"It felt, at this point, like [there's] nothing to lose," James Milne says. He's talking about the new album from his musical alter-ego Lawrence Arabia, which is half written and half released. We had better explain . . .
Rather than following traditional album-release path Milne decided to try something different. He set up a Kickstarter page and crowdfunded the release, essentially offering his fans an album pre-sale with perks.
It's titled Lawrence Arabia's Singles Club 2018, and Milne is writing and recording one song each month for an entire year. At the end of each month, members get emailed the new song, and the process repeats. By the end of the year the 12-track album will be finished with physical copies being sent to backers and stores, in early 2019.
"The point of Singles Club was to allow fans to get music instantly. I'm literally mixing and mastering the day of, or the day before, I email it out to everyone."
He's quick to deflect credit for being the first to attempt this very 2.0 way of releasing an album. He says he's seen musicians overseas try something similar and says the creative and financial incentives of the project made him want to try it here.
"I've been able to concentrate on making the music," he says, noting that the fan buy-in has allowed him to stay in the studio. "Normally I'd have to do a tour or two to survive."
By necessity the song-a-month schedule has affected the way he writes music.
"This is totally different to a normal record," he explains. "Normally you're thinking of songs in the context of a whole record. Now I'm thinking of them as singles. Every month I go, 'what am I going to do to make this song as awesome as possible?'. I'm not thinking about a whole record. I'm just thinking, 'I've got to get this song finished and I've got fairly minimal time'."
The process, he says has been frantic, with deadline pressure never far away. Despite that, he's enjoying it.
"It feels at least sane to be trying to do something different. It's inspiring. It makes me happy."
With that in mind will he do it again? Singles Club 2019 perhaps?
"God no!" he laughs. "No. Maybe 2020. It's pretty intense. I wouldn't rule out doing it again because it is cool. It's a good process. But God, I'm definitely looking forward to the end of the year."
Who: Lawrence Arabia
What: Crowdfunded new album Lawrence Arabia's Singles Club 2018
When: Ongoing throughout the year. Visit lawrencearabia.bandcamp.com to support the project and listen to the first six tracks.