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Interview: Delaney Davidson

Interview: Delaney Davidson

Wednesday 19th November, 2014 11:35AM

Delaney Davidson has fingers in many pies. The nomadic country artist has just released his fifth solo effort Swim Down Low, which was recorded in Europe in 2011, but the release was somewhat unintentionally held-up as Davidson sunk his teeth into other projects with like-minded musical cohorts. The record is graced with Davidson's dark humour, gruff voice and story-telling talent, which fans here at home will be able to experience in the flesh over the next couple of weeks as he tours around New Zealand to celebrate the album's release. With the tour just underway we caught up with Davidson to ask Seven Quick Questions and find out how life has been treating him on the other side of the globe... 

UTR: You seem to live a fairly nomadic lifestyle. What do you enjoy about travelling? And do you see yourself settling down soon?

DD: Yes, I love to travel. And as much as I’ve thought about settling down the reality remains: the more successful this job as an itinerant musician is, the less likely it is I will be able to settle. I can’t see how they would reconcile. Someone once described it as making a career out of being homeless. But somehow you have a home everywhere as well. I have really great friends in so many places with out whom I would never be able to enjoy the rambling life as much as I do. Of course I have a dream of a small rural property set up for working on writing and recording, small shows and a base between tours.. I think most musicians do.. like a Holy Grail to work towards.. and I’ve been to visit friends who have this set up. It makes me slightly envious yet at the same time really happy to see its possible.

How does travelling and living abroad influence your songwriting?

I think for songwriting, travelling a lot helps me with a sort of overview instead of getting bogged down in details. I think it also helps me when I try and look at what are universal feelings and what is specifically a local issue or something specifically geographical. People are the same the whole world over somehow, we all have things we need: love, shelter, food, company, understanding, purpose. These stories can happen anywhere. It's nice to hear a song about someone in a completely different place and time who has the same feelings as you do.

Do you have “must dos” when you get back to New Zealand?

What, like eat a Marmite sandwich and have a flat white? Ha ha of course.. the long haul flight into Auckland.. somehow its always 7am. I get a flat white from the caravan outside and go to sit in the pohutukawa trees and watch the light change. It’s a great way to arrive home. Often I don’t have any particular way, I just enjoy the way New Zealand unfolds. Once I remember coming back home after being away for a really long time and listening to the radio in the shuttle. It was such a strong Kiwi accent it really made me laugh, and I felt like I could spit out the weird international accent you get used to, so people aren’t always saying “what?” all the time, literally spat it out of my mouth onto the footpath and started in strong with the Kiwi drawl.

Swim Down Low
is your fifth solo album and released earlier this year, but it was recorded back in 2011. Why did it take so long to roll out?

Yes it's been a while coming since the last solo release from me, in between Bad Luck Man (Number 4) and Swim Down Low (Number 5) I was busy with the Sad But True series me and Marlon were doing. We toured and wrote and recorded... teamed up with Tami Neilson for the Volume 2, and also I produced her Dynamite album. So it was kind of a shock to realise it was so long since recording until its release. We were also waiting for the right time to tour the release in Europe. We gently let it out here and then had the major tour in Europe. Now it's time to tour it here in New Zealand.

Can you tell us a little bit about recording the album?

The last three albums Self Decapitation, Bad Luck Man, and Swim Down Low, have all been recorded at the amazing (and Europe's best kept secret) Outside Inside Studios in Montebelluna, an hour out of Venice. Matt Bordin, the brains behind the sound, has a 2-inch tape machine and the desk used by Rolling Stones hand-wired and lovingly looked after. A lot of Voodoo Rhythm Albums are recorded there as well as the latest album from Orchestra of Spheres. The boring old arguments we all end up in about analogue versus digital all reduce to one simple fact: You have a completely different approach to making the music this way. No punch ins, limited tracks... this makes for such a completely different end result. Each take is precious.

Are there any thematic strings that tie the album together?

Ha ha.. just the usual Delaney Davidson Philosophies. The dying prisoner sees the richness of life played out before his eyes as he falls away from consciousness and into the arms of the jailor, his now only friend. The belief that everyone knows better than you and what is best for you will lead you to betray yourself, and ultimately your own downfall will be the moment you think you have done the right thing. Hard to believe what goes on in this world, yet it’s all there to see every evening, or on every street corner. Parade around in the gloomy bad news, bewail and moan the fate of others, But when will your own problems come to light? The new feet follow the old, and the benefit of experience is a comb to a bald man.

The recent videos as part of Swim Down Low (Big Ugly Fish, Rise and Shine, Down On Me) all have a similar aesthetic, an old timey grimy and gritty look, is that intentional?

The reference to film is something I’ve been really curious about for ages. Like quoting or sampling. So the references in a lot of these videos are old film. I’d hate to call myself a film buff, but I think the history of how we see and present things has been changing over time, and if you watch a film made now it has a totally different way of presenting its story. Whether in the edit, the screenplay or the shooting, the way we tell stories and view information has become a language and even a science of its own. We are a lot quicker now, we waste less time getting from A to B, and we even don’t care if the audience doesn’t follow the whole plot. Suspension of disbelief, autosuggestion, broad strokes on the canvas... It’s a great time to be into film as the history is so well advanced, and also a great time to be making videos.

Delaney Davidson is currently on tour around New Zealand to celebrate the release of 'Swim Down Low', head over here to see the upcoming dates.


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King Street Live, Masterton
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The Tuning Fork, Auckland
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The Tin Hut, Featherston

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