SXSW Profiles

Thursday Night

SXSW Profiles

The High Fidelity, Park Avenue, 1am Thursday

"I'm really worried about the state of music in America," says the High Fidelity's frontman Sean Dickson in an alternately charming and acidic Scottish brogue. "Half the stuff that's coming out of the States sounds like Paula Abdul. It's so Eighties-teen-music-special, it's horrible. That's why I started a band, to get rid of that shit in the world. You hear stuff and you think, 'That's fucking crap, I'm gonna make my own music.'"

Fair enough. Being a Scot, Dickson is prrroud by nature, and as a musician he is prrroud of his music. Proud, at least, of his new fourpiece. He's dismissive of his past as a Soup Dragon, not surprising in an industry afraid of new sounds but smitten with new faces.

"There's benefits from having been a successful artist, but there's also a huge downside," he says. "Imagine I'm on a bike, right, on a hill, and then next to me is somebody who's relatively new, and we're both doing the same kind of music. The guy that you hadn't heard before would've been up and over that hill, while I'm still halfway up it."

Struggle or no, he becomes ecstatic as he talks about his new record. "I think when people hear the LP they'll be shocked, because they haven't heard an LP before that mixes three elements of experimentation, beauty, and melody. You usually get experimental and moving, and experimental and pish, or experimental and no song."

Most tracks on Demonstration do, in fact, meet his three criteria -- especially the poppy, groovy, unpredictable "Unsorry," on which Dickson employs a 65-piece Indian orchestra, in his words, "like a guitar solo." The self-proclaimed gizmo king, Dickson's love of "finding things" led him to the melodramatic orchestration on Indian film scores and the vintage Seventies tinkling of the Omnichord, two instrumental choices featured prominently on the album.

"You have to remember that I've been fucking about with sounds -- to put it nicely -- for about 14 years," says Dickson. "I've always mutated sound, you know, looping things and cutting things up. You spend your life kind of taking things in your head, the same way a computer saves things on a hard drive, and now and then, you've got to back up what's there. The High Fidelity is a retrospect of my head over the last few years."

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