Ask any singer-songwriter and they’ll tell you that a lot goes into creating an album.
From finding inspiration, to penning meaningful lyrics and melodies, to getting the whole thing recorded and mixed perfectly, it’s a ton of work.
And if you’re an independent artist, there’s the ever-present restrictions of time and money to deal with.
Nevertheless, Jamie Stanley, known to the West Sussex music scene as Mailman – or simply Stan – hasn’t let any of this put him off.
In fact, the 41-year-old Horsham-based songwriter has actually been more ambitious than most mainstream acts and is now ready to release a double album.
Yang Yin will be available digitally on Friday, July 27, with a physical CD and vinyl release planned for autumn.
”It’s about an hour and a half of music,” says Stan. “A lot in this day and age, especially with short attention spans.”
The content of the record is like the ancient Taoist symbol on the cover. One half is light and fun, with just a hint of darkness, and the other is ominous and brooding with a glimmer of hope.
“It was born out of the fact that I write in very different styles,” Stan explains. “I’m drawn to very upbeat, poppy stuff sometimes and then other times I’m much more introspective and kind of progressive.”
“I’m always torn in two different directions when I’m writing and recording,” he continues. “So rather than choose one and just go in one direction I decided: why not do both?”
“I can never focus on one thing for very long anyway,” he laughs.
The double album structure also reflected the theme Stan wanted to explore – duality.
“It’s evident everywhere if you think about it,” Stan says. ”Anything you pick to talk about you can apply some sort of duality to. Without getting too ‘cosmic’ on you, things like quantum physics, all that stuff is increasingly inclined towards the idea of dual states.”
“It’s also a very timely thing,” he adds. “A very topical thing.”
Stan refers to the recent concerns about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, which influenced the song ‘Searchlight’.
“I think the technology that exists nowadays – artificial intelligence, machine learning, social media – is a double edged sword. It can be a hugely democratising, liberating thing in the right hands or with the right kind of approach. But in the wrong hands it can be the exact opposite and I think we’re seeing that coming to a head. I think that’s going to be something that will define the next couple of years.”
But, big themes like fake news and post truth aside, Stan also wanted to honour his musical influences with Yang Yin.
“If I get round to releasing it on CD it will obviously be a double CD format,” he states. “It’s giving a nod to the classic double albums that inspired me, like Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. They’re classic double albums that are all very long and hard to absorb and consume in one go, but you can kind of dip in and out of them and have an interval.”
As Stan explains, this record is quite a big sell today – a long, double album by an independent artist who won’t simply offer up pure, rock ’n’ roll fun.
“But that’s kind of the point,” he says. “It’s a rejection of the short-attention-span, off-the-shelf, fast-food kind of music industry.”
When it comes to modern pop and rock, Stan’s going against the grain, pushing back against the single-orientated, streaming-orientated and often throwaway stuff that there’s arguably too much of.
And so far the album’s been getting a lot of compliments in industry circles.
“The mastering engineer is Mandy Parnell,” explains Stan. “A very established mastering engineer who mastered Bjork’s last few albums (Biophilia, Vulnicura and Utopia) and she’s won lots of awards. She was very supportive and very complimentary.”
It’s been a long creative process with Stan writing the album in his spare time over almost three years without a record deal, while juggling a family life and all the financial aspects.
On top of that he’s also been heavily involved in the Horsham music scene, organising music showcases and gigs across the district, as well as the annual Battle of The Bands.
You might think that Stan’s ready for a break after this, but you’d be wrong.
“I’m working on the next album already,” he laughs. “I’m writing and recording my third album, which is a bit distracting because I’m also trying to be the label, publicist and promoter for this second album, which isn’t out yet. But I can’t just stop writing and creating. I’ve got to try and do everything at once.”
All the work is worth it though and songwriting comes naturally to Stan.
“It’s just what I’ve always done,” he says. “I live and breathe music.”
“It’s an old cliche that a lot of people give up on up their dreams and some people say you’ve got to give up on your dreams. But for me it’s not really anything about dreams, it’s just about who you are. This is who I am, this is what I do.”
He laughs: “To be even more pretentious about it: music speaks to the soul. It’s one of the purest forms of communication. Music is massively important in everyone’s lives even if they don’t realise it, which it’s why it’s a shame it’s so undervalued and so difficult to make a living out of.”
“It’s the most important thing in the world as far as I’m concerned, and as such it has the power to liberate, inspire, motivate and all that good stuff.
“Why would you not make music if you could?”
Yang Yin is available to pre-order now at amazon.co.uk.
Find out more about Mailman’s music at www.mailmanstan.co.uk.
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