Originally published and still available on Born Music 2/12/16.
The past few years have been ones of discovery for LEWIS FIELDHOUSE. In 2013, the London-based singer-songwriter set off on a creative journey, one that began in his hometown and took him all the way to California before coming full circle, seeing him return a man with a new perspective on life, his work, and what he intended to do.
“[My time in California’s Central Valley] was absolutely vital to me as the musician I am now. I went out there to try and push myself musically, try to network more and just see what connections I could make, but it didn’t really go to plan,” says Fieldhouse. “I was dumped in the first week of my trip by a girl that I had fallen quite hard for, but actually, that opened the floodgates on something I think I had been depressed about for a while.” His mother had recently been ill due to cancer. “I’d been distracting myself, not dealing with the enormity of it. I think being so far from home really forced me to look myself in the eye and say ‘What the hell does this mean?’”
Fieldhouse spent six weeks in Central Valley trying to make sense of what was happening in his personal life, and this time spent in reflection also led him to question where he was going musically. “I’d recently released an EP and even though I was pleased with it, I knew it wasn’t really where I wanted to be going.” His moment of epiphany occurred unexpectedly one afternoon at a music festival in Los Angeles. “I was in Echo Park and ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ by Father John Misty came on through the PA (he wasn’t even playing there). It hit me over the head like a hammer and that’s when I knew where my direction lay.”
In the coming months, Fieldhouse would begin to construct the beginnings of a sound clearly influenced by Misty’s dusty rock and narrative-weaving lyrics, a development which culminated in the creation of his persona, Theodor Washington. “I’d say Theodor is more of an idealised version of myself that I can look up to, some sort of fearless warrior that transcends human airs and graces, a purer version of myself. He helped me to get out of bed in California when I was at my lowest,” explains Fieldhouse. “The persona allows me to be more honest about my life and to not be so caught up in the vast arch of a life story, but rather to focus on what is happening in front of me. I was on the trip of a lifetime; I needed to go out and make something of it, otherwise, I’d have ended up hating myself. He doesn’t just help me make music, he helps me live better.”