Jimi Alexander & the Satellites have been building a loyal fan base over the last few years and this was cemented by their critically acclaimed debut album 'Burn A Little Brighter' in 2009. We have been a huge supporter of Jimi and his music since we saw him perform an intimate gig at Space studios. We met up with Jimi shortly after he had returned from this year's prestigious SXSW festival.
We began by asking Jimi about growing up and the music that influenced him.
I was born Wales but because of my family moved around a lot. This included Australia, New Zealand, back to Wales, the north or England, Yemen and Bahrain. Despite all this travelling around and not spending that much time here, I still definitely felt I was Welsh. I grew up with a lot of diverse musical influences especially Arabic music. I have some Arabic guitars at home that I would like to work with longer term. Other influences included Led Zep who of course used Arabic influences, Neil Young, Pink Floyd. I wasn't really into the whole Brit pop thing which was around at the time. I was more into grunge with bands like Sonic Youth. After grunge I moved onto Neil Young and country artists such as Gram Parsons and Steve Earle.
During these formative years it was American music that became the dominant sound he heard both from his parent's love of country music and also the large number of American families living around him. However, when he was only 19 his Father died and his world changed dramatically.
When my Father died I moved back to UK and lived in London where I went to university. I studied journalism because I wanted to write for Rolling Stone Magazine! However, because of all that had happened I dropped out and moved to Australia as I had lots of family ties there. That's where I started playing and singing. I played quite a bit in Sydney including festivals. It was going well but I felt I needed to come back to the UK if I was going to be taken it seriously. The music I was making then was alt rock, alt country. My voice sounded similar to how it is now only less developed.
One of the main factor's underpinning Jimi's music is his work with his partner and collaborator Lucy Burke who plays cello in the band. They met through a mutual friend Pete Lawrie.
Lucy and Pete had known each other all of their lives. Pete & I wrote songs together for a while and the 3 of us played as a trio. Since we worked together Pete is doing really well and has a deal with Island Records. Lucy and I gradually we met up with other musicians. I met Bob after a night at Journeys in the Toucan Club. Matt Passmore who is a phenomenal guitarist joined and since then it's been magic. Bernard Kane plays viola when he can although he has a lot of other commitments. He's played with some amazing bands such as the Manics. He's actually my cousin.
The band's first album was released in 2009. However, requiring a long time to come to fruition the band were fortunate to be given sufficient studio time to complete the project without having to rush.
The album was started Aug 2008 about a month before Country Mile Records came along. We had met Adam Williams who has his own studio. We had started recording with him when we had an email from country mile records would you be interested in us working with you. As it was Adam's studio it allowed us more time to record. Eventually it took us a year to get it recorded, produced and released. Country Mile has taken care of mastering and distribution. They have a great mindset really helping bands to progress and move forward.
Jimi Alexander & the Satellites have gained a reputation for playing live and earlier this year Jimi & Lucy made the trip to SXSW having been invited to play by ex Mekon Jon Langford.
SXSW was insane, there was so much going on with bands and art. Everywhere you can see and hear is music. We had a brilliant time. We played Jon Langford's Yard Dog Stage which is in the back of an art gallery. It's one of the best places to be at the festival. Jon has been playing us on his radio programme and he introduced me to loads of people including journalists. We went down really well. SXSW is brilliant. The music is all free, the beer is really cheap. I was really excited to see how they would react to us going over there playing alt country. They were really enthusiastic and keen to talk to us. We got taken to parties and made some great friends. It was definitely worth doing. We are hoping to go again next year. We also had some conversations about doing gigs there, hopefully with the full band.
Having gone down so well at SXSW Jimi is keen for the whole band to get back over to the States, but at the same time to keep diversity in his recorded and live work.
We are planning to do 2 separate releases either a band album or EP and the other is Lucy and myself. That will be much more of a country, stripped down country affair. The new songs I will be recording with the band are much more rock 'n' roll. When Lucy & I play together the sound is quite different to when the band plays. I think that's good and I want to carry on working on parallel projects. I always want to maintain variety of the band plus the solo stuff with Lucy.
The other big news for Jimi is that he has started working with the management team of Rhys Mwyn.
Rhys used to manage Catatonia back in the good old days when people still bought albums, and the radio was filled (mostly) with listenable music. He now represents Viv Albertine (the slits), Jeb Loy Nichols and 9 Bach among others. We are really excited about working with Rhys and hopefully it will lead to more work and visits to the States. We should also be doing some shows with Danny & the Champions of the World and Songdog so the year ahead is looking incredibly exciting.
Jimi Alexander & the Satellites play at the newsoundwales event at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff on Sunday 30th May
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