gig sets because you have to hear the song in a totally different way in order to make it a worthwhile cover.

Interview: Lynn Roberts and Helen True

Gideon is touring in December, so you can catch up with the man in the flesh (which you only need do once to become totally hooked).  Dates below.

13th December – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
17th December – Borderline, London
19th December – Arts Institute, Cardiff
21st December – Masque, Liverpool
22nd December – MOHO, Manchester
31st December – Pure Groove, London