Second Hand Poet is the moniker of Surrey musician Jamie Tipson who plays only a handful of shows each year. He was a finalist in the Emerging Talent Competition for Glastonbury and has appeared at Guilfest, Sub Audio Festival and Oxjam. We caught up with him following the release of mini album Songs For The Pyre.
Make sure you’re happy with your own music before you release it to other people’s ears - if not, why would they enjoy it?
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
Hello, I’m Jamie, I’m a musician from Surrey. I guess what first got me into actually wanting to perform or write music was seeing artists live, a few spring to mind but the whole atmosphere and build up to a show, or how tense it is in a small venue..I just wanted a piece of it!
**Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style? **
The obvious ones for me inspiration wise are Elliott Smith and Keaton Henson, I mean there’s hundreds of artists I listen to but those two really grabbed me, the feeling of watching them completely open and almost self destructing on stage is something that fans just get drawn into even more. The mystery of them and how delicate some of the songs are, it’s definitely inspiring!
How would you describe your style?
Ambient folk? It’s always hard describing yourself, nobody is new, nobody sounds different, but if I had to sentence it ‘emotive indie folk’? It would get pretty near!
Why the name Second Hand Poet?
I always wanted to hide behind a name if that makes sense? I play in other projects and I just found it easier to write when it wasn’t just selfishly writing for my own name, myself. It helped if anything. But the name itself was almost what I said before, everyone is always on the trails of somebody else, no matter what you do you’ll always be compared to or likened to somebody else, hence the Second Hand part.
Your previous release was EP ‘All My Life’. What response did that get?
I try to forget that EP, it was my first release, I wasn’t happy how it sounded and it got dragged down by some unfortunate circumstances that I can’t really mention or name. It helped with moving on to what I do now for sure. And the response wasn’t bad at all, it wasn’t ready or produced to a standard that was beneficial for it though! It’s pretty hard to find online now also!
Your new mini LP is Songs For The Pyre. What’s it’s themes?
It’s a collection of tracks throughout the years of me doing the whole SHP thing, a few of the songs have been re-recorded from the ‘All My Life’ EP, there’s some past memorial songs and some newer numbers. In which have been brought together by some instrumentals and overall made into a sort of disjointed family! To sum it up, it’s the ‘best of’ that have been ripped from their previous demo and bedroom releases and re recorded and arranged into something nice and fresh!
When did your write the songs and where did you record them?
The oldest track is probably ‘Firefly’ that songs been around for about four years! the rest have gradually appeared since then. The album was recorded last year in July… I think, over a two week period in London at the wonderful Song Circle studio, with the also wonderful Franc Cinelli in the producers seat.
How does Songs For The Pyre build on your style?
It’s given a lot of the songs a new lease of life, they started with the bare bones of just me and an acoustic. We then just decided to bulk up some of the tracks which now have loads of different layers, from old school drum machines to some good ol MGMT style synth. Saying all that, the record still stays true to me being a solo singer songwriter, all the glam gets lifted after the first few tracks and it fades out into how I play it live pretty much!
What are your hopes for Songs For The Pyre?
I just hope people get to hear it? I’m doing the whole PR campaign myself, I don’t really believe in hiring PR companies when you’re an unsigned and not financially backed artist. It doesn’t make sense, has such a short shelf life! So that’s been the only sticking point! I’ll give it until the end of the year, then I’ll start recording it’s follow up! You have to give everything a best before!
When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
I played lots of shows before releasing this record, did two Belgium tours played a lot of southern shows. And to be honest, I’m not really a fan of playing just for the sake of it? I have a bucket list of venues of course, but the days of booking loads of shows just to look busy are long gone! I play in a Band also which plays live a lot,so doing it alone sometimes feels pointless!
I’ll be doing some sessions soon, and maybe a couple of dates this year, but there won’t be many - it’s really lonely playing on your own!
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Keaton Henson. I think we’d get on.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Don’t sign any recording contracts just to be signed, ha! And make sure you’re happy with your own music before you release it to other people’s ears - if not, why would they enjoy it?
Listen to *Songs For The Pyre on Bandcamp below. For news and tour dates follow Second Hand Poet on Facebook.*