Stateless - combining break-beat, rock and soulful vocals
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Friday, 17, Aug 2007 10:51
With their recently released self-titled debut album drawing plaudits, Leeds' Stateless are gearing up for a European tour in the autumn.
Frontman Chris James tells InTheNews.co.uk's Lee Davis about the group, the album and what inspires him.
Combining break-beat, rock and soulful vocals may not sound like the easiest of musical missions, yet Stateless gel all these elements together and ably pick up where Portishead left off.
This fusing of styles and genres can be attributed to Chris James' wide range of heroes which includes, among others, Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, Otis Redding and Bjork.
"At the moment, I'm listening to a lot of rap and hip-hop. I get inspiration from rappers, it's a different style of vocals," he adds.
These influences filter through on the album to provide real variety, a fact expanded upon by James: "This Language is an anti-war song, Exit is just an explosion and Bluetrace is trippy, with the second half like a primal scream. We just wanted to make a lot of noise!
"Some songs are inspired by dreams, fantasising, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy."
Stateless is a five-piece outfit with Chris James on vocals, keyboards and guitars, joined by Kidkanevil handling turntables, sampling and programming, Justin Percival (bass and vocals), David Levin (drums) and Rod Buchanan Dunlop (FX, programming and keyboards). Apart from Buchanan Dunlop, a Scot, the rest of the group hail from Leeds.
"I've known David and Justin for years, since we were about 13. I met the other guys when I was a bit older, and I met Rod when I was doing a sound production course," James details.
The group's self-titled album has been receiving airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music with the former's Zane Lowe playing Bloodstream, Prism #1 and This Language.
Favourable media attention like this makes up for the convoluted process involved with the LP's genesis. The band had been signed to Sony in 2004 but when Sony merged with BMG things changed.
As James explains: "We got dropped at the time of the merger. Thirty per cent of bands and staff got dropped. It wasn't much of a blow to us, it was a bit of a relief."
Now the band had to find a new label and this came about when they signed to German house/techno stable !K7. This is a match made in heaven according to James: "They're cool. They're a creative label and a good bunch of people. They all know their music and they appeal to us because that's what we're into."
Stateless pride themselves on being self-produced and a number of songs - Bloodstream, Radiokiller and This Language - reflect this. However, they hooked up with producer Jim Abbiss on the album. "We liked his work. He's worked with DJ Shadow and Bjork," said James.
"It was amazing working with Jim Abbiss. We'd love to work with Jim again but he's really busy. With us, we self-produce but we're always open to collaboration," the singer added.
Since its' release last month the album has been receiving a lot of positive press and James said: "People seem to be really into it."
Although promoting and performing the debut album is foremost in the band's minds, they do plan to make their second album early next year. "We're banging about ideas although our first priority is the first record," James points out.
This starts in earnest next month with a mini European tour opening in Berlin at the Popkomm !K7 Party on September 20th before moving onto the Nextech Festival in Florence and the B-oost Festival in Amsterdam. And there's a possibility of going to Australia.
However, things kick off a lot closer to home with a gig on September 1st at Leeds Metropolitan University and a London show may be on the cards at the end of September.
A remixed version of Bloodstream by dance producer Henrik Shwarz is released on September 24th which has intrigued James, who said: "It'll be interesting to hear it."
Stateless is out now on !K7 Records