The Kaje Meets Hawksley Workman

Despite having twelve records in ten years, Canadian ‘indie King’ Hawksley Workman is a relatively unknown name on this fair isle. Having declared back in 1998 that his debut album “For Him and The Girls” was recorded in the hope of “finding a voice”, Workman now admits that he realises that his voice is “constantly evolving”.  No longer just an unknown wannabe, recording a record in his bedroom, Workman’s passion for music continues both as a performer and a songwriter.  It is this diversity that he believes sees him still working long past the termination of his record deal with Universal.  “I’ve always just seen it as a job and I want to do my job well.  So, I write for lots of people.  And I know I’m good at it, but also very quick.  So I write now for lots of Idol people, and I also wrote for Jane Birkin.”

“My Dad always bought records.  A few a week.  His taste was genreless.  Very different to the industry nowadays.  I guess that was my inspiration. ”  Standing out from the crowd has always been Workman’s game.  His music a melange of his father’s mixed tastes, Workman has never fitted a mould easily.  Initially seen as an ‘indie wonder kid’, he broke the mould for unsigned talent.  His debut album garnering rave reviews and commercial success.  “Had I been in America, I’d have been Rufus Wainwright.  The market is bigger there so the impact far greater. “

The success lead to his being signed by Universal.  A move that could have seen the launch of a global superstar.  However, it wasn’t to be.  “At the beginning it was great.  I was the golden boy and it was great at the time.  But that only lasts whilst you are the golden boy.  Soon enough you are back to being a second class citizen.  Record companies are really just like a bank.  They lend the band the money to make a record, and whilst the product is making money then all is great but if it doesn’t make as much as they expect then it stops.”  Whilst for Workman the ride in Canada and mainland Europe proved fruitful, for some reason his ride never took off in the UK.  “NME once told me they would never feature me”.  The reason inexplicable, but something to do with a labelmate having a more important release at the same time as his, Workman saw his efforts fail.

Yet having played a vital role in the evolution of the unsigned artist, Workman was unafraid when it came to returning to his own independent label.  Along with the move came greater control.  Few artists are so nonchalant about their releases.  With “Meat” released this week in the UK, Workman isn’t concerned about people buying his record.  He is happy to just still be making them.  Of course, he’d like people to hear his music, to connect, but he is past his days of battling for the spotlight.  Even to the point that when questioned about “Meat”‘s accompanying “Milk” downloads, Workman states “I just thought it would be great to give people the chance to download something from me each week.  If they want to that is”.

Perhaps it is his simple workman ethic that strikes a chord.  As I leave his dressing room at London’s Borderline, the bar is already full with anticipatory fans awaiting Workman’s only UK date.  Whilst many musicians crave the limelight, Workman has always allowed his music to do the talking and the rewards are more than deserved.


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