Interview: Blair Dunlop

Following the release of his third album Gilded, and ahead of his appearance at The Greystones this Friday, Jack Spivey caught up with Chesterfield-born singer/songwriter Blair Dunlop.

How’s the first leg of the tour been?
It’s been really good so far! The reaction we’ve had has been really encouraging, and I’m touring with a great group of people which makes everything more enjoyable!

Let’s talk about your latest album, Gilded, and there’s a repetition of that word throughout the album. What’s the relevance of this from your point of view?
The whole process of gilding is basically intended to give something basic a more impressive appearance. The album as a whole explores a lot of facets of human interaction, and I think, in a way, how we adapt the way that we appear to others. The whole idea of how we appear and the honesty of this is something that interests me. On top of that, I enjoy the irony when looking at how stripped-back and raw the album actually is!

Yeah, you used mainly live takes for the recording, right?

We used a few overdubs and got some of the drums laid down in advance, but yeah, in terms of the guitar, vocals and keys, most of this was done live. I just think it gives the whole album a more honest feel, and the fact that you can sort of hear the room gives it a character that we wouldn’t have got otherwise. We recorded in Blue Print Studios, in Manchester, where Elbow recorded, and I think you get the same sort of feel on this album as they did on some of theirs.

Personal experience is much more apparent in the lyrics on this album compared to previous releases, but there are still a few concept tracks. Where does the inspiration for these tracks come from?

The concept stuff comes from a mix of my imagination and things that I’ve come across, mainly whilst touring. I’ve tried to not stray too far from the storytelling narrative aspect of folk music – this is the music I was raised with and it’ll always be with me to a certain extent.

Them Two Dance present Random Acts of Kindness

You mentioned folk, and this is a genre that you seem to have been tied to. Though the new album is far less folky – any reason behind this?
Definitely! It’s mainly down to personal choice. This album was released on my own label, and it meant I had free reign to make the album that I wanted to. Growing up with folk, and having won the BBC2 Folk Horizon Award meant that early on a folk sound was sort of expected, but obviously tastes change over time!

So you’ve made your own label, are you looking to sign any artists up anytime soon?!
At the minute I think I’m just going to focus on my own releases, for me and the band. But it’s definitely something I’m open to! If I came across the right artist with the right mind-set, then it’s a conversation I’d be happy to have!

Quick Fire Round:
Dream duet – dead or alive?
Aoife O’Donovan. Her voice and harmonies are flawless.

Dream car?
Pagini Huayra. It looks incredible, and they only ever made 100. I can dream!

Who’ve you got on repeat at the minute?
Julian Lage. He does things with a guitar that I struggle to comprehend!

Favourite place to play?

Sheffield (it feels like a hometown show for me) or depending on the venue, Manchester is usually fun too.

Favourite genre to listen to in your downtime?
Sometimes I feel like I just need a break from music, so I listen to a lot of podcasts. In terms of music though it’s a whole range – Hip-Hop to House to Easy Listening to West Coast Country to name a few!


Blair plays The Greystones on Friday 27th June. Tickets are available here.

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