Heartache and anguish has never sounded so achingly beautiful as it does from Nashville-based Night Beds. For all the lush reverberant instrumentation and meticulous production values that surround Winston Yellen’s music, it does nothing to hide the raw fragility that makes Night Beds’ songwriting so appealing. Seeing himself less as a songwriter and more a storyteller, Yellen has more than proven his ability to effortlessly weave his woozy reverb-drenched songs around his remarkable voice in his debut album ‘Country Sleep’.

Here in this edition of Lead Off, Winston Yellen exudes a refreshing honesty and humility in sharing his experiences of being an emerging artist, his desire to perform under a moniker and his pick of new music from Nashville.

Could you start off by giving us some background about Night Beds?

It started in 2007 just as a recording project. It originated as me and a friend working in my parent’s basement, just recording songs. We just put ourselves out there on myspace over a few years. It’s still evolving and still feels like it’s ever-changing. That’s the long and short of it, nothing too interesting (laughs).

Where does the name come from?

It just comes from a lyric in a song that was written a few years ago. We thought it was an interesting combination of words. It felt kind of tongue cheek but I guess it takes on what the music is, in some fashion. I was kind of lazy about it but I like it. I guess band names are arbitrary anyway.

Was it a conscious decision to perform under a moniker rather than your own name?

Without getting heady about it, I like detaching myself or occupying a different space or landscape - kind of Church and State. I like to live in a different realm; lyrically I don’t want it to directly correlate with me. I like telling stories, as everybody does - I’m not saying anything new. I like keeping my name more domestic (laughs).

Many of the tracks from Country Sleep contain fairly rich instrumentation, which obviously helps Night Beds move away from the traditional ‘man with a guitar’ style. Was this a deliberate step or did it happen naturally?

I actually went about it in the opposite way. I don’t really think of myself as a songwriter, I’m just a guy that writes songs. In the past it’s always been about making it up as we’re going along.. In terms of the approach and form, this album’s been different. This is one record and it’s going to be like this for a short while I guess.

What are some of your influences (music or otherwise)?

I cite Neil Young Harvest - that was huge. Gillian Welch. Those two definitely. I also had lots of old blues artists like Robert Johnson and Skip James that I’d spin on my old phonograph player which was pretty groundbreaking for me, hearing those for the first time on a record player. I was definitely into Ryan Adams Jacksonville City Nights. Old Country music in general. I’m a little behind the game on music, I don’t really have my fingers on the pulse. I would say I made a bastardised version of the records I like.

The album’s been very well received particularly here in the UK - I saw that Ramona was ‘itunes single of the week’ here, do you tend to read reviews?

No not really. It gets passed along to my manager but I don’t need to add an egocentric vibe. I’m trying to be modest about it. I’m also a more removed person. I like jumping on other peoples work and don’t sit around with clippings on my refrigerator. I’m thrilled when people have nice things to say but I’m more focused on not fucking up the opportunities, like to play shows.

From your own experiences of Night Beds, what do you see as some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an emerging artist today?

It’s a good thing in many ways but I hate the idea of just adding to the noise, which I never intended to do because I just create because it does well for me and in my heart of hearts it feels good. This part is pretty easy. I guess the hardest part is trying to pull off a song and making it sound good with just four people. We can’t afford to tour with a lot of people.

So you grew up in Colorado and are now based in Nashville, is that right? How has living in somewhere like Nashville influenced your sound or ethos?

I occupy space there (laughs). It’s the south, it’s got its own heartbeat. It’s got an intense thing, but it’s not tangible. I sound stupid talking about it but it’s definitely there, if you’ve lived there you can feel it.

What new, emerging artists from the area should we look out for?

I’m not really in the scene; I’m not really sure what’s going on (laughs). Actually, Good Buddy. He’s a friend of ours but no one knows he exists. His name is Jason Staebler. He’s got this record that we’re spinning in the van and its life changing stuff. He does everything himself - I actually sang on the record and whole thing is fucking amazing. He has like 22 likes on facebook (laughs)

Are you planning to come back to England for some more live shows?

We’re coming back in April, I’m not sure what they are yet. We’re thrilled, it’s been the Mecca for touring so far. We’re just happy to go back with the full band as last time I was just on my own.