Having appeared at Guilfest a couple of years ago Seth Lakeman once again wowed the audience with his combination of folk rock, hoedown and contemporary sounds made by classic instruments such double bass and fiddle combined with electric guitar and drums. The crowd was very varied in age and taste, which shows the board spectrum of Seth’s audience, and were up and dancing by the end of the first song due to the rousing fiddle beats. As the set went on, Seth built up a good rapport with the listeners and even the occasional festival goer on their way to watch other artists stopped and listened to the foot tapping beats.
Born in 1977, Seth started out playing music with his brothers as 'The Lakeman Brothers', releasing their critically acclaimed debut album 'Three Piece Suite' in 1994. Joining up with others to form 'Equation' and getting a record deal in 1995, he then left 'Equation' in 2001 and joined his brother Sam and Sam's wife 'Cara Dillon' and appeared on Dillon's acclaimed eponymous debut album, which featured Seth on fiddle, guitar and vocals. Seth eventually branched out on his own and in 2002 released his first solo album, 'The Punch Bowl'. Lakeman's second solo album 'Kitty Jay' was released in 2004 and brought him recognition through a 'Mercury' Prize nomination. Lakeman has performed at many festivals such as the 'SXSW' festival in Texas, 'Hyde Park Calling', the 'Glastonbury Festiva'l, The 'V Festival', the 'Edmonton Folk Music Festival', 'Canada', and 'Fairport's Cropredy Convention' amongst many others and has provided support for 'Tori Amos' on her European tour.
If Seth Lakeman was exposed to a wider commercial market he would pleasantly surprise a lot of people who would not normally listen to this type of music.
Q: When did you start playing instruments, you play quite a few don’t you?
Seth Lakeman: I started when I was about 5 or 6 years old, getting to grips, really with the violin, then moved on to the guitar, banjo, mandolin, things like that, string stuff.
Q: When did you start writing?
Seth Lakeman: About 10 years ago properly, when I was in my early 20s, yeah. I wasn’t writing really young actually, I was writing music before I was writing songs. I’d say I was more of a musician than a writer. But it’s what I’ve always been fascinated in, the stories from around my local area. About people and events and celebrating community and moments of history, that’s what I’m fascinated in, yeah.
Q: What started the writing off?
Seth Lakeman: With the writing I think what kicked it off was I was channelling my own ideas and sometimes you have to do that, and the only person who can do that is yourself. I was writing songs first for 'Cara Dillon' and other singers but then I decided to start trying to sing them myself and then I guess, that’s when it all kicked off with the Mercury in 2005. I didn’t really have confidence that it was going to work, so I was very surprised that it gave me a career in it, so yeah it was one of those lucky breaks really, I was experimenting with sound and it seemed to work.
Q: Who are your influences?
Seth Lakeman: All sorts really, people like 'Richard Thompson', 'Roger Wilson', A guy called 'Tim Erickson' who I listen a lot to who’s a great American folk singer. And then there’s pop people like 'Peter Garbriel', 'Paul Simon', and 'Sting', with the way they craft songs. And then there are great fiddle players 'Martin Hayes' and then 'Casey', I grew up playing in sessions with lots of people, hence the real folk background.
Q: Has there been anyone at Guilfest you’ve enjoyed listening to?
Seth Lakeman: I haven’t yet unfortunately, I only got here about 3 or 4 ‘o clock so I didn’t manage to but I’m hopefully going to check some people out tonight and I’m looking forward to see 'Status Quo' of course.
Q: Who have you toured with that is memorable?
Seth Lakeman: Tori Amos’, I went on the road with her, that was pretty cool, very captivating.
Q: Do you find you learn a lot from them?
Seth Lakeman: Yeah you do. Like any career, you learn from their wisdom and the way they craft their own music and their art, so it definitely rubs off on you.
Q: Do you want to tell us about your new Album?
Seth Lakeman: Hearts and Minds yeah, it’s out tomorrow (19.7.2010). I wrote it about 18 months ago now, it’s just a body of work that lyrically has moved on a bit, it more contemporary, more social issues going on. It’s really interesting and I like the way it’s moved forward it got a lot more diversity and sound.
By Michelle Baker
Photographer Ricky Swift