Juju from Little Fish exclusive interview

Little Fish

Oxford band Little Fish is set to release their new single “Wonderful”. The band has experienced quite a lot in the last couple of years. After making a name for themselves here in Oxford, they signed to Linda Perry‘s label Custard Records/Universal, spent some time in LA recording their debut album ‘Baffled and Beat’, received rave reviews, and toured with such acts as Supergrass, Juliette Lewis, Alice in Chains and Placebo.

Lucky for Oxford fans, Little Fish is back in town, releasing their new single as an independent band, with help from local talent, doing as much as they can with the release locally.

Band members are: Juju (vocals/guitar), Nez (drums) and Ben (Hammond organ).

Jenny May: Has Oxford always been your home?

Juju: For most of my life, Oxford has been my home, although I have family in France who I am very close to, so I do consider France to be my home also.

Do you spend much time checking out Oxford bands? Who have you seen play in the last few months?

We have spent the last six months doing lots of small acoustic shows in and around Oxford because although we were recording new material, we didn’t want to be all boxed up in a room by ourselves all of the time. We like to meet people, go out and play. We met a lot of musicians and saw lots of bands on the scene. There is a strong music scene in Oxford. The Blessing Force is making waves, and my personal favourites BF bands are Pet Moon and Chad Valley. Another band who aren’t in the force but are certainly blessed with talent and will undoubtedly go far is Spring Offensive. They are captivating to watch and play beautiful music. I also have a big soft spot for the lovely Family Machine. Oxford is buzzing with great bands. It is a great city for music. I am sure all of these bands will make great records.

Where in Oxford is one of your favorite places to go if you want to just chill out?

We have a great local deli called Jacobs and Field that we love to go to. It just won Deli of The Year. It sources most of its foods locally, which I think is really important to retain a sense of community, keeping local independent farmers and stores alive. The people who run the place are always welcoming and friendly. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

What was it that made you pick up the guitar and write your first song?

I wanted to be part of the music class at school but I wasn’t allowed to join the class unless I learned to play an instrument. The week I was told this by the teacher, the class homework was to write a song and so after school, I went to the music shop, bought myself a chord book, borrowed a guitar from a friend and forced myself to learn some chords. It was then that I wrote my first song. The song was a great success and my music teacher asked me to perform it at a class recital. I never looked back. I have been writing songs ever since.

When Little Fish released the debut album, ‘Baffled and Beat’, you were signed to Linda Perry’s label Custard Records/Universal in LA. How did she hear about you, and what was the time period from meeting her to signing to the label?

Linda heard our demo of the song ‘Sweat ‘n Shiver’ that we had put up on Myspace (we no longer have a Myspace account btw) and within a week of hearing it, cancelled her holiday to Hawaii and flew over to England. She came to see us play in a small rock pub in Oxford called The Wheatsheaf. She then flew us to LA for a week, just to play around in her studio and record some more demos and within a month of meeting her we were offered a deal.

When you went to LA, what was your daily routine like?

When we went out to LA to make the record we were given no free time whatsoever. We were in the studio from morning to evening, most days of the week. We tried to get the album recorded as fast as we could. There was always a big sense of pressure as ‘time is money’.

In the morning, I would wake up early and go for a swim. First thing in the studio would be to decide on a song, then get a drum sound going, then a guitar sound, and then whoosh, record. Sometimes, if I didn’t have a song ready, I would have to write the song in the morning to be recorded that same day. Luck’s Run Out, Bang Bang, You, Me and the TV and Sorry State were all written and recorded on the same day. Recording this way was very high pressure and very intense, especially for a first record.

On the one day off that we had in LA whilst recording the record, we went to see Patti Smith and I got to meet her back stage. Meeting Patti Smith was quite a surreal experience.

Did you meet other bands or artists while you were in LA?

I had the great pleasure of meeting Sierra Swan, a solo artist who has made many records because she was recording in the studio next door to ours. We got on really well. We didn’t have much time to do anything else whilst we were out in LA, although we did get to meet a drunken Christina Aguilera. That was quite an experience.

How did it come to be that you’re no longer working with Linda Perry and Custard Records?

Custard lost their funding from Universal and so they simply couldn’t give us the money that we had signed for. We then had the option to leave the label, which we did. Our time with Custard had come to an end and it was all very amicable.

Do you stay in touch with Linda?

No I haven’t, because she is doing her new thing and I wanted us to get away from her world. We were in it for a while but now we want to do things our way and find our own independence and voice. I think being in a big industry wheel, for me, made me lose my way a little. I want to get back to earth and walk the path that I create rather than the one I am told I have to walk down. I do think that Linda is an exceptionally talented woman and I wish her nothing but more success as she continues to make great music. Since the label breakup, she herself formed a band and hit the road. Check out Deep Dark Robot. I love how times change. That’s life. We all move on.

Little Fish – Wonderful video:

I’m sure your fans are excited to know that you have a new single coming out. “Wonderful” sounds GREAT – along with the excellent animated video. How are you handling the release of “Wonderful” – what’s different from before?

This time, we are fully independent. We have been recording in cellars and garages and doing everything as locally and independently as we possibly can. Gaz Coombes recorded Wonderful for us in his cellar and Valeska Hykel, artist of Blessing Force has been doing all of our artwork. We have also been working with Miranda Ward, a local writer, as we are in the midst of writing a book called The New Original Little Fish Paper Club Handbook. Oh, and we make our own jam…

What was the writing process for the album? Did the band write together, or do you bring the songs to the band?

I write the songs and then bring them to the band. This has mostly been the process but now, having Ben on board we are starting to write a little more together.

Little Fish Wonderful

Gaz from Supergrass recorded “Wonderful” (whole album?). How did you meet him? What was it like working with him?

We have only recorded “Wonderful” with Gaz. We met Gaz a few years ago when we toured with Supergrass. They gave us our first big tour. Over the years we have got to know each other as we are pretty much neighbours. We often end up at the same parties. Working with Gaz is a lot of fun as he is pretty chilled.

Who are five bands/artists that you’re listening to now that you would recommend?

Islet. About Group. PJ Harvey. She keeps Bees. Pet Moon. All of these bands/artists will give you soul. I love them.

“Wonderful” is out on the 26th September only as LIMITED VINYL and Wonderful T-Shirts. There will be a digital download available of the track with a COMIC BOOK. You can find all the information on our website littlefishmusic.com.

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Jenny May

Jenny May is the founder of Band Weblogs. Based in Oxford, England (originally from New England), Band Weblogs was created in 2005. With a passion for music, Jenny May has performed with bands in the US and the UK, her music has appeared in films, she was a vocal coach for the Yamaha Rock School and has worked on music projects with musicians such as Jon Fishman (Phish), Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots) and Cisco Adler (Shwayze). Jenny is currently publishing music news, conducting exclusive interviews and writing music commentary for Band Weblogs and writing, recording and performing music with duo Purple May. http://purplemay.com