Following his “Keep Your Teeth Sharp” EP release earlier this year, and with his long awaited debut album “Moving Parts” coming up for release on April 19th, RoomThirteen managed to grab emotive-electro artist, musician and producer Mr Fogg for a good old chat.

Mr Fogg tells us about what went into his debut record; what it was like working with Bjork collaborator, producer Valgeir Sigurdsson, all the way over in Rekjavik; and why independent might just be the way forward for new artists in today’s music industry.

R13: How are you today?
MF:I’m okay. A guy just asked me if I’m still playing a show in Poland next week. He hasn’t replied about it for three months! So I might be going to go to Poland next week or I might not.

R13:You’re playing a few gigs in the UK at the moment aren’t you?
MF:Yeah I’m doing a few in London - the Flowerpot, Club Metropolis thing in March, I’m playing the King Creosote in Reading in April and other things.

R13:You’ve got your album coming out “Moving Parts” on April 19th What’s that been like? How’s that going?
MF:I’ve always wanted to make an album since I started writing songs. When I was very young I had it in my mind that I would make an album in the traditional sense that you would listen to all the way through, and it would be the thing that was going to define me as a musician and all this stuff.
And then as I got into Mr Fogg it took longer and longer to get to that point. So I was very pleased when I eventually got to the point where I could make this record. I’ve been writing songs over a period of three or four years I guess.
The way I work is I record almost totally finished demos at home and I finished recording the vocals and doing the mix with someone called Valgeir Sigurdsson who’s done a lot of stuff with Bjork and other people. And that was last year. I went to Iceland and made the record. That was an amazing experience.

R13:How did you get those links with Iceland?
MF:Valgeir was just someone I wanted to work with and he happened to be Icelandic. He’s got an amazing studio there. I spend a lot of time working with other people like me who’ve got their own studio in their houses. But this is a studio in the traditional way. It’s got a big live room and every bit of equipment you could name so it was amazing.

R13:But you lived in Reading?!
It’s because of the internet - you can reach people anywhere with it. It wasn’t particularly planned. Valgeir was just someone I wanted to work.

R13:When did you first find out you wanted to do music?
MF:I started making music when I was probably about 7 properly. The first thing I did was these very strange electric organ lessons. There would be 12 people in a room with an organ each and everyone would play at once and make a load of noise basically!
I was writing songs when I was 7 or 8 years old and I sold tapes at school.

R13:How did they go down?
MF:I didn’t sell many! They were only a pound each! I sold a few - about 5 or something!
I remember when I was about 10 or 11 we had to write a thing about what we were going to do when we grew up and how school was going to help us. I wrote I was going to be a pop star and frankly school is something I could do without!
I’ve always known what I was going to try and be.

R13:You have loads of sampled sounds and lots of elements to your music. So what kind of set up do you have when you play live?
MF:I use a lot of live percussion, brass and strings, I try and do as much live as possible so I’ve got a harpist that plays with me, a trombonist, live drums, live electronics and keyboard and people who sing. There’s 6 of us in total so it’s a big show. Then we have live light projections as well.

R13:Live performance adds soul to electronic music. It’s quite a nice contrast to have the electro beats and the live performance and as well.
MF:I used to play in bands before I did this so I was used to that kind of set up. Then when I started doing electronic music on my own I didn’t want to do a laptop based thing - where I’d sit there and there’d be nothing going on. So I’d try and do it as live as possible. Something to watch and something happening.

R13:What tracks on the album did you really enjoy making? Any interesting stories?
MF:Keep Your Teeth Sharp - I had that for 2 or 3 years. I’d been working on it and it was very minimal, at least to start with. I think that track was one that, basically it sounded rubbish! But I always knew what I wanted it to sound like.
Then eventually when I recorded the album with Valgeir it’s one of the songs I’m most happy with, especially the bit at the start - I knew I wanted it to be quite heavy.
The other one is Moving Parts - the first track on the album - and before I made the album with Valgeir I’d worked with a whole range of producers and it never turned out how I wanted. The thing with recording is it’s exciting and you always think it sounds good in the studio because its always massively loud you’ve got great equipment and everything, but then you get home, you play it in your car and you think that was a total waste of time!
So when I went to Iceland to record with Valgeir - obviously it was a long way to go just to do a recording. I wanted to try out just this one song with him. It sounded great as always. Then when I came back from Iceland, I left the airport and I put it in my car and it still sounded the same, exactly how I wanted it! That was the first time I knew the album was going to sound how I wanted it to and I was going to like the results.

R13:So was the album a lot to do with the collaboration with Valgeir in particular - he helped you to get to your sound?
MF:I’d take [some producers] something I thought was almost finished and they would try and start again and change quite fundamental things. When I went to work with Valgeir he knew what it was going to take to change what I’d got to the finished product. Sometimes it was nothing, just being mixed properly. He was a very sympathetic collaborator, he wouldn’t try and stamp himself on it. He just gets the best out of what you’re doing already! That was good for me especially as I’m a bit of a control freak and I don’t react well to people doing strange things to my songs.

R13:You self-released your album on your own label “Kicking Ink”, what was your motivation behind that decision?
MF:I released a couple of 7 inches a couple of years ago now. I had the inevitable industry bug at that point, and I’d go and meet people at major record companies and they would say things like “this song is great, but to me you sound like the new Keane, and this song needs to be produced to sound like Keane”. It went on for quite a long time and I thought I was going to have to compromise or fail!
But ultimately I realised that record companies in general have got rid of all the things that make them necessary. They don’t own the studio, they don’t employ the radio pluggers in house or their press people anymore. All they have is money. So if you can raise your money a different way which I was able to do, fortunately, you can do everything yourself. It’s a lot of work but it’s worked so far.

R13:Plus you get control over your creative vision. Sounds perfect!
MF:Assuming my creative vision is the right one! But I’ve made the album exactly as I wanted to without any other influence apart from obviously Valgeir who I worked on it with.

R13:Having said that you got some great reviews in places like MusicWeek and ArtRocker (and RoomThirteen)!
Where do you get inspiration for your songs? What’s your creative process?

MF: I’ll spend hours messing around on a keyboard or whatever, and eventually come up with something I like that I relentlessly repeat, and edit those bits into ideas for a song. I build things up layer by layer. I’m making a record at the same time as I’m writing, doing the beats and the arrangements.
The last thing I write is the lyrics. The inspiration could be anything - but if there’s a theme on the album it’s that I boil things down so that I find the basic points of the argument. Sometimes I’ll put two people’s interpretations of the same event in the lyrics of the same song.

R13:That stripped down sparseness really comes through in your music.
MF:I try to go beyond the explanation to get to the essence of what I’m talking about I suppose. I know [I make] electronic music but I’m not that interested in electronic music in terms of just what snare or bass or what synthesiser is the cool sound at the moment. I think the most important thing is the song writing and the emotional connection with the audience.

R13:You’re involved in something called Bandstocks? Tell us more about that?
MF:Bandstocks is a thing where members of the public could buy shares in a band, and they would get the first bite of the cherry when it comes to ticket sales, signed limited edition albums and things like that.
It’s definitely an interesting idea. It worked when Patrick Wolfe released an album on Bandstocks. It’s allowed me to get distribution channels that have allowed me to make the album as I’ve wanted it to. It’s released on my label and distributed by Bandstocks. It gives people who want to release their own records a way of raising money and a way of getting it to the shops!

R13:What would you say to new artists just starting up? Would it be good for them to do their own thing as you did, independently?
MF:I think people in unsigned bands have an idea that one day they will get discovered and their life is going to change. The reality is that you have to do it yourself. Nowadays in the record business there’s no room for development anymore: major labels only sign finished things, even the most commercial bands now are developed by managers not record labels. It’s definitely worth getting involved in the business of your music because no one’s ever going to care about your music as much as you do, and it’s amazing what you can do yourself.
If you do things yourself you’ll probably find that people are inclined to listen! But it is a lot of work. It’s not easy.

R13:But it’s worth it?
MF:I think it is. But I do enjoy the other side of it as well as music. It’s easy to get motivated when you’re reliant on yourself and you’re going to succeed or fail based on what you do. It’s easy to put that effort in because you’re working for yourself.

Mr Fogg's debut album "Moving Parts" is out April 19th, and his single, also called "Moving Parts", is out April 12th. Make sure you check them out.