Elba Annual 2013 – Chris T-T

Our second Elba annual post of 2013 comes from one of my favourite songwriters and live performers, Brighton-based Chris T-T. Having released new album, ‘The Bear‘ with his band The Hoodrats, in October, Chris is currently embarking on a solo tour. He’ll be stopping off at Pivo in Edinburgh tomorrow night (11th Dec) and then Glasgow on Thursday (12th) where he’ll play The Roxy (TICKETS). I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you try and catch one of these shows. Always engaging, often amusing, at times emotional, these are my favourite type of shows.

One of the good things about these annual posts are that you often discover something that you’ve never heard before, so I’m very grateful to Chris for sharing his track of the year. It’s a beauty.

Album of The Year

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

I listened to it over and over and over. I love the addition of big budget production (and crucially, studio time) to Scott’s extraordinary songs and a band becoming used to being a band. There were strong challenges through the year and if you’d asked me in summer, 2-3 other things might’ve been ahead at that point but as the autumn got colder, the Rabbit just kept going. In the end nothing toppled them off my favourite album plinth. The show I saw at Brighton Concorde, which isn’t a great venue for a subtle, layered band, was in my top 10 gigs of the year as well.

Song of the Year

She’s a close friend and I sang a bit of backing vocals on this – but still my favourite song of 2013 was Gill Sandell’s 6 minute quiet apocalypse masterpiece ‘Distance‘ from her 2nd solo album ‘Light The Boats’. I’ve not heard anyone take this quiet end of folk music and make it so dark and expansive without losing intimacy. Like that huge John Murry song but looking hopelessly outwards instead of self-indulgently inwards – I can’t think of anyone else in the folk world who could’ve done it. ‘Distance’ feels like a whole Hayao Miyazaki film in one song. Rifa and me were driving around west Cornwall in a rainstorm when we first listened properly, loud in the car, it was devastating.

Best gig you played

I’d started off 2013 not gigging – was my longest gap off tour for 10 years in the end. So most of my 2013 gigs are recent and it’s hard to pick. Twice this year I got the chance to play with an orchestra, which I’ve never done before, so probably my favourite gig wasn’t a T-T show but being part of the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra (pianist), accompanying Jim Bob at Bush Hall, in November. The orchestral enhanced version of ‘Tall Woman’ in a pub called The Boogaloo in north-west London was also transcendent. In late summer I had a wonderful evening at Uncivilisation Festival, which was entirely unplugged, in front of a roaring fire in a cabin in the woods, in pouring rain. But again, it wasn’t so much my set (although that was really fun) as the other acts, because I curated the evening and it went down a storm. A few of the support shows with Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo were magic, especially towards the end of that tour, and I just had a beautiful intimate show in Ipswich at The SoapBox House that I really enjoyed.

Best gig you saw

Easy. John Parish Band doing their film soundtrack show (mostly instrumental pieces, only two songs with words), except the gig I saw didn’t have the film clips projected, so in theory it wouldn’t have been as good. Yet in fact, it just meant there was nothing to distract attention from the live band doing their thing. In my opinion Parish is one of the greatest living composers, just happens to work with rock instrumentation: breathtakingly imaginative, incredibly atmospheric yet the (mostly Italian) band rocked like bastards and there were some stretched out groove moments that put shame to LCD Soundsystem or krautrock legends.

Any musical thoughts to share on the year 2013?

I’m struggling with self-belief issues worse than ever at the moment, ironic given how proud I am of The Bear. I thought we made a proper great-with-a-capital-G record and loads of people seemed to love it and it’s getting tons of radio, yet instead of focusing on these positives and opportunities, I obsess over bullshit little setbacks. I want to be ‘better known’ without being mainstream famous, but at the same time I feel guilty for that desire. Stinks, right? There’s nothing more boring than a performing artist on the cusp of bitterness! Need to appreciate it more over the next few months.

What does 2014 have in store for you?

Second single in January, just shot an intense video for it, plus lots of gigs this side of summer (especially outside the UK) and hopefully recording some new music quickly, to keep the spirit of the band going. Then festivals and then I’ll take stock in autumn, figure out what’s next.

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