Artist Q & A: Jimmy Livingstone

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Livingstone, originally hailing from Birmingham via Walsall, has – off the back of the release of his debut album – been compared to musical heavyweights Scott Walker, Glen Campbell, Nick Cave and Richard Hawley amongst others.

The One Eye Open, One Eye Closed recording artist is currently on a tour of the UK, opening for the US folk and blues star Lucinda Williams.

We had a nice chat with Jimmy to find out a little more about his music, ahead of a show in his home city.

THSH: Where in the world are you right now Jimmy?

Jimmy Livingstone – JL: I’m in my flat in Dalston, East London. When I moved here, it was all Turkish social clubs and African shops. Now it’s the global heart of Hipsterville – all skinny jeans and pop-up venues. I like to think I blazed that trail for all those bright-eyed hipsters but I get little thanks for it. There’s a smattering of Brummies round here now too. It’s cool to hear some Brummie tones amongst the southern hipster drawl.

THSH: You released your debut album One Eye Open, One Eye Closed back in February. How has the feedback been?

JL: It’s been good. As it goes, I’ve had really nice reviews. When you release something, it’s not your own anymore. It’s interesting to see what other people make of it and how they project their own stuff on to it. It’s also been played on a lot of small radio stations and some not so small… in fact I did a live session on BBC WM recently, direct from Bilston High Street which, in it’s own special way, is as hip as Dalston could ever be!

THSH: What was the recording process like for you?

JL: Chaotic. It was my debut album. I tried to make a record with big production values on a very low budget. It took a long time. It was recorded between London and Los Angeles via Nottingham and the Mojave desert on borrowed time in studios, big and small, in lounges, garages, bedrooms, basements and a church. Through a lot of hustling and a bit of good luck, I got some amazing people to play on it – like guitarist Doug Pettibone from Lucinda Williams’s band, Doggen from Spiritualized, Frank Zappa’s old brass section and Evan Jenkins from the Neil Cowley trio. It was quite a trip. For the next record, I’m going to lock a bunch of musicians in a studio ‘til it’s done.

THSH: You’re touring with Lucinda Williams at the moment, how did that come about?

I’d done some work with Doug and her producer. So I ‘leant on’ a few people that knew her, I guess she got to hear my tunes and, as it turned out, I got lucky. She’s a real heavyweight songwriter so it’s a thrill to be playing the shows with her.

THSH: What can fans expect from your show at Town Hall in June?

JL: I’ll be playing solo which I enjoy though it adds a little pressure. It’s my home town gig so I’ll be giving it my all

THSH: You’re a local lad, what’s your take on Birmingham’s music scene past and present?

JL: Looking back, from Robert Plant to Laura Mvula, via Ozzy Osbourne and ELO, Brummie music is never short on drama and emotion. It must be something in the soil. And it’s good to see some festivals happening in Birmingham like the Moseley Folk festival. It’s just a shame that I’m not playing at it! Maybe next year.

THSH: Finally, any words of advice for aspiring singer-songwriters?

JL: Be honest, keep off my patch and good luck.

Jimmy Livingstone opens for Lucinda Williams at Town Hall Birmingham on Wednesday 26 June 2013 (7.30pm). Book tickets here

One Eye Open, One Eye Closed is available now via iTunes

Words: Lyle Bignon for THSH