Artist Interviews

Q&A: Maps

By | Published on Wednesday 9 September 2009


Maps, aka James Chapman, released his debut album, ‘We Can Create’, back in 2007. A mixture of epic electronics and quirky indie songwriting, and created on cheap equipment in his bedroom and later spruced up by producer Valgeir Sigurðsson (Bjork, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), it raised more than a few eyebrows. Chapman releases his second album, ‘Turning The Mind’, via Mute (who also released his debut) on 28 Sep. The first single from the album, ‘I Dream Of Crystal’, is out on Monday and you can catch him at Bestival on Friday. We spoke to James to find out more.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I was about 18 when I started writing seriously, just on a four-track tape recorder. I got a real buzz from it and it just escalated from there, really. I’ve always loved creating something from nothing, starting with a completely blank slate. There’s no better feeling than listening back to a track you’ve finished, after working on it for ages – it gives you a real boost.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Mental states. Personal ones a lot of the time, and also things I’ve seen people go through. It’s a much more personal album than ‘We Can Create’. The songs were all written in a pretty short period and reflect my states of mind throughout that period. I won’t lie, chemical stimuli references are rife because that’s what I was doing a lot of the time that I was writing the songs. But it’s not just man-made chemicals, it’s about how the brain can react to certain situations – depression, euphoria etc.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating an album?
I only ever work on one song at a time, and spend an obsessive amount of time on it until it’s finished. Then I forget about it and move on to the next one. That’s how I do the demos. But when I was working with Tim Holmes we worked on different songs at the same time and it worked well. It’s just whatever works best for you personally, I guess. The album had taken shape with the demos, but taking them into the studio really raised the bar and we were constantly trying to better ourselves with each song. I think (hope!) we got there in the end.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
I’m listening to a lot of techno, old disco, still loads of electronica. Mostly random songs I find on Beatport. But I’m also listening to a lot of country and bluegrass at the moment. There’s some great stuff out there. My range of tastes has moved away from solely electronic. Anything I hear I get influenced by if it sparks some inspiration in me.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
“The album is out on 28 Sep, if you like it! If you don’t then please buy it anyway”. I dunno. That’s a hard question! I’ve heard people say that my stuff takes a few listens, so I guess I’d say that.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I’m extremely proud of this album and I really want it to do well. But we’ll see! I just hope people connect with it. It’s been a really cathartic experience for me and I hope people get the same feeling I do when they hear the tracks. Next year will be hardcore touring – can’t wait! It’s a really exciting time. I’m buzzing right now.