Westerman’s music seems to locate the exotic in the everyday, while making the outlandish sound perfectly-normal-thank-you-very-much. Recent single ‘Confirmation’ was an absolute jewel, the woozy, electronic-flecked arrangement steering his guitar-driven songwriting into another dimension entirely.
Right now he’s not quite in another dimension, though – the normally London-based Westerman has removed himself to Portugal, where he picks up the phone to Clash.
“Just doing some recording,” he shrugs. “I’m out in Lisbon – my producer Bullion lives out here now. We’re working towards this album I’m doing!”
“I’m doing a lot of writing, seeing where I get to. Trying to find a thread. When you release single tracks they’re just these little snippets, but with an album I’d like to think more about how it all fits together.”
From track to startling track there’s this continual feeling that Westerman is searching for something, hopping from musical touchstone to musical touchstone.
“I don’t know if you ever really find it,” he admits. “I think it’s more about enjoying that feeling of progression and movement – to me that’s the most important thing, not to feel like I’m standing still, that I’m open to investigating new things, and new ideas.”
“I’ve never been in bands, I’d always played on my own, so I played my acoustic guitar and that immediately lends itself to a certain kind of framing, I suppose, with what you’re doing. I’m really enjoying the process of seeing it in a more multi-coloured way. Viewing the music in a more textured way then I did when I was on my own all the time.”
A multi-textural experience, Westerman’s music is both instantly infectious and defiantly odd, perpetually standing out while remaining absolutely riveting. “I try not to ever think about what people are expecting,” he says at one point in our chat. “I’ve had that in the past, and it can be quite problematic in that it can be less free in the way you get creative ideas.”
“If you put a framework down on what you’re going to do and what people might think before you’ve done it then I kind of think it’s a bit like the wrong way round. I try to follow the idea, present it as best I can, and hope it will translate in some way. It’s always different – you could be in different places in your life, so whenever you go to record music it’s always different. I try to just embrace that, really.”
A chaotic mesh of influences fused into something whole and distinct, Westerman’s approach means that each song owns a highly distinct universe. “I definitely don’t have a method for writing music,” he insists. “I’m very wary of slipping in to that. If you have a method in mind it’s very easy to start writing the same song over and over again. So I try not to do that.”
“I have a lot of melodic ideas, and then you develop songs out of that. That tends to be the essential key for what the song will be. I guess the time consuming bit is how are we going to frame this as a story or a journey or whatever. I think initially it’s impulsive, there’s not really any method – I’ll just sit down and play something.”
Impromptu but planned, succinct but outlandish, Westerman remains thrillingly difficult to categorise.
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