[Interview]: William John Titus Bishop: “People Can Expect To Be Moved By My Music!”

Taught at a young age, William John Titus Bishop‘s musical career has enjoyed meteoric rise to date. From learning classically on the cello and double music, to playing in orchestras, and an early love of self-taught guitar, inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and The Rolling Stones, the British musician has since performed at the likes of Sweden’s ‘Live at Heart’ Festival, in addition to high critical acclaim on singles such as ‘The Night In Your Eyes’. CULTR sat down with the multi-faceted artist, who has gained a loyal following on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, to discuss all things music, career, culture, and more…

William! Tell us about how your journey started…

“Well I remember I would always go through my parent’s record collections when I was a child, and borrow anything that I liked. There was always an instrument of some kind around in the house, so after I finished school, I moved to the south of the UK to study at University. I continued to play music throughout that time, mostly for myself, but someone asked me if I’d written any of my own material. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I wrote a few songs and played them to fiends and started performing songs at an open-mic nights in the City. The host of the nights actually played piano, and I asked him if he gave lessons. He asked me which songs I wanted to know how to play, but I learned mostly songs which were in the charts at the time. It occurred to me at around this time that I had always wanted to go into music as a career without realising it. So I started playing my own songs as a support act at some of the smaller venues in London and Brighton, and things progressed from there!”

So who were your biggest inspirations?

“Since I mostly listened to the music that my parents – who I must say are amazingly supportive and patient – listened to, I developed a similar and very eclectic taste. I was inspired by almost everything from 60’s and 70’s Britain and America. In particular Leonard Cohen, who I first heard on a vacation in the South of France, the poetry of Alan Ginsberg and the paintings of Mark Rothko. Growing up in the south of the UK in the late nineties and early 2000s there was such a mixture of cultures that it was very easy to find something to be inspired by. After I had been playing as a support act for a few years I started to get offered places at bigger events and I was approached by publishers and the songs were accepted by record labels. This was enough incentive to keep performing and writing music! These days, when people hear my music… They can expect to be moved, entertained and given a real space to reflect. The songs are very lyrical, and I like to think this makes them more interesting for people to engage with. My sound is somewhere between folk and alternative rock, but my songs are not so much about personal experience, more about describing people, relationships and events”.

So what have been your biggest career highlights to date?

“Well the performances I remember most fondly are the Fiddler’s Elbow in London and at a concert hall in the North of Germany. The Fiddler’s Elbow is a fantastic little place a short way from Camden High Street. The atmosphere is always electric. I felt very comfortable performing on the night and I think it was one of the first times I started talking about the songs to the audience as well as performing them. I had also been invited to perform at Live at Heart Festival in Sweden that year and I had a show just north of Hamburg, which worked out well because the show was on my route through Central Europe. I remember what I enjoyed most was the travel. I took a coach from London through to the Orsund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden, and some of the countryside is extraordinarily beautiful”.

Tell us a little bit more about your music, and your releases/singles to date…

“Yes, so the first EP was recorded just on guitar with my vocals actually, at a small studio in the UK. I hadn’t been taken on by a label or publisher at the time and the songs were publicised by myself. They were well received by the press but I didn’t have much of a fanbase at the time so I waited a year or so before approaching any labels. And then, the album – which the first single came from – was ‘Waves on Wire’, which was recorded in the North of England. The songs on that album are all written in a very similar way, about a relationship from the perspective of both partners. I intended those songs to be very relatable and the PR company I was working with at the time asked if I was going to release a single first, but the song ‘The Night in Your Eyes’ was again well received by the press internationally. At the end of that year, I wanted to release something else to build on that, and as a way of saying these are the songs the way they were originally written. So I went to a studio in North London and asked the sound engineer to leave the recording on for the whole time I was there. The live session was released in full. The latest album, ‘I Hope That You’re Keeping Some Kind of A Record’, is the first album to feature other musicians… I had intended it to be a solo album, but I really wanted a different sound on this one!”

So how do you go about the production process when crafting new music?

“Well there is so much said about production that it becomes very difficult to know exactly how to go about recording a piece of music. I set out to write an album, usually with 10 songs, and write the lyrics in about a day. Before I go into the studio I put music to the words, on guitar or piano, so the people I’m working with have an idea of how the songs will sound. I like to rehearse those with the musicians and let them determine the way the song sounds when it’s finished. I work closely with the mixing engineer, because I like to understand how the recorded sound is altered to increase the quality. It is worth mentioning Diana Stone, who works out of Small Pond Studios in Brighton. She is a great pleasure to record with, and makes the process very smooth, without making you feel self-conscious about what you are doing. I find working with a producer to be invaluable because they have made the albums feel like a complete, coherent piece of music. It’s important to understand that even if you think in your own mind that the piece is perfect, a producer or mixing engineer will know how to get the best out of the piece. In the studio it is the people that I work with that inspires me the most. A song can sound completely different to the way it was intended depending on the personnel, which means you can end up surprising yourself”.

How did your origins shape your sound, do you think, musically and culturally?

“Growing up the British music scene was for me divided between guitar driven indie-rock, and heavy metal, bit it was folk music which had the biggest influence on me. The first shows that I went to see were English folk musicians, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch for example, and I tried to imitate their sound as closely as possible. At the same time I would see bands like Pearl Jam and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, whose songwriting I find particularly admirable. All of this influenced how I wanted the music to sound. Live music has always been a kind of outlet for tension for people in the UK, albeit a necessary and productive one, but I was never really interested in that aspect of music”.

Finally… Tell us a little more about what you have planned for future!

“I have a lot planned! I intend to tour in the America sectors within the next two years, and then, in Australia and New Zealand after that. I also plan to make a film about the creation of my next album, so you can keep an eye out for that too!”




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