As well as celebrating the release of his single It’s Such a Shame (That I’m in Love), London-based singer-songwriter Bill Jefferson may also be celebrating the fact that he’s safe from the wrath of friends today whilst under lockdown. A nod to falling for a friend’s partner, I’m pretty sure many who know him will be searching for answers on the inspiration behind the song. But from a songwriting perspective, it’s this kind of honesty – writing for yourself and avoiding thinking about what others will think or say – which has allowed Jefferson to remain true to himself in writing an ode to forbidden love.
Written with Jessie Munro (Leith) and Jonah Summerfield, the guitar led tune with raspy, softly spoken lyrics draws inspiration from 70s folk-rock. Recorded and self-produced by Jefferson in lockdown, take a listen:
We had a chat with Bill to learn a bit more about this tune that might get him in a bit of hot water with his friends, and got five tunes for you to listen to in lockdown…
Hi Bill! Hope you’re doing well all things considered. How’s lockdown been for you?
Thanks, you too! Generally very strange, but as good as it can be I’d say. I live with two close mates so we’ve been able to go slightly insane all together.
Congrats on the release of It’s Such A Shame (That I’m In Love)! It’s a tune! But, you have said that if some of your friends knew the meaning behind this track, it’d cause a bit of tension… let’s be honest, the song kind of spells it out. Without getting you punched or exiled (I wouldn’t want that on my hands!), what can you tell us about how the song came to exist from a writing point of view?
Thank you, haha let me just choose my words carefully. You’re right the song does kinda explain itself, which is actually slightly concerning when I think about it. I wrote it with Jessie Munro (Leith) and Jonah Summerfield and I do remember a bit of an ‘are you sure about this?’ moment. But it just felt too right, and tiptoeing around the sentiment wasn’t going to work. I might have to changed my number though.
Some great co-writers! And ~ honesty is the best policy ~ and all that jazz, we salute you. We know you self-produce your stuff from home, and this one was done whilst in this surreal lock-down situation. What’s the production side of the process like for you?
I find the production of a song develops as I record it really. I like to have a general idea but it’s mainly in getting vibey takes recorded. The lockdown hasn’t changed the process too much, I use headphones more to save my flatmates from hearing the same song 3000 times and I did miss being able to play this song to my friends to see their first reaction.
How did you get into producing your own stuff and writing music?
I started by writing songs in bands at school and I found it completely addictive, and production just came out of recording demos initially. I did have amazing music teachers at secondary school, I think I just about scraped a C in music but they ignited an interest in music which is way more important.
So what’s next for you after It’s Such A Shame (That I’m In Love)? More releases in the near future?
Definitely! My next release is a song called Deserts of Love (Revisited) which will be out in early June. It’s a rerecording of a song which I felt I didn’t get right the first time around, one of the best things about producing and releasing your own music yourself at the moment is that you can makes these kind of decisions.
Where do you get inspiration for your music? Any contemporary and/or past influences?
I’m constantly listening back to my demos and hearing influences I wasn’t really aware of having, I think a lot of my parents music has subconsciously seeped into what I do. I do find myself revisiting certain artists I love from time to time like David Bowie or Joan Armatrading. But to be honest I find it more inspiring finding new music, loving Honey Harper’s new album Starmaker right now.
I love this question… those answering not so much! But here goes: how would you describe your sound for those who haven’t heard you?
It’s folk-rock with potentially reckless lyrics…
Reckless, but honest; that’s what counts! Just so our readers can get to know you a little better, a la Desert Island Disks, what book, song and luxury item would you take with you to a desert island?
Book –The Third Police Man by Flann O’Brien. Song – Fly by Nick Drake and a LOT of Yorkshire Tea bags.
Finally, as all our readers are stuck at home, we were hoping you’d give us 5 songs you love and tell us briefly why you’ve chosen them?
Ok, in no particular order…
Know My Name, Das Body: “This song feels like it’s always been there despite being released only a few years ago, it feels completely timeless. They’re also one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.”
Lullaby of London, The Pogues: “I pretty much listened to The Pogues permanently when I first to moved into London. I lived above a pub in Islington where Shane MacGowan used to drink, I adore his lyrics they are so effortlessly romantic.”
I Feel Alive, TOPS: “I’m a sucker for a two and a half minuet banger. This whole album just shimmers!”
Shark Smile, Big Thief: “This song mixes beauty with darkness perfectly, I love the production and Adrianne Lenker’s vocal is so delicate and intriguing on it.”
Love And Affection, Joan Armatrading: “It’s a classic and there’s nothing else like it. Joan’s style is totally unique, it’s a permanent reminder to me that there are no rules in songwriting and music in general.”
Thanks for chatting to us, and we hope to hear more from you soon!
Thanks for having me!
Keep up with Bill Jefferson through the links below: