We catch up with Lewis Bigham ahead of the release of 'What Are My Chances?' and 'Up Sleeves' later this month
Scottish multi-genre musician Lewis Bigham officially took on the guise of Glassmasterer in late 2016, with a firm focus on creating sonically rich instrumental grooves and tracks that take on a multitude of influences. Having caught the attention of BBC Radio presenters Vic Galloway, Nemone and Tom Ravenscroft early on with the release of his two twin EPs Dabble and Deed in 2017, he has since gone on to perform at Glasgow's King Tut's for BBC Introducing, support Daedelus at Sneaky Pete's and was listed as one of the BBC's 25 Scottish Acts to Watch in 2018.
With a debut album imminent, Glassmasterer has announced two new tracks which include collaborations with an eclectic range of musicians. 'What Are My Chances?', out Fri 13 Dec, features singer Katherine Aly and takes inspiration from Stan Getz and Studio Ghibli, while 'Up Sleeves', out Fri 20 Dec, includes contributions from jazz trio Archipelago and is inspired by both film noir and Twin Peaks.
Ahead of the release of both tracks, we caught up with Glassmasterer to find out more about his new releases, his current sound and what the future holds.
On when he first started making music
I started making music when I was around fourteen, and I started as a singer-songwriter. I try to surround myself with stimuli when I'm making music, such as books or films, I find that it's a really good way of composing, whilst also learning new things and experimenting with genres. Right now I'm making my way through Marcus Aurelius's Meditations and Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good And Evil, there's a couple references here and there in the new songs I've recently finished.
On his current sound
These new songs are inspired by classic, jazz records, and they are a lot more restrained than my previous singles. I'm really trying to limit how I apply electronic instrumentation these days, and I'm obsessed with using guitars, pianos and vintage keyboards like the Rhodes and the Wurlitzer. I've definitely not settled on a sound, I can't seem to sit still with anything and I'm terrible at committing to projects! I'm pretty happy with how my production/songwriting ethos is at the moment, but it'll undoubtedly evolve and change at some point. One minute I'll sound like Supertramp, the next I'll sound like Death Grips.
On the main ideas and themes behind the new tracks
I find that the tracks I like the most have their main melodies and hooks sorted within ten minutes of starting writing, and 'What Are My Chances?' was one of those. Myself and Katherine Aly performed it a lot last year, each time with her singing, and myself singing and playing guitar, but for the studio version I was hellbent on using electronic instruments and it underwent so many different iterations, each being more wacky than the last, and consequently ended up killing it stone dead. I thought it was beyond saving but I ended up revisiting it in October, limiting myself to only a guitar, vocals, a couple bits of percussion and a violin and that was it. I'm really happy with the result, it captures the melancholic theme well which is essentially about two kindred spirits facing the world together, and contemplating whether or not they can overcome it's obstacles.
'Up Sleeves' faced a similar situation. Again, I originally wanted to go absolutely nuts with the production but like 'What Are My Chances?' every time I did that it became cluttered and collapsed under its own weight, so I kept it nice and restrained, limiting the use of synthesizers and that's the version I settled on. I always wanted to try my hand at making a jazz track as I love Miles Davis and the music of Twin Peaks, and I'm very happy it's out now. Archipelago did a fantastic job performing on it and I'm very grateful they agreed to do it.
On the artists he looks to for inspiration
I love Radiohead at the moment. Their records, particularly In Rainbows and A Moon Shaped Pool sound so whole and full, and I'm really looking to follow suit for my music, not in terms of genre, but it terms of how it sounds production wise. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories is a big influence as well, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and classic Stevie Wonder records too like Innervisions. David Bowie has always been a big deal for me because of how many ideas he was willing to try in the seventies, his album Low is still my favourite of all time.
On what the future currently holds for Glassmasterer
Next year I'm planning on releasing a ton of singles that are inspired by 70s/80s funk, soft rock and ballads with electronic instrumentation sprinkled here and there. I want to get back to playing live shows with a band, and I really want to try and see if I can stop using computers on stage and start singing a lot more. I'm pretty obsessed with analogue things at the moment; I'm currently making a music video that has been shot on Super 8 film for another new song that will be out next year and I've recently taken up amateur photography with a 35mm camera. My next step is to get a 16mm film camera and see if I can make a short film for one of the songs, it's something I've always wanted to do. It's expensive but switching from digital to analogue has really made me respect the medium a lot more, and learning to trust hardware rather than always resorting to digital post-production and backups has been very rewarding.
'What Are My Chances?' is out Fri 13 Dec; 'Up Sleeves' is out Fri 20 Dec.