My Life Story an interview with Jake Shillingford

This Saturday, Jake Shillingford brings his band My Life Story to St Pauls Worthing, renowned for their beautifully crafted orchestral pop; MLS weave dark, thoughtful lyrics through melodic, uplifting songs that combine in a bitter sweet harmony.

Formed in the early 90’s and rolled into the “Brit-Pop” revolution,  their debut single was produced by Giles Martin and brought comparisons to bands like Divine Comedy and Tindersticks.

MLS are back with a new album called World Citizen which was crowd funded and has a song with lyrics suggested by fans over Facebook, the songs are as lush and melodic as ever but with a dark underbelly that reflects the times we are living in.

I spoke with Jake to discuss the new album, his song writing process, influences and the whole “Brit-pop” thing. What is clear is that he is glad that MLS are back and he is very much enjoying the process of writing and touring again.

Afternoon Jake, it’s good to have you back, a lot of people will have heard the name but might not know who My Life Story are, how would you describe the band?

I guess we are a sort of orchestral, experimental pop band, with strong melodies and I guess slightly alternative music with a filmic quality to it.

World Citizen the new album has that recognisable mixture of melody and hook but the barb is in the lyrics, what comes first for you?

Yes, that’s another thing that MLS is known for. I have always been fascinated by word play, people like Edward Lear or Spike Milligan, just really toying with the English language.

I like to be acerbic sometimes and I just love popular music that uses melody to get over a message or thought, that blend of melodic music and cutting lyrics, I love bands like The The for example, Matt Johnson is excellent at using that vehicle to get his message across.

Back in the day there was a comparison with you and Neil Hanlon (Divine Comedy)

MM, maybe, I guess so, yeah I suppose with a song like Broken; it’s about mental health it’s about the real feeling in the pit of your stomach when things go wrong and its wrapped in a beautiful melody.

The new  album was crowd sourced, did that put extra pressure on you?

Well we have always been lucky to continue to write music,  I actually still write a lot of music along with guitarist Nick Evans for film and TV

That’s Choppersaurus, right?

Yeah, we do a lot of that stuff, so in some ways we are writing music all the time, I see it sort of being like an athlete keeping limber, because we are writing all the time we are always ready to go when opportunities come along.

The unique thing about this album is I didn’t really write the lyrics until recently, in fact I wrote all the lyrics in about a month over May and June of this year, I have never done that before and even though it was a lot of time pressure I really enjoyed it and I hope it really encapsulates the feeling of now.



Over winter is one of my favourite tracks on the new album, it seems very melancholic?

That had to be the closing track on the album, it has a lot of references to nature and using winter as a metaphor for being in a really dark place in a relationship.  I also found that within the global chaos I am tending to go back to nature in my own life, because nature is clear, it’s very real, it’s true, and it is a cyclical process.

I must have used the word truth in every single song, to the point that the band would laugh at it, when you have all this chaos around you it’s the truth you tend to look for, and that tends to be near you, finding truth in the people you love, in the simple things in life, indeed they are the main topics of World Citizen, when all around you is confusion, you sort of hunker down and find truth and respect and love from the closest to you

So back out on tour, what can we expect, will there still be a mixture of old and new songs?

We will always play the old favourites of course, it’s the path that got us here, in some ways it’s fascinating MLS are two bands really, when we go out on the reunion heritage circuit/tours we give the fans what they want to hear it’s pure nostalgia, on this tour we have a new album and we feel the lyrics reflect the times, so we will be mixing in new tracks and showcasing them but would never drop the old stuff, I just feel so lucky to be able to still write and perform my music.

And the experiment you did with getting fans to submit lyrics over Facebook, bet that was interesting?

Laughs, it was for the song World Citizen, like the great Ian Dury, I wanted to write a song with great place names and citizen isn’t a great word to rhyme place names with, so we ended up asking Facebook, and we got some interesting suggestions I might end up like Tony Hancock when he started using cue cards on the blood donor  episode and from that point onwards he wanted them every time,  so if this works out, who knows I might get lazy and get fans on Facebook to write all my lyrics

Good luck with the tour and the new album Jake and thanks for your time

Chatting to Jake what is clear is he has a vision and the nerve to stay true to it, he is thoughtful, deeply passionate and genuinely grateful to still be able to release his music and play it live.

Even if you have never heard of My Life Story, if you like any of the bands mentioned in this interview, or love good strong melody linked to intelligent lyrics then this is a gig you should not miss.

Read the full interview on my blog WoMu a Worthing music blog

Tickets are still available for MLS at St Pauls

Thanks to Jake,  Tom at  Atom, Mike Baker, Alex Kelly and especially to Maria Philippou for setting up the interview


Saturday 30th November
Doors: 19:30


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