Burning in the Midnight Sun as '¨C Duncan prepares to hit the road
A mere 14 months after releasing the critically-acclaimed debut album Architect, C Duncan dropped his second, Midnight Sun.
Blending electronic elements and sweeping synth sounds with his signature layered vocals and dreamy instrumentation, the follow-up to his Mercury Prize-nominated debut won huge praise from the likes of The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Mojo, Uncut and The Quietus.
And as with his debut, Duncan composed and created the entire album in his Glasgow flat.
‘The intention always was to release the second album a year after the first one just to keep the momentum.’ explains Chris. ‘I like bands who keep releasing stuff, and particularly at the beginning it gives people more of your music to listen to.
‘And if nothing else, playing the one album live over and over again for the band can get a bit boring, so the more stuff we have to play the better!’
Although the debut was put together before Chris had hit the road as a live act, playing them live doesn’t enter the musician’s consideration when he’s putting the songs together.
‘I think I thought even less about playing live when making this record than with Architect, but that’s just the way I work. I used to think, if I had a four-piece band behind me, how would I do this? And, actually,it really hinders my writing.
‘I’m also very lucky with my band – I give them their parts and they learn it note for note. I’ve really landed on my feet with them, I can give them whatever whacky stuff I like and they’ll learn it perfectly.’
While he’s blossomed as a live act, Chris does still see the recording and performing as two very separate entities.
‘I was trained as a composer, so I see that as one job - well, not job, something that I love doing – then the live stuff is so different for me because I am a composer, I’m not a natural performer. I’ve had to put a lot of work into becoming one. I guess you can’t get “more natural”, but more used to it. It’s always been a very different job from the writing. The writing I always do by myself and the band stuff there are a few of us. I do love gigging and touring, but they’ very different for me.’
It’s a mark of how he’s progressed as a live act that Elbow are taking him out as support for their run around the nation’s sheds in March after his own tour finishes.
‘Don’t remind me,’ he gives a chuckle. ‘It’s going to be daunting. We’ve been quite lucky in the last year-and-a-half to do a few big shows. We supported Belle and Sebastian at Somerset House and we went on tour with Lucy Rose, and we played Brixton Academy. We’re more used to playing small shows, but we have done a few bigger ones – it shouldn’t be too scary!’
While there are no extravagant rider requests beyond a specific Belgian beer, he jokes: ‘It’s amazing how much being on stage changes you and turns you into a diva.’
It’s not just the music where Chris keeps artistic control – he does all the artwork too. The cover of Architect featured an aerial view of part of Glasgow. This time it’s the front of his flat.
‘I wanted the artwork for the first two albums to tie in together somehow, even though they’re very different albums. I’m so inspired and influenced by my surroundings, that’s probably my biggest influence on my art and music, I wanted to reflect this in the album covers. This album is more of a personal album than the first one. The first album was me messing around trying to find my sound and work out basically what I was doing with my music, and learning new techniques.
‘With this record, I knew what I was doing when I started, the sound I wanted, so I wanted some artwork that was more personal. I guess it’s like I zoomed in from the first record. That was the tops of houses, and this time it’s the front door of the place I’ve spent the last 10 years writing and recording music.’
Tuesday, January 31