Jamie Lenman runs us through some behind-the-scenes need-to-knows for his new EP, ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’.
→ This is my first EP as a solo artist
A lot of people think my last record, ‘King of Clubs’, was an EP, and that’s how it started, but it grew into something much bigger in terms of themes and obviously runtime, with its own world and its own design elements etc. I consider it to be a mini-album, and it’s an important distinction for me. Even though ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’ is only one track and a couple minutes shorter, it doesn’t have its own identity in the same way that ‘King Of Clubs’ did – it’s very much tied to the themes of main album ‘The Atheist’, so it’s more like a companion piece. I did put out two EPs with my band Reuben – our first ever release was a five-tracker called ‘Pilot’, and then the last thing we did before we broke up was a six-track split with two other bands. I love EPs – bigger than a snack but not as filling as a full meal – they’re like the brunch of the record world.
→ There wasn’t supposed to be an EP at all
I went into the studio in January last year with about fifteen songs, and the idea that we would simply record them all and see which ones worked best as an album. It’s always good if you have a track or two left over for things like b sides or charity compilations etc, but I felt like the eleven tracks we picked for the record told a complete story by themselves, and I didn’t want to overstuff it. That meant we had four tunes spare – enough for an EP – and the later I recorded one more song and added a remix of one of the album tracks to flesh it out a bit. It’s not that these are the songs that aren’t good enough to go on the album, they just weren’t necessary, and they work better outside it.
→ It wasn’t supposed to be called ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’
Originally, the album was going to be called ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’, after a line in the song ‘This Town Will Never Let Us Go’. Then quite late into production, I decided I wanted to make a bolder statement with the title, so I stole The Atheist off the final track and re-named that song ‘War of Doubt’. I still really liked the phrase ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’, though, and it seemed perfect for the smaller EP – like a quiet echo of the album. Plus, they both have the song that the phrase is from on them, so they share that link. Before everything got bumped around, I was considering things like ‘Onetwothreefour’, ‘Readyasilleverbe’ or ‘Let’s Get Sad’, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.
→ It’s designed to work as the third side of ‘The Atheist’ or function on its own
Even though I had enough material to make a big record, I didn’t want to make a big one – I wanted a normal-length forty-minuter, to stay inside those confines. So that’s why the other tracks got put onto the EP, although at various points, they were all in the running for inclusion on the album. There are versions of ‘The Atheist’ that I put together with these songs on them, and even some versions of the artwork with ‘Crazy Horse’ or ‘The Burning Tree’ on them made their way onto the reviews. So it’s like a second helping of the album, fifty per cent more if you want it. You can finish side B of the main record and then put the EP on straight away, and hopefully, it will make sense. Or you can listen to them separately, and it will still work. It all depends what your mood is, or how much time you have.
→ This is my first album since 2007 where I handed the artwork over to someone else
Because I am an illustrator and a designer myself, it’s hard for me to give up creative control to somebody else – particularly when doing the album art, because in many ways, that’s my favourite part of the process. I provided all the illustrations for 2013’s ‘Muscle Memory’ and 2019’s ‘Shuffle’, and although the other records I put out in between had photo-based designs, I still directed those shoots and pumped out a lot of drawings for things like merch and single covers. This time it’s all the work of my friend Michel Parkin, an amazing illustrator who lives close to me and does fantastic stuff for very high-brow publications. We had a lot of meetings, and there was a lot of collaboration on the concepts, but every mark you see was made by him – apart from the lettering on the vinyl etching, which was my fault.
→ All the tracks were recorded at different times
‘Crazy Horse’ and ‘The Last Supper’ were actually recorded in 2019, between making ‘Shuffle’ in January and ‘King of Clubs’ in December. I was working on some demo recordings with a lighter sound, as I was pretty sure that was what I wanted to do next, but then ‘King of Clubs’ got in the way so I had to see that through first. As soon as I’d finished that, I went back into the studio and tried a few more tracks, of which ‘Words of Love’ was one. Much later still, we went in to record the bulk of the album, which is when ‘I Done Things I Ain’t Proud Of’ was recorded, and right at the end of mixing we used a spare half-day to create the acoustic version of ‘This Town Will Never Let Us Go’. Finally, in the summer of last year, after everything was done and dusted, I recorded Run Right Home in my house for a charity compilation, and it sounded so similar to the rest of the material I decided to whack it on the EP. So that’s maybe why it’s not as cohesive as the record – there are three whole years between the second and third tracks – but I think it has its own patchwork charm.
Taken from the May 2023 issue of Upset. Jamie Lenman’s EP ‘Iknowyouknowiknow’ is out 5th May.