With five crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed albums and four EPs to his name since 2007, singer song­writer Richard Wal­ters is noth­ing if not pro­lif­ic. And now the solo artist is on the cusp of releas­ing a dig­i­tal sin­gle called The Man I Loved from his upcom­ing EP in Jan­u­ary 2022. There are fur­ther strings to his bow: Richard is also part of the band LYR, which he formed with poet lau­re­ate Simon Armitage and mul­ti instru­men­tal­ist Patrick Pear­son. His music has fea­tured on a num­ber of hit TV shows includ­ing Grey’s Anato­my, Tin Star and CSI: Mia­mi.

I spoke to Richard as he was reach­ing the end of an Octo­ber tour with LYR, and just before he heads out again on a solo tour with Declan O’Rourke.

Hi Richard. You’re about to release a new work called The Man I Loved – it’s a beau­ti­ful, absorb­ing and intense num­ber. What was the cat­a­lyst for this track, and what prompt­ed you to release it now?
Thank you so much! The song is about los­ing a friend, some­one who was a huge part of my life, like a broth­er real­ly. Since he passed away he’s been con­stant­ly on my mind, and I’ve tried writ­ing about that weird mix of emo­tions… this is the song that even­tu­al­ly came, just a sum­ming up of my feel­ings and regrets. It felt like it was time to get some­thing fin­ished for him.

Your upcom­ing EP is set to launch in Jan­u­ary next year. Is there an over­all theme to the work? Who was involved in the pro­duc­tion?
I worked with my friend and LYR band­mate Patrick Pear­son on these tracks, the idea was to just try and cap­ture a moment, keep­ing every­thing as raw and stripped back as we could get away with. I think it’s impor­tant to let it hap­pen some­times, not over-bake it.

For some artists, the past year and a half of lock­down has been a dif­fi­cult peri­od in which the cre­ative process was sti­fled, where­as for oth­ers, it was the oppo­site. How did things go for you? And where did you spend the time?
I was at home, with my fam­i­ly – we’ve got two young chil­dren, so there was a lot of home-school­ing and Lego build­ing – but I actu­al­ly felt incred­i­bly lucky. I did lots of email based col­lab­o­ra­tion and fin­ished up a big stack of songs I’ve been neglect­ing. The pause was needed.

“I love work­ing with oth­er peo­ple, I get such a kick from
that col­lab­o­ra­tive spark”

You have been pro­lif­ic as an artist, and have man­aged to work both inde­pen­dent­ly and col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly. This appears to be some­thing that suits you cre­ative­ly, hav­ing dif­fer­ent projects on the go..?
I love work­ing with oth­er peo­ple, I get such a kick from that col­lab­o­ra­tive spark, and for me I like to have lit­tle brain com­part­ments for what I’m doing cre­ative­ly… I hate hav­ing noth­ing to do, so I like to load up my desk and then work through it. Some­times it means things get slowed down by oth­er things but when the plates all spin as they should, it’s a beau­ti­ful thing.

I under­stand you were the ini­tial dri­ving force behind LYR [with Simon Armitage, poet lau­re­ate, and Patrick Pear­son]. What was it that drew you to work with spo­ken word… and specif­i­cal­ly with Simon Armitage?
I grew up with Simon’s poet­ry and short sto­ries – he’s been a big pres­ence in my life in that respect. I approached him via a mutu­al friend around 2010, and we hung out a bit and worked on some songs in a more tra­di­tion­al sense – he pro­vid­ed words and sang them. But the spo­ken word thing was always an idea, we just need­ed a push to get it mov­ing, and Pat was part of that.

Can you talk to me about the effect land­scape has on your music? You’ve had to immerse your­self into the dra­mat­ic and often bleak­ly beau­ti­ful West York­shire land­scape for LYR and Simon Armitage’s vision, and then there’s your own envi­ron­ment?
Yes, I think envi­ron­ment plays a huge part in what comes out. I’ve been real­ly lucky to have lived in some beau­ti­ful places but I’m hap­pi­est now, because I have a per­ma­nent stu­dio space at the end of the gar­den. I just need my things on hand, my pic­tures up, a lit­tle day­light and I can get my head anywhere.

Richard Walters singer songwriter

I love your recent EP Devon or Las Vegas, it’s very atmos­pher­ic and reflec­tive. I’m intrigued by the song Judee Sill, why you felt com­pelled to write a song about her. Was it inspired by a dream? How much of an influ­en­tial force has she been in your music?
Thank you! Judee Sill is my ‘tell every­one’ artist, she’s crim­i­nal­ly unknown and that’s just not right. I’ve always been fas­ci­nat­ed by her sto­ry, the ulti­mate bad luck in the music busi­ness cau­tion­ary tale. I had a very vivid dream about her last year, more like a vis­i­ta­tion, where she talked me through some doubts about music and life – maybe it was­n’t a dream. 

In your down time (if you have any!) who/what are you lis­ten­ing to at the moment?
I love Lau­ra Barton’s var­i­ous music-relat­ed pod­casts, which are all on BBC Sounds. She’s a fan­tas­tic writer and brings a beau­ti­ful flow to any­thing she talks about – it’s quite dream­like. Music wise, I’ve been real­ly enjoy­ing an artist called Clara Mann, and also dig­ging back into albums by Bur­ial and Por­tishead, autumn records for me.

What is in store for next year after the EP release? Will you be tour­ing? Fes­ti­vals?
I’m tour­ing this month with the Irish singer Declan O’Rourke, then I’ve got a few small head­lines in the pipeline. There is lots of LYR tour­ing ahead too, and per­haps a new project incoming…

Can you reveal more about the new project?
Dur­ing lock­down I col­lab­o­rat­ed on a few elec­tron­ic music projects, and it was some­thing I found so sat­is­fy­ing and new, this dif­fer­ent way of work­ing. The new project is a ful­ly formed, album length set of songs in that area. I’m very excit­ed to share more soon…

Richard Wal­ters: The Man I Love, on Pilot­lights Music, pub. Round Hill Music, dig­i­tal launch 5th Novem­ber. EP launch Jan­u­ary 2022
richardwaltersmusic.com / insta­gram / twit­ter

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