Artist Interviews

Q&A: Malcolm Middleton

By | Published on Thursday 21 January 2010

Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm Middleton is a Scottish musician, formerly one half of indie-folk duo Arab Strap. When they split in 2006, Malcolm began to focus more on his solo work, signing to Full Time Hobby to release his third solo album in 2007, which spawned his attempt to hit the Christmas number one, ‘We’re All Going To Die’. The single ended up being the only independent entry in the Christmas chart at 31. Malcolm’s most recent album, ‘Waxing Gibbous’, was released last year, and he is set to play at the newly relaunched Borderline venue in London on 25 Jan. We caught up with him ahead of the gig to ask the Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I was in a bunch of bands when I was a teenager in Falkirk. Eventually, I hooked up with Aidan Moffat and we started recording songs on a four-track under the name Arab Strap. We recorded six albums between 1996 and 2006 before splitting up. I’ve been doing solo records ever since.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Just the usual every day stuff like: Why am I here? What should I be doing? Is this right? What if it’s wrong? What’s going to happen to me when I die? Oh no, I feel like shit again. Wow, she’s cool, I like her. I care about you so I need to write a song about it quickly. Stuff like that.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
It depends. Sometimes it starts with an acoustic guitar, or sometimes just messing around on a computer. It’s then just a matter of imagining what the song should be like, what direction and production it needs, or whether it should be stripped back and acoustic. Then it’s all about chipping away until I’m happy with the outcome.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Trevor Horn. Davy Graham. John Cale. Late 80s metal. Mid 80s pop.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Listen with your ears, not your eyes. Don’t let the accent put you off. Enjoy it. Or don’t.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?

‘Waxing Gibbous’ has been a critical and commercial failure. It’s time for me to let go of it and move on. I’m doing a couple more solo gigs and then I’ll be taking a break for a bit and having a serious talk with myself about what I want to do next.