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There’s always a bit of melodrama involved when a indie singer/songwriter or emo type in his early 20s writes about his life-destroying breakup: Dudes, you’re in your twenties, you’re supposed to have a horrible romantic life. Things get a lot more devastating to listeners when the songwriter is White Town’s Jyoti Mishra, an indie-pop veteran in his mid-40s and he spends an entire album sorting through the wreckage of his personal and romantic life after a decade-plus marriage goes down the tubes on Monopole. It isn’t quarter-life odes to The One That Got Away, but lamenting the irreplaceable loss of The One. For a guy best known for his 1997 mega-hit “Your Woman,” it’s a startlingly direct look inside his personal life.
It’s not like Mishra hasn’t attempted to distract himself from his loneliness. He started (and dropped out of) sociology and creative writing programs at the University of Derby. He buckled down and Monopole as the second release from his own label, Bzangy Groink, handling virtually everything from song inception to fanzine-level press. Still, there are events that define a life, and it’s hard not to come away from Monopole, with its start-to-finish chronicle of his wrecked relationship, with the feeling that Mishra will never be able to truly put the past few years behind him.
TIG: After all the misery that’s helped inspire this album, does it feel like it’s behind you with the release of this album?
Jyoti Mishra: It’s been a weird process, as you know. It would have been a lot sooner, because the last album was 2006, 2007. With divorce stuff and my parents being ill, it’s been difficult to get a continued bit of time to keep working. It’s taken much longer than I would have liked. I’m not like through the thing of being through it yet. It’s still in the process. It’s not like it’s a past album yet. When it’s a past album, I’ll be able to draw on it. It still feels too current. Everything I’m singing about on it feels too now, you know?
Is that because you’re so involved in every aspect of it, handling all songwriting, performing, recording, album art and running the label, are you more immersed in the emotion tied into the songs?
JM: I think if I handed it off to anybody else, even down to the videos and stuff. I know it’s my own fault, because I’m too much of a control freak. I want everything to be right. It’s partially based on bad experiences before, which were a long time ago. I’m talking about EMI stuff. When you work really hard on something and get a graphic design back that’s just awful, it kind of puts you off to working with other people again. [Laughs] I know there’s probably great people out there that I could use, but I’ll just do it myself, even though I’m not really a graphic designer. I just knock up something that will do.
After having problems with other people in the past, do you get to the point where it’s just easier to do everything yourself than try to explain your ideas and struggle with other people?
JM: I’m not a trained graphic designer, so it’s always going to be worse if I do it myself, because I haven’t got that knowledge or craft, but it will be better than someone doing a botched job, like a slick botched job. The same with videos; I’ve already made a few short films. I’m not a filmmaker. I’m sure if I had the money and the ability to hand it over to a proper director, I’d get back the videos that were vector-edited and all that kind of stuff. But, A) who can I find to do it, and B) I can’t afford it. It’s like you just do it yourself. It’s partially political, and partially no money.