Pop pioneer Jake Shillingford is one of the British music scene's most overlooked heroes. Having debuted with his band My Life Story back in 1993, the group enjoyed huge critical acclaim but were not rewarded with the epic chart success they deserved. Returning after an 18 year absence to release his fourth studio album, World Citizen, Shillingford ressurects the band's legacy with what is effortlessly the band's finest release to date. 

Hi Jake and welcome back! How does it feel to be releasing the first My Life Story album in nearly 20 years?
Quite liberating as there are no music industry pressures around - whether it’s a commercial success or not.  

What prompted the decision to return to the project?

I’ve always kept up with My Life Story fans over the years through various projects like Choppersaurus and Exile Inside, myself and My Life Story guitarist Nick Evans write over 100 songs a year for TV and sync.  It’s something we love, but we felt like we wanted to write something for us this time as opposed to someone else's brief.  

You crowdfunded the release - it must be very rewarding as an artist to know that your fans are still excited to hear from you…

I was one of the first DIY gang back in 2002 along with the likes of Marillion so I’m no stranger to the crowdfunding concept.  Initially this release was hampered by the demise of PledgeMusic however this enabled us to take complete control of the album conception and release.  We built our own e commerce store from scratch and have been dealing directly with fans so it’s been brilliant to hear their feedback and comments right the way through the process.

What can we expect from the release?

We recorded some of the vocals at the legendary Clouds Hill Studios in Hamburg as well as a 40 piece orchestra in Budapest, however we were able to bring back these grand recordings into our own Choppersaurus studios in Brighton where we were afforded the time to knit it all together.

Unusually for a My Life Story album I wrote the lyrics all in one burst in May and June of this year.  I hope that has given the album an urgent and  contemporary focus.  However World Citizen isn’t about world events, it’s about the relationship of two people set to the chaos that surrounds us.  

It is 24 years since Mornington Crescent, your debut album  - what was the biggest lesson you learnt in the early years of your recording career?

It’s all about songs and truth.  Without great songs there would be no music industry and without truth those songs would be meaningless.

The industry is radically different now to back then. What has been the hardest thing to adapt to?

When we started, My Life Story were a 12 piece band.  My vision was to create an epic soundscape that was matched by a chaotic live show.  We had a string section, girls in Versace dresses, a brass section, viola players feeding grapes to cello players, a flautist ripping it up on stage… so many great memories.  This was all afforded to us by the fact we were signed to a major record label, EMI.  And to an extent, they helped me realise my ambitious vision.  They put A LOT of money and faith into the band and for that I am grateful. 

Nowadays, bands are smaller, more compact and more mobile.  The only assistance many of them get is through funding of some sort.

How have your ambitions altered since the early years?

I’m still deluded.  I still think I’m going to have a number one hit record and headline the Pyramid Stage.  Trouble is I’m running out of time.

You head out on tour later this year, what can we expect?

We’ve had lots of excited messages from fans about the tour, especially since our recent intimate gig at the Lexington, and it will be a first for a host of new fans who have engaged with World Citizen.

We’ll also be welcoming some special guests on tour, particularly at our opening night in Islington, who we’ll be announcing in the coming weeks

Lastly, if you could collaborate with one upcoming artist - who would you choose and why?

I would like to work with Marc Almond again, having collaborated with him on PJ Proby’s Legend album in 1996.  Four years ago he sent me a message telling me to write another My Life Story album and thankfully I listened to his words.

Listen to the album 'World Citizen':

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