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Premiere + Interview: Delaney Davidson Shares Video 'Such A Loser'

Premiere + Interview: Delaney Davidson Shares Video 'Such A Loser'

Chris Cudby / Wednesday 23rd May, 2018 12:23PM

Lyttelton songwriter Delaney Davidson is a man on the move, he's just released his very fine new album Shining Day featuring contributions from Neil Finn, SJD and folk-blues singer Nicole Izobel Garcia, and is currently in the midst of a tour of the UK. The hard-working artist also has a number of projects on the go, including upcoming collaborative releases with SJD, Bruce Russell (of the Dead C), Barry Saunders (of the Warratahs), black metal group Belladonna and more. If that wasn't enough, Davidson has now unveiled a self-directed video (with help from Nicole Izobel Garcia) for his latest single from the album 'Such A Loser', presenting black and white herky-jerky footage of the artist singing his pots 'n' pans tune amongst vintage wartime imagery.

Delaney Davidson will be working his magic at an already sold-out show at London's Servant Jazz Quarters this coming Thursday. Chris Cudby spoke with the affable artist recently while he was on the road, playing shows across the EU with fellow traveller Marlon Williams. Experience his new video for 'Such A Loser' and read our in-depth conversation below...

Congratulations on your new album Shining Day. Are you exploring any specific themes or inspirations with the new record?

I dunno, I always wonder about stuff because you look at things afterwards and you see things jumping out to bite you in the face. At the time it seems a bit thrown together and can have this random elements but somehow... some of the songs came from 2002 and some of these songs were written earlier this year, and were written after the album had started to come together. Like this song ‘Shining Day’ which the album is named after was written with SJD, he came down to Christchurch and we just spent a couple of days just writing and recording, that song just jumped out as something so strong and I really like the idea of it. It’s always your shining day and it’s just up to you to enjoy it.

That's nice.

Somehow that just took over as this theme. I think the overall dynamic theme-wise is usually people in love.

How did the record come together? Was it recorded over a long period of time?

Some of it was recorded in France. I recorded those songs there and worked with other bands with a guy called Bob Drake, who used to do a lot of work with Quincy Jones and then he kind of abandoned that whole side of music and went with Fred Frith, Christ Cutler, this whole UK avant-garde scene and did his own kind of whacko music. So we went back there to record, we were in the middle of the tour and we spent a week dragging out bicycle wheels and watering cans and stuff to use in the recording and sort of put the basic flavour together. Then I had this other stream of music which was demos I was pulling out of spare moments on tour, setting up a little studio in LA in a house we rented for a month, y’know classic kitchen table demo stuff.

I asked Neil Finn, I have this theory that everyone in New Zealand should... I don’t want to say music industry, I guess community would be the word... as a peer be able to say “hey Dave Dobbyn I’m kind of having trouble with this thing at the moment and you seem to be incredibly good at that, could you give me some advice?” Or you could go down to the dairy and go “Hey dude who works at the dairy, you’re really good with those crazy drum machines, can you help me out a bit?” or you could go to someone like Mel Parsons and say “Mel you’re incredible at organising these tours, you seem to be all over that. Could you give me some advice?” I mean we have these kind of mentor sessions that people set up in New Zealand like Songhub or the Music Managers Forum, and there would be a really informal way to make some agreement among the community to say “hey man if anyone ever wants to ask me a question, I’m up for it, let’s go.”

So I’ve been talking about this idea for a while and then I just thought “dude stop telling people about it, just do it yourself.” So I had all these demos and recordings from France and I approached Neil because I met him at the music production seminar they had at Roundhead and said “hey would you mind just giving me some feedback on these demos? Im looking at my song collection that I’m looking at putting together for this album.” He agreed which was a massive kick for me. I sent him a link and he listened to them and gave some real simple feedback. It was really helpful to go “oh, this body of work all belongs together, it’s not just this stream or that stream.” That was really encouraging, then he suggested as a joke that he played drums on one of the tracks because they were all ropey drum loops out of Garageband. One thing led to another and he said “come in and we’ll put the songs through the desk and see how they stand up.” Which for me was great because I always wanted to have this rawness of demos mixed somehow with the quality and the punch that studio recording offers. You want the attitude of the demo but you want the quality of the studio so somehow working with him on those songs helped expand both those points in a way.

Was he playing the drums on 'What Am I Doing Wrong'?

We both had a go, we had a go at about three songs. As soon as he said “I’d love to play drums on this song,” me being me went “oh, well there’s this song, this song and this song you could do too.” A bit of an opportunistic rat kind of approach but I was just so excited about the idea and I could suddenly see what he meant. I think we had a drumming session where we both were taking turns trying to different stuff. It seemed the trick to be was to keep it as simple as possible with less and less fills. He ended up pulling out the bass and adding a really nice bass line which pushed it along.

Speaking of collaborations, I'm quite interested in your Charlie Feathers tribute album (mid-20th Century country music and rockabilly musician) with Bruce Russell (Dead C). What’s the story about that?

Hopefully that’ll come out some time in the next couple of months, but that came out of a performance we did. Hamish Kilgour had a campfire jamboree I call it. He put on this night at a bar in Lyttelton where he just told people he knew “let’s have a night where people play music.” I just asked Bruce “hey man do you want to do something together?” because I’d often heard him play and thought it would be so great to provide some context to these notes that he does. His stuff is very much one direction, straight ahead, so I wanted to couch what he does in some kind of a context. So we ended up doing that show and it was fuckin’ great. Then we did another one in Lyttelton and I asked him to come and join me at the Christchurch Art Gallery for a night I put on there. We did that and recorded it and then I listened back to it a couple of days later. You know when you do a performance and you got no idea how it went, especially with a twenty minute improvised noise piece, it’s very hard to tell if it worked or not. I thought “oh I’ll have a quick listen” to see what the quality is like. I put it on and I just sat down and listened to the whole thing through which surprised me that it held me for that long.

We’d been talking for a while about this Charlie Feathers idea and somehow the story that came out of that twenty minutes started to conjure up a picture of this combination of Charlie Feathers and The Last Riot, Hank Williams. They just kept driving this idea of a corpse lying in the back of a car with a cowboy hat and a gun and listening to that we just thought “let’s go.” It became very simple, that twenty minute piece is one side of the album and the other side is about six or seven smaller pieces that we did. I recorded some basic drum tracks and then we just had the drum track playing and then recorded over it. I listened to about three or four of the track on headphones just to try and have some semblance of togetherness and Bruce didn’t so it’s got some really great atmospheres. It is basically just a way to try and tell some story through a different medium. A lot of it's tape, there’s about three or four different old tape recorder machines involved, there’s some splicing, there’s some cut-up stuff going on.

And you have another upcoming project with SJD (Sean James Donnelly)?

Yeah, we recorded about six songs, he came down to Lyttelton and we had two days I think and we just went. He’s so incredibly flexible when it comes to what direction to you want to go in with music. You just have fun and you just sort of let go of being uptight. Doing some stuff that kind of sounds like a Tiffany song maybe but with our flavour in it, having a go at rapping. Just playing around you know? Just giving lots of different things a go. We did this thing where we’d both play on the drum kit at the same time, record it into the iPhone for twenty seconds or whatever and import it into his computer and it just got this room-compressed drum sound.

Sometimes if you’re on the right track with recording, you’ll find something that will just become a cornerstone of what you’re doing and it inspires or feeds a whole direction that you can go in. I think this funny drum thing we stumbled onto really did that for us somehow. How fun it was, how stupid and simple and easy and quick it seemed to be. I think as well we were both poking round each other's minds because he does a lot of production, you can hear it in his work. I do a lot of that too, I’ve done pretty much all of my own albums and produced for quite a few other albums now. Basically letting go seemed like a big part of working with Sean.

I'm quite curious about your work with Lyttelton black metal band Belladonna.

Yeah, it’s Jason Greig (Into The Void), and Anthea Struthers, who was part of Harbour Union, the big artist collaboration around the earthquake times. They approached me to ask if I’d be interested in producing that album for them and I was totally over the moon about it because it’s nice to be asked to do something not folk or country based. I think people thought “oh yeah, that’s kind of his bag.” But it was pretty funny to me to realise how much of that flavour I have inside of me and what a natural field it was to extend into, the whole metal arena. It’s a fucking amazing album I reckon, they should be really proud of themselves for pulling what they did together.

I did quite a bit of things before I left. I produced an album for Al Parks who's a songwriter in Christchurch, the idea was to have a whole album that he doesn’t sing or play a note on. So the whole album's guests, Jordan Luck, Barry Saunders, me... all these guests who interpret his songs. I had that rolling along and we were trying to get the last tracks don’t a couple of days before I was leaving. I mixed the Belladonna album so I’m sure once this tour with Marlon finishes I’ll be reconnecting with people to see where it’s at. I’m hoping they’ll get it out sometime this year because they should get it out as fast as they can I reckon.

The other thing I was gonna mention is the release with Barry Saunders (The Warratahs), me and him put an album together. Hopefully that’ll come out later this year too, probably September, October time. We did that churches tour together and we were always checking each other out. At sound check I would check out that loop machine, that big bass-y blues trance thing and then I would wander off into the church just to see how it sounded. And he just got onstage and started singing over this loop, it was really cool what he was doing. Then for his sound checks he’d do all these songs he’d never do like 'Go Down Moses’ and strange old gospel stuff. We just started to talk about this idea of, originally me producing an album for him but then it quite quickly became a co-released so we wrote a whole lot of songs for that and recorded it with Joel Mulholland up in Auckland.

'Shining Day' is out now via Glass Records Redux.


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