Interview: Woodpigeon

Samantha Maine had a chat to Woodpigeon

Posted on Apr 2nd, 2013 in Features and Interviews / By Samantha Maine
Interview: Woodpigeon Calgary’s Woodpigeon (aka Mark Andrew Hamilton) released his fifth full-length studio album Thumbtacks + Glue on February 25th. The often-solo, often-collaborative song-smith is known for his gentle offerings in emotive and melancholic releases that have had him compared to the likes of Elliott Smith. Here, he talks to us about working with others, never sticking around in one place for long and keeping it personal.

Bearded: Your latest album was released last month. What was your process for writing and recording the songs featured? Did it differ from your past releases?

Woodpigeon: There was much more time spent this time around trying to capture the way individual instruments resonate vs. the sounds they make. A lot of what’s on there is based more on the delays or what happens afterwards vs. the actual note. It was a really inspiring way to work. In terms of process for the writing, I went to visit some friends in Regina, Saskatchewan, locked the front door of the house, and just wrote it all in a burst until it was done.

The new album could be described as your most personal offering. Was this intentional?

To be honest, I think that all of the albums are particularly personal. I don’t really know what else to sing about than what’s going on with my own thoughts and my own life. But I did definitely make an effort to kind of narrow things down this time around, to be a little more direct lyrically.

You continuously collaborate with some great artists. Do you find that you work better with inspiration and input from others? Or is it often difficult to combine two or more creative influences?

I find collaboration the most exciting part of music-making. The folks I’ve been lucky enough to work with often make me feel small when I listen to what they’re doing, so to share a space with them and record something really builds me up. Often, somehow, these people receive far too little attention of their own. Like Ryan Doyle, for example. I think he’s one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard, yet his audience in NYC is quite small. The guy just floors me.

Travelling around so much must mean you meet a lot of different characters and discover a variety of cultures. Would you say this influences your songwriting? Do you ever want to stay in one place?

I am a firm believer that the space around you definitely influences one’s songwriting. I would love to find the right place to be with the right person, settle down and get some dogs. A nest.

You're known for playing some great smaller festivals such as End of the Road. Do you pick and choose which festivals you play? And if so, what is it about these certain festivals that you like?

I work with a great team of booking and management and we’re all very careful to make sure Woodpigeon only goes to the correct places. Places like End of the Road are just the right size and fit. I love the idea of playing somewhere for audiences that are there to see the music and simply doing so with open ears.

Is there any one around at the moment that you find particularly inspiring? Anyone we should be listening to?

I’ve just discovered a great drone artist called Plinth out of Bournemouth. He gave me a record recently and I’ve been listening to it a lot. Very calming and meditational (if that’s even a word). Otherwise, to be quite honest, I haven’t been listening to that much music in any in-depth way as of late. Previously I was always a ravenous listener, so this is a bit of a change for me. Some compilations of scratchy old 78s has been making me happy lately, and a friend here in Vienna has been showing me some great harpsichord works (where sometimes it’s even difficult to believe it’s just one person performing). But as for what’s grabbing the ears of the zeitgeist, I really have no idea what to suggest.

And finally, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?

At the moment I’m just floating.