David Holmes' new album, 'The Holy Pictures', is released on 5 September. He plays a DJ set at the Electric Picnic on the Saturday night (30 August). Here, he talks to Brendan Cole about the album, its recording and the festival.
Brendan Cole: Tell me about the new album 'The Holy Pictures'.
David Holmes: It's a very personal record. It's a record that happened over a period of time due to many factors in my life to do with my parents and my friends. It's something that came together over a period of time and I'm very proud of it.
BC: Could you tell me a bit about the process of making the record? You had worked with a band on the previous album, how did you approach this one?
DH: I wasn't working with a band [this time]. I just did it in my home studio in Belfast. I did it with a couple of collaborators [but] all the songs are written on my own in my studio. Tracks would just develop. They were in the making for four or five years. I just kept on coming back to them and changing them. I wanted to be very honest about the content. There isn't anything in there that hasn't really, y'know, stood the test of time.
I made a lot of tracks making that album. I spent a lot of time on my own just tinkering and playing around with things, although there was still a real steady influx of musicians coming through my studios. It's just generally, just, you know, doing a lot of recording and then sitting on my own and working it out, sorting it out arranging it and manipulating the sound to get it to a place where I was comfortable and happy.
But this is very much my solo album.
BC: You sing quite a bit on this album.
DH: [I sing on the album] because of the personal content. So much of the music was like a homage, a eulogy almost to lost family and friends. When it came to the singing I very quickly realised that no one else could do it. I had to do it myself in order to carry the whole thing through. If I had got someone else in to do it, it would have been a copout. The whole concept of the album would have been wrong. It just wouldn't have worked. It was actually a really cathartic experience. I really enjoyed it. [The singing] was hard work just to be comfortable with it; to deliver the lyrics with passion and emotion.
But the world, and music, isn't represented by the 'X Factor'. It doesn't matter if you're not a [so called] 'singer'. It doesn't mean you can't get in front of a microphone and get out what's on your mind.
It doesn't really bother me. It was hard at the beginning, but once you get over that hurdle it doesn't really matter.
BC: Did you have to work on your own voice?
DH: Well, of course. In the early stages, you're trying to find your own voice. In the end, the best way for me to do it was just to be natural. And not to try to be anyone else or try to put on any accent. Do it from the heart, and keep it kind of understated. That's what I felt most comfortable with.
BC: 'I Heard Wonders' is the single, and the video features footage from Paris 1968.
DH: It's 40 years after the 1968 riots - '68 to '08 - and I spend a lot of time in Paris, I've got a place there and there's so much about French culture that I love; so much about French music that I love. And going back 40 or 50 years I just love the whole country. A really good friend of mine came up with the idea and I just thought that it was really interesting to explore.
BC: The picture on the front is of your parents?
DH: They were two people that I lost. There are three songs on the album that are specifically about them (two of them) lyrically and 'The Ballad of Sarah and Jack', which is a complete dedication to them and my memory of them. The other two tracks [that are specifically related to them] are 'I Heard Wonders' and 'Holy Pictures'.
BC: And you're at Electric Picnic next.
DH: I'm DJ-ing at Electric Picnic. I'm not touring with this album or anything like that. I didn't do it for that reason. I did it because of what the album and the words meant to me; it was never in my mind that I was going to take it live. It's just a lot of different sorts of music that I was exploring at the time. I wanted to make an album that didn't sound like anyone else. I had to make an album that was true to me.
On Electric Picnic, I can't wait. I've never been. It's really great to be playing down there and I'm really looking forward to seeing bands like My Bloody Valentine, Grace Jones and Sigur Rós and I'm really dying to see them.
It's one of the best festivals in Europe, so it's a real honour to be playing there.