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Now putting the finishing touches to his third solo album former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones says he’s finally used to being a solo artist. He talks ahead of a one-off performance of his concept album If, an orchestral soundtrack based on Italo Calvino’s novel If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller.

You are performing If for the first time live. What role will you take in the performance?
I cannot wait. It’s a bit of a dream for me. My role will be to float around and try not to fuck it all up. There’re four songs that are solely orchestral so I’ll be nipping off for those ones. I’ll most likely play bits of guitar and sing.

Did you find it difficult exposing yourself on the current album and is that part of the reason you created a concept album first?
I think so, yes. When I was asked to make a record for Domino I certainly didn’t want to open up my life and thoughts and I didn’t consider myself a singer. It took a while to feel comfortable.

You have filled lots of roles from lead guitarist in a band, to solo artist, to producer and composer. Which are you happiest doing?
What I love doing is writing music and realising that but it’s great to be able to shift your work when one part of it maybe goes a little stale

You have expressed your discomfort with the singer/songwriter category. Do you feel you have successfully sidestepped that bracket or have you become more comfortable with it?
I’ll be honest, I just had to get over myself with that one. It does make me cringe a little but fuck it, it’s probably the most accurate description.
How connected is your music to where you come from?
I feel it’s incredibly connected. Sometimes I purposely try to celebrate West Kirky in music but more often than not it just finds it’s way in. The people I know and the smell of the sea always wind up in songs. I have to write the word ‘sea’ out of so many tunes.

Bill Ryder-Jones and Manchester Camerata perform If at Manchester Cathedral, 9 Oct, as part of Manchester Literature Festival, media partner of The Big Issue in the North.

Antonia Charlesworth

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