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Interview: C Duncan – “There are a lot of pros to recording alone from home”

16 Jul, 2015

c duncan


Written by Tommy Juto

Amongst the vast amount of new artists that daily floods various media it’s sometimes hard to do the cherry-picking, but one interesting name to memorize is 26 year-old Scottish musician C Duncan. “C” is simply short for his first name Christopher and he was practically born into music by his classically trained parents. As expected he was also tutored in piano and violin before broadening his mind with traditional rock instruments in his teens. He’s also nurturing an interest in art and creates the design for his beautiful record covers. Duncan is about to release his debut album Architect which was written and produced completely by himself in his bedroom, and its well-arranged songs incorporates elements from classical and choral music as well as folk and indie.

You have mentioned The Knife and Arvo Pärt as a couple of your major influences. Are you a fan of Nordic and Scandinavian music or is it more to do with their specific sound?

– I am a big fan of Nordic and Scandinavian music. There is a clarity to it that really speaks to me. I am particularly fond of Scandinavian classical music. It is sparse in sound, yet intricately written.

Glasgow being known as the home of many people’s favourite bands, how has that affected you getting into music? Any local bands and artists in particular?

– Growing up in Glasgow, I have been surrounded by so much music of varying genres. It has had a huge affect on my music and my love of all kinds of music. My favourite band and probably my biggest influence are the Cocteau Twins, who come from just outside of Glasgow.

On a visit to Glasgow some years ago I remember traipsing around town trying to find the legendary Monorail record store until eventually finding it. Has it always seemed like the Holy Grail for the city’s residents just as it has for foreign music buffs?

– Monorail is a really great record store. The owners know A LOT about music and have a great taste and passion for unusual vinyl. It is the Holy Grail for music lovers in Glasgow.

Do you buy records yourself? If so, vinyl or CD:s?

– Yes. Vinyl always.

What are the pros and cons of recording an album entirely on your own at home?

– There are a lot of pros to recording alone from home. There are no time or financial constraints. It took me a year to record the album, which may seem like a lot of time, but it was worth every minute. It gave me time and space to add layer. The album wouldn’t be as intricate and intimate if I had recorded it in a studio. The only cons are that I didn’t leave the house often because I was so involved in recording which resulted in neglecting my social life a bit.

Being a classically trained musician, how do you think that shows through on your album?

– I think it shows in the arrangements. My music is very densely harmonised and there are a lot of counter melodies. I have the same approach to writing songs as I do classical music – particularly choral music.

Your music seems to have this filmish atmosphere to it. In what movie could you see yourself doing the soundtrack or lending your music to?

– I have always wanted to write a theme tune for a James Bond movie…

I’m a person who’s always been fascinated by maps and satellite photos. How did you come up with the idea for turning aerial view into the gorgeous cover art on your releases?

– I love the perspective you get from looking at places from above as it’s something you cannot see when you are walking around a city. I also love the intricacies and repetition of buildings. All of the cover art is of places in Glasgow where I recorded the album – and often it was these places that inspired the songs.

Why have you chosen to keep your first name down to just the initial rather than in full?

– I wanted to keep my own name, but Christopher Duncan seemed a bit too long, so I shortened it to C Duncan. People often mistake it for Sea Duncan though, so maybe that would’ve been a better choice!

Considering you’re an army of one, how do you perform your set when playing a live show?

– I play live with 2 other musicians now. The band consists of 2 guitars, a synth and a sampler. We all sing so I can reproduce the vocal harmonies on the record.

You released the song “And I” for streaming in February, but it’s not on the album. Do you keep a lot of unreleased material in the cupboard which will be come out later on?

– There are a lot of songs that won’t be on the album. Each single has a b-side and there is a lot of bonus and unreleased tracks that will come out in the build up to the release and after. I like artists and bands that record extra songs as well as their albums – like Radiohead and Beach House – as it gives the listener an insight into their creative process and progress outside of their main releases.

What have you got lined up in the near future? Tour, collaborations etc?

– I plan to do a lot of touring in the coming months. Once the album is released I will hopefully tour Europe. I have started writing songs for the next album too, so I will be recording them over the next few months.

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