Alongside Baxter Rhodes and Matt Fryer, Liam Blake is one of the artists doing his bit to bridge the two via the power of the song.
He’s been marked as hot property ever since he first picked up a guitar as a starry eyed teen. After numerous gigs and refining of his musical skills, Liam’s debut LP You and Other Stories emerged in 2001 – it’s earned him a loyal local following and subsequent high profile shows everywhere from Glastonbury to Dubai. He’s now working on a follow up with Tears for Fears producer Chris Hughes. Get to know this rising star and his music below…
What made you first start writing your own songs?
A need to understand the music I had fallen in love with via deconstruction and attempts to replicate them … I couldn’t live with it as it was!
How did you get involved with the Songs for Manchester project?
I became aware of the project through a friend who is also a musician and as a songwriter and PRS for Music member. I immediately identified with the cause and felt an impetus to be involved.
Could you explain a little about your campaign songs – which businesses did you choose to inspire your new compositions and why?
In Canal St I wanted to capture the trademark spirit of unity through diversity that the community and micro-culture of the street both engender. Justin from Ultraviolet UK, Maria from Eternal Envy and Julia from Cosmetic Clinic each shared memories that illustrate the atmosphere of possibility and acceptance that Canal St is known for; the ‘anything goes’ philosophy that makes the street so appealing. I wanted to frame this spirit in a deliberately hammy and tongue in cheek musical setting; a sort of coach trip singalong, “anyone can be one of us, share your story and join in on the chorus’, was the general idea.
Look At Me Now came very quickly as a response to a beautiful, rich and very touching human story, from a real Manchester voice. I’m really happy with that song.
What are the challenges of writing music for the project?
Trying to crystalise and encapsulate the atmosphere of such a multi-faceted place as Manchester and speaking on behalf of its sons and daughters; not easy, but a great exercise in rediscovery.
Why is it important that local businesses support songwriters via a PRS for Music licence?
Businesses are dependent on the communities in which they operate and arguably on each other. Ostensibly, songwriters are an solitary and ethereal bunch living off the muse up in the ether somewhere, but in reality, we are professionals whose business happens to be making music. The economic realities of life that are true for any other business are also true for us; we all gotta eat don’t we? Paying for a PRS licence goes a long way to sustain those ethereal types who work hard to give you something nice to play on the radio in your business and also keeping the music coming. It might also mean that we songwriters can afford to get a haircut in your salon or enjoy a coffee in your cafe. And so the whole thing goes round and round. As a songwriter, I’m deeply grateful to everyone who recognises and supports this.
What are your favourite songs written by Manchester artists?
Very difficult … I’m a massive fan of my buddies who are also involved with the project; what a treat to work alongside Baxter, Matt, Tom and Seamus. I guess Once Around The Block by Badly Drawn Boy ranks pretty highly.
How would you describe your local music scene?
Vibrant, thriving, alive, fantastic.
What’s been your most memorable musical moment to date?
Supporting Dave Spikey at the Palace Theatre with my old band back in 2004 is still a favourite memory to replay in my head and occasionally on YouTube!
What have you learnt from being part of this project?
The project has reawakened me to the power of music as a means of communication and the passion and dedication that the other guys have for their craft has been entirely inspiring.
What are you working on next?
Working on my second album – out 2015.
Visit the PRS for Music Facebook page to find out more about the campaign and how to enter the Songs for Manchester competition. Check out our previous interview with fellow campaign artists Baxter Rhodes and Matt Fryer.