Interview: C. Duncan
Take a pew, dear reader, and enter the dreamy pop world of C. Duncan. Since the release of his influential debut album ‘Architect’, the Glasgow-born musician has been on a wholly upward trajectory – one of Mercury Prize nominations and globe-trotting tours as he spreads his captivating live show far and wide. With a stop-off in the Steel City scheduled for this month, Andrew Martin caught up with the uniquely talented one-man band.
Tell us about your early life and how you became involved with music.
I started writing songs when I was very young. I played in a number of school bands and started recording my own music when I was about 13-years-old. My parents were both classical musicians so I learned to play piano at an early age, and also guitar, bass, and drums. I then was part of Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which is basically an academy for the performing arts.
Before the release of your name-defining album, you were snapped up by Fat Cat Records in 2013. How did that come about?
I’ve always been a big fan of Fat Cat and the artists they have worked with. They listened to one of my demos and, yeah, I just think it went down quite well. They asked me to join them – it was a no-brainer, really – and I basically got down to writing music.
You’ve had experience in range of musical styles, from classic to contemporary. How would you describe your sound?
I think it’s very choral, but it’s sort of changing at the moment. It’s always very choral, very dreamy and I guess at the moment it’s very electronic. But yeah, it’s such a tricky question – I guess, if I had to define it, I’d say choral dream pop.
You’re also a talented painter. How does that side of your artistry mesh with your music?
Well, when I first started making albums I thought that I might as well do the cover art because I paint. I think I’m probably a bit of a control freak when it comes to how things look and sound, so I do the cover art as well as the music. I’ll incorporate a few themes from the album and try to tie the whole thing together. I so think it’s quite important to visually represent the music.
What direction did you initially take for your recent album ‘The Midnight Sun’ and how do you think it turned out?
I wanted to do something different to the first album and give it more of an overarching sound. My first album, The Architect, was a mash-up of lots of different stylistic things I was trying at the time. I always wanted to do something inspired by The Twilight Zone, the sixties sci-fi TV show, and loosely base an album or songs on that. I’m obsessed with the show and have been for years. So I basically started watching a load of episodes to try to get into the The Twilight Zone mood for a lot of the stuff on The Midnight Sun.
Were there any particular episodes which inspired specific tracks? Or was it more of a general thing?
The songs aren’t necessarily based on any of the episodes; I just tried to capture the mood of the show: the slightly ominous but very often strangely ethereal and mysterious mood. That’s what I was going for.
What’s next for C. Duncan? Anything we should keep our eyes peeled for on the horizon?
I’m currently working on a new album. Hopefully that’ll be out in a year or so, then we have the May tour and then onto the summer shows! The new album hasn’t got a name or release date yet – I’ll let you know a few months down the line when I work all that out!
C. Duncan will be at The Leadmill on Saturday 13th May 2017. Tickets are available from www.leadmill.co.uk