In almost three decades, Pinky in the Daylight is the first love song of the British Tindersticks. This is also the single that reveals the tone of the newly revealed No Treasure But Hope. Days before the album was published, we met Stuart Staples, the band's enigmatic and inseparable voice, at Bairro Alto Hotel, Lisbon. Discreet in gestures but intense in words, Staples reveals how he spends the holiday season in the small French village of La Souterraine, with his wife Suzanne Osborne (who is an artist) where they live since 2003. At the same time, he recalls the genesis of the band, reveals how He gets the inspiration to compose, and is thrilled to talk about Lhasa de Sela (his friend and partner in musical duos, missing in 2010 at the age of 38).
What are your first memories regarding music?
My mother had a love for artists in the seventies, like Neil Diamond. I can't get to more specific details but I know the music was all around me all the time when I was little. My first conscious memory of music was the British show Top of the Pops, which revealed the latest hits in music every week. For me, and for my generation, it was a kind of window into another world, a sense of escape.
It grew at a time when people were still evenings with friends listening to records. Was it a habit that was part of your universe?
The records were my life. They were the only thing in my life. To make money, I worked in record stores. I was 15 years old in 1980, at a time when music was so rich and so important to people, but to working class kids – who worked in a factory or a mine – music and football offered a kind of escape. I didn't know anyone who had gone to an art school or university. It was all very different.
The Tindersticks were born in the nineties. How do you remember the musical culture that was lived at the time?
I left Nottingham in 1990 and moved to London. I was so lucky to get a job at a shop that was a kind of alternative music center in London. I became a "sponge" because I absorbed so many songs and new ideas that I was able to articulate with the kind of songs and feelings that marked me before, so I found a kind of exciting formula. My life starts in London, in a way.
At what point did you discover your tone, which has remained authentic since the first record?
I think it's a blessing and a curse, as we say in the English expression. Some people go over it, others hate it. From the first album, everything focused on imagining it, working in the studio, doing all the demos in our kitchen, running from home to work, and vice versa, writing songs on the way to work, or at night, back to home, get home and try to record… the studio has always been the most important thing for me. And my voice was something I had to help through which I had ideas. Only on the third record did I start thinking that maybe I should improve my singing (laughs).
What was it like to turn a kitchen into a studio in those early days?
Me, David, and Neil lived in a house in North London, and we gradually built a small studio in the kitchen. The first album was recorded there, a process that took about a year and a half.
Can you say that you are an artist who sings with the soul? Tindersticks songs are very nostalgic…
For me, writing has nothing to do with sitting at a desk and deciding what to write on a particular day. The songs are born of strong moments. And when those moments come, you have no choice about their nature: whether we accept them or not. For me, from the moment I accept them, I feel a real responsibility to the deep feelings that inspire us to create something. I try to be true about this and grasp that feeling within a song.
Pinky as a daylight is your first love song. It is true?
It's a weird and special single. Inspiration does not usually come in moments of contentment. This song came to me at such a time, and as at any given time I had to be honest with it. The mission is always to try to keep that feeling alive within her. It was a different kind of song to write, but at the same time it went through the same process as a sad song.
Why No Treasure but Hope?
It is the last song on the disc. As hopeful as Pinky in the Daylight is, full of love and joy, the song No Treasure but Hope is a sound about despair. It is a song that ends up with a little hope, and it is that little that becomes very important. Hope is always the last thing we have when everything else disappears.
What is your favorite Tindersticks moment ever?
When we made our first album. We played it over and over, put all the songs together, and finally heard it on the tape deck. It was the closest I came to exaltation in music. The culmination of years, work ideas and relationships that formed on the first album… there is nothing like the first time. It can never be the same, and I have never felt so strong.
It has a very cinematic vision. Could you have been a movie director?
I like to work with images. And my respect for filmmakers is immense. When a director wants to create something that is touching or important to people, the process to the point where we can see it is so complex … You have to realize this long before shooting a shot, because you have a responsibility to inspire many people. people inside it. And you have to repeat this shot dozens of times. For me it is (the cinema) very different from music, which is something much more direct.
Lives in France. What do you enjoy doing besides being in the studio?
My studio is not just a place where I create music. It's a place where I explore ideas and what I love about it is that I can work with freedom. Creating music or creating any kind of art must have a sense of adventure.
We live in a time of family complicity, which is Christmas. It is also a time when we feel the losses very much. How do you deal with absences? I speak in particular of Lhasa de Sela…
You know that since she died on a different continent, it seems infinitely unreal. For me and Suzanne, it's something that never goes away, we always feel that she's around us. It will be something that will never have an outcome, for us, it is not like turning the page. We live with the feeling that we always have it around.
How do you live this court?
Christmas is about being all together. We have a big family, and everyone is busy with their lives. Having an excuse to get us all together is wonderful.
(tagsToTranslate) Stuart Staples (t) Tindersticks (t) Interview (t) Music (t) Bairro Alto Hotel (t) No Treasure but Hope (t) Pinky in the Daylight