Public Service Broadcasting – The Story Behind Every Valley

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We caught up with Public Service Broadcasting’s J. Willgoose Esq. ahead of the release of their brand new album “Every Valley” which reached number 4 in the UK album chart.

You are just about to release you brand new single, do you want to tell us a bit about that track?

Yes, “They gave me a lamp” is the new single. It’s from an album called “Every Valley” which is a history of the mining community in South Wales and this is a song that is framed around the strike of 84-85 and is really about the women’s support groups and how a generation of women almost literally came out of the kitchen. They had this great political emancipation and political awakening and really played a pivotal role in the strike, protesting against what they saw as the closure of their industry and the threat to their community.

This is one of the first tracks that you have done that featured a guest vocalist in “Haiku Salut”, how important is that in creating the sound on the track?

Well, I first stumbled across them on the internet about a year and a half ago and i had an idea in my head what I wanted the song to sound like and their textures and instrumentation used musically was exactly it. So rather that just copying it I thought I would just ask them if they would be up for collaborating and thankfully they were and we worked together on this song and I think that it is recognisably us but it does sound a bit different and I think that, that is what they bought to it. It is also great that when you are talking about women’s political awakening and representing women’s voices as I think it would be a shame to have yet more men talking about so it’s great to have female voices on the record, not just the samples but their music as well.

Do guest vocalists play an important role on the album then?

Yes, more than on previous records I would say, I think partly because the stories were a bit harder to tell with just archive footage so we were a bit more flexible and adaptable if we could rely on vocalists to tell the story. We could write the story for them to tell, so yes they are a big part of this record and definitely helped make it what it is.

I suppose that something like spitfires or the race for space there is a lot more footage to go by?

Well there definitely is a lot of footage, with especially the strike but the trouble is that a lot of it is retrospective and a lot of it is looking backwards and then you loose the present tense.That makes the music feel less urgent and less present and it does present unique challenges that I hadn’t really thought of until I started putting this record together but you do need it to be of the moment to really capture that essence.

Is it supposed to reflect the current political climate, or is it something quite separate to all that?

Well as we were making it, it came in to sharper and sharper focus really on how it applied to today’s climate. I think it is definitely there but I don’t think you necessarily need an awareness or understanding to enjoy the record. We have worked very hard to make the music work and stand on it’s own two feet but I think it’s making it’s own quiet and hopefully powerful statement on how we got to where we are today. How these communities that were isolated and abandoned by central government ended up becoming so disillusioned that they voted to leave the EU, which in my personal opinion would be against there interests, it’s also about how popularism takes advantages of such communities.

How are you planning to play this live, I guess usually you have all the samples queued up. Are you going to have guest vocalists or are they going to be samples as well? 

I think we are going to have to be pragmatic about it, as much as we would love to take Tracyanne Campbell and James Dean Bradfield on the road with us for 3/4 months I don’t think that would work for either of them partly because they are both parents with families etc so it presents certain logistical issues. Where we can we will obviously get singers along to do it but I think in the context of our show and working with a lot of prerecorded or other voiced material I think that hopefully it wont be too much of a leap for people to still engage with it and we are obviously still doing all we can to make the music as live and as interesting as possible

Is there anything special planned in the lead up to the release of the album?

Well we are kind of in the home straight now, so we are really just doing a lot of promo and trying to get the album out there. I think the special bit for us was going back to Ebbw Vale which is where we recorded the album Every Valley, we converted this large hall there which was the former steel workers institute and lecture hall into a studio and that where we recorded the album. We actually went back there to play two quite intimate shows and to invite a lot of people who worked on the record with us and a lot of locals came along and a lot of fans from further afield. It just felt like a great thing to do to give back to the community and to say thanks for putting up with us for the time that they did.

So do you have UK dates and festivals lined up?

Yep lots of festivals on the go this summer and we will be back in UK after touring America in September then we will be back to do a UK tour in October which we are very much looking forward to.

 

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