With the worldly pop of his Brand New Towns , the singer-songwriter becomes the fifth Denton act to be signed by the British label Bella Union. The label, headed by Simon Raymonde, has found a treasure trove in the small college town, most recently with the psychedelic folk sounds of the group Midlake.
What’s going on in Denton? It’s a tight-knit community, and there have always been a lot of bands. Now that Midlake is doing well, the spotlight is back on [us].
You initially studied jazz and classical guitar. I went to the University of North Texas with [the members of] Midlake, and Norah Jones was there. After a while I felt like school wasn’t really where I wanted to be. I moved to New York to pursue playing jazz and got turned on to a lot of stuff. I got to tour in Turkey and Spain and record Arabic music. I studied with Nelson Gonzalez, who’s considered by many to be the best Cuban guitarist around. Every once in a while I pick up the Cuban guitar and go play, but I focus mainly on songwriting now.
Is it fair to say that most of these bands that come from Denton were all music students at the university? No. I’d say most are probably not.
The university itself is known more for its jazz program. Is that still the case? Most majors are business majors, and it is kind of a commuter school, although it is starting to make the slow transition to being more