Multi-instrumentalist and reclusive Mike Gale released his new album The Star Spread Indefinite, at the tail end of last month. Today, Mike Gale talks us through his songwriting process and isolation, something we can all relate to right now.
Having retired from live performance in 2018, Hampshire based artist Gale continues to record on his 32 track TASCAM cassette recorder at home and The Star Spread Indefinite is a celebration of the value of quiet contemplation, as Gale explains “many of the lyrical themes on the album are about a pursuit of solitude and calm, at the time of recording the album at the end of 2019 I was reading a book called ‘The Old Weird Albion’ by Justin Hopper. One particular section of the book is about an ancient artwork found scratched into the wall of a flint mine in Sussex. The man who discovered it gave it the beautiful title ‘The Star Spread Indefinite’”.
Musically the tracks for The Star Spread Indefinite reflect his urge for peace alongside positive affirmation of existence and meticulously pieces together atmospheric samples and textures with Gale’s wistful vocal style, spindling acoustic guitar and underpinned with keyboards, synths and drum machines. This melting pot of hooks, acoustica and subtle atmospheres will appeal to fans of Sparklehorse, Bill Callahan and The Go-Betweens.
“Songwriting and music have always been quite a solitary pursuit for me, especially songwriting. I’ve never collaborated with anyone on writing and don’t think I ever could. I have always needed my own quiet space to write, to get in that frame of mind where I’m not really thinking about the song anymore. Writing with someone else would just jumble up my thoughts too much and I don’t feel I’d be able to express myself properly. I don’t even like the thought of someone being able to hear me working on a song, it’s very private for me.
I suppose it was inevitable that after 15 years of being in bands I’d eventually end up just doing it all by myself.
Since making my first solo album about 7 years ago, my confidence and comfort of working completely alone on songs from start to finish has grown, to the point that I can’t imagine being in a studio situation again.
I stopped recording with my last band, Co-pilgrim, 2 years ago now, partly because I wanted more control over how my songs turned out but mostly because I really love just recording by myself, at my own pace. It’s my way of disappearing from the rest of the world for a couple of hours. This has been particularly important in the current situation we all find ourselves in. I count myself very lucky to have something that allows me to find some peace and purpose as I’ve seen friends and family struggling with how to pass the time and take their mind away.
My lyrics have always had underlying tones of isolation and loneliness but on this latest album I decided to really focus in on that part of myself, not in a sad, self pitying kind of way but more as a celebration of people like me who don’t mind being by themselves and often prefer it.
It’s only over the last few years that I’ve realised that being like that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me or that I need to change myself and I wanted to get that out on this album.
There is a lot of expectation on introverts to change how we are to suit other people and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told to buck up or talk more. Seems like everyone is supposed to be zany and outgoing nowadays. The Star Spread Indefinite is my small attempt to offer a calm place, where you don’t have to be anything but yourself.”