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Recreations: “I want to look forward”

At just 30-years-old, Sam Duckworth is already a veteran of the UK music scene, having released a near-continuos stream of material under both Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and his own name for over a decade. Following a recent bout of ill health, and a nagging feeling that he was outgrowing his previous monikers, he’s now started something new: Recreations. Releasing his debut-album-of-sorts this Friday (29th April), you can now hear ‘Baby Boomers 2’ in full exclusively on Upset – and read more about it straight from the man himself.

You recently started a new project, Recreations – what was the catalyst behind the new name?
As much as I like the name, it dated pretty quickly. To me it feels like it belongs in the same bracket as dropping the “e” from extreme or spelling new “nu”. It served me well, but It got kinda tiresome trying to explain the band name to people. I think some of the early records are very much a snapshot in time for many people, personally I like to think they hold up, but without being able to re-approach the songs from a fresh perspective, I can understand why they feel like a trip down memory lane. Having a nostalgic name isn’t handy when the world is stuck in a throwback loop, I want to be looking forward.
A lot of the political elements of my music, sadly, feel relevant again too. Be it racism, institutional corruption or being paid a fair wage for a days work, it’s important to me that these subjects feel current. By being tied to a nostalgic feeling, I felt like certain elements of my live show lost their ability to translate the sense of conviction I have for the subjects I sing about. Also I really like Parks and Rec and I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a project called Recreations.

Do you think fans of your previous work will carry through to this new project, or are you after a whole new audience?
Every journey I have made has been a journey toward how to making the elements of music I love work in the same space. Sometimes they made for cohesive albums and sometimes they felt like scrapbooks. Recreations has a bit more definition. I wanted to make sure that certain electronic sounds and themes repeated. As a result its been really fun re working songs from my Get Cape… days using this palette. I’d like to think that anyone who likes elements of my previous work, will find this soundscape easy to transition in to. I think it sounds like a new beginning but also has elements of familiarity. I’m extremely proud of it and hope that people are able to spend time with it.

At what point did you start working on ‘Baby Boomers 2’? Was it an easy process?
In 2012 I was seriously ill. It was at this point that I decided to kill off Get Cape… ‘London Royal’ (Alcopop, 2014) was going to be the fifth Get Cape album, as a result it’s kind of 4.5, as it was released in its unfinished form. It was me at my physically lowest (‘Amazing Grace’ which came around the same time was the very beginnings of coping with a greater understanding of mortality, but also with a lot of physical and mental healing). Getting back into these songs a couple of years down the line, when I was finally ready for London Royal to come out as the final chapter from Get Cape, it felt like I’d finally got to the sound I was looking for.
‘Pipedown’, which was my 2014 Record Store Day release (on a wrestling mask no less) felt like a song that could be revised. I felt like it was the beginning of something very exciting and it served as one of the lynchpins for the record. I had a solid five tracks that I kept going back to, but it felt like the other five would be really difficult. I spent months writing and revising and then suddenly one weekend, ‘Zones 9&10’, ‘Lifestyle Concept Store’, ‘Digital Ghettos’ and ‘Red Spex’ all just kinda fell out of me. Suddenly it felt like the record had shape and then it was a case of trawling back through the archives to see if there was anything I missed.
I’d enough songs to have a mixtape, an EP and an album. I like to keep my songs sounding very true to their first moment of inception. I think with a debut it needs that freshness and openness as a singer songwriter. It wasn’t easy making the record, as its very much a new beginning but also a continuation. Finding that balance personally, was key in being able to make the right album.

You’ve described the record as being “a little bit more emo” than your previous work – are you feeling a bit disillusioned?
It’s easy to be disillusioned right now, you could even argue we are conditioned to feel like that. One of the most common reactions when a scandal breaks is “are you surprised” or “of course they were going to do that.” That level of resignation is a major step backwards for developed society. We have rendered ourselves powerless. I think its down to the volume of the inner workings of everything we are exposed to. There is so much information and raw emotion drives the whole thing. Hence clickbait being mostly focused around outrage.
The social security of the UK is being sold off to allow capitalism to continue pretending that the free market is self regulating. A self regulating market would still have to play a part of society, the idea that it can exist without contributing tax is dangerous. 40% of boots custom comes from the NHS, the tax dodge is now well over two billion. I would imagine Jeremy Hunt could keep his staff happy with that kind of money, and the DWP wouldn’t have to make illegal cuts that breach human rights laws if they came after Amazon, Google, Vodafone, Arcadia and countless others too, they are running amuck. The Panama papers is going to be the first of a series of big exposures, you can feel it in the air. Accountability is back on the table, I imagine a lot of high profile people are feeling rather scared. The common consensus is that the tax loopholes need to be controlled, this is something almost everyone agrees on. This is a major victory for campaign groups like UK Uncut and a victory for the British people, justice will allow a fair amount of our money to go to the right people.
Optimism is hard to maintain but the promise of a better, fairer future is always there and just about keeping my head above water.

Are there any tracks on the album that in particular mean a lot to you?
‘Lifestyle Concept Store’ sounds like me, I know that sounds bizarre, but it feels like I’ve finally managed to crack the finger picking/beats/social commentary thing that I’ve been striving towards for years. It feels like a watershed moment in ten years of songwriting. I’m proud of every song on the record, but that one in particular feels like a victory. I consider ‘Pipedown’ and forgiveness to be in the best songs I’ve ever written list.

Is there anything you’ve managed to achieve on this record that either alluded you previously, or just wasn’t a concern before?
I strive for continual improvement. I think in any machine, be it a team or a mindset, it’s important always to try and work out why you got somewhere, what worked and how to do it better next time. I feel like this is my most cohesive record and that is a major victory for me. I’m enjoying making music again, as opposed to leaning on it like a crutch, joy is something that has returned too.

How do you feel your approach to making music differs now to when you made your first Get Cape tracks?
It’s almost identical in so much that it is different every time. The decision making process is much more streamlined, I’m only finishing the things that need finishing as opposed to having fifty finished mixes. I feel like I understand what works as an album much better. In regards writing, the process has always been catch a wave of inspiration and ride it out. Sometimes it comes in spurts, sometimes, as was the case here, it’s two very strong creative bursts and a focused mix. I’ve reconnected with the idea of being more open, for reasons I won’t go into, that ended up feeling like a shameful feeling for me and I’m sad it was allowed to be treated as such. I am writing from the heart again and I think that very much draws a parallel with the early Get Cape albums.

Tell us something you’re up to we can look forward to later in the year.
I’m going to be playing live a lot. Technology has finally got to a place where it is possible for me to put on the show I have always wanted without the fear of it going wrong or it not being portable. I believe that musical communities are really starting to come back in the uk. It is important to me to go to places outside of the cities, I’m from outside the M25 and places of a similar ilk to Southend make sense to me. I’m very proud of the show I will be touring and am not going to stop, so hopefully you can either be excited about the show or excited about being creative with your excuses because I’m not going anywhere.

Recreations’ debut album ‘Baby Boomers 2’ is out 29th April.