Second Hand Poet
IT has been a while since I’ve featured…
Second Hand Poet. I know Jamie Tipson (the man behind the name) and have been following his work with his band, Gold Phoenix. A veritable Jack White-of-all-trades: able to balance different music commitments and sound different in each guise. With new single Silhouette out; I was curious to know if there was any more music forthcoming. Tispon talks about that unique moniker and how his solo career began; the relevance of Muse to his creative prices and beginnings and how his D.I.Y. sounds all come together. I was interested to know about festivals and summer plans; the artists that have inspired him and the three albums that mean the most to him.
Hi, Jamie. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam! I’m good thanks. My week’s been pretty regular and uneventful! A full-time job gets in the way of much-needed creative time.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure, I’m Jamie. I do this music thing under the moniker ‘Second Hand Poet’. I play Lo-Fi, Acoustic sounds! It’s sometimes sad, well, mainly sad – but there is some light in there…somewhere.
Where does that name, ‘Second Hand Poet’, come from?
Like many musicians and bands, a name for the music doesn’t and hardly ever means anything. I guess it would be nice but Second Hand Poet is the same, really.
I guess the deepest meaning it could possibly have is: musicians are always creating on the back of something else; whether that be inspiration or just wanting to sound like another artist.
You’re always going to be second-hand as nearly everything has been done before.
I believe you started out covering Muse songs and were going to play them live when your band abandoned you – hence the solo name/project came into existence. Was that quite an unsettling or upsetting moment or, in hindsight, did it give you the confidence to stand alone and produce your own music?
Embarrassing as it is, yep I learnt guitar by playing Muse covers. We didn’t play them as a band, and yes, they kind of abandoned me before our first show. To be fair, it wasn’t a serious thing at all and I couldn’t even sing. That is why the solo project came into existence. I actually played the show acoustic, which was awful. But it definitely put the building blocks down for me to stand alone. For sure.
Having already put out an acclaimed E.P. and album – gaining acclaim from reviewers and fans – it seems like 2017 might be a year for new music. Can we expect to see any perhaps?
Thanks. You see, I hate listening back to the old stuff: I record everything myself and that has so many downfalls. Not only is creating music a pain on your mindset and feelings most of the time – at least with recording in a studio environment you take yourself out of that process. Getting back on to the question, though: I don’t class them as actual releases: almost demos that will never see the light of day. I feel to evolve, as an artist, you need to (just) cut ties with your old works – otherwise, it’ll bring you down.
I released a single a few weeks ago which again was self-recorded and produced. It was recorded live with a few overdubs of backing vocals. I’ll never be completely happy with this process but it works for me time-wise and financially.
I recorded a whole album, which was due to be released this year, although I’ve picked four tracks from it and will be releasing them over the next two months.
You can work on something for a hell of a long time and even before it’s reached other people it can be put in the bin! That’s what’s happened. Ha.
I have reviewed your music before. I was struck by the acoustic beauty and homemade dynamic. Is this something we can expect in new recordings?
Yes. I like this style, even though, like I said above, it has its downfalls. I would only record the acoustic stuff this way – unless somebody I could work with closely in (maybe) a non-studio environment came about. I recorded and produced the tracks myself and had the expert hands of Mark Beazley (Keaton Henson, Rothko) to master it.
On that subject; how does the material come together? Do you record in your home and transfer to the studio or does it all remain quite D.I.Y.?
I write all the tracks on the same way it gets recorded: live with no click-tracks. This isn’t ideal and many engineers and producers would slate me for it. It sounds different, it’s not perfect of course; it’s not polished but that’s not what I’m going for! When it comes to the time of recording, I set up a home studio-type environment: nice and natural and usually just use two microphones. Very simple and basic.
A lot of modern records – your debut E.P. in fact – are made on laptops (to an extent) and give artists much more freedom and reduce costs. What is it about technology and home comforts that resonate with you?
It’s financially and time-wise really nice to have and do. Obviously, if you know what you’re doing (unlike me) you can work it completely to your own benefits. I like the non-time constraints compared to a studio’s normal work pattern.
You are also the lead of the band Gold Phoenix. Any new material with them coming? How do you balance band life and solo work – the sound of the two is quite different to be fair!
Yes, there’s a new single and video coming within the next two months. It’s very different to the Second Hand Poet music. It’s exactly what I listen to – the heavy style of music and then a nice soft approach.
It’s real nice to do both. I don’t relate them at all, which makes it easier to write and perform the two different styles!
In terms of tour dates; can we expect to see you on the road anytime soon?
Yes! Over the last, say, two years, I’ve been lucky enough to have promoters and venues contact me about shows – which is good to have when you’re writing and recording. It meant I could still play a few shows during this time. Hardly any though.
I have a small UK and Belgium tour happening throughout June and July. It’s something to look forward to!
Will you get any downtime this summer to go to festivals and wind down? What are your plans for the summer months?
I usually try and go to one: 2000 Trees is my usually go-to. It’s a perfect festival. Other than that, probably some shows with Gold Phoenix. There are some new things happening in the Second Hand Poet camp which will surprise some people sound-wise. This next bunch of songs will be the last standalone D.I.Y. recorded acoustic songs for a fair while.
Can you tell me the artists that inspired you growing up?
Musically, Muse were a huge one for me getting me to enjoy music. Radiohead I guess also. Then it was Elliott Smith and a guy called Jacob Golden – who I went to see in a small London venue in Earls Court when I was seventeen. That show is what made me want to perform acoustically.
What advice would you give to any new acts emerging at the moment?
Don’t try and be someone else. Always evolve and never get comfy with your music.
Always demo and sit on those demos until you’re completely happy!
Who are the new acts we should be keeping our eyes out for?
If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
Elliott Smith: Either/Or – it’s heartbreaking; it’s so melodic and it’s so (so) timeless.
Reuben: Racecar Is Racecar Backwards – one of the best debut albums by an English band. It’s so different: again, so melodic dark and heavy. The album has everything: every dynamic a good album should have.
Lastly, (I’d) probably (choose) Keaton Henson: Dear – a kind-of-D.I.Y.-recorded album.
The songs are the most meaningful bunch I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. It’s so delicate and beautiful it could absolutely break even the toughest of souls.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Thanks a lot, SAM!
I’ll choose Elliott Smith – Between the Bars
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