C Duncan Interview

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This coming weekend sees the 3rd return of the music festival held at Drumlanrig Castle, Electric Fields. Over the last few months/festivals we’ve spotted quite a few names regularly popping up, so Still Burning decided to have a few words with one of them –  C Duncan. Photos are from Brew At the Bog 2016, by Dark Secret.

How’s you today Chris? Are you looking forward to playing Electric Fields?

I’m extremely well thanks! Yes, can’t wait!

You’ve been a busy boy lately with Brew at the Bog, Belladrum, Doune the Rabbit Hole, making the most of Scotland’s summer?

Indeed. It has been really nice to play all of these Scottish festivals, and explore some new places.

First up, why C Duncan and not Christopher Duncan?

Good question… C Duncan is shorter. That’s the only reasoning behind it…

Tell us a bit about yourself, from a musical family background and to studying music in Glasgow?

Both my parents are musicians (string players) and I studied Composition at the RCS, so yes, I have had quite a musical upbringing/experience. I have always been obsessed with music and I started to record my own songs when I was about 13 years old and have been doing it ever since.

And after early years of experimenting in bands you decided to go it alone?

Although I enjoyed playing in bands, I really wanted to have more control over the music. I guess that’s the composer in me. I like working alone late into the night, coming up with songs/sounds that intrigue me.

Does the classical background help with your own productions? I mean, it maybe gives you a different approach to certain ways of creating sounds that many bands wouldn’t have the experience or even thought to try? Not sure this is worded the best but hopefully you’ll know what I mean.

Yeah, I get ya. I suppose it probably does. I tend to layer lots of different parts in my music which was something that I learned to do when studying composition. The overall production is almost as important as the writing process as it creates the atmosphere of the song (in my case…).

I think you appeared on many peoples radar for the first time when your album Architect was nominated for last years Mercury prize. That album really was a huge effort on your behalf, playing and recording every instrument yourself, at home too?

The Mercury nomination played a huge part in promoting my music. I created the album alone from home so it was very surprising and exciting to be launched into the public eye having spent the past year beavering away at it alone.

And that’s how you have created your next album, The Midnight Sun, due in October I think? Sometimes learning to work with what you have, and improving your armory when needed gives you vital experience that you wouldn’t have if you’d simply hired a full blown all bells and whistles ready made studio?

Absolutely. I am getting better and better at producing from home and having boundaries certainly helps hone my style. The other benefits of recording from home are that it’s free, you have no time constraints and you can do whatever the hell you like!

After the experimentation of your first album, I guess The Midnight Sun will have a bit more of a direction to your songs?

Architect was very much a collection of different styles of songs and this was because I was truing to find my voice and develop my recording technique. The Midnight Sun is musically and stylistically much more coherent. The songs are of the same genre and there is a much stronger line going throughout the album.

Credit: FatCat Records

Also being released on FatCat Records I believe? How did you manage to get involved with them in the first place?

I have always been a huge fan of FatCat as the have housed some of my favourite bands like Animal Collective, Sigur Ros, Vashti Bunyan, His Clancyness etc. so I really wanted to get signed to them. I sent them a song via their SoundCloud demo page, they listened to it, invited me down for a chat and before I knew it I was working on my first album with them!

Are we to expect a collaboration with James Graham at any point in future?

Well, I am a fan so it would be nice… We’ll see…

Flipping back to an earlier point, you’ve created your first two albums yourself, but have a few friends join you as a band on tour, do you find yourself wanting to be involved with their instruments as well?

Haha, no, not especially. They are fantastic musicians and I have a lot of respect for them but I’m too much of a lone wolf and a control freak when it comes to making music. If my band could play string instruments then it’d be a different story – I want a string quartet of my own…

Whats the biggest hurdle you found when starting on your own, post graduating?

Because I am so completely obsessed with making music it doesn’t feel like there were many hurdles. If things got hard I would just retreat to making more music. I guess the hardest thing was getting a live band together and feeling comfortable on stage (as it wasn’t something I had ever done before C Duncan), but now playing live is a lot of fun.

Any advice you’d pass on to prospective young musicians?

Just keep doing/making what you love. Don’t compromise and create what makes you happy.

All these questions and we’ve not asked for your influences, obvious or otherwise?

I always dread this question because it means I actually have to think… Biggest musical influences at the moment are Jessica Pratt, Bjork, Gorecki, Chris Cohen and Delius.

Tell us a couple of things about C Duncan that might surprise us?

Hmmmm…. I am very good at making cheesecake. And I have a massive crush on Russell Tovey…

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I always think Scotland has masses of relatively untapped talent away from the mainstream releases and so on… who do you suggest might be worth keeping an eye on?

I agree and there are so many to name. Honey and the Herbs, Babe, Siobhan Wilson, Le Thug to name but a few.

Which three artist or bands would you like to share a stage with?

Beach House, Connan Mockasin and Geneva Jacuzzi

Vinyl, cd or download?

Vinyl

Headlining Glastonbury or the Royal Albert Hall?

Glastonbury

Your five desert island albums?

Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again
Bjork – Vespertine
Thundercat – Apocalypse
Beach House – Devotion
The Carpenters – The Singles 1969 – 1973

And finally, your favourite flavour of crisps?

Cheese and Onion!

Thanks for your time Chris, and see you at Electric Fields.

Thanks for taking up my time ?? See ya there!

C Duncan plays Electric Fields on Saturday, 27th August. There are still a few tickets available, if you’re quick!

If you can’t make that date, then those in and around Aberdeen will get another chance at the True North Festival, when C Duncan, supported by Kid Canaveral and Aberdeens HQFU, will play The Lemon Tree on 23rd September.

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