Esperi is the brainchild of Chris Lee Marr, an uber talented mulit-instrumentalist who is undoubtably one the country’s finest songwriters.
At the centre of everything is a quite beautiful melodic base, with an acoustic home, but the wanderlust for experimentation.
Looking way past the conventional when it comes to instrumentation, Esperi builds his music with a myriad of sounds and approaches, embodied by his trademark bells that he plays with his feet, and his loop pedal masterpieces.
This East Coast musician has the ability to bring everyday occurences to life through his lyrics, welcoming you into the story, and presenting a wonderful outlook that it is hard not to love.
With a stunning live show, and debut album in the pipeline, there could not be a better time to check out Esperi.
Have a listen to the fantastic Dialled below while you see what Chris had to say when answering some questions for the blog. Details of how to download Dialled for FREE are at the bottom.
How is work on your debut album going? and what can you tell us about it?
The album is coming along nicely, it’s got a title ‘In A Moment Emotion Sentiment’ and I’ll start writing some songs for it soon. (Laughs) just kidding its about 80-90% recorded , all the primary parts are down , we are currently recording the string quartet parts then just a few wee bits before mixing/mastering. It features all the music in my current live set (‘Cat and Dogs’ , ‘Hearts’ Part 1 and 2 , ‘Lone Wolf’ , ‘Silo The Fire’ , ‘Home’) and new versions of the tracks from the unofficial EP ‘21:21’ (‘Made For Life’ , ‘Dialled’ and ‘Proverb’ ) and also ‘Homer’ and ‘Nevertheless’. Some of these songs I’ve not played live for a while because I’ve been doing a lot of solo gigs so I’m looking forward to playing them with a full band soon.
You’ve recently been on tour with Noiserv, how did that go?
It was amazing, he’s one of my best friends so we always have a great time on tour, this was the second time David has been over for a tour with me, we have a similar set up and we know each others music so we help each other out loads with stage set up and sound as if we are in the same band.
Some highlights were the house concerts we did and the N_ilk Festival, we got some good turnouts and we were really lucky to have such nice audiences to play for and met some great people. Every morning without fail we woke up in a different city and he would forget where he was and ask me the time in Portuguese (then slap his forehead and laugh) (laughs).We’re hoping to make music together and do some longer touring next year.
You are part of the Daydream Management stable, and have recently joined up with A Badge of Friendship, it must be great to have that support now? How have these associations helped your life as a musician?
Yeah that’s right, they’ve been amazing. They play a massive part in Esperi and I’m eternally grateful for all their hard work and devotion. ABoF and Daydream Management have done loads already and we’re just getting started, I dunno what I would do without them.
Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
Well, I play and sing whatever is on my mind and this forms a song, as you can tell I sit and play on the beach with my dogs a lot (laughs). I write about the world around me and the things that mean the most to me, my family, friends, home, love and my experiences. I love life and appreciate what I have so I hope my songs come across as uplifting and positive even if the melodies are kind of plaintive and melancholy, they are quite personal lyrics.
One of the things you are best known for is your loop pedal work, and I have to ask you how you approach writing a song like Hearts Part 2?
Just the same approach as I would with any other music really, I think of the loop station as an instrument and just set it up with the others, I like the low tech and hardware approach and the use of mainly acoustic instruments and other objects so the audience can see where the source of the sound comes from, it makes it a better visual experience as well as an audio one.
Have there been any particular highlights in your musical career so far?
Yeah, when I’m playing for an audience and the atmosphere is just perfect it’s an overwhelming experience. After I’ve written music and words that really mean a lot to me and practice it over and over and then play for an audience that really appreciates them it’s a great feeling. I don’t like having a barrier between performer and the audience. I much prefer the relaxed shows and chatting with the audience, and I love playing acoustic house shows. It’s also a highlight to play festivals and shows with artists that I like, a recent show with Olof Arnalds was a particularly good one, and the amount of close friendships I’ve made through music is reason enough to do it.
What are your plans in music for the next year?
The next year I’ve got lots on, I’m working towards the album release and tour (Spring 2011) and between now and then I’m giving away a free download ‘Dialled’ with artwork by Vicki Cole which is already available. A limited edition Christmas release through olive grove Records with homemade crafty artwork by Iona Bruce and Alex Kenzel. A single from the record will be available at the start next year and then yeah when it gets to album launch time I’m hoping to do lots of touring and festivals with full band and solo shows. Outside of Esperi I’ve got a one off album launch show with The A Forest, starting work on Panda Su recording, collaborating with RM Hubbert for his new album and a collaboration with Lee J Malcolm of Vessels. There is talk of some other projects that may happen and I’m sure a few other things will crop up.
If you could steal a song from an act on the Scottish unsigned circuit and have it as your own, what song would you take?
Hmmm that’s a tough question, there is loads of great Scottish music, it’s especially hard to just pick one favourite song, but I’m loving my management buddies Trapped in Kansas track ‘Towerblock’.
If your music was to be the soundtrack to a film or TV programme which one do you think it would suit best?
I dunno! I think I’d have to go on a song by song decision for that. I made a soundtrack for a documentary film called TOTH (about a father and sons life in a bad part of town) which featured a song ‘Hide’ as a kind of signature track and some music I’ve made has been used by the BBC or featured in Indie films and art works.
I have some music that would work with nature and space programmes, I think if they make another Star Wars I’ll try and get the commission for that (laughs).
And finally, a random question from Mitchell Museum: What is the biggest thing you have ever seen in person?
A big thanks to Esperi for taking the time to answer some questions and here’s how you can hear/ see more of him:
11th November – Gallus, Glasgow
13th November – Drouthy Neebours, Dundee
22nd December – 13th Note, Glasgow
top photo by Luke Joyce
middle photo by Neil Thomas Douglas