Liam T Wade is an English singer, songwriter and producer who began his professional career playing rhythm guitar for Courtney Love. His debut solo album Transient is released Friday 27th July.
Congratulations on your upcoming album release. What’s the meaning behind the seven second opening track “Condensed For Your Convenience”?
So “Condensed For Your Convenience” is actually a part of a different narrative. So the original title for this record was Advertise. And basically I had a running theme – it’s because when I moved to the United States obviously it was a big difference for me from the UK and one of the main things of the United States is the advertising that you kind of come up against – on TV, on radio, just in general. So “Condensed For Your Convenience” is something you see at the beginning of a lot of TV advertisements for drugs (laughs). So it was part of that narrative, because I had a song called “Advertise” which was in there so that and there was another part in the record called “Low Self Esteem”, which was part of that theme. But when I got the record back, that song I actually wasn’t feeling that much. It didn’t fit with the rest of the record for me. So I ended up taking that song out but I wanted to keep those parts of the record in. So that’s what it is, part of a different narrative about the advertising in the United States. And obviously Transient is the new title that is still about that same transient that I took from being from the UK to the West Coast and then back to the East Coast. So it still makes sense with the overall narrative but it was more that I had taken a song out. But yeah it’s about that strange… have you been to the United States before? The advertising is just something else.
It controls so much of the industry here, the government, you know, it’s all like big business.
You mentioned another short track there, “Low Self Esteem”, in which you reference “drugs, drugs, drugs”. In addition to a statement on advertising, is this intended as a statement on the size and scope of the pharmaceutical industry in America, or is it rather an admission of self-medication as a coping mechanism, given your isolating lifestyle as a solo artist?
Actually it’s the complete opposite. I’m very against the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t take anything. More of the holistic style medication. I feel like it’s such a huge problem in the United States and it was more of a reference to that, not my own personal use of it, my actual disdain for the whole industry. Because it controls so much of the industry here, the government, you know, it’s all like big business. So yeah, it’s not about my personal usage, it’s about how much I dislike it.
Are you concerned that Spotify likely won’t pay out any streaming royalties for these short tracks, given they fall under 30 seconds?
No I don’t – I’m not really concerned about that. I feel like Spotify and Apple Music, all the streaming services – I don’t even worry about the income that I get from them anymore because they’re so minimal, it’s really just irrelevant when making art to me now… The money side of the streaming is just so small that it doesn’t really concern me. I don’t even think about it as income anymore. I feel like to make money as a musician I have other streams of revenue that I have. But yeah streaming is not one of them I don’t think. There’s a lot of musicians out there who are making significant money from streaming to fund what they do.
When you hand over to a label, they haven’t got a lot of money to be perfectly honest with you. Unless it’s a huge one. And the deals are so bad now.
You’ve formed your own record label, Dopeness Records NYC. What role do record labels play in the digital age? Are they still necessary?
Record label for what my record label is is a pretty grandiose term for me. Basically it’s just my stamp to put on my records if you know what I mean. I feel like the record industry has changed so much since I became – so I started my professional career about 12 years ago. Like I was 16 years old when Napster was around. It’s changed so much that I feel like record labels are becoming less and less important for people who want to make music. Like as a younger artist I had the dreams of you know, being on a record label, signing that big deal, getting the money, getting the tour support, getting on these big tours. And although I did that somewhat, record labels never really panned out for me. Like it was never really a thing that I really – now I don’t even care about them. I have spoken to labels about this record briefly, but in a very loose term. Like I always planned on releasing it myself because I wanted to have control over what I do and you know, when you hand over to a label, they haven’t got a lot of money to be perfectly honest with you. Unless it’s a huge one. And the deals are so bad now. But I still got money from my writing credits from the past year, so I saved that money to make this record. So I’m completely independent. So it’d be hypocritical for me to say that labels is something that I strive to be on, cos I don’t anymore. If you want to be an independent artist, you have everything you need to do that. Like I use AWAL as my distributor. And you know, It’s fine, it’s not anything special. It’s just like a distributor and they’re helpful in some respects. There’s like – in the US there’s CD Baby, there’s TuneCore I think. There’s plenty of them out there so if you really want to release your own music it’s very easy to do in the modern world.
You produced this record yourself. Is producing other artists something you’d be keen to do in the future?
Yeah, no totally.
And would you do that on your label?
Potentially. It’s something that I’m considering but I haven’t made any steps towards that yet in respect to my own label. I mean I produced stuff for smaller artists when I was in San Francisco… I did the last FURS record with Olly Betts, who’s the drummer in The Duke Spirit. He drummed in FURS and he drummed in this. So we co-produced that record. But yeah. It’s definitely on the cards for me to produce other artists. It’s something that I strive to do at some point. And mix as well, like I mixed this record and I’ve mixed other stuff for other people. So I’d definitely be in the market for – if people get in touch with me then I’d definitely consider it.
You mentioned FURS there. What was it like working with your sister Elle and would you consider working with her again?
Oh totally, yeah. My sister is the best singer that I’ve worked with. she’s a fantastic, fantastic singer. I mean it’s hard to say natural, but like it’s so easy for her… A lot of those songs that ended up on that record were first takes, which sounds hard to believe. But she’s a very good vocalist and I do plan on working with her again. I’ve already started working on my next record. This record doesn’t include Danielle at all. But the next one I’m gonna try and have her involved a lot more.
I figured that I would just go to the audition because I’d meet Courtney Love. I didn’t really have any expectations of getting the job.
You began your professional career playing rhythm guitar for Courtney Love in 2007. If I’m not mistaken, this would have been her first musical outing since her 2005 court-ordered stint in rehab. How did your involvement in the project come about and how would you characterise Courtney’s mood and behaviour at the time?
So I got the job through my friend Drew McConnell, he’s the bass player from a band called Babyshambles and he’s currently in Liam Gallagher’s band as the bass player. So he’s friends with Courtney and he got in touch with me and said do I want to audition. So I figured that I would just go to the audition because I’d meet Courtney Love. I didn’t really have any expectations of getting the job. And then I auditioned – I learned the songs, I auditioned on the Friday and then I think on maybe the Monday or the Tuesday the following week – it was maybe like May or June, early June, it was probably May actually – she personally called me and offered me the job and the next week I was flying to Los Angeles to start rehearsals and learn the rest of the music from that record which she was pushing at the time. And Courtney was a great mentor. She taught me a hell of a lot, she’s a fantastic performer. She was always very kind to me. She was very supportive. She pushed me to my limits when it came to music. We had a really good team around us that were helping us with working out all sorts of stuff and stage performers and learning these songs. It was a great experience and I’m very grateful that she did that for me. It was taking a chance on her part.
Courtney was a great mentor… She was always very kind to me. She was very supportive. She pushed me to my limits when it came to music.
What was your first job? Did you always aspire to become a musician?
My first job, I was 15 years old. I mean, I had a paper round like, delivering papers when I was very young. But my first job out of school, I worked in a fish and chips shop (laughs). I’m from a small town in the north east of England called Grimsby which is famous for its fish and chips. And my first job was in the back room, basically stocking up the chips and bringing the fish through for the fish and chips shop. So it was a smelly job, it wasn’t a good one. But you know, it was an experience… I went to college and university to study music technology and my actual plan, I mean I always played guitar from my teens but I really wanted to work in sound design, that was my idea. I wanted to do like, film sound design because that was what I was studying at university and that was the aspect of it that I enjoyed the most. Like I enjoyed being in the studio, I enjoyed recording, which spurred on me to do my own recording… I had moved to London by this point and I was in little bands in London when I got the Courtney job. But the Courtney job was really my first professional job. From that point it was like, my main focus was to work in music, as a musician but also doing my studio stuff.
You’ve lived in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London. Which city would you say provides the most opportunity to aspiring musicians?
Out of those four cities, I have very different experiences of them all, but I am a huge, huge fan of New York. New York is a fantastic city. I feel like it’s the best city I’ve ever lived in. And that’s no disrespect to London or LA because I do love those places too, but in terms of like, the vibe and the amount of people that are really creative and really artistic, it’s New York hands down. And I feel like because the city is so bustling, there are a lot of opportunities to get things going here. I found that in London as well, but I found that was more through friend groups, if you know what I mean. Because I was younger in London and I was growing up with my friends and we formed bands etcetera etcetera. But moving to New York and not knowing too many people, I’ve managed to get stuff going very quickly. There’s great venues to play, there’s great musicians and there’s a drive in this city like no other. So yeah, New York for me is hands down the best place for a musician.
Despite all of the advertising?
(Laughs) Yeah, despite all the advertising. It’s the best.
If you could collaborate with any artist, in any medium, past or present, who would it be and what would you ideally create?
Wow. You know, an artist that I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy and I feel he transcends just music because he does do visual art as well, he does do writing and poetry, is actually Frank Ocean. So he’s obviously a modern artist. He’s someone that like, I absolutely love his musical output, he’s a fantastic songwriter and lyricist. He’s a visual artist as well, he obviously released that exclusive record, I think it’s through Apple Music – I’m not sure if it was from Tom Sachs, it might have been a collaboration with him. But yeah, Frank Ocean for me is like, he’s an alternate like, artist – oh, Endless was the video he did – and I’d love to collaborate with him on something. I don’t think it’s very possible at the stage I’m at in my career, but to work with him on a record, maybe a visual record would be incredible.