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SXSW 2008 has ended
Saturday, March 15 • 1:30pm - 2:00pm
Liam Finn

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Welling up from the dark bars and clubs of London’s thriving indie music scene, rock n’ roll prodigy Liam Finn has bounded onto the international music scene with the force and presence of an artist twice his age. The twenty-three-year-old New Zealand native writes, produces and engineers his own music, adhering to a strict DIY creative process—even shooting his own publicity photos and album artwork. In addition to meticulously overseeing the recording of his debut album I’ll Be Lightning, Finn plays nearly every instrument on the album, a responsibility he doesn’t relinquish during his now mythic live gigs. During his raucous yet intimate performances Liam utilizes effects pedals to create, sample and loop bass, guitar, drums and vocals to layer with his live vocals and guitar. Pre-programmed flourishes, also keyed live by Finn, gurgle under his sharp, addictive melodies to produce experimental pop music that is simultaneously ghostly and direct in its atmospherics and emotionalism. Being responsible for all the sound flowing from the stage is inevitably risky, but it’s a risk in which the youngster relishes. “I think the fact of doing this looping, one-man-band sort of thing really keeps you on your toes and keeps it fresh. The more you mess up, the more you’re forced to turn it into a good mess and people seem to respond more. I find it really stimulating. I just love the danger of it, really.” As one might assume, a Liam Finn show is by no means the seated, shh-inducing coffee house affair many solo singer-songwriter performances can be. It’s actually the antithesis. Finn drops fuzzed out guitar riffs, bellows bass lines and thunders on his drum kit like a punk rock caveman. When asked the philosophy behind this approach Liam remarks, “Whenever I walk in and see just a guy and a guitar, I think ‘Here we go again.’ I want to give people something different.” Liam has now taken the precarious balancing act that is his live show into the studio, translating it into a precise, nuanced group of songs culminating in his first solo album I’ll Be Lightning, due January 22, 2008 on Yep Roc Records. Finn penned the songs on Lightning during the past two years which have seen him leave his native New Zealand and move to London with his band betchadupa. Now on indefinite hiatus, the critically acclaimed band didn’t seem like the right place for his new material. “The songs were emotional so I was a little hesitant to show them to my band who are my three best mates. It just felt more natural to play these songs by myself.” Inspired by his stint in the chilly UK, Liam’s new songs are inspired by some ensuing bad fortune including evictions, muggings, thefts and the ending of a long-term relationship. Says Finn, “Bad experience can be great fuel for creativity, I just hope I don’t have to emotionally f—k myself over to the same extent to make my next album.” Recorded in his father’s Roundhead studios in Auckland, NZ, I’ll Be Lightning was recorded live to analog tape and in keeping with his DIY credo was written, produced and engineered by Finn himself. “I purposely did it all analog, there were no computers involved. I made all the loops live and played them directly onto tape. Some things you just can’t capture on computers.” Recording in this manner allowed Finn to capture the fragile and frenetic nature of his songs, an aspect of his music heavily apparent during his daring live shows. Shooting for a demo-like quality, Finn kept pre-production to a minimum, opting for the spontaneity first takes can often hold. “Your demos always end up being the versions of your songs that you fall in love with but never release. You keep on trying to make them ‘better’ with a band, an engineer, a producer and so on, but you usually fail, so I thought I’d release the demos instead. Of course that means there are heaps of mistakes in there, but they add a lot of character. The accidents and the mistakes often become your favorite bits.’’ This come-as-you-are approach to recording can be seen in the title track “I’ll Be Lightning” which was recorded the same day it was written with Liam’s father Neil Finn on bass, track co-writer Connan Hosford on autoharp and vocals as well as betchadupa member Matt Eccles on drums. After a night on the town and more than a few lashings of wine, the group laid down the track live keeping the imperfections which most artists and producers would have excluded from the final version. Finn’s melodies feel as if they were snatched from the ether, faintly familiar like the musical stowaways of a dream. His lyrics sit latent, only making their meaning known when you stop trying to interpret them. His innovative future-vintage approach to his craft and his strict hands-on creative philosophy are two reasons he remains one of the most authentic and talented independent artists on today’s musical landscape. While his groundbreaking one-man live shows and stirringly addictive songwriting have had him on the lips of tastemakers for some time, the release of I’ll Be Lightning is sure to secure his place as one of the brightest and most meaningful creative forces in music today.
http://2008.sxsw.com/music/showcases/band/62072.html

Saturday March 15, 2008 1:30pm - 2:00pm
SESAC Day Stage Cafe Austin Convention Center 500 E Cesar Chavez St

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