Bill Fay

Ask Bill Fay about his relationship with his instrument and he says something revealing, not "Ever since I learnt to play the piano", but "Ever since the piano taught me..." What the piano taught him was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. "Music gives," he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, "Who is the sender?" Fay - who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art - asserts that, for him, songs aren't actually written but found. Shown a simple piano piece by his sister-in-law when he was around 15, Fay began exploring how it worked and opened up a whole new world, the realm of chords. Once he'd discovered their emotional power, and how finding the right blend of chords and harmony made him want to sing melodies and conjure words, he became immersed in that world, and has been ever since. He recorded two phenomenal - and completely different sounding - albums, Bill Fay and Time Of The Last Persecution for Decca offshoot Nova in 1970 and 1971, which were largely overlooked at the time, but whose undoubted power sent out enough ripples to find important admirers many years later. Among them was label owner Colin Miles who reissued them on CD in 1998 and thereby alerted a new generation to Bill's work. After 27 years of neglect, people like Nick Cave, Jim O' Rourke and Jeff Tweedy were praising those records in glowing terms. Tweedy even began covering Fay's Be Not So Fearful at Wilco shows. Another original fan of those early albums was James Henry, a Californian Vietnam veteran who somehow came across them and found something in the spiritual ruminations of a young man from North London that resonated with him. He passed his enthusiasm on to his son Joshua who grew up to be a producer and who, in 2010, contacted the elusive, almost reclusive Fay and asked if they might make some new recordings. Touched by the unexpected connection his music had made with this young man in Nevada City, Fay agreed. Henry recruited world-renowned engineer Guy Massey and a crack squad of musicians, including current, in-demand players Tim Weller, Matt Deighton and Mikey Rowe, and Bill's cohorts from the Decca days, Alan Rushton and Ray Russell. This pan-generational team proved a perfect conduit for Bill's work and the results, released as Life Is People in 2012 were breathtaking and lauded around the globe. Now that team, with some new additions, has convened for a second album. Cut in just 13 days in Konk Studios, North London, Who Is The Sender? sees Bill expanding upon themes he has touched on from the beginning, spiritual and philosophical questions, observations about the natural world and the people in the city he has lived in all his life. You can hear them in Garden Song, the first song on his debut album in 1970 and in Underneath The Sun and How Little on this album, with its refrain "It's all so deep." The joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as "alternative gospel". Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn't seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: "Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that's a good thing, isn't it? Maybe that's what music wants to do."

WATCH: New Video for Bill Fay’s “This World”

Premiering today at Stereogum, the new video for Bill Fay’s “This World” features Super 8 film projected onto faces of people, a combination of both strangers to and friends of the director. Bill’s labelmate and long time fan, Califone’s Tim Rutili, directed the video, commenting, “thinking about making images for this music triggered faces and memory. It made me want to stare into a stranger’s eyes.” To add ease to the up-close filming, Rutili asked participants to talk about their very first childhood memory. You’ll notice a cameo of Jesus Lizard’s David Yow. Watch above.

Bill Fay’s Life Is People came out last week and has since received numerous rave reviews from fans and critics alike! Check it all out at Any Decent Music, who has compiled a great list for your reading pleasure. You can order your copy from SC Distribution!

Wait No More: Bill Fay – ‘Life Is People’ Out Now

Today is an incredibly special day here at Dead Oceans. Bill Fay’s Life Is People is officially released to the world. We could not be prouder to support “the strange and wonderful return of cult hero Bill Fay” as Spin recently wrote. As we’ve mentioned before, Life Is People is the first proper studio release Fay has put out in over forty years. Produced by Joshua Henry and Guy Massey, the record features musicians Matt Deighton, Tim Weller and Mikey Rowe. Long-time fan and supporter Jeff Tweedy also sings with Bill on “This World.”

“This album had a life of it’s own. It just fell into place. It was at peace with itself. I was walking into the unknown, but the people who helped me make it were really nice, and great players. It was exactly right.” Bill Fay

Physical copies are available at SC Distribution, as well as your local record store. You can purchase the record by signing up for Dead Oceans Sounds, our new digital subscription service at DRIPFM or at iTunes and receive the bonus track “Home Was the Place.” Life Is People is currently streaming for a limited time at Paste. Enjoy it HERE.

Love for Life Is People

“Breathtakingly beautiful…full of a quiet awe and wonder….”NPR

“Life Is People is proof enough that Fay has always stood tall; we just may have been too short to notice him. It seems like time has finally caught up with Fay, or rather, that time is ready to start regretting its negligence. He’s in our sight lines now, and hopefully he’ll stay there a while longer.”Consequence of Sound

“Bill Fay’s first album in 41 years is astonishing.”MOJO 5 stars, Album of the Month

“Beautiful, patient and poignant, Life Is People is an expert singer-songwriter album…the work of a lifetime…”Pitchfork

LSTN: Stream Bill Fay’s New Album – ‘Life Is People’ at Paste, Interview at NPR’s Weekend Edition

Premiering earlier this morning at Paste, Bill Fay’s Life Is People is available from start to finish. Thus far the first couple of tracks have been warmly embraced by fans and critics alike. Prepare yourself for quite the listening experience. Stream the album above. Life Is People is out today in the UK and tomorrow, August 21 in the US. Find your copy at SC Distribution.

Over the weekend, Bill gave a delightful interview on NPR’S Weekend Edition. He touches on the album’s founding stories, giving us insight to some of the personal experiences that influenced his first studio album in over forty years. Listen to Bill Fay: A Cult Figure Returns, Skeptical But Optimistic.

“When I was on holidays with my dad as a kid, we’d sit in seaside cafes and he’d watch people walking by. … He was astonished at it and he would say, ‘Life is people.’ That was quite emotional for me, to sort of have him on board so to speak on his own view on life.” -Bill Fay

LSTN: Bill Fay Premieres New Track “This World” and Wilco Cover “Jesus, Etc.”

It’s been quite the wait, but we assure you, it’s worth it. Today, Bill Fay shares two new tracks from his highly-anticipated album Life Is People. Premiering today at Pitchfork, the first track, “This World,” features guest vocals from Jeff Tweedy. Listen above. A longtime Bill Fay fan and supporter, Tweedy famously covered his song “Be Not So Fearful” in the Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and continues to do so at live shows. Bill returns support to Tweedy on the second track offered for streaming today. It’s a cover of Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.” Stream below!

Life Is People comes out next Tuesday, August 21. Pre-order now from SC Distribution. You also have the option to pre-order from Other Music and when you do, you’ll immediately receive a download of the entire album before it hits stores!

PRAISE FOR LIFE IS PEOPLE

“Truly, the album of a lifetime” -Independent UK

“astonishing…I hope and believe that this beautiful, hard-won music will be listened to for generations to come.” -MOJO, Instant MOJO Classic

“the staggering return of a great lost cult artist…an awe-inspiring experience” -Q

“Fay’s most diverse, divergent album” -Uncut, 9/10 stars

“Bill Fay is one of the greats — this is a beautiful album” -Nick Cave

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This World
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