INTERVIEW: Nostalgia 77

by Winston "Stone" Ford

People think I’m obsessed with the past. I am inspired by the music of the 20th century but I don’t think of my music as revival.

Nostalgia 77 might not yet be a household name, but you surely have heard his take on The White Stripes’ iconic Seven Nation Army before with the lovely Alice Russell. However, Nostalgia (aka Benedic Lamdin) has worked with some players in the UK music industry, including everyone’s favorite Quantic. Mixing traditional dusty soul with jazz influences, Nostalgia lives up to his name, yet he has an ear to the future.  His latest album, The Sleepwalking Society (pre-order from Amazon) is out March 22nd via Tru Thoughts Recordings. You can also purchase the lead single, “Simmerdown” from iTunes.

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How did you get into music? What artists inspire you?

Although I was raised in a house where music was important and my mother was a musician I got into making music from record collecting. I had a first wave of loving classic bands like floyd, then followed the path back from hip hop, downbeat and dance music to the jazz records and r & b which is at the core of so much of that music.

Inspirations along the way have been too many to mention, there are truely great artists that are awe inspiring but i think sometimes it’s the people we know or a throw away musical moment that can be just as inspiring.

What’s behind the name, Nostalgia 77?

Nostalgia 77 was a name plucked from the air the night before i submitted my first record! 77 is the year of my birth, nostalgia just seemed to feel right for the piece I was working on. In a way i wish I’d chosen a less loaded name, people think I’m obsessed with the past – I am inspired by the music of the 20th century but I don’t think of my music as revival – it’s just music.

The first time I heard you, it was your cover of Seven Nation Army with Alice Russell. Do you consider that to be your big break?

A lot of people came to what I do via that song… it was actually done as a throwaway thing but of course I had a great song that was already in everybody’s consciousness and a great singer Alice Russell to deliver the killer blow.

I really enjoyed doing the tune and it did help but i like to think that the people who’ve come to he music through other LP’s and gigs like Nostalgia 77 for the variety and sentiment of our own music as well as enjoying that tune.

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Yes, Alice MADE that tune. It seems like a lot of your music is through a female muse. How do you select your vocalists?

Actually I don’t select my vocalists – they select me! This actually hasn’t been true in the past, but for the latest project I just got a randon internet message on myspace… I’d actually almost given up checking myspace there was so much span and random unrelated music, but for some reason I listened to Josa’s music and I just felt it was the perfect fit for the tunes I was writing. Luckily she liked the demo’s i sent her and agreed to come to London to record.

Would you ever be keen to step in front of the mic?

I don’t think my voice records nicely, I think I’m happier writing songs for other people.

How are you able to achieve your trademark (dusty/old 45) style sound on some of your tracks? Is it a digital technique? Analog?

I record using a mixture of analog and digital. If you find out what kind of equipment people used on old tunes and tread that path it’s not too difficult to replicate. Of course part of it is a mentality– back then a lot of the how records ended up sounding was due to limitations. By the same measure there we’re some masters of acoustics and engineering back then… people really understood why they were putting microphones where they did.

Your sound combines both live and sampled elements? Do you prefer sampling or live instrumentation when crafting your music?

I think there’s something to be said for both approaches… in recent years I’ve got a lot out of working with musicians in live environments.. trying to capture human energy and performance. It’s a very exciting and rewarding process. In other situations technology offers us solutions and aesthetics that have never been available before. If we harness those musically and creatively it can be very exciting and distinct.

A lot of your music has jazz influences? Were you a classically trained jazz musician?

No, but i tracked down some good ones!

It seems like people like you, Bonoboo, Cinematic, and Quantic have an authentic UK/English sound? Are you able to translate this sound to audiences worldwide?

I think England is a great melting pot for music, there’s lots to inspire and bounce off here, so much that you have to work hard to carve out your own sound. Bonobo’s sound has proved massively popular in the US and whilest my own project proves popular in the UK it receives more support in Europe and japan so I think the English sound really travels well.

What can people expect on your latest effort, The Sleepwalking Society?

The new record is an album of songs, with a couple of instrumental pieces thrown in. The songs I think are really a blend of three streams, folk, jazz and soul. There’s a new singer, Josa Peit who has a great voice and intensity plus there’s some new musicians that I haven’t worked with on Nostalgia 77 material before. Tim Giles, James Allsopp, Fulvio Sigurta along side some old regulars Riaan Vosloo & Ross Stanley

What’s next for you? Do you plan to tour? If so, any US tour dates?

We have been discussing a trip to the US to perform music of the new LP. No dates confirmed yet though. I’ve got a lot of production jobs on for groups and singers in London so lots of time in the studio. I also look after a little record label, Impossible Ark which puts out little jazz records, we’ll be doing more releases later this year.