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Maps - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 23 / 3 / 2007

Maps - Interview


James Chapman, the main man with Maps, has been recording at home in his bedroom in Northampton for years. Having recently started playing live with a backing band, he talks to Anthony Strutt about his three to date vinyl only singles, and his debut album which he will come out on Mute Records

James Chapman has been busy up in his bedroom in Northampton making music for a number of years now. He has finally got around to releasing music under the name of Maps, releasing 3 10" only singles, 'Start Something', 'Lost My Soul' and 'Don't Fear', all on Last Space Recordings and all of which have been deleted now. He has recently signed to Mute and releases a new single on the 30th April called 'It Will Find You' while an album and double 10 inch vinyl, 'We Can Create', will follow on the 14th May. James has now starting playing live adding a backing band, which won't appear on the recordings. Pennyblackmusic spoke to James before a new set of live dates. PB : When did you first discover music in the fact that you wanted to compose it? JC : I guess it was in my teens when I started to play guitar. Until then I'd been playing violin and percussion at school, and written a few songs when I was a little kid but they were pretty bad as you can probably imagine. I started writing properly when I was about 15 and started to play in bands. PB : Were your beginnings influenced by the people around you such as your parents and in the records that they owned? JC : We weren't really a musical family, but both my brother and myself started learning music from an early age. I thank my parents for that because I guess I could have just played football with my mates! PB : Are their songs from this early period that you still may record? JC : I wouldn't have thought so. I'm a lot more interested in what I'm doing now and what I'm yet to write I reckon. But I do still sometimes use ideas from older songs. PB : When did the solo thing, playing and recording in your bedroom develop into Maps? JC : I'd been recording in my bedroom for years, just because I loved doing it. I never dreamt any of this would happen- especially not with such an awesome label. I sent out quite a few demos and it went from there. Maps is the sound that's come about from spending a lot of time messing around in my bedroom. PB : How long has the band now been going and when did you release 'Start Something', the first 10 inch single? JC : 'Start Something' was released in 2005 and I started rehearsing with the beginnings of the band just before that time. PB : Why 10 inch singles, and will you carry on in that format? JC : I always wanted to make those releases special and I'm really pleased with those 3 records. From the next single on though, everything will be on all formats. PB : What attracted you to that format? JC : There's something about vinyl that I really love and I don't think I'm alone there. Also, we couldn't afford to do it in other formats- ha ha! PB : You come from Northampton, How is the local scene for your music ? It always use to be a goth town because Bauhaus came from there. JC : No way! It's not a goth town! There's a lot of great stuff going on around there actually. People are opening their minds to different influences which is a really healthy thing. There's a great feeling ofcommunity at the moment. PB : Is it just you on the recordings and will that change? JC : It is just me at the moment. Over the years I have tried working with other people when I'm writing and I just don't find it as productive- it's weird. Sometimes it's too complex to explain what's in your head I suppose. But for recording I may use other people in the future. There's already strings and brass on this record so the next one could expand this further. It's exciting to think about anyway. PB : The album was recorded in Iceland. Why there? JC : I worked with Valgeir Sigurdsson- who is an amazing guy. He was so chilled out and great to spend time recording with. It may sound crazy but I'd always had a fascination with Iceland years before I knew I was to record there. When Mute told me about Valgeir I said yes straight away. I knew it was right for me. And I absolutely loved it over there. It's beautiful. I definitely hope to go back there sometime soon. PB : Was it recorded pre signing to Mute or after and why did you sign to Mute? JC : It was kind of during the signing. Mute had helped a lot up until that point. They've just been great from day one. They were first to show real interest in my demos and I owe so much to their belief in me. I really can't think of a label I'd rather be on to be perfectly honest. PB : Mute artists do a lot of remixes. Is that something you want to get involved with, especially as you are a My Bloody Valentine fan? JC : Yes definitely. I'm fairly new to remixing but I have done a few now. I did a remix swap with the Longcut which was a great experience. It's a different kind of feeling to work on someone else's track but I really enjoy it. I'm just doing one for Klaxons at the moment as well. PB : How different is Maps live compared to record. Have you now got a stable line up ? JC : It is quite different which I think is a good thing personally. I don't think a live show should sound exactly like the CD. We have live drums and percussion when we play which is different to the record and there is a real 'band' feel to what we do. I always wanted to play with a band as opposed to just me on my own. It's a great feeling. We do have a stable line-up at the moment. PB : Will you still release 10 inches via Mute? JC : Yep, for sure. The next single, 'It Will Find You', will be on 10". PB : How would you describe your sound. The first review that I read about you descrived your music as the Field Mice meeting Slowdive. Would you agree? JC : That's a really tough question. Sometimes reviews compare Maps to bands I've never heard of which is a bit weird! Maps is definitely built from an electronic foundation but, you know, I listen to the Beach Boys and stuff and also feel like it has quite a psychedelic element to it sometimes. All this could change though. Each time I write a song I just try to make it as good as I possibly can. PB : And how much do you think the sound has changed? JC : Each track I record I just try and push things as far as I can sonically and experiment more. I think that'll come across more as I write more. PB : A lot of touring is planned. Will you write new material on the road? JC : I'm always coming up with ideas so, yeah, that'll happen on the roadtoo. I'm still writing at the moment as well as the remixes. PB : What are your future plans? JC : Just to enjoy it all and to try and make the best records I can. Yep, that's all ! PB : Thank you.

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Maps - Interview

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