Interview: Maps (AU Magazine, Issue 60)
November 13, 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Features




Word_John Calvert

Maps, A.K.A James Chapman, took a knee with AU to discuss the making of his follow-up to 2007’s Mercury Prize-nominated We Can Create, a pioneering statement in the recent micro-revival of Shoegaze. Speaking from his family home in Northampton, Chapman revealed details of a new direction taken on Turning the Mind.

“Many of the tracks have the classic four-to-the-floor beat, which I never really considered before. I’ve been listening to a lot of techno and there’s definitely a clubbier feel to the album, its all about stimulated minds. For our live show we’ve revamped the old material to fit in with the new stuff, which was great fun to do at Offset [Festival] there”.

Mothballing swooning guitar wash for a vivid array of House ticks, Chapman joined forces with Death In Vegas’ Tim Holmes to pilot the heady mechanics of straight dance music. The choice for Holmes to produce was a no-brainer.

“He’s always turned up on the sleeve notes for all my favourite albums. With Death in Vegas I became even more intrigued. We hit it off immediately. I actually considered Tim for We Can Create and in fact he told me that he left a message on my Myspace site at the time, asking me to work with him, which I never responded to, which is probably true. He’s easily the best person I’ve ever worked with”.

As a result the tunes came in a torrent. Considerably longer than We Can Create, the sequel nears the one hour mark. “Yeah I mean Daniel [Millar, founder of Mute records] came down to the studio and told us he’d passed at law at Mute that no one could release albums that were longer than ten tracks. We ended with twelve so we scuppered his plans immediately. But he’s still pleased”.

As well as a wily stab at activating British dance-floors, the nocturnal, more severe sound is reflective of a change in subject matter.
“The album is about mental states. The title is taken from a cognitive therapy regime called ‘mindfulness’ where you condition your mind to turn automatically to the positive, so you can accept reality. It was a cathartic album to make, like a journey. It was also a more personal album. I got a lot of stuff out that I’d been going through.”

When asked if he wants to elaborate, Chapman is markedly candid. “I don’t mind talking about it, you know. I’ve been on anti-depressants since I was 19. I’m thirty now. I’ve kind of had a few ups and downs with my own mental health, really. I’m on a shit-load of medication, but I’m hoping to get off it, slowly”.

On ‘Nothing’ it was time to face facts. “I had quite a drink problem for a while, and well I’ve never had much luck with woman” he chuckles “so when I was drinking I would blame them, but really I was to blame. A girl did really, really hurt me recently though, I did some venting on that” he admits.

Closing track ‘Without You’ has Chapman putting his past to rights, ending on a note of hope. “It sounds like a break-up song but it’s actually about leaving the drugs and booze behind”. He recites the opening lyrics like a mantra [it’s taken all my life / to learn so much about you / If all I know is right / I’ll go on without you]. But, much like with his music Chapman is forever mindful of the possibly for a brighter future, concluding that “I don’t remember much of my twenties, but to be honest I want to remember my thirties”.


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