A departure from the self-titled début EP that saw producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Joss Worthington receive attention for its meticulously composed sound, his debut album Modern Language is a bold, cinematic statement that puts Postcards From Jeff in his most extroverted role yet. The album, out on 24 July, will be preceded by live shows on 13 June, Soup Kitchen, Manchester, and 25 June, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.
How would you describe the sound and content of your album Modern Language?
It’s always very hard to sum up your own music but I guess you could call it cinematic dream pop. Modern Language is in many ways an introspective record but hopefully it’s equally uplifting at the same time. I like to think of it as a dreamy, hazy road trip movie soundtrack of my life.
What were your influences for the album?
I grew up being heavily influenced by a lot of the post-grunge era alternative rock bands. Bands like Mercury Rev, Pavement, Granddaddy, Guided By Voices and Sparklehorse. I’ve also spent a lot of recent years listening heavily to ambient electronic music as well as film soundtracks. So all these influences have been informing my music for a while but with Modern Language I wanted to mix those influences up with my first impressions of music. Which was mostly the records I heard being played in my dad’s car when I was young. Records like Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and other big budget big rock-pop records in the 1980s. I’d spent a lot of time crafting a sound which was born of experimenting with home recording. After many years of doing that I almost dared myself to try to do something that was more of a bigger production sound. Which was weird in many ways as the bands I’d got into in my teens were always very lo-fi. But I guess having played around with lo-fi for so many years the only place to go was hi-fi.
Where does the name Postcards from Jeff come from?
I’d always liked artists who used pseudonyms such as Sparklehorse and Smog but I still wanted it to connect personally to me. Jeff is a nickname that people call me after many occasions of people mishearing my name. It’s kind of like Trigger in Only Fools and Horses always calling Rodney Dave. When I’m working on the tracks I tend to lock myself away in the studio with little outside influence, so in many ways the songs are like my little postcards of what I’ve been up to in the studio.
All your videos seem heavily influenced by cinematography – why is that?
I was always fascinated by cinema growing up, which eventually led to me going to film school. For many years I was doing film and music simultaneously and I guess that had a big influence on my songwriting from both a compositional and lyrical point of view. I try to write lyrics in a stream-of-consciousness way. Often when I listen back to them I find they remind me of abstract movies. I met Steve Glashier
and we quickly found that we shared a lot of the same cinematic influences. So we were very keen to express that in the videos.
There is a theme of suburban dysfunction in some of your songs. Do you consider this to be a key problem with society?
It’s not so much that I think it’s a problem with society, more a fact of life no matter where you come from. I was always influenced by films that explored a sense of suburban dysfunction – the idea of normality and how weird that can actually be. The darker heart of the American dream in contrast to the picture painted in sitcoms and Hollywood movies. I’m not looking to make any kind of socio-political comment on that at all. I’m much more interested in the mood, themes and emotional landscape of suburban dysfunction.
What was the first record you bought?
I’d love to be able to say something that was totally uber-hipster cool but I started buying records when I was six so it was probably more influenced by what I’d seen on Top of the Pops that week and how much pocket money I had at the time. The first single I bought was definitely Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. The first record I bought was probably by the Thomson Twins. Doctor Doctor is a much overlooked
You are a producer, songwriter, singer and play many instruments. Which process is your favourite?
The way I write is a combination of all those things so it’s hard to pick one as my favourite. But I do love bringing all the elements together in a mix, so from that perspective I’d have to say producing.